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Ten-Top Trucking Topics of 2012

Since the release of last year’s Annual Trucking Industry Survey (in early October 2011) researched by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the average price of a gallon of diesel has climbed 33.7 cents to $4.086. Yet fuel prices rank only fifth on ATRI’s ranking and even the economy lagged behind two critical issues for 2012. The two biggest issues for this past year both revolve around regulatory compliance: CSA and HOS.

Some accounting for the ranking pre-ambled the results. For example, the high elevation of HOS was thought to result from “a final rule on federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations…issued at the close of 2011 and the degree to which the changes will impact the industry has yet to be fully understood.” Similarly, CSA’s rise to first place is thought to be the result of “uncertainty and dissatisfaction with the impacts of CSA” throughout the industry.

The ATRI survey is distributed to a large sample of more than 4,000 trucking industry stakeholders from both the U.S. and Canada (including motor carriers, commercial drivers and other industry stakeholders) to measure the importance of each issue. As with previous surveys, respondents are asked to rank a list of ten issues. This year, a record 943 respondents completed the survey.

2012 Results

2012-Trucking-Critical-Issues

What this means for you

As with our assessment of the 2011 ATRI survey, many of the issues most concerning to trucking fleets are in the domain of solutions Webtech Wireless provides:

#1 CSA – Two years after first debuting on the top-ten list, CSA has reached the number one position for the first time. Our customers report how their Webtech Wireless solution helps them meet CSA regulatory compliance in three key areas: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, and vehicle maintenance.

#2 HOS – Our Quadrant solution specifically targets both the US Department of Transportation and Transport Canada’s Hours of Service regulations. Quadrant’s Driver Log feature provides instant access to driver information enabling transportation companies to meet regulatory requirements, maximize driver efficiency, and eliminate manual errors.

#5 Fuel Prices – Our customers tell us how their Webtech Wireless solution significantly improved their fuel economy through reduced idling, decreased speeding, and route optimization.

#6 EOBR – By automating log books, telematics and EOBR solutions ensure drivers aren’t out of hours at the wheel. The evidence from our customers is overwhelming: their managers sleep soundly at night. With the increase in no-cell-phone laws, our customers are also happy that their EOBR solution eliminates the need for cell phones. This ensures drivers are neither fatigued nor distracted at the wheel.

#7 Driver Retention – A telematics solution levels the playing field for all drivers. Rather than bad drivers getting away with things they shouldn’t, all drivers are held equally accountable. Good drivers are more likely to stay and an in cab communications and EOBR device attracts young drivers, while reducing the number of times vehicles are stopped for inspections. That makes both drivers and management happy.

The complete results were released at the 2012 Management Conference and Exhibition of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) meeting in Las Vegas, NV, the nation’s largest gathering of motor carrier executives, which David Greer attended and shared in last week’s blog post.

“ATRI’s primary mission is to conduct transportation research with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system.”
atri-online.org

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

Sad news last week with the passing of author Stephen Covey. Around the world, people in decision-making positions have taken cues from his writings and seminars to increase their productivity, happiness, and of course, success of their companies. To honor Mr. Covey, and be true to the intent of this blog (keep our finger on the pulse of AVL/GPS technologies for fleet management), we’d like to revisit his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People through the eyes of well-deployed fleet management solutions.

1. Be Proactive—Take risks and accept new challenges to achieve goals.

Steve Troyer of Troyer Ventures, an oil and gas service provider, recognized early on the need for a comprehensive solution to solve the paper jam—from dispatch to journey management. Even while many companies remained reluctant to adapt and change, Steve had a vision to lead in technology integration and set a standard for the industry.

“Our ability to provide efficient services allows us to continue to grow the industry in our community, and that means more jobs. When the company is strong we can grow. That just makes sense” —Steve Troyer, Owner, Troyer Ventures

2. Begin with the End in Mind—Bring projects to completion and unite teams and organizations under a shared vision, mission, and purpose.

