2021: A year of innovations

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Updated Dec 31, 2021

Each month, CCJ profiles a fleet for deploying – and in many cases, developing – innovative strategies and/or technologies that improve their business. These can be recruitment and retention initiatives, maintenance practices, back office technologies and anything (and everything) in between. 

Below is a round up of CCJ's 2021 Innovators. 

Werner enjoying ROI from EDGE fleet management

Despite the memes, t-shirts, political firestorms and late-night monologues, 2020 wasn’t a total wash. For longtime trucking giant Werner Enterprises (CCJ Top 250, No. 11), last year proved to be the right time to roll out its cloud-based propriety mobile fleet management program, Werner EDGE.

Announced in May, Werner EDGE has been helping drivers, carriers and shippers gain a better handle on the complex world of trucking, which got even tougher during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Read the full story on January's Innovator here

Titan Freight exec plans to bridge the divide to zero-emissions

Titan Freight Systems in 2010 set an ambitious goal to reduce fleet emissions by 20% within a decade.

The Portland, Oregon-based company’s Vision 2020 plan had metrics tied to fuel efficiency gains. To execute on those metrics, Titan replaced most of the 2007 EPA Tier 2 and older engine emission trucks in its fleet and invested hundreds of thousands in aftermarket products that included engine idle shut off devices, cab fairings, trailer side skirts, wheel covers and technology for monitoring driver speeds and behaviors.

In the second quarter of 2020, Titan Freight began using a new fuel that significantly reduces emissions and creates a low-cost advantage – renewable diesel (RD, or R99).

Read the full story on February's Innovator here

XPO boosts training efficiency with virtual reality

XPO Logistics (CCJ Top 250, No. 6) kicked off the new year with a successful six-week-long pilot of its virtual reality (VR) training for less-than-truckload (LTL) employees in North America. The solution integrates XPO software with Oculus for Business headsets, and the company plans to scale its new-age training solution across its LTL operations in the months ahead.

The company’s use of virtual reality for LTL training follows its deployment of augmented reality at key logistics sites, where headsets guide employees during inventory picking.

Read the full story on the March Innovator here

Montgomery Transport's image-based load securement app leads to more effective training, reduced claims

A picture can be worth a lot more than a thousand words. It can help keep loads secure and lead to fewer claims and out-of-service violations.

That’s been the case for Birmingham, Alabama-based Montgomery Transport, which has taken an app originally designed for improving office communications with drivers and transformed it into an image-based safety tool that’s reinforcing cargo safety management and reducing claims.

Read the full story on our April Innovator here

Trailiner’s gambit prevents miscues, reduces driver turnover

Operating errors can be quite costly for motor carriers, like when a driver misreads a trailer number and hooks up to the wrong asset. By the time someone notices the exception, a chunk of fuel, labor and revenue has been wasted and a customer service failure has, or is about to, occur.

Preventing this and other types of errors, such as miscommunications that contribute to driver turnover, have been major focus points for Amber Edmondson after she purchased the company in December 2018 from its founder, H.E. “Spook” Whitener.

Read the full story on the May Innovator here.

Laredo-based fleet uses technology to push back on insurance spike

Despite zero at-fault accidents in 2019, Regional Express Carriers (REC) – Barry Conlon's 24 truck Laredo-based fleet – "was being lumped into the same bucket as everybody else," he said, "because there's been an increase in the number incidents, the number of verdicts ... The almost daily struggles to afford these premiums is just crippling."

Conlon knew the kind data that could show underwriters a carrier's accident risk existed, but packaging it all together was problematic. So he set out to create the platform himself. 

Read the full story on June's Innovator here

UniGroup lands a 'big win' with its new transportation management system

UniGroup (CCJ Top 250, No. 25) in 2019 decided it was time to start considering a replacement for an older transportation management system that was looking increasingly obsolete. To help improve its competitive edge in logistics, UniGroup partnered with Rose Rocket, a Canada-based software company that develops transportation management software by the same name. The two companies went to work in 2019 to tailor a system for UniGroup that would help smooth out the kinks common to the supply chain business.

Read the full story on our July Innovator here

JLE Industries turns load planning over to drivers

Evan Pohaski and a team of investment partners in 2014 started a flatbed carrier in Pittsburg. Besides purchasing new trucks and trailers, the fledgling JLE Industries acquired fleet management technology from established vendors in the industry.

From the start, leadership was focused on how to set the company apart.

To that end, in 2015 a decision to develop a proprietary software platform was made to help load planners and managers better serve the needs of drivers.

Read the full story on the August Innovator here.

Prime boosts reach of weekly drivers meetings with social media

YouTube can be a handy resource for many things, from learning how to change the engine oil in a 1997 Honda Civic to the basics of karate. For the drivers for Prime, Inc., (CCJ Top 250, No. 14) YouTube has become an invaluable enabler of staying connected with their company and fellow drivers.

Read the full story on September's Innovator here.

DapeCon tries to digitize, electrify intermodal trucking

Port terminals are the event horizon, with inefficiencies coming from drayage and other players creating gravitational pull.

Most dray carriers are small operators that use manual processes like faxes, texts, instant messages, and phone calls to complete tasks associated with picking up, delivering, and returning containers to ports. 

Six years ago, Dvinov co-founded DapeCon, an intermodal trucking company in Linden, N.J., with fellow business partners Leonardo Cancela and Eugene Karp. The trio had previously launched a freight forwarding, container transloading and warehousing business, Dapex, in 2005.

The vision for DapeCon was to not be another trucking company. They wanted to digitize all aspects of the intermodal business.

Read the full story on the October Innovator here

Transition from employee to employee-owner pays off big for Long Haul Trucking

Almost a decade ago, Long Haul Trucking (CCJ Top 250, No. 223) founder John Daniels was looking forward to retirement and there were no shortage of suitors for the 365-truck Albertville, Minnesota-based carrier. But rather than cash out and hand over the keys to the company that he spent 25 years building, he instead turned to the people who helped build it – his employees. 

Read the full story on November's Innovator here

NFI rolls dice to secure equipment, refocuses driver recruitment