DAT Solutions recently launched its DAT InView suite of trucking-business-management functions aimed squarely at the small for-hire carrier market, enabling fleets to track power units and locate them precisely and instantaneously. Part of the solution is an electronic logging device that pairs a connection with the electronic control module to the cellular network and syncs up with a Garmin tablet in-cab for the user interface.
DAT Products Vice President Greg Sikes hopes the device and software will be one that the companny’s traditional customer base through its freight matching services — “owner-operators and small fleets,” he says — find a fitting, useful suite, particularly at first the small-fleet side.
“When we looked at rolling out a solution, we thought first of the fleet and their fundamental desire to have a plug- and-play standardized approach to interaction in the cab,” Sikes says.
With the electronic hours of service logs portion of the package, DAT offers today the Garmin Fleet 670 unit in a subscription model the company compares to cable TV. “You sign up for a subscription – there is no hardware purchase,” Sikes says. Rather, it’s bundled into the contract. “The ELD enables your service to be delivered to you with a nominal activation fee. Monthly subscriptions start at $30 [monthly] and go up to $40 – a la carte options to add HOS reporting” and electronic driver vehicle inspection reports are available.
“You can start simple,” Sikes says, for instance with the basic truck-tracking/location visibility/communication elements of InView, “and grow as you need to.”
The Fleet 670 from Garmin is an Android-powered, WiFi-only tablet, with routing and other native apps installed with delivery. The tablet communicates wirelessly with the ECM-connected “black box” portion of the device, which itself gives the always-on connection to the cellular network.
By the time of the Mid-America Trucking Show in late March, DAT plans to offer a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) version of InView as well. “We recognize that having an optional purchase of a Garmin device isn’t going to be sufficient for the owner-operator,” Sikes says. The BYOD version will “be an app you can download from either Apple or from Google” app stores “that would connect to the in-cab ELD device.”
Sikes distinguishes DAT InView from the offerings of some other ELD providers that utilize operators’ smartphones as the user interface by pointing to the dedicated Verizon SIM card in the truck-dedicated ECM connection. “You’ll see other ELD providers who will have a lower price point, but in most cases, those ELDs don’t have their own Verizon SIM” but rather piggyback on operators’ own phone plans, using data the operators may pay extra for, he said.
Users opting into the service today will be on a 24-month contract, and there is a $100 early-cancellation fee put in to cover the cost of the hardware that comes with the package. After two years, the subscription can be simply a month-to-month affair.
Year 2016, Sikes notes, will be a year in which “you’ll see growing integration. We’ll put a significant emphasis on tying” together these hours-compliance and asset-tracking technologies with DAT’s well-known freight-matching capabilities. Location-based solutions, likewise, such as those that are a part of the free MyDAT Trucker app, too, will increasingly fit into the mix of the other technologies.
The goal: providing owner-ops and small fleets a “seamless information and workflow integration between all of these,” Sikes says, so “you can start with one and navigate” easily to capabilities providing by another.
At MATS, a significant reboot of the My DAT Trucker app and introduction of the BYOD logs solution “will be just the beginning,” he adds.