Thousands of customers benefit from our solutions. In each case, a customer starts with a specific goal in mind—reducing fuel economy, improving vehicles and driver performance, or mitigating risks—each implementation has specific organizational or business goals that our customers want to achieve.

“By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”
—Mayor Larry O’Brien, City of Ottawa

3. Put First Things First—Getting the most important things done first encourages direct effectiveness

Each telematics deployment comes with unique challenges. Our proven pilot process has demonstrated time and again that getting all the pieces of the puzzle in place before a major roll out is the first step in getting to the end goal of solving your challenges with an automated GPS/AVL solution.

“The training was very comprehensive and the Webtech team has really put together a program for all levels of a corporate structure. I definitely would recommend the Webtech training program.”
—Tim Margetts (M. Ed), Director of Safety Canadian Freightways

4. Think Win/Win—Seeking mutual benefit increases group momentum

Reducing salt usage is good for the environment and fits well with municipal, provincial, and state cost saving efforts. The City of Ottawa implemented the Webtech Wireless winter operations solution for government fleets. By gaining the ability to identify excess salt usage by its contractors, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.

“We cannot keep trading short-term cost for long-term cost.”
—City of Ottawa

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood—Listening first helps you understand problems, resulting in targeted solutions.

In order to be fair to all drivers, management at Tennessee-based Dement Construction mounted a large TV screen in the office. Running our Quadrant Manager and refreshed once a minute, vehicles show up in real-time on the monitor in a highly public space.

“Trucks get there and back a lot faster. Everyone knows that they are visible on the map and every person is equally accountable for where they are.”
—Drew Newmon, Office Manager, Dement Construction

6. Synergize—Leverage the diversity of individuals to increase levels of success.

Webtech Wireless has the most experienced people in the telematics business. We started in 1999 and are pioneers in developing, deploying, and supporting telematics technology. Every time we work with an existing or new customer, we seek ways to collaborate with your teams to create a solution that will work for you in your environment with your vehicles and drivers.

“Webtech Wireless brings a sense of partnership and flexibility to handling multiple challenges.”
—Steve Gaston, Information Services Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

7. Sharpen the Saw—Implement continuous improvements and safeguards against “burnout” and subsequent non-productivity.

For Sierra Pacific Industries, information services manager, Steve Gaston estimates that their drivers were wasting twenty minutes of overtime a day filling out paperwork. With a Webtech Wireless solution, they saved $300,000 per year (based on 225 drivers working 200 days per year) in overtime. Individually for the drivers, there was an unseen benefit to the changes too:

“Our drivers get to go home [earlier] and see their spouses and kids.” –Steve Gaston

Mr. Covey was injured in a bicycle accident in April of this year, and last week succumbed to his injuries. He will be missed, yet his legacy lives on.

In memoriam, Stephen Covey, 1932 – 2012

Distracted Driving: Legislate or Implement?

Distracted drivers cost Coca-cola dearly

Faulted for its inadequate cell phone driving policy, Coca-Cola has been held responsible to the tune of $21 million by a Texas jury. Coca-Cola’s driving troubles began in 2010 when a 37-year-old woman was badly injured in Corpis Christi by a Coca-Cola driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Injury attorney, Thomas J. Henry, commented, “From the time I took the Coca-Cola driver’s testimony and obtained the company’s inadequate cell phone driving policy, I knew we had a corporate giant with a huge safety problem on [its] hands”. The news doesn’t say whether the call was personal or work related, and presumably from the standpoint of litigation, that’s irrelevant.

“We have accepted responsibility for the accident. We understand that this verdict is a response to a plea from plaintiff’s counsel to the jury to ban all cell phone use while driving.”
—Statement released by Coca-Cola after the verdict

Coca-Cola has two big problems: lost revenue and a damaged public reputation—its bright red trucks are as ubiquitous on the streets as the famous beverage is at meals. The broader implications mean that corporations will be racing to shore up liability risks by drafting tougher policies on company cell phone use. As it is, governments too are under pressure to legislate against driver cell phone and texting.

