Leveraging G-forces and GPS

Arsenault Associates (www.arsenault.biz) introduced the Dossier Tire Management System. The solution includes a new handheld tread depth and air pressure device that communicates wirelessly with a PDA that runs Pocket Dossier, the mobile version of the Dossier fleet maintenance system. Each tire is identified by a barcoded rubber tag that can incorporate an RFID chip.

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) announced a new module for its LoadMaster enterprise transportation management system. The LoadMaster GPS Fuel Tax Module uses GPS position data to streamline reporting processes and produce accurate in-state miles for each of the tractor’s movements.

Trans+Plus Systems Corp. (www.transpluscorp.com), a Canada-based provider of transportation software technology, has integrated its Fleet Manager Professional software with SentinelFM from BSM Wireless.

Fleet Manager Professional is an intuitive, event-based trucking dispatch and freight brokerage software system. The integration offers cost-efficient automated messaging,
tracking and resource management, the company says.

Carrier Logistics Inc. (www.carrierlogistics.com), in partnership with OpSource – a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery – has introduced FACTS-ondemand, a subscription version of its FACTS freight management system, to minimize upfront costs and make the solution available to smaller carriers.

Safety lapses represent the biggest financial risk for most carriers. Some fleets spend thousands per vehicle on technology that gives drivers immediate warnings of unsafe behavior such as tailgating or speeding. Many also use onboard computers and mobile communications to monitor driver behaviors from afar.

These systems and devices generate lots of information, but analyzing and acting on that information takes effort, both by overwhelmed fleet managers and drivers who can come to treat a multitude of warnings as “white noise,” says Bryon Cook, vice president of data analytics for DriveCam, a driver risk management company.

Without the resources, expertise and processes to analyze data efficiently, you might find it difficult to take immediate corrective actions to reduce risk while identifying your truly professional drivers. However, several businesses offer services to help fleet owners transform behavioral data collected from vehicles and drivers into predictive intelligence.

GreenRoad Technologies (www.greenroadtech.com) recently launched the GreenRoad Safety Center, which combines in-vehicle driver coaching with integrated Web reporting of driver behavior and risk. Fleets can sign up for an all-inclusive subscription on a three-year basis for under $30 a month per vehicle. GreenRoad Safety Center relies on a sensor installed in a vehicle to collect information about driving behavior. In-vehicle driver coaching is done by using a simple display, mounted on the dash or next to the steering column, which features three lights – green, yellow and red. Aggressive behavior, such as speeding or weaving between lanes, will turn the light red.

“The system in the vehicle is there, constantly awake and watching what the vehicle is doing as it is rolling,” says Dan Steere, GreenRoad’s chief executive officer. The sensor detects 120 different driver maneuvers in five categories: speed, braking, acceleration, lane-handling and turning. Based on extensive research, GreenRoad Technologies has developed algorithms to convert raw-motion sensory data into meaningful information to identify high-risk maneuvers, behaviors and patterns, Steere says.

The small device in the vehicle passes information to a Web server with a suite of Web-based driver performance management tools to display high-level reports on driving performance – as well as exception-based reporting – to the fleet manager. The applications accumulate profiles of individual driver behavior. “No human intervention is involved in the process,” Steere says.

Fleets can provide drivers with a summary of their driving behavior in a weekly e-mail, for example, for all five categories monitored by the Safety Center. Such reports indicate behaviors drivers need to improve by showing them how they rate compared to the rest of the fleet.

Steere says the GreenRoad Safety Center is unique from other products in the market in that it can provide automated risk assessment and feedback to drivers based on the actual maneuvers they make. “In the history of risk management, a lot of work has been done in training and incentive programs,” he says. “The thing missing is the awareness at the time you are driving of the kind of behaviors that will lead to an accident.”

Ivox (www.ivoxdata.com) is another company that provides risk analysis and mitigation services from onboard data collection. Ivox’s DriverScore tool is device-agnostic, but the company recommends a certain, inexpensive device that fleets can use to collect sub-second accelerometer and G-force data, and second-by-second vehicle location via GPS.

“We can use information from a number of devices, but the confidence factor is determined by the frequency and granularity of data,” says Craig Lotz, president of Ivox’s commercial auto group. As vehicles return to the terminal, vehicle data is transmitted through a local area wireless network to Ivox’s data center for modeling and analysis. The data collected from vehicles amounts to 40 to 50 megabytes of data per month.

Ivox presents reports over the Web in an easy-to-use format, Lotz says. Each driver receives a score – the lower the score, the better. On an exception basis, fleet managers can drill down to see more detail – for example, to see a driver’s speed compared to the posted speed limits along his route.

In addition to spotting risky drivers, fleets are using driver scores to increase driver compensation by tying a bonus or incentive to those that score in a certain range, says Gregg Warren, president and chief executive officer of Ivox. “In the professional driving pool, there is a real sense of pride in being a professional driver,” Warren says. “A lot of people want to be the best and quantify that.”

To date, Ivox has collected 15,000 vehicle years and 280 gigabytes of data. This aggregate data is used to model risk for different types of fleets, which the company can use to help customers benchmark their safety performance.

DriveCam (www.drivecam.com) has added an unusual twist to risk management and analysis by using an audio/visual component. The company uses a palm-sized recording device to capture audio and video snippets of risky events – inside and outside the cab. The recorder is triggered by events such as hard braking and swerving.

The company analyzes every video clip that comes into its data center. It has developed algorithms to determine automatically which clips are risky and which are not, based on factors such as speed, G-forces and acceleration. Events with a high probability of risk go to a certified behavior analyst, who notes any driver behaviors that contributed to the event, such as eating or smoking. The analyst also marks any conditions, such as rain, snow and any other distractions.

Fleet managers can go to a website and view clips, including how DriveCam scored the clip, and see any coaching comments. “We analyze all clips within 24 hours of receipt,” Cook says. “[Fleet managers] are getting daily feedback so they can coach drivers.”

DriveCam also provides a weekly program management report that defines how well the fleet is conducting the program based on the turnaround time for coaching. The company also provides trending reports on the frequency and severity of events by driver and fleet segment, and can compare these to industry information by fleet type.

DriveCam currently has more than 1,700 customers and 70,000 video event recorders in the field, and is adding about 650,000 video clips per month to its data center, Cook says.

Savvy fleets are using data not only to identify poor performance but also to predict emerging risks throughout their operations (See “Fixing the future,” CCJ, September 2007). Risk analysis services can help address your operation’s greatest risk of all.

Xata to purchase GeoLogic for $17.5M
Xata Corp. last month signed a definitive agreement to acquire GeoLogic Solutions for about $17.5 million. The transaction is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2008, and closing is subject to certain closing conditions. Based in Herndon, Va., GeoLogic provides wireless asset management solutions designed to reduce operational costs while increasing overall efficiency. Its mobile communications and tracking system, MobileMax, is installed on hundreds of fleets, representing more than 35,000 trucks, across the United States. GeoLogic is also a Mobile Virtual Network Operator and provides third-party wireless data services through its CrossBridge Solutions platform.

“The acquisition of GeoLogic, when completed, opens the door to new software subscribers in the for-hire segment of the trucking industry,” says Jay Coughlan, chairman and chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based Xata. “Combined with our expertise in the private fleet segment, this acquisition will provide a platform for significant growth within the over-the-road transportation sector. The combination of our two companies will broaden Xata’s footprint in the market and further leverage GeoLogic’s technology and professional staff.”