There are appropriate times to be asleep on the road. Doing so while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is not one of them. Sadly, fatigued drivers are an issue for all of us. Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, in both the US and Canada, are designed specifically to prevent drivers from staying behind the wheel too long and becoming fatigued. Or even worse, falling asleep while driving a huge rig down the highway.
HOS regulations are only as good as the enforcement of the HOS rules. In the US, the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability system of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is designed specifically to enforce HOS and other rules impacting the safety of our highways.
The CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) measures specific aspects of vehicle and driver safety using a set of BASIC measures. Each BASIC category is designed to look at specific aspects of driver performance to create fair scores that can be compared across all carriers and drivers. In order to enforce HOS regulations, CSA Basic Fatigue measures compliance with HOS rules and fatigued driving. Quoting from the CSA Fatigued Driving BASIC Assessment:
“This BASIC includes violations of regulations surrounding the complete and accurate recording of logbooks as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue.”
Is there a way to improve your CSA scores and ensure that you stay in compliance with HOS rules and CSA? The good news is that Electronic On Board Recorder (EOBR) provides a solution that automates the recording of HOS. Rather than rely on error-prone and time-consuming manual log books, EOBR solutions automatically record HOS. A solution like our Quadrant In-Cab makes it easy to login at the start of a shift. After that, everything is automatic and when the driver is near the end of a duty cycle our Quadrant In-Cab solution warns the driver. For managers, they gain complete visibility in Quadrant Manager of the HOS status, duty cycle, and remaining time for every driver.
We all want our roads to be safer. Top performing organizations want the best CSA scores possible. EOBR solutions are part of making top CSA scores a reality. Not only is the reputation of your organization and your drivers on the line—none of us wants to hear about a driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
In this day and age we Google before we do anything. The truth is, information technology has given consumers the advantage and power of knowing a lot more information than you might want them to know. With social media sites such as Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the many review sites, you cannot afford a bad reputation. One mistake, delay, or miscommunication and you risk the world knowing about it. This is why customer service has to be up to par.
Keeping customers happy is probably as important as delivering quality products or services. Unhappy customers will let you know, and some will let you know in a big and loud way.
However, conducting business is never done independently. Businesses run in an interconnected web and in the age of globalization, we are dependent on goods and services that make it possible for us to complete each transaction. But at times, no matter how organized our business operations may be, things can go wrong (i.e., no trucks are available).
According to Journal of Commerce (JOC), the challenge of finding trucks is negatively impacting the number of on-time deliveries. In fact since 2011, the number of available trucks has dropped by 0.6%. In addition, the uncomfortable economic times have also indicated that not only are the number of trucks limited, but so are the number of available drivers.
The problem: Not enough trucks; not enough drivers.
The JOC recommends making a contingency plan for days when you can’t get a truck. This makes sense, although the reality is that it’s not always possible. How about maximizing the time you do have with a truck? Now, that sounds more do-able.
But how do we do that?
There is no doubt that fleet managers are challenged by how to optimize their fleet’s performance. They must consider safety, fuel consumption, and government regulations. Using a GPS/AVL solution to increase efficiency can make the task easier. Quadrant Manager, our web based solution, brings visibility to where your trucks are and what they are doing. Reporting tools provide insight into driver behaviour, fuel consumption, and idling. Additionally, our In-Cab mobile data terminal (MDT) allows safe two-way communication, so fleet managers can discharge orders more quickly.
These are just a few tools fleet managers can access to optimize fleet performance. With a GPS/AVL solution, fleet managers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that a struggling economy is not going to impact their level of customer service.
Faulted for its inadequate cell phone driving policy, Coca-Cola has been held responsible to the tune of $21 million by a Texas jury. Coca-Cola’s driving troubles began in 2010 when a 37-year-old woman was badly injured in Corpis Christi by a Coca-Cola driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Injury attorney, Thomas J. Henry, commented, “From the time I took the Coca-Cola driver’s testimony and obtained the company’s inadequate cell phone driving policy, I knew we had a corporate giant with a huge safety problem on [its] hands”. The news doesn’t say whether the call was personal or work related, and presumably from the standpoint of litigation, that’s irrelevant.
“We have accepted responsibility for the accident. We understand that this verdict is a response to a plea from plaintiff’s counsel to the jury to ban all cell phone use while driving.”
—Statement released by Coca-Cola after the verdict
Coca-Cola has two big problems: lost revenue and a damaged public reputation—its bright red trucks are as ubiquitous on the streets as the famous beverage is at meals. The broader implications mean that corporations will be racing to shore up liability risks by drafting tougher policies on company cell phone use. As it is, governments too are under pressure to legislate against driver cell phone and texting.
