Last year, Transport America was recognized as the 2016 CCJ Innovator of the Year by Commercial Carrier Journal for developing an automated weather alert system.
The company’s IT department developed a system that uses daily dispatch and routing activities to query a web-based mapping platform from ALK Technologies, called ALK Maps, to get detailed, route-specific weather alerts and visualization.
ALK worked with other carriers to implement similar customized weather alert systems. For carriers with small IT departments, or no department at all, ALK Maps is probably too sophisticated.
On Friday, Jan. 6, CCJ spoke with Rishi Mehra, director of web products for ALK, about new products that make it possible for smaller fleets and drivers to get real-time weather alerts for daily truck routes.
“A lot of carriers and owner operators are looking to see how they can better equip themselves with tools to avoid disasters, which result in not only property damage, but fatalities,” he says.
In late 2016, the company launched a Weather Alerts module for the back-office PC Miler mileage and routing software system. Small fleets typically use PC Miler as a stand-alone system to manually look up mileages and routes. With the new weather module, fleets are able to see if their routes are, or will be, impacted by weather events.
The Weather Alerts module for PC Miler is included at no additional cost in the latest version, PC Miler 30. It is also available in the online version, PC Miler Web Premium, which has a subscription of $70 per month. Both versions allow users to save their routes in PC Miler to instantly see each day if any are impacted by real-time weather events, he says.
ALK is currently working with dispatch software providers to offer an integrated ALK Maps product that will automatically notify fleet managers if their drivers are dispatched on routes impacted by weather events, he says. That integration should be available in a few months.
Fleets can also use a web-based version of PC Miler to get weather alerts that now include current road conditions, which are visually color-coded on a digital map if they are wet, icy or snow-covered.
In the near future, the company plans to offer predictive, route-specific weather alerts for road conditions. Based on the dispatch information, an alert could be given to specify where and when on the route road conditions will be slippery, up to 24 hours in advance, he says.
In addition, ALK plans to alert the driver through the CoPilot mobile app for road conditions up ahead, and give the driver options to change plans.
“If a driver is planning a rest stop to be in compliance, we will advise the driver if it is going to be bad weather,” he says. CoPilot could automatically recommend that the driver insert a rest break sooner than planned, with the option to accept or reject that additional rest break.