F.T. Silfies implements PeopleNet onboard computing system

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PeopleNet, a provider of onboard computing and mobile communications systems for the transportation industry, has announced that F.T. Silfies Inc., a mid-Atlantic regional dry bulk carrier, has installed PeopleNet’s tracking and mobile communications system throughout its fleet of 161 power units.

“We are pleased that one of the nation’s fastest-growing dry bulk carriers with a well-honed reputation for customer service has elected to do business with PeopleNet,” says Ron Konezny, chief operating officer of Minneapolis-based PeopleNet. “The suite of leading-edge applications has helped them to enhance their efficiency, and we have worked closely with them to ensure we continue to deliver optimal functionality and return on investment.”

Headquartered in Nazareth, Pa., Silfies specializes in bulk cement transport, using its fleet to transport bulk commodities such as sand, flyash and newcern, along with other products such as bag cement, brick, block and numerous other construction materials by flatbed. The company operates a fleet of self-contained storage vessels.

“We take pride in our commitment to serving our customers and strive to uphold the reputation that we have established,” says Randy K. Sheeler, president and chief executive officer of Silfies. “We’re automating our entire processes with our technology to ensure our ability to continue to deliver the personal service and timeliness of our services.”

“If the driver is late for any reason, including a backup at the cement mill or traffic delays, it causes a chain reaction for the remainder of our customers,” he says. “Prior to implementing PeopleNet’s onboard mobile communications, we had to wait until the driver called in after delivering his first load before we knew what his status was. With PeopleNet, we can notify our customers about the status of their deliveries and make alternate arrangements if necessary.”

Much of what Silfies has done historically has been a manual process with very little integration, including the communication with its drivers. Sheeler says the adoption of PeopleNet onboard communications has infused greater efficiencies in an operation with 180-mile length of haul in which drivers average three turns a day.

“Drivers don’t have to spend extra unnecessary time coming back to a central dispatch, which is absolutely critical given the new hours-of-service requirements,” says Sheeler. “We’re also able to save three hours a day in our dispatch by sending instructions directly to the truck and preloading our trucks. This gives our drivers the ability to hit the ground running rather than spending 2 to 3 hours waiting until they get loaded.”

In fact, Silfies plans to create a performance package that will give their drivers a monetary incentive to enhance fuel mileage and reduce idle time, as well as utilize their time more efficiently when orders change en route or backhauls are arranged.

Beyond dispatching efficiencies, Sheeler will use PeopleNet to help with automating fuel taxes, logs, billing and settlement features so drivers get paid on time and accurately. In addition, PeopleNet is allowing Silfies to monitor idle time and fuel economy.