But where does this leave fleet managers who need real-time communication with their drivers during the working day? There are an estimated 1.2 million trucking companies in the U.S.—the majority of companies with 20 or fewer trucks. In Canada, over 227,000 Canadian truck drivers make trucking one of the top occupations in that country. With so many trucking companies and drivers, how can any kind of safety policy really be effective? A substantive shift is needed in which cell phones no longer play any part in fleet communications.
To enhance corporate no-cell-phone policies and government regulations, a fleet manager stands the best chance of maintaining a good safety record—and staying out of court—with an in-cab solution such as our Quadrant mobile data terminal (MDT). The MDT includes a touch screen display with a smart on-screen keypad for easy navigation, and the added benefit of restricting usage while the vehicle is in motion.
While preventing distracted driving is more important to service fleets, this solution—also known as EOBR (electronic onboard recorder)—is perfect for long-haul operators as it supports regulatory compliance requirements such as HOS (Hours of Serve). With a Quadrant EOBR solution, you get a handle on fatigued driving as well as distracted driving.
Such dedicated solutions also transmit a wealth of data—from driving behavior to CO2 emissions and to job completion. These data can be used strategically by company decision makers to improve company-wide operations. While vehicle data gathered electronically has been admitted in court to dispute false liability claims after the fact, the most important reason to considering a telematics solution is to ensure driver and public safety by preventing unnecessary and costly accidents in the first place.
Northwest Companies specializes in moving components of heavy industry. Since 1968, Northwest has been providing customers with specialized transportation and logistical services tailored to meet customers’ specific needs and expectations. Northwest Companies is a family of companies consisting of Northwest Crane Service, Northwest Logistics Heavy Haul and Northwest Logistics Dry Bulk.
Andy Hodges, owner of Northwest Companies, decided on our Webtech Wireless Quadrant solution, because Webtech Wireless can handle a diverse fleet of vehicles. In addition to a mobile crane and a crawler crane fleet, Northwest manages two different trucking fleets.
Having received and installed over 200 Quadrant Locator units, Mr. Hodges and his team have seen these improvements:
Accountability: “All team members now have a visibility display of the location of cranes and vehicles letting everyone know where they are in real time, making our operations safer and more efficient.”
Safety: Keeping drivers safe is a top priority at Northwest. Quadrant allows the Northwest safety team to view the real-time locations of all personnel and equipment, which helps to expedite the response time in the event of an emergency.
Service: Quadrant helps Northwest’s logistical/dispatch team to direct infield crews using the best route to get to a project location, which is often an obscure well site. Northwest can now provide its customers with improved service owing to better on-time delivery of people and equipment.
Fuel Tax: Northwest Companies’ use of Quadrant helps to calculate fuel consumption more precisely, equalling a savings of more than 300 gallons in fuel tax every day.
Both Northwest and Webtech Wireless are constantly striving to provide better customer service. Perhaps the best compliment was given by Mr. Hodges after companywide training was completed, “You focus on making us better at what we do—that has been the Webtech Wireless experience for us.”
Irtiza Zaidi is the Product Marketing Manager at Webtech Wireless. He works closely with the safety professionals in many companies in the oil patch.
Recently, he attended the Petroleum Safety Conference—billed as “Canada’s premiere oil and gas safety conference and tradeshow”—in Banff, Alberta, for a few days to learn more about safety concerns in the oil and gas industry.
Below are his latest discoveries about the Conference and safety professionals.
Irtiza Zaidi: “Before I dive into the meat and potatoes, I wanted to share some insight into the safety profession and the folks I interacted with. I went to one breakout session led by Imperial Oil, which was quite an eye opener. The purpose was to describe the risks that safety professionals take every day on the job and how they deal with them. The idea is that, before we can start preaching to others, let’s evaluate ourselves first.
Now the view I had of safety folks was they were risk averse by-the-book people. They worked Monday to Friday and in their off time did everything possible to avoid risk. They would never cross a yellow light while driving nor would they park without paying. Well, was I was in for a shock!
We had some safety people talking about how they chased storms in Alberta. Winter storms, rain storms, blizzards, and how they had been doing this for 15 years. Another safety person talked about how they wore helmets on their motorcycles while travelling at speeds of 120 on the Canadian highways, but once they got to the US, the helmets came off. Or the safety person who jumped between moving boats in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while it was raining, so she could help out with a lobster catch.
The presentations I attended were delivered well and the topics of immense importance. Colonel Mark Trostel, Driving Safety Advisor with Encana, presented, Driving Safety: Enhancing Performance, Reducing Exposure, in which he described some of the challenges of using in-cab audible feedback (such as buzzers and beeps), to try to change driver behaviour. He provided helpful statistical information as well as first-hand knowledge of the affect alerts have on drivers.
