With over 12,000 trucks and owner-operators pulling Schneider loads, the company’s connected fleets put millions of miles on the road every day. Orchestrating operations at this scale requires serious planning, coordination and real-time communication — for which Schneider has long implemented cutting-edge technology.
In 1975, Schneider installed a computerized control system that made its fleet the most advanced trucks on the road. A decade later, Schneider became the first trucking company to install two-way satellite communication systems in all company trucks.
“Thirty-plus years ago, telematics was invented by Schneider and one of its partners ,” says Mike Degeneffe, Vice President of Solution Delivery and Telematics at Schneider. “We created two-way satellite communication, which is basically greenline texting using satellites. Thirty years later, we switched to a cellular-based appliance that basically served as an ELD [electronic logging device]. It collected performance and behavior data from the truck and showed drivers their assignments. We used that for nearly a decade. Then our provider decided it wanted out of the telematics game, so it stopped investing in it. We lost our key relationship that was core to everything we do in the trucks. This was a strategic problem.”
Kellylynn McLaughlin has worked as a driver at Schneider for five years. She says the innovative technology is what first attracted her to the company, but in recent years, the software began to show its age.
“When I started at Schneider, there was a heavy investment in a technology and equipment upgrade,” McLaughlin recalls. “On the road, I would see other drivers pull out these big clipboards, and they would spend hours filling in their paper logs with rulers and pens, using maps and calculators to add up mileage. We had the in-cab device, which was good, because I didn’t have to do all that. But I didn’t really trust it, either, because it had connectivity issues and would go out at the worst times. And there were nights when a software bug got in my in-cab device and changed my ETA or next available time.”
Schneider knew its once-state-of-the-art technology needed replacing. It was slowing productivity and negatively affecting the driver experience.
“We could have switched to another piece of proprietary hardware,” says Degeneffe, “but our greatest takeaway was that we needed to eliminate our dependency on single vendors. We’re a $5 billion company and we can’t have our trucks go offline because someone decides they don’t want to be in a business that’s core to ours.”