Turnpike: A sound investment in our future
As CEO of one of the largest U.S. intermodal trucking companies, I’m responsible for making sure my company delivers results. But as all trucking executives know, the transportation industry is highly competitive—margins have never been tighter and the companies that succeed do so because they’ve learned how to maximize efficiencies. Even a small change made by a handful of drivers can mean the difference between profits and losses.
Envisioning our future
Several years back, we established a vision for our company: to be the largest, most efficient and safest intermodal trucking company in the country. To achieve this, we set three goals:
- Increase fuel economy. Fuel costs were inching higher, which meant our bottom line was taking a hit, something we couldn’t afford. So, we set out to improve the performance of our trucks by a half-mile per gallon. That may not sound like much but, with 90 company drivers and 300 owner-operators, we knew this increase would add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Improve safety. To reduce preventable accidents, we needed to monitor driver behavior so that, when necessary, we could offer our drivers appropriate training and ongoing coaching.
- Provide customers greater visibility. To meet customer demand for more information, including accurate arrival time estimates, we needed to communicate with our drivers so we would know exactly where they were and when they expected to arrive at each customer’s location.
Delivering results from the road up
With these goals in mind, we began looking for a solution. We were determined to find one that would deliver an impressive return to our bottom line. After considering several options, we selected Turnpike. It was affordable, powerful and easy to install.
The Turnpike RouteTracker hardware is an Electronic Onboard Recorder (EBOR) that connects to our trucks’ engines and automatically collects GPS and diagnostic data. It fits in the palm of my hand and installation took just 10 minutes per vehicle. TP Mobile, the Turnpike software, runs on cell phones and smartphones and uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect the devices to the trucks.
From driver skepticism to friendly competition
Because the RouteTracker isn’t mounted to the dashboard (no drilling required) even our owner-operators didn’t object, though there was some initial skepticism. Our drivers didn’t want “big brother” looking over their shoulders, but once they saw how much HOS paperwork was eliminated, they embraced the system.
Now, they even use their Turnpike-generated scorecards as a mechanism to push themselves—and one another—to improve performance, all without the need for incentive programs. And today, if we see that a driver is having trouble meeting our benchmarks, we have actual data we can use to coach him on how to improve his performance, which translates to lower driver-turnover.
360-degree, real-time information, anywhere, anytime
All our driver and vehicle data collected by the RouteTracker is sent to a secure datacenter hosted by XRS. This makes it easy for our dispatchers to access fleet performance data for all 400 of our trucks, individually and in aggregate.
The data includes odometer readings, HOS, idle time, MPG, RPM, hard braking, fuel-tax reports and more, all available online 24/7. We even integrated some of our back-office functions, including payroll.
Results that keep on truckin’
Just one year after implementing Turnpike, we were boasting impressive results. In addition to bottom-line savings of $300,000-plus, we saw:
- 7.8% increase in fuel economy (from 5.75 MPG to 6.20 MPG for company drivers)
- 75% reduction in preventable accidents (from 12 to 3)
- $100,000 reduction in administrative costs
These improvements continue to deliver savings to our bottom line. Each year, we’re saving more than $150,000 in fuel costs. And at an average of $5,000 per accident, we’re saving roughly $45,000 each year. Multiplied over the five years, our savings will reach nearly $1 million.
Compliant and confident
In one of our most recent safety audits, we got the DOT’s highest rating. Even with all the changing distracted driving regulations, I can rest easy because RouteTracker tracks all information automatically, which means drivers keep their eyes on the road. And Turnpike software is automatically updated so I know that we’ll be compliant with CSA (2010) and whatever new rule changes come our way.
We’ve even improved our standard operating procedures. And because electronic logs and other reports are generated automatically, we’re saving both time and money. Filing IFTAs used to mean entering 21 logs per driver, per month. With 400 drivers, that was more than 100,000 logs a year. It used to take two guys 2 to 3 weeks to file them. Now, it takes less than a day, saving us $100,000 in staff time.
Seeing our vision become reality
Our customers are impressed with how accurately we now predict arrival times and how easily we’re able to share other fleet performance data. And thanks to Turnpike, we’re well on our way to achieving our vision of being the largest, safest and most efficient intermodal trucking company in the U.S.