Here are some statistics shared in this presentation:
40% of all fatalities in the energy industry occur in vehicles
Leading indicators of crashes
- Excessive Braking, following too closely, distracted driving
- Rapid starts and aggressive or reckless driving
- Habitual speeding dramatically increases risk and severity of accidents
- Frequent Lateral “Gs” are precursors to a rollover crash
Encana’s AVL program for its light-duty vehicles provides
- Driver scorecards that were emailed to the driver each week
- Supervisors with the ability to review their drivers’ driving habits
- Providing drivers with feedback about their performance on a weekly basis
- Providing incentives to drivers with good behavior worked
- Having drivers compare themselves with their peers led to the drivers creating their own “Top 100 Club”
What didn’t work?
- Driver feedback by way of audible tones or flashing lights only lasted three weeks before the drivers went back to their old driving patterns.”
“Safe Driving Programs – Why Should I Care?” by Colonel Mark Trostel, EnCana in 2010
On May 2, 2012, The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said that its campaign to provide carriers, drivers, owner-operators with an easy way to send pro-EOBR messages to federal MPs is gaining ground. According to the CTA, “To date, several hundred carrier companies and individual drivers have sent about 1,500 messages directly to MPs from across Canada.”
The web forums are crackling with debate both for and against electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). Many comments cannot be reprinted here, but some point to a rich fabric of support for EOBRs—from fleets owners to independent drivers. Ultimately, EOBRs support accountable drivers.
“Bring on the EOBRs. Drivers need a wakeup call as to the hours they’re putting in and not getting paid.”
If you’d like to weigh in for EOBR support, here’s what you can do:
1. Look up your Member of Parliament (for Canadians only).
2. Choose from the following links:
3. Complete the form and choose Submit.
4. Alternatively, by typing a four-digit text code, drivers can send a message to their MPs from a cell phone. Simply text the letters eobr to the number 77777.
Federal Transport Minister, Denis Lebel, said EOBRs can “improve Hours of Service regulatory compliance by reducing the opportunity for commercial drivers to exceed regulated driving hours or falsify logbooks”. Lebel added that “a technically flexible, performance-based EOBR standard, combined with a suitable phase-in period would hopefully allow sufficient time for suppliers to offer cost-effective options meeting the needs of carriers and drivers”.
CTA president, David Bradley, agrees with this statement adding, “While we understand that there is a minority in the industry who may oppose an EOBR mandate, it’s important that decision makers hear from those who have experience with EOBRs in enhancing compliance and making highways safer.”
“Our efforts show that there are many carriers and drivers who are clearly in favour of replacing outdated paper logbooks with more efficient and compliant electronic monitoring devices,”
—David Bradley, President, Canadian Trucking Alliance
Transport Canada supports the development of an EOBR standard that leverages the work done in the United States. It is in favour of a harmonized North American standard that Transport Canada states, “Ultimately, a harmonized North American standard would be ideal in consideration of the importance of domestic and cross-border trade.”
Meanwhile in the United States, the American Truckers’ Association (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) are squaring off about mandated HOS solutions. The ATA maintains that EOBRs make roads safer and drivers more accountable, while the OOIDA counters that it poses an infringement of drivers’ rights and is prohibitively expensive for smaller independent trucking companies.
“Clearly, these devices lead to greater compliance with maximum driving limits, which is very good for the trucking industry as a whole and highway safety.”
— Bill Graves, President and CEO, American Truckers’ Association
One of the hidden costs of winter road maintenance is its affect on the environment. Much of the salt applied to keep roads ice free finds its way into soil and waterways. Toxins found in fish, either from surface water or metals dissolved in water by salt, are among the toxic effects of excessive salt usage. A municipality’s ability to supply quality drinking water is also compromised by surface or groundwater that’s contaminated with salt. Soil retains salt year after year, destroying its ability to sustain plants leading to increased erosion. Also, salt residues by the side of roads serve as an enticing salt lick, luring animals into dangerous on-road encounters with vehicles.
“We cannot keep trading short-term cost for long-term cost.”
Reducing salt usage is good for the environment and fits well with municipal, provincial, and state environmental efforts. To address environmental concerns, some municipalities have experimented with other solutions over rock salt, such as using calcium magnesium acetate (as it has far fewer toxic effects). While less toxic, calcium magnesium acetate has the drawback of taking longer to melt ice than rock salt and it’s 20 times more expensive.
One remedy is to drastically reduce the use of cheap rock salt and phase in one or more of the expensive alternatives. But to really reduce your salt usage, you need to increase your ability to track excessive salt usage with precision—especially when it comes to third-party contractors (some of whom charge for salt and thus may be incentivized to use it to excess).
In 2009, The City of Ottawa implemented the InterFleet winter operations solution for government fleets. By gaining the ability to identify excess salt usage by its contractors, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.
