Trailer-monitoring technology makes planning the next move easier
Judging by appearance alone, trailers operated by Brown Trucking are similar to most other dry vans parked at shipping and receiving facilities. But watch closely, and you’ll see that the company’s trailers don’t sit still for long.
The Lithonia, Ga.-based company’s dispatch and operations software, TruckMate by TMW Systems, stores the coordinates of each customer site where its trailers are located. The software builds an imaginary radius or “geofence” around each site to organize the data supplied by the company’s trailer-tracking systems into useful reports for its fleet managers and customers.
Brown Trucking uses the technology to manage trailer pools for customers and their consignees. Every morning, the company sends reports to customers that detail the inventory at each location and the number of days each trailer has been idle.
Kevin Slaughter, vice president of operations, says that based on his experiences with managing trailers before implementing trailer tracking, he never will put a trailer in service without the technology. “I love the integration,” Slaughter says. “We rely on it so much. We pass so much data on to customers.”
Brown Trucking has the information it needs to maximize trailer utilization. And with the economy showing signs of life, fleets like Brown Trucking can leverage the technology to help grow their business without adding capital.
For the trailers Brown Trucking owns, it uses trailer-monitoring technology from vendors TransCore and SkyBitz. The company also operates about 100 rental trailers from Xtra Lease equipped with Qualcomm’s T2 trailer-tracking technology.
Integrating trailer-tracking data into the company’s dispatch software has helped Brown Trucking improve asset utilization and lower costs. Before using trailer-tracking technology, the company needed a full-time person to manage 800 trailers. It now takes one person half a day to manage 3,000 trailers, Slaughter says.
Fleets that use the technology typically are able to achieve a return on investment in nine months or less by reducing their trailer-to-tractor ratio, says Darryl Miller, chief operating officer for Asset Intelligence, which offers the VeriWise trailer-monitoring system. In January, I.D. Systems purchased Asset Intelligence from General Electric.
In addition to achieving payback by reducing trailer-to-tractor ratios, companies can use various sensors to monitor tire pressure, cargo status and other events for more cost savings, Miller says.
Cargo Transporters significantly improved the utilization of its 1,400-trailer fleet by using a cargo sensor that automatically detects if a trailer is loaded or unloaded. The Claremont, N.C.-based company installed cargo sensors when it implemented Qualcomm’s T2 trailer-tracking system more than two years ago.
Before using trailer tracking with a cargo sensor, communications from customers and drivers regarding a trailer’s loaded and unloaded status were unreliable. Now, the technology gives Cargo Transporters the information it needs to increase the number of loads per trailer and reduce capital expenditures, says John Pope, chairman.
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