But where does this leave fleet managers who need real-time communication with their drivers during the working day? There are an estimated 1.2 million trucking companies in the U.S.—the majority of companies with 20 or fewer trucks. In Canada, over 227,000 Canadian truck drivers make trucking one of the top occupations in that country. With so many trucking companies and drivers, how can any kind of safety policy really be effective? A substantive shift is needed in which cell phones no longer play any part in fleet communications.

To enhance corporate no-cell-phone policies and government regulations, a fleet manager stands the best chance of maintaining a good safety record—and staying out of court—with an in-cab solution such as our Quadrant mobile data terminal (MDT).   The MDT includes a touch screen display with a smart on-screen keypad for easy navigation, and the added benefit of restricting usage while the vehicle is in motion.

While preventing distracted driving is more important to service fleets, this solution—also known as EOBR (electronic onboard recorder)—is perfect for long-haul operators as it supports regulatory compliance requirements such as HOS (Hours of Serve). With a Quadrant EOBR solution, you get a handle on fatigued driving as well as distracted driving.

Such dedicated solutions also transmit a wealth of data—from driving behavior to CO2 emissions and to job completion. These data can be used strategically by company decision makers to improve company-wide operations. While vehicle data gathered electronically has been admitted in court to dispute false liability claims after the fact, the most important reason to considering a telematics solution is to ensure driver and public safety by preventing unnecessary and costly accidents in the first place.

Oil and Gas Safety: What’s Working/ What’s Not

IrtizaIrtiza Zaidi is the Product Marketing Manager at Webtech Wireless.  He works closely with the safety professionals in many companies in the oil patch.

Recently, he attended the Petroleum Safety Conference—billed as “Canada’s premiere oil and gas safety conference and tradeshow”—in Banff, Alberta, for a few days to learn more about safety concerns in the oil and gas industry.

Below are his latest discoveries about the Conference and safety professionals.


Irtiza Zaidi: “Before I dive into the meat and potatoes, I wanted to share some insight into the safety profession and the folks I interacted with. I went to one breakout session led by Imperial Oil, which was quite an eye opener. The purpose was to describe the risks that safety professionals take every day on the job and how they deal with them. The idea is that, before we can start preaching to others, let’s evaluate ourselves first.

Now the view I had of safety folks was they were risk averse by-the-book people. They worked Monday to Friday and in their off time did everything possible to avoid risk. They would never cross a yellow light while driving nor would they park without paying. Well, was I was in for a shock!

We had some safety people talking about how they chased storms in Alberta. Winter storms, rain storms, blizzards, and how they had been doing this for 15 years. Another safety person talked about how they wore helmets on their motorcycles while travelling at speeds of 120 on the Canadian highways, but once they got to the US, the helmets came off. Or the safety person who jumped between moving boats in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while it was raining, so she could help out with a lobster catch.

The presentations I attended were delivered well and the topics of immense importance. Colonel Mark Trostel, Driving Safety Advisor with Encana, presented, Driving Safety: Enhancing Performance, Reducing Exposure, in which he described some of the challenges of using in-cab audible feedback (such as buzzers and beeps), to try to change driver behaviour. He provided helpful statistical information as well as first-hand knowledge of the affect alerts have on drivers.

Here are some statistics shared in this presentation:

40% of all fatalities in the energy industry occur in vehicles

Leading indicators of crashes

–          Excessive Braking, following too closely, distracted driving

–          Rapid starts and aggressive or reckless driving

–          Habitual speeding dramatically increases risk and severity of accidents

–          Frequent Lateral “Gs” are precursors to a rollover crash

Encana’s AVL program for its light-duty vehicles provides

–          Driver scorecards that were emailed to the driver each week

–          Supervisors with the ability to review their drivers’ driving habits

What worked?

–          Providing drivers with feedback about their performance on a weekly basis

–          Providing incentives to drivers with good behavior worked

–          Having drivers compare themselves with their peers led to the drivers creating their own “Top 100 Club”

What didn’t work?

