Trucking's dynamic duo

Integrating onboard computing and GPS-based mobile communications unleashes the power to streamline workflow and maximize efficiency


Once-vilified as the trucking industry’s “big brother,” onboard computing (OBR) has irrefutably proven to be an invaluable tool for reducing costs throughout a carrier’s operation – maintenance, safety, regulatory compliance and fuel consumption. A partnership between OBR and GPS-based mobile communications unleashes the power to streamline workflow and empower a fleet’s drivers, vehicles and back offices to reach maximum efficiency.

Even cynical drivers who were once “technology-averse” have come to appreciate how an automated environment affords them more drive time.

We’re hearing customers praise OBR for not only slashing costs, but also for supporting their driver-retention efforts. Drivers, as well as management, are reaping significant rewards. Among them: no longer having to deal with logbook paperwork and delays associated with roadside inspections; protection against unfounded legal actions; and preservation of their CSA scores.

In essence, drivers almost always value these benefits, resulting in reduced turnover and associated costs.

But let’s get back to the impressive ROI and bottom-line benefits that the dynamic duo - OBR and mobile communications - provide. Among them are reduced overhead, insurance premiums, fuel consumption, maintenance and other costs, and improved customer service and driver efficiency.

Real-Time Data Enables Real-Time Action

Perhaps the most valuable advantage OBR technology provides is the availability of real-time data. However, real-time access to real-time data magnifies the value.

Alerts based on established thresholds let management know immediately when events occur that are critical to safety, maintenance and fuel consumption. Without this early-warning system, risky behaviors can go undetected until reports are reviewed.

In the meantime, how much fuel might a vehicle burn due to low tire pressure? How much additional engine damage could occur because a driver didn’t file an inspection report noting issues? Could a driver’s lead foot cause an accident?

The point is that managers can immediately act on these alerts to stop undesirable behaviors and avoid unnecessary costs.

Timely OBR data reporting in a meaningful format is also extremely helpful in measuring performance against goals, quickly identifying trends and warding off potential disasters. Managers who have this information - speed, sudden acceleration, sudden deceleration, long and short idle - can easily spot at-risk drivers and vehicles.

Managers can then dialog with drivers to identify root causes of undesirable behaviors and discuss issues related to the health of vehicles. When brought to their attention, drivers have the opportunity to focus on correcting negative behaviors before they lead to poor results.

Further, reports that compare historical data to current OBR data reveal recent changes in driving behaviors and vehicle performance. If a vehicle’s fuel efficiency has dropped without a change in the driver’s data, maintenance knows to check the vehicle.

This type of trendspotting enables fleets to be more aggressive in heading off issues.

With fuel costs again on the rise, optimizing MPG is on the top of everyone’s mind. For many fleets, long idle data alone has improved MPG.

One fleet told us that just by frequently monitoring driver and vehicle data helped them improve their MPG by nearly 30 percent, far exceeding their initial goal of 0.2 to 0.3 of a mile. Other recorded data related to MPG and maintenance are tire-pressure, sudden acceleration and deceleration and overspeed.

Alerts and Reporting Rein in Maintenance Expense

OBR data can drive fault-code alarm reporting/notification to help fleets avoid costly major repairs. Exception alerting acts as a heads-up to take a closer look at a potential mechanical issue that maintenance can nip in the bud before it becomes a real headache that could turn a delivery schedule upside down.

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