While Werner truck drivers are on the road delivering cargo throughout North America, Werner’s inspectors are working hard behind the scenes to ensure every truck runs properly and doesn’t experience a mechanical failure that could leave a driver stranded on the road.
“Werner Enterprises has nearly 8,000 trucks and 24,000 trailers driving approximately 3.5 million miles each business day,” says Tristan Nolan, product manager for Werner. “It’s critical to us that each of our trucks is safe and ready for the road.”
That means conducting 60,000 inspections a year. And it used to mean scanning and filing a ton of paperwork. Now, the inspections are paperless — saving time and yielding rich real-time data, thanks to a custom mobile app installed on Samsung Tab Active devices.
From notebooks to tablets
Inspectors at Werner Enterprises conduct regular mid-trip inspections on all trucks. They walk around the truck checking the lights, brakes and tires for visible signs of problems that could lead to breakdowns on the road. Each truck undergoes a more rigorous inspection mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) twice a year. During these 90-minute evaluations, inspectors check the suspension systems, fluid levels and brakes (again). Werner is required to do this once a year for each truck and trailer, but they do it twice a year because safety for their drivers and the motoring public is their number one priority.
To make data entry more efficient, Werner developed a proprietary mobile app that shows inspectors the same checklists and forms they’re accustomed to, but in an intuitive layout on a Samsung rugged tablet. The Tab Active is built to military durability standards, so it can handle repeated drops and dirt. Inspectors simply log into the app with a single sign-on, follow the displayed checklist, note any problems and submit. Along the way, they can use the Tab Active’s camera to take photos for the maintenance team.
“In the past, inspectors would carry a notepad in their shirt pocket around the yard and write down any potential red flags,” says Nolan. “Then they would fill out the inspection documents, which were a couple of forms, and attach another form certifying they were qualified to perform the DOT inspections. Now, they use this Samsung rugged tablet and have a one-stop-shop for entering all the data.”
Werner’s new inspection management solution modernizes the inspector experience with mobile technology and real-time data entry, but the main advantage is for the back-office staff and maintenance team.
“With the paper-based system, our imaging department would have to scan several sheets of paper for all 60,000 inspections, print them off and put them in a file cabinet,” explains Nolan. “It was a wasteful process.”
It was also an inefficient process for the scheduled maintenance coordinators who needed access to those documents. They had to scroll through emails, imaging software or filing cabinets to dig up the information they needed. Even when they found the forms, it was often hard to diagnose the problem without photos. Now, they have easy access to all this information, supplemented by photos.
“Our scheduled maintenance team is finding it much easier to locate these documents and follow up,” says Nolan. “Having photos lets them see what that technician saw, so we can be better at catching things as early as possible to maintain uptime. And with the input on the tablet, we’re able to use some of that data to feed machine learning models for our maintenance program.”
On the road again
Proper time management is critical for a truck driver, the company and the customers. While a driver is waiting for roadside assistance, predictive maintenance can help prevent them from losing precious time.
“We’re getting better data from these inspections,” says Nolan, “which allows us to capture issues earlier, and machine learning models are helping to fuel predictive maintenance initiatives, which could reduce the times a driver experiences a breakdown on the road. We’re expecting to see a significant reduction in driver downtime.”
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Werner drivers don’t always see what’s happening behind the scenes to keep them safe on the road, but they certainly understand the value of mobile solutions in trucking. In 2020, Werner equipped nearly 8,000 trucks with Samsung rugged devices and a robust mobile app called Werner EDGE Connect that provides drivers’ assignments, GPS directions and real-time messaging with fleet managers.
Going forward, Werner plans to continue modernizing both the driver experience and the inspector experience in partnership with Samsung. “The customizable tablets and custom mobile apps provide a framework for how we’re going to keep innovating across the company,” says Nolan. “For example, we plan to build mobile apps for other types of inspections, like damage claims and cross-border inspections. With the tablet and cloud environments we’ve utilized, we’ll be able to easily improve those workflows and keep innovating.”
We all rely on truck drivers, especially during the pandemic. That’s all the more reason to give them the tools they need — like an in-cab electronic logging device (ELD) — to have a better work experience, while you lower operating costs. Samsung also offers other mobile transportation solutions, so you and your drivers can get where you need to go, safely and efficiently.