Radio Dispatch

Someday you, too, might want your techs getting e-mail on the shop floor.


New received an e-mail notifying him that the truck was overheating, but the driver reported that the truck appeared to be running cool. The truck ran fine all day, and the e-mail was forgotten.

Two days later, New received the same overheating alert for the same truck. "I called the driver to ask if it was running hot, and he said the truck was actually idling while he did some paperwork," New recalls. "I told him to go check it out, and it was running hot! He shuts it down, lets it cool off, then he drives it over here and it doesn't get hot!

"Once he drove it back here and got it into the shop, he was talking to the mechanics," he says. "Well, the whole time they're standing there talking, the truck's idling. I actually received another e-mail alerting me again. As they sat there talking, they noticed that the temperature began to climb and the fan wasn't cycling."

It turned out that the fan clutch had gone out. When the truck was idling it would run hot. When it was going down the highway it would run cool. "So he wasn't seeing it run hot, but I was," New says.

IDLE REDUCTION

The more New uses Networkcar, the more uses he finds for the technology.

"One of the things it does is, you can do an idle time report," he says. "I actually just started that a month ago. I check that report with my little trucks, but it's my big trucks I really watch. I just did a report on my six big heavies, and had four of them that were about 50 percent idle time, which is about normal for a tow truck. Then with the other two, they were at 75, 80 percent idle time.

"So I'm calling these two drivers in and asking them why their idle times are so high," he continues. "Well, they said, 'It's hot out.' They were just leaving it run so their seat would stay cool.

"They're not doing that anymore," New says.

A few moments later, the fleet safety director approaches New with a stack of Networkcar reports and asks, "Can this truck do that?" It seems Networkcar has caught the driver of the fleet's oldest truck going over 80 miles per hour, and the safety director can't believe the truck can even go that fast. New acknowledges that it can, and they decide to call the driver in immediately and "have a talk with him."

LIFE IS GOOD

Despite these changes, New reports that the drivers have never complained about the telematics system.

"I was up front with them when we installed these," he says. "I told them we were putting this GPS locating system in. It's going to know where y'all are and how fast y'all are going—it's going to know everything about you.

"When I first put the system in, I started running reports like the speed violations," New recalls. "I had 400-some reports in one week of trucks going over 70 miles an hour. I had a safety meeting and explained the situation, and the next week I had 22 reports."

Not surprisingly, the fleet now gets a ten percent discount on its insurance. Between that, the idle reduction, better vehicle location and the overall maintenance savings, New guesses that he got his return on this investment within nine months, and he couldn't be happier.

"Life is so much easier with computers," he says with a smile.

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