–          Driver feedback by way of audible tones or flashing lights only lasted three weeks before the drivers went back to their old driving patterns.”

“Safe Driving Programs – Why Should I Care?” by Colonel Mark Trostel, EnCana in 2010

Pro-EOBR Campaign Gaining Ground

Pro-EOBR Campaign Gaining GroundOn May 2, 2012, The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said that its campaign to provide carriers, drivers, owner-operators with an easy way to send pro-EOBR messages to federal MPs is gaining ground. According to the CTA, “To date, several hundred carrier companies and individual drivers have sent about 1,500 messages directly to MPs from across Canada.”

The web forums are crackling with debate both for and against electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). Many comments cannot be reprinted here, but some point to a rich fabric of support for EOBRs—from fleets owners to independent drivers. Ultimately, EOBRs support accountable drivers.

“Bring on the EOBRs. Drivers need a wakeup call as to the hours they’re putting in and not getting paid.”

If you’d like to weigh in for EOBR support, here’s what you can do:

1. Look up your Member of Parliament (for Canadians only).

2. Choose from the following links:

Company owners and fleet managers

Drivers

3. Complete the form and choose Submit.

4. Alternatively, by typing a four-digit text code, drivers can send a message to their MPs from a cell phone. Simply text the letters eobr to the number 77777.

Federal Transport Minister, Denis Lebel, said EOBRs can “improve Hours of Service regulatory compliance by reducing the opportunity for commercial drivers to exceed regulated driving hours or falsify logbooks”. Lebel added that “a technically flexible, performance-based EOBR standard, combined with a suitable phase-in period would hopefully allow sufficient time for suppliers to offer cost-effective options meeting the needs of carriers and drivers”.

CTA president, David Bradley, agrees with this statement adding, “While we understand that there is a minority in the industry who may oppose an EOBR mandate, it’s important that decision makers hear from those who have experience with EOBRs in enhancing compliance and making highways safer.”

“Our efforts show that there are many carriers and drivers who are clearly in favour of replacing outdated paper logbooks with more efficient and compliant electronic monitoring devices,”
—David Bradley, President, Canadian Trucking Alliance

Transport Canada supports the development of an EOBR standard that leverages the work done in the United States. It is in favour of a harmonized North American standard that Transport Canada states, “Ultimately, a harmonized North American standard would be ideal in consideration of the importance of domestic and cross-border trade.”

Meanwhile in the United States, the American Truckers’ Association (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) are squaring off about mandated HOS solutions. The ATA maintains that EOBRs make roads safer and drivers more accountable, while the OOIDA counters that it poses an infringement of drivers’ rights and is prohibitively expensive for smaller independent trucking companies.

“Clearly, these devices lead to greater compliance with maximum driving limits, which is very good for the trucking industry as a whole and highway safety.”
— Bill Graves, President and CEO, American Truckers’ Association

NAFA – Embracing the Future

We were at the NAFA 2012 trade show (North America Fleet Managers Association) in St. Louis and one of the highlights of the show was the keynote presentation, Making Sense of the Future, given by Dr. Peter Bishop, PhD. Together with other trade show attendees, we gathered in full force and in great anticipation to hear Dr. Bishop provide a wide vision of the future of debt, oil & resources, people and demographics, automotive market and emerging technologies.

Patrick Lizotte, our account manager in Quebec and eastern North America said, “Dr. Bishop invited us to look into change versus sudden change, and our relationship and involvement with technology and computers; that is, how we are evolving and adapting ourselves toward the computer era”.

Some of the topics he presented included:

  • Which trends and technologies impact on our business?
  • Which scenarios of the future are imaginable?
  • What will we probably have to face and what not?
  • Which surprising changes of direction could the future take?
  • Which new future markets and business models are imaginable for us?
  • Which alternative designs for the future of our company exist?
  • What do we need to do to use our opportunities and secure our future?

Dr. Bishop concluded his presentation with a simple two-word recommendation, “Stay Awake”. – Be certain to handle Future and Change.

