Making USCG more ready, resilient and relevant through the use of emerging mobile technology is a strategic imperative.
Based in Denver, Colorado, Blue Dot is an enterprise mobile software company that drives digital transformation for transportation, trucking and distribution organizations. Since 1988, the company has delivered innovative mobile technology, products and apps along with a cloud-based IoT platform and strategy to help increase the efficiency and productivity of drivers, driver managers and other key employees who manage fleet operations.
Blue Dot works with organizations ranging from 30 vehicles all the way up to 17,000+ trucks and provides off-the-shelf products with robust configuration capabilities for these customers. This allows each fleet organization and/or business unit to have their own unique set of business requirements that reflect how they run their fleet operations.
In addition to the focus on productivity, Blue Dot provides visibility into critical operational metrics for senior executives overseeing key areas of their fleet operations. As fleets address the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate, there is a spotlight on improving technology infrastructure and gaining better data analytics and business intelligence throughout the industry.
Making Life Easier for Drivers
Blue Dot’s MilesAhead platform and accompanying products are designed for drivers, driver managers and key executives alike. The patent-pending MilesAhead DRIVE mobile app sets out to increase driver utilization and efficiency through an innovative, unified driver experience, thereby putting an end to driver frustration with juggling an antiquated in-cab terminal, one or more smartphone “convenience” apps and a clipboard and pen to complete their loads and delivery assignments.
MilesAhead DRIVE is available as an out-of-the-box product, but many fleet organizations desire some degree of flexibility to reflect their unique operating practices. “The driver app workflow can be fully configured and scaled up or down to meet the unique needs of each customer, no matter the size of the fleet organization we’re partnering with,” says Gary Blohm, co-founder of Blue Dot.
With a sophisticated cloud-based infrastructure and APIs, MilesAhead DRIVE can interact and push or pull data to and from any source system. If a fleet has invested in proprietary in-cab software and hardware, it can continue to leverage those systems and assets while deploying a much more modern driver experience. MilesAhead DRIVE is capable of working for a fleet with a mix of telematics and HOS (hours of service) systems, ensuring that the driver experience and workflows stay the same for each and every driver.
The Future of Fleet Management
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To ensure project success, customer engagement starts with Blue Dot’s standard onsite Mobile Needs Assessment (MNA). The MNA packages on-site discovery, requirements definition, application design mockups and deliverable preparation into a single consulting document.
Throughout the project, drivers and driver managers are consulted to ensure the solution workflows reflect and properly realize the goals and objectives. If changes are required, Blue Dot uses an agile methodology to ensure that adjustments can be incorporated within an iterative, bi-weekly basis.
“Providing functional software to customers as quickly as possible throughout the implementation phase of the project is paramount. Continued and ongoing participation of the customer and applying the solution to real-world scenarios is critical to the overall project success,” Blohm says.
For smaller, more local fleets, the “Pickup and Delivery/Final Mile” configuration of MilesAhead DRIVE may be the best fit to solve typical business process challenges. This configuration includes functionality for document scanning, OS&D (over, short or damaged) goods with notes and photos and electronic chain-of-custody with signature capture. This configuration can be enhanced or evolved to a more advanced solution through additional configuration and/or tailoring, if the organization desires.
Larger, interstate fleets may find the “OTR (Over The Road)” configuration of MilesAhead DRIVE a better fit. This configuration includes all of the above functionality along with integrated safety and compliance (HOS and DVIR) features and specialized workflows for Lumpers, Bump to Dock, Scales and many more. As with any MilesAhead DRIVE configuration, this can also be enhanced or evolved as needed.
“We passionately believe our customers should have the option to leverage their initial investment and evolve that into a second or third project. We’re providing them the ability to grow their solution beyond what is originally delivered, and we feel that truly defines and supports a powerful longer-term ROI story,” says Blohm.
As the transportation and trucking industry embraces and extends digital transformation and technology such as MilesAhead, it will find new efficiencies and improve the utilization of assets. This will lead to increased profit margins.
Saving Time With Technology
Most fleets have implemented a BYOD model for their own internally focused driver apps along with some proprietary in-cab technology. But, due to limitations — e.g., lack of app-to-app integration — in this approach, a surprising number of drivers still use paper and pen as part of their load management activities. Blue Dot’s MilesAhead DRIVE advanced integration brings key telematics, HOS and load information into a single unified driver workflow, that saves drivers hours of time and eases the burden of the many administrative tasks that keep them from the road.
Historical in-cab telematics systems are inflexible and do not typically communicate with third-party apps. However, with Blue Dot and MilesAhead, fleet organizations can have multiple telematics systems or choose to transition from one system to another without impeding the use of the MilesAhead DRIVE app. MilesAhead can also integrate with almost any back office system, including cloud-based systems or internal servers.
Coupled with modern mobile devices like Samsung smartphones and tablets, such as the Tab E and Tab A tablets and Galaxy S7, S8 and Note5, drivers have access to all of information they need within a single interface, rather than switching between apps and devices. “It’s a major time-saver for the driver,” Blohm says.
An Integrated Workflow
As fleets adopt ELDs to track hours of service, that information can be integrated into the fleet management workflow through Blue Dot’s MilesAhead Interface SDK. “We’re excited about ELD, it’s great for companies that haven’t adapted technologies for their drivers yet; it gets them comfortable and familiar with driver-centric technology,” Blohm says. “Then, MilesAhead DRIVE brings data and functionality from many sources together and merges it — including hours of service — into DRIVE’s unified driver experience.”
Blue Dot’s MilesAhead solutions help fleets get a handle on data and analytics challenges and future-proof the organization’s technology foundation to optimize operations.
“Trucking organizations are realizing that MilesAhead is very cost effective because it expands profit margins by making drivers more productive,” Blohm says.
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