“Installing GPS technology in our salt spreader vehicles is a great way to help us reduce the amount of road salt we use, and reduce costs at the same time,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien, “By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”
In Ottawa, where they don’t use contractors, InterFleet’s Live Material Monitoring tool saves costs by highlighting in real time when an operator is using pure salt (icon appears red), as opposed to the environmentally friendly alternatives (such as pre-wet applications, allowing for less overall salt usage).
Other government scenarios, which use contractors, utilize InterFleet’s real-time visibility to verify contractor compliance with salt-usage standards. This is particularly advantageous if contractors are charging for salt used.
The most impressive advantage of InterFleet’s real-time visibility is that, unlike passive GPS tools that merely store data and upload it when the vehicle returns to the yard, live data allows a fleet manager to bring immediate attention to help an operator if salt levels are too high. Real-time alerts provide operational efficiency that can foster an environment of cooperation between government and its third-party contractors, and in the end, less salt on the roads means a better environment for everyone.
Recently, we talked with CEO, Steve Troyer, and found out how Troyer Ventures is generating revenue to stay way ahead of its competition.
As a leading fluid transportation company in the oil and gas sector in north-eastern British Columbia, Troyer Ventures found that it couldn’t grow with the old system. And to realize their growth potential without replacing the old system, Troyer was facing adding an additional dispatch office or even splitting the fleet, which in itself presented another host of operations challenges.
To realize its revenue generating potential, Troyer made the strategic decision to embrace an integrated technology solution.
Troyer took the unprecedented initiative to adopt a challenging integration combining the best of three different software providers: TMW, Great Plains, and Webtech Wireless’ Quadrant solution.
“It allows us to re-allocate staff to more strategic activities than merely pushing paper and most importantly, it has allowed us to grow and handle more revenue with the same staff.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures
So far, the implementation is showing many encouraging trends and Steve concludes that what’s emerging shows what a great fleet management tool Quadrant is, because it has allowed Troyer to “realize better returns on our assets and people”.
“With the level of minute-by-minute information we’re getting, Quadrant is the best thing going.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures
Steve expects benefits to increase over next 12 months with trends pointing toward a complete return on investment in the not-too-distant future. In addition, the new growth strategy leverages on improved staff efficiencies, particularly as staff re-allocations mean increased revenues for the company without increasing staff.
“In the end, it all pays off—we doubled our revenue.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures
The GPS/AVL and telematics industry has been developing for a long time. Webtech Wireless started business in 1999 and today we have over 100,000 subscribers using our telematic solutions. While creating a new technology market can feel like climbing a mountain, now is a good time to join us on the trail. The routes are well defined and we are here to make it easy for you to gain the insight, benefits, and cost savings of deploying a telematic solution.
To give you some idea of the growth of the telematic market, here are some of the latest statistics:
These growth predictions demonstrate that telematic solutions have moved out of the early adopter category and into the mainstream. The reasons for adopting and deploying a telematic solution for your fleet include the following list from an MRM presentation by Licht & Associates:
Increased Productivity: Increase the number of jobs per day and more productive driving miles.
Improved Customer Service: More timely response times, real-time status updates, and tighter service windows.
Cost Savings: More efficient routing, fuel reductions in the 5-15% range, and reduced maintenance costs in the 10-30% range.
Risk Management: Accident reduction, lower insurance costs, accident reconstruction, and asset recovery.
Regulation/Green Initiatives: U.S. Senate Bill 3884 (installation of electronic on board recorders), CONTRAN 245 in Brazil (installation of a GPS tracking device on new vehicles), and vehicle re-routing as a key way to reduce miles in a transportation green initiative.
We have helped clients in all these areas and are enthusiastic about being part of the growing telematic market in 2012 and the future.
At the Fleet & Asset Management 2011 conference, Conal Deedy, Solution Manager for Volvo Group Telematics gave the presentation “Fuel Management Systems: The Indispensible Investment”. In his talk, Deedy highlighted the fact that 31% of operational costs in trucking are fuel. In a low margin business like trucking, the effect of lowering fuel consumption by 5% can lead to an increase of 18% in company profitability.
Deedy asserted that these are the biggest factors affecting fuel consumption:
Take something as simple as tire pressure. According to Deedly, 50% of all truck tires are more than 10% under-inflated. A -10 PSI tire inflation equates to a -1% mpg reduction in fuel economy.
As we have documented in our white paper “Telematics ROI: The Human Factor” each 1 mph increase in speed over 55 mph reduces fuel economy by 0.1 mpg. Deedly stated that the most efficient drivers get about 30% better fuel economy and idling can account for 30-60% of a vehicle’s operating hours.
To save costs and increase profits, trucking companies need to focus on fuel savings. The best performing ones know that altering driver behavior requires both coaching and monitoring of drivers. Telematics solutions like ours give you the tools to both monitor and provide drivers with feedback to improve their fuel economy.