Mobile Transportation Solution Reduces Overhead, Increases Driver Experience and Complies With ELD Mandate [CASE STUDY]
Dissatisfied with a proprietary technology solution for electronic logging, Rocha Transportation, a small to mid-sized trucking company that transports fragile, valuable cargo, needed a way for its drivers to comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and also tap into the benefits of fleet management telematics. To meet growing customer demands, Rocha Transportation needed in-cab devices that had a low cost of entry, supported their fleet management solution and would enhance the driver experience.
Rocha Transportation equipped its fleet of 50 trucks with the Omnitracs XRS platform run on Samsung Galaxy Tab E devices and secured in their trucks using RAM vehicle mounts. Rather than filling out paper logs or using a proprietary system that took up to 15 minutes to log in a driver, the new solution makes life easier for drivers, dispatchers and managers.
The mobile solution saves drivers
in productivity each day.
Rocha Transportation went from paying an average of $1,600 to $450 per device, resulting in an approximately 70 percent cost savings. They’re now prepared to comply with the ELD mandate in December 2017, and have improved their fleet management. They’re also expanding their use of the Omnitracs XRS platform for telematics, dispatching and geofencing, allowing for better management visibility and customer service. The new system saves drivers 15 to 30 minutes of administrative time each day, making them more productive — and satisfied — on the road.
The electronic logging system removes the guesswork from hours of service compliance.
A family-owned company founded in 1963, Rocha Transportation operates a 50-truck fleet from its headquarters in Ceres, California. The company primarily serves wine producers and nut growers in northern and central California, as well as import and export drayage out of the Port of Oakland.
The average route is 100 miles, and most of the 62 company drivers are able to return home each day.
The company has emphasized safety for many years, winning National Fleet Safety Awards in 2005, 2008 and 2011.
Regulatory Compliance, Better Fleet Management
Rocha Transportation thought it was far ahead of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandate for ELDs. While the use of ELDs has been voluntary for several years, the FMCSA recently mandated ELDs for trucking companies to record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS). But while many trucking companies were still using paper logbooks, others, like Rocha, had already adopted systems with proprietary in-cab hardware and software.
To record their RODS, drivers have to log their status for each 24-hour period in four categories: off duty, sleeper-berth, driving and on duty – not driving. On Rocha’s original paper logs, the smallest allowable increment was 15 minutes, so drivers lost driving time each day if they completed tasks in less time, but couldn’t record it that way. Drivers could use a “remarks” section on the log, but that could lead to a messy logbook.
Rocha installed an ELD system in its fleet back in 2013, but Rocha drivers and dispatchers weren’t happy with it. “The old device was extremely slow; that was one of the things that the drivers didn’t like about them,” says Zach Dirksen, corporate treasurer of Rocha Transportation. Jeff Rose, a truck driver for Rocha who has about 25 years of experience in the industry and once owned his own small fleet of trucks, agrees. “With the old system,” Rose says, “you’d come in the morning and log on, and sometimes it would take up to 10-15 minutes to log in and get started.”
Rocha’s drivers had already made the switch from paper to electronic logging devices, so they were onboard with the ELD concept. But the company also wanted fleet telematics to monitor vehicle and driver performance, and to eventually manage dispatching and customer service through mobile devices.
With the previous system, drivers and dispatchers communicated via two-way radio or cellphones. In some areas, such as the far end of the Port of Oakland docks or the hilly regions of wine country, reception was poor. Drivers and dispatchers were frustrated with the poor communications, and last-minute adjustments to meet customer demands were sometimes impossible.
The Rocha Transportation team contacted Omnitracs, a provider of fleet management, routing and predictive analytics solutions for private and for-hire fleets, about their XRS mobile solution. The Omnitracs XRS solution operates on Samsung devices, bringing an enterprise-grade fleet solution to smartphones and tablets. The platform delivers full FMCSA compliance and a suite of fleet optimization tools.
