May 12, 2015
By Jim Beach
Information technology permeates all parts of a successful trucking fleet's operations today, and sessions at ALK's Transportation Technology Summit last week showcased technology used in trailer detention management, in-cab navigation, in-cab video and driver hiring.
The event in Princeton, N.J., April 4-7, brought together representatives of trucking fleets and technology providers to share their thoughts on the future of the industry and how technologies can improve carrier operations.
The summit featured a number of sessions on the economy, technology and case studies on how specific fleets have implemented various technologies to improve various parts of their operations.
Trailer Tracking and Detention
In a session on how carriers can use trailer tracking to improve trailer detention management, Henry Popplewell, senior vice president and general manager of SkyBitz, and Chris Smallwood, director of finance, U.S. Xpress, shared details on U.S. Xpress’s experience since implementing SkyBitz’s trailer tracking system.
Smallwood said the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based carrier uses technology to “innovate and drive efficiency” and noted the company uses tools it developed in-house to integrate data the collect from various systems. Getting more accurate data in terms of their trailer locations delivered a “big ROI payback,” he said. Plus, improved detention management allowed the company to drive trailer retention down.
According to Popplewell, the goal was not to have the information needed to charge detention fees, but to get equipment back on the road as quickly as possible.
Integrating the SkyBitz system allowed U.S. Xpress to eliminate some of the manual work they had to do to validate their data – they get better data now in a way they can make use of it, Smallwood said.
The next step is to “leverage the investment,” Smallwood added – “how can we do things better now that we have this data and get all of the ROI out of it?” They are looking at using the system to integrate tire pressure monitoring on their trailers and to get better utilization out of their equipment.
“When you can send a driver and he knows the trailer is going to be where you tell him it’s going to be and it is going to be empty,” that in itself increased efficiencies, he said. And since they are getting better utilization out of their trailer fleet, the company is not anticipating adding trailers.
Also, on the maintenance side, the data the system provides has allowed them to look into checking their trailer tires based on miles instead of on a time schedule.
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