“Bennett will soon be saving 40 hours of labor a week at approximately $25 per hour.”
The Bennett Family of Companies, headquartered in McDonough, Ga., specializes in flatbed and step-deck trucking, driveaway, manufactured housing transport and RV delivery complimented by 3PL/4PL logistics, brokerage and warehousing services. The company’s transport and logistics network spans North America with more than 3,000 drivers, agents, and employees.
Bennett’s specialized and dynamic operations complicated efforts to deploy a trailer tracking solution across its fleet of more than 2,100 trailer assets — flatbeds, step decks, dry vans and intermodal chassis — and 350 trailer components, such as dollies, flip axles for heavy haul and distinct applications.
The use of battery-powered trailer tracking devices created a problem. When installed on non-powered assets, for example, the batteries did not provide a reliable power source to keep the tracking unit charged properly. An added onerous task was the need to replace batteries. This limited the reporting and lifespan of the technology.
“Taking ownership of data was another hurdle. Bennett’s IT department was managing device installation, but operations was not putting the data to use,” explains Tony Eiermann, Vice President of fleet management.
An uneven deployment, as well as data management issues, necessitated manual yard checks at nine drop yard locations across the United States to identify available equipment.
Eiermann joined Bennett in 2018 and took on new responsibilities for asset custody and control. He previously had managed large, complex telematics projects at other companies.
Under his direction, Bennett discontinued use of battery-operated trailer tracking devices. Going forward, the company is deploying SkyBitz newest solar powered tracking device, SkyBitz Kinnect for trailer assets to report more frequently, accurately, and reliably. The device functions as a local data hub connecting to optional smart trailer sensors for doors, cargo, tires and other components through Bluetooth.
With assistance from SkyBitz, Bennett focused on getting coverage across the entire fleet and improving data reporting and accuracy.
Recently, Eiermann and other managers have been working to create a digital yard check that automatically tracks inventory at all locations. The team has been putting the business intelligence and data analytics of the SkyBitz Insight portal to use as well to monitor asset utilization, improve processes and increase customer service levels.
Additionally, the leadership team is conducting a pilot test of the new solar-powered SkyBitz Kinnect device on non-powered assets.
Bennett Family of Companies
“Moving towards proactive fleet management is where Bennett will be taking the next step, and by using the new SkyBitz Kinnect product, we will be able to do that type of monitoring of our assets”
Within the past year, Bennett Family of Companies has reduced costs and improved the utilization of a specialized trailer fleet by:
- Automating yard checks. Previously, the process was done manually and took someone at least an hour each day at Bennett’s nine trailer drop locations. Bennett can save up to nine hours in labor each day with a digital yard check. Eiermann projects that Bennett will soon be saving 40 hours of labor a week at approximately $25 per hour.
- Right-sizing the fleet. Using the reporting tools of the SkyBitz Insight user portal, Bennett is monitoring asset utilization and idle times for trailers and components. Bennett uses this information to identify underutilized assets and move them to locations in need or dispose of them to reduce operating costs and free up capital.
- Establishing a reporting cadence. Bennett uses the SkyBitz insight portal to monitor key metrics and reports on asset mileage, idle time, and location-based activities. With these reports, the company is benchmarking progress towards goals.
Moving towards smart trailers
Going forward, Eiermann plans to continue using mileage and location data from SkyBitz to monitor equipment usage. The data will provide a better understanding of the fleet’s true cost of operation for each type of asset.
Currently, Bennett is using “billed” miles from its transportation management software (TMS) for analysis but with SkyBitz data will enable capture of non-revenue or “deadhead” miles on equipment to get the true cost per mile to operate each type of asset, he said.
Bennett also sees value in monitoring the status of tire pressures, load distribution and other data points to prevent costly incidents related to heavy and specialized cargo the company transports.
“The biggest thing we want to do is to build smart trailers,” he said. “The last thing we want is to have a tire blow out while hauling 300,000 pounds going 55 mph.”
“Moving towards proactive fleet management is where Bennett will be taking the next step with SkyBitz,” said Eiermann, “and by using the new SkyBitz Kinnect product, we will be able to do that type of monitoring of our assets” he said. “This will help us improve going forward.”