Installation is easy and takes about 10 minutes to connect the palm-sized relay device in the cab to the ECM in the truck engine. Data is transmitted via Bluetooth to the driver’s device, and is also uploaded automatically to the cloud server for real-time visibility, exception alerts and fleet analysis.
Once they settled on the solution, Dirksen wanted to identify a mobile device that a driver could use outside the cab for driver vehicle inspection reporting, photographs of loads or other uses such as signature capture. “They were looking for a mobile device so that the drivers wouldn’t be tethered to their vehicles, and remove the limits on what a driver can do with their device,” says Edward Prisco, sales manager for Omnitracs. Dirksen decided on the 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab E, and started with 50 devices and RAM vehicle mounts. “We used the tablets for the demonstration and we really liked them; they were a lot faster than the displays we had before,” he says.
The drivers like the easy-to-use tablets and the response time of the system. “With the Samsung tablet and the Omnitracs system, it gets you logged in within a minute or two,” Rose says. “At the end of the day, you’re done and ready to go home right away.”
Rocha started out using the E-log portion of the XRS solution so drivers can now track their time digitally. The driver starts the day by entering their information, and the truck and trailer information. From there, when the truck starts moving, the system automatically switches to driving status, and when they stop it switches to on duty – not driving. The system tracks driver time in real-time increments rather than the 15-minute increments of the logbook, so both drivers and dispatchers have an up-to-the minute status of the driver’s remaining time. “It lets the drivers focus more on driving rather than keeping their logbook,” Dirksen says.
The next step is to integrate the XRS system with the Rocha dispatching system, with geofencing around customer terminals. The system will automatically notify shippers and receivers of events that require driver or dispatcher intervention, and dispatchers will be able to send routing text messages directly without relying on phones or radios.
Samsung Galaxy Tablets
The thin, lightweight design allows employees to work from anywhere.
A premium device that combines the performance IT teams need with the sleek design employees want.
Happy Drivers, Better Productivity
Dirksen says Rocha Transportation is preparing for growth, and the mobile ELD and fleet management solutions make success possible through:
Increasing productivity: The mobile solution saves drivers from 15 to 30 minutes each day on logging and paperwork. “Some drivers were cautious about it at first, but after a week or so they tell me they wouldn’t drive any other way,” Dirksen says. There are a good number of administrative tasks the drivers don’t have to worry about anymore.
Cost savings: The tablets’ low cost of entry has resulted in Rocha paying an average of $450 per device, down from an average of $1,600 for their previous devices. This has resulted in a cost-effective way to comply with the ELD mandate while improving the driver experience.
Better fleet management: “Dispatchers can go online and see the trucks that are out and how much time the driver has left,” Dirksen says. “So it’s saved a lot of phone calls, and we can give customers more definitive answers on what’s happening with their load.”
Driver satisfaction: The electronic logging system removes the guesswork from hours of service compliance, which was a source of stress for drivers. “Now all your time is accounted for. When you’re done, you’re done, and nobody can push you to do more,” Rose says.
Improved communication: Messaging via the tablet eliminates hard-to-hear radio and phone calls, and “there’s always a paper trail in case there are any questions,” Dirksen says.
Improved monitoring: The system will track driver skills such as hard braking, speeds, idle time that influences safety and fuel efficiency. “Safety is a big deal for us, so there are all kinds of factors that we can use to coach drivers on things that they can do to improve, or where they’re doing a good job already,” Dirksen says.
Poised for growth: Rocha is planning to expand its fleet, and the Omnitracs XRS system with Samsung tablets will enable each dispatcher to handle more drivers. Currently, each dispatcher can handle 15 trucks at a time, and Dirksen hopes the automation will boost that to 25 drivers per dispatcher.
According to Dirksen, the transition to the tablets and mobile logging and management solutions has been well received across the organization. “We are just really, really happy with the devices,” he says. “They’ve worked consistently from the beginning. We haven’t had any failures or defects, and the drivers really like them.”