Dr. Peter Bishop is an associate professor of Human Sciences and chair of the graduate program in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Dr. Bishop specializes in techniques for long-term forecasting and planning. He delivers keynote addresses, conducts seminars on the future for business, government and not-for-profit organizations, and also facilitates groups in developing scenarios, visions and strategic plans for the future.

Ville de Québec Top Finalist for Intelligent Community Award

Ville de QuébecWe are thrilled to report that Ville de Québec (Quebec City) is among seven finalists for the municipally coveted 2012 Intelligent Community award.

Since 2001, Ville de Québec has been actively developing its broadband infrastructure and, in 2009 as part of its commitment to bettering itself as an intelligent community, implemented our InterFleet solution to its winter fleet operations.

Each year, the Intelligent Community Forum presents this award to intelligent communities that “have come to understand the enormous challenges of the broadband economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it”.  The awards program has two goals: to salute the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology, and to gather data for ICF’s research programs.

As part of Ville de Québec’s commitment to promoting web-based solutions, the city launched an interactive Web map to provide high-quality cartographic and zoning data. Among other capabilities, the map displays real-time locations of the city’s snow plows. “Through smarter deployment of plows, the city has been able to reduce the number of vehicles and operating expenses per vehicle while providing better results.”

In 2009, Ville de Québec chose Webtech Wireless’ InterFleet solution for their snow plows and winter fleet operational information, because it offered real-time information (five-second reporting and automatic map updates), support for multiple spreader controllers, and great road salt management capabilities.

The seven finalists for the Award (in alphabetical order):

  • Austin, Texas, United States
  • Oulu, Finland
  • Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Riverside, California, United States
  • Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Stratford, Ontario, Canada
  • Taichung City, Taiwan

More About Québec’s Award Nomination

Quadrant Manager goes Mobile

Our “Win an iPad from Webtech Wireless” promotion at the four trade shows we’re attending this spring is proving very popular, while serving the purpose as an avenue for launching our mobile version of Quadrant Manager.

Quadrant Mobile Manager iPad

The Quadrant Manager Mobile for the iPhone and iPad is really a new way of viewing Quadrant Manager, this time on an iOS interface. It gives fleet managers the same ability to view strategic real-time information about their fleet, but without needing to log into a desktop computer (such as what they’d find in a Dispatch office). This iPhone and iPad capability is enabled automatically for users who already access Quadrant Manager from their office.

To clear up any confusion that this is another offering of our Quadrant In-Cab MDT device, it is not. That solution—providing CSA and HOS capabilities to drivers—is indeed mobile, but does not offer the enterprise level insight into fleet operations as does Quadrant Manager.

Quadrant Manager Mobile iPhone

Our customers have told us that mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad are critical to improving their productivity. Quadrant Manager Mobile now enables you to maximize the Quadrant Manager information you need—in the field, in real-time.

Remember, if you’re attending any of the trade shows that we are exhibiting at, visit the Webtech Wireless booth and sign up to win one of four Apple Resolutionary iPads. Click here to find our booth location.

Investment in Lean Technology Powers CP’s Success

Despite unusual harsh winter conditions in parts of western North America and a weak valuation of its stock, Canadian Pacific is reporting if first-quarter profits to be far ahead of predictions. Founded in 1881, Canadian Pacific (CP) is one of Canada’s oldest railway companies.

Yesterday’s article in the Vancouver Sun quotes BMO Capital Markets analyst, Fadi Chamoun, “We believe the results also demonstrate that the company has begun to reap the benefits of recent investments in its infrastructure and lean initiatives.” According to the Vancouver Sun, “Chamoun estimated that CP’s operating ratio in the first quarter has improved to the 80-81% range from 90.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2011”.

