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SkyBitz’s New Trailer Detention Management Tool Aims To Turn Lost Time Into Productivity, Enhance Driver’s Life

The Trucker

By Aprille Hanson 
December 7, 2015


Wasted time waiting at a receiver location is the trucking industry’s kryptonite — it results in loss of money and productivity.

Most of all, it frustrates the driver. SkyBitz’s new Trailer Detention Management Solution is the antidote, allowing companies to monitor their trailers at a customer drop-off.

“The productivity and life of a driver is greatly enhanced,” said Henry Popplewell, president of SkyBitz. “It makes a lot of sense to them — ‘my job gets easier and less frustrating and I’m going to help my company make more money.’ 

“So what really drives the conversation is we serve and work in an industry where there’s a tremendous amount of over-investment,” he added. “They leave asset equipment at shipping locations, they don’t know when it’s available. All of that inefficiency creates stress if you will, and forces companies to over-invest.” 

Without a management solution that focuses on tracking, most carriers rely on the receivers or their drivers to tell them when their trailer has been dropped off and how long it will take to get back on the road.

“There’s always been this uncomfortable relationship when trailers are held too long by shippers. The conversation gets hard when you start telling” a receiver that they’re out of free time and must be billed for detention time, which Popplewell said turns into “‘Oh really? Prove it.’ It’s putting the driver in the middle, where he or she shouldn’t be.” 

A subsidiary of Telular Corp., SkyBitz is a “remote asset tracking and information management service provider” and is utilized by more than 800 enterprises, according to its website,

According to a news release, the company’s Trailer Detention Management Solution focuses on the following areas:

• Automated monitoring for trailer detention

• Awareness of detention events

• Reduced driver idle time resulting in reduced frustration and lowered fuel costs

• Configurable automatic detention alert notifications when free time is set to expire (with management of weekends and holidays)

• Recording of detention details for detention billing

• Ability to associate multiple contract profiles to a landmark location, and

• Integration into TMS/ERP systems for detention billing.

The system runs on a GPS tracking device, which shows where the trailer is and what time it arrived, and a 6- by 4-inch cargo sensor which is at the very front of the trailer. It has three infrared beams that stretch the length of the trailer. This monitors what happens to the trailer once it arrives at a receiver’s, including what time it is unloaded, how long it sits empty, what time it’s reloaded, etc., and how long the various steps take.

“We work with our customers’ business rules — how much free time the trailer gets, billing rate for detention, when detention status starts,” Popplewell said.

Each contract is customizable and a carrier can have multiple varying contracts for one receiver, which is a feature that’s unique to Sky- Bitz, he said.

“Customers can set a variety of different contract rules. Let’s say with ‘Big Retailer’ you have one contract with hard goods that allows six hours free time and another one with perishables that’s one hour.” Those are able to be tracked through the Trailer Detention Management Solution, Popplewell said.

Once a trailer is nearing the end of its free time, the system will send alerts to the carrier and if the carrier chooses, to the shipper/receiver as well to show when detention time will start.

“Now all of a sudden it’s very accurate data — they know they’re reaching the end of allowable free time. That’s very powerful,” Popplewell said.

The detention hourly rates are set in the contract and the system detects how much money is owed.

“We don’t actually do the billing but we deliver the detention information to TMS if they elect to” through SkyBitz, he said.

However, Popplewell is quick to point out that the system’s purpose is not to create a revenue stream for detention time, but rather to make the whole process more efficient.

“The goal here is to get the equipment turned quicker, free it up and make it available . . . For moving freight,” Popplewell said. “I think sometimes people hear detention and think it’s a tool for billing. Certainly it can be used that way,” but it’s not what SkyBitz clients have said is their main goal.

Drivers also no longer have to fear driving out of their way to pick up a trailer for their company only to find out it’s not yet loaded, because the carrier will know at all times what trailers are filled and where, Popplewell said.

“As we all know, the industry is facing a driver shortage. I don’t think today companies are casual about driver satisfaction,” Popplewell said. “You don’t want drivers wasting time looking for trailers that are available.” 

While the system is geared toward detention management by virtue of the sensors, it also serves as an extra security measure for the load and the driver.

“As a simple example, should somebody try to remove the GPS device to the trailer it goes into panic mode to alert the carrier,” Popplewell said. “It has tamper detection and a panic mode — all to provide enhanced security for the trailer and driver.” 

Also, if a driver is missing and still with the trailer, the trailer can be pinged “in less than a minute” anywhere in North America, including Canada and Mexico.

While some truckers might be skeptical of being tracked, Popplewell said, it’s about security and efficiency.

“I get it. We all kind of live in this ‘Big Brother is watching’ world today,” Popplewell said. “I understand the sentiment, but I think the benefits far outweigh it. We work with well over 800 trucking companies all over North America and monitoring drivers never comes up. It’s about providing security for my equipment, my drive, my freight — how I can get more loads with less waiting around.” 

Customers of SkyBitz received this additional solution for free, Popplewell said. For more information, visit

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