U.S. Xpress to equip entire fleet with ALK’s CoPilot Truck

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ALK Technologies has announced that U.S. Xpress will deploy ALK’s CoPilot Truck GPS navigation system across its entire fleet of more than 5,000 power units. U.S. Xpress will become the largest major motor carrier to provide its drivers with spoken, truck-specific, turn-by-turn directions.

U.S. Xpress, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., recently decided to adopt CoPilot Truck companywide. ALK — a developer of profit-driving routing, mileage and mapping software solutions, including PC*Miler — says CoPilot Truck is a comprehensive solution that gets drivers where they need to go while avoiding restricted roads, tunnels and bridges; this eases the frequently intense hassle of driving a large truck in unfamiliar territory.

CoPilot Truck combines PC*Miler 20 routing and mapping with the real-time precision of GPS navigation to guide drivers turn by turn to virtually any street-level address in the United States and Canada, according to ALK; a driver is alerted to upcoming turns by voice from the speaker of the truck’s in-cab device. CoPilot Truck is designed to guide drivers around roads, bridges and tunnels with truck restrictions.

The ability of CoPilot Truck to automatically recalculate routes based on dynamic factors such as traffic, construction or accidents is a key benefit for drivers and carriers. “Drivers should not have to stop to look at an atlas and redirect themselves,” says Jeff Seibenhener, vice president of information technology for U.S. Xpress. “If they actually do get off route, for whatever reason, CoPilot Truck will determine a new route for the driver. Basically it should never allow them to get lost.” Seibenhener says that U.S. Xpress staff personnel tested CoPilot extensively on business and personal trips before installing the application on company trucks. “We tried to get lost,” he says, “but so far no one has been able to.”

Seibenhener says U.S. Xpress chose to implement CoPilot for overall operational efficiency, and specifically to better utilize driver time and fuel use. “A big part of the decision to go with CoPilot was to help retain and attract drivers,” Seibenhener says. “We interviewed drivers, ex-drivers and driver liaisons and found that directions were among the top three issues they had. So we’re addressing a top-three issue with our drivers.” U.S. Xpress drivers who tested CoPilot Truck on the road are enthusiastic. “We have received excellent feedback,” Seibenhener says. “We even had a team that was due a new truck. They turned down the new truck to keep CoPilot installed in their current in-cab unit.”

U.S. Xpress says it selected the ALK application for a number of reasons, including the fact that CoPilot Truck data resides on the onboard device; that differs from a competing system that delivers driving directions to the truck cab from the provider’s remote server. “Competing systems require that whenever you want to detour or reroute, you incur the cost of the communication back to the host application,” Seibenhener says. “We felt CoPilot Truck’s more dynamic and cost-effective functionality was a better fit for us.”

Also in contrast to the competition, according to ALK, CoPilot Truck comes with a software development kit that enables U.S. Xpress to customize views and functionality of CoPilot Truck; for example, points of interest, including truck stops and tourist attractions, are available in the CoPilot Truck database, but they can be blocked if the company so desires. U.S. Xpress also has the ability to control CoPilot Truck options wirelessly. “We can automatically configure CoPilot on the truck remotely,” Seibenhener says. “When we haul a hazmat load, we can turn on hazmat routing on the fly. The same thing is possible with routing for high-value products.”

“We are very pleased that U.S. Xpress has chosen CoPilot Truck to enhance driver satisfaction, customer service, operational efficiency and their bottom line,” says Ed Siciliano, vice president of sales and marketing for Princeton, N.J.-based ALK. “CoPilot Truck has already proven its value to many owner-operators who recognize its contribution to their small businesses. Now larger fleets are using CoPilot Truck for the same efficiency on a much larger scale. U.S. Xpress is known for its meticulous selection and application of technology in our industry. The adoption of CoPilot Truck for driver satisfaction and for their bottom line is the bellwether of a growing trend.”