Part of their commitment to infrastructure and lean initiatives involves the implementation of our Quadrant solution to streamline its InterModal operations (moving freight between trains and CP’s customers). CP benefits from Quadrant in two ways:

  • Save Costs – Rather than CP drivers waiting up to an hour to be dispatched, Quadrant’s In-Cab solution saves time and costs cumulatively over its hundreds of drivers by eliminating the need for mobile phone communication to dispatch drivers.
  • Increase Revenue – By using Quadrant’s geofencing features, CP has identified distribution centres with long stop times. Because CP has a contractual agreement with customers on the maximum amount of wait time at the distribution centre, CP tracks work with customers who are not meeting their contractual obligations and bills them accordingly for excess time.

By investing in its infrastructure and committing to lean initiatives, CP Rail is thriving even in the face of harsh markets and harsh winters.

NextBus Rolls into Saint John

Saint John Transit bus on King Street soon to be equipped with NextBus AVL solution

Saint John Transit bus on King Street soon to be equipped with NextBus AVL solution

Back in February 2010, Webtech Wireless expanded its InterFleet® implementation with the city of Saint John, New Brunswick to include an additional 100 public works and police vehicles—a contract valued at over $100,000. Now to complement the city’s Interfleet solution, Saint John Transit also plans to deploy a Webtech Wireless solution—NextBus.

NextBus will provide Saint John Transit with an AVL tracking solution for its 60 buses, allowing riders to check bus arrivals in real-time. Using PCs, landline phones, cell phones, or SMS text messaging, riders get real-time travel information (each bus is fitted with a satellite tracking system) designed to help them decide whether catching the next bus is a sprint or leisurely stroll. Currently, riders can only view a static schedule of intended bus arrivals and departures on the company’s web site.

NextBus will also install five LCD screens at various locations around the city, including McAllister Place Mall and the university campus (UNBSJ) and LED screens at bus stops. To help make public transport more attractive to potential riders (and as a nod to Saint John Transit’s already existing environmental initiatives), the service will add to the city’s existing hot spots with free WIFI for riders on all its buses.

About NextBus

A subsidiary of Webtech Wireless, San Francisco-based NextBus implements real-time passenger information systems used by dozens of transit agencies, universities and other transit operators across North America. Because traffic variations, breakdowns, and day-to-day problems faced by any transit provider can interrupt service, NextBus was designed to help keep riders on schedule even if their buses aren’t. NextBus uses satellite technology and advanced computer modeling to track vehicles on their routes.

About Saint John

Historic Saint John has been a transportation hub since long before confederation

Historic Saint John has been a transportation hub since long before confederation

As Canada’s oldest incorporated city and New Brunswick’s largest municipality, the city of Saint John has been providing municipal services for more than two centuries. According to Statistics Canada, the Saint John municipal area has a population of 122,389, with a population density of 36.4 persons per square kilometre.

The Port of Saint John is one of Canada’s most important ports (its relatively mild maritime climate keeps its deep-water harbour ice-free year round when inland ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway must contend with ice). This keeps the city’s businesses and industries bustling throughout the year. In 2010 for the first time ever, the Port of Saint John exceeded 30 million metric tonnes of cargo in a single year.

About Saint John Transit

Saint John Transit was established in 1979 to provide scheduled transit service to the city. It replaced City Transit Limited (1948-1979) and a string of others dating back to the People’s Street Railway Company (1869-1876). Saint John Transit is the largest public transit system in the province, both by mileage and passengers.

SaintJohn-110617-01web

Saint John Transit bus now equipped with NextBus wireless AVL solution

Saint John Transit Statistics

Saint John Transit’s ridership is approximately 50 percent higher than the average for Canadian cities with a population of between 50,000 and 150,000.

  • Number of vehicles: 60
  • Ridership: 2.5 million riders per year

Current active fleet bus types:

Greening Saint John

Saint John Transportation Usage - 2006 Census

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population.

To reduce auto emissions, the City of Saint John, along with the Federal and Provincial governments, is investing in public transportation between uptown Saint John and outlying communities. Branded as ComeX (Community Express), it provides a rapid bus transport service during peak commuting times. With the implementation of ComeX, greenhouse gas emissions are projected to drop by 1,500 metric tonnes and downtown traffic will decrease by 800 vehicles a day over the next five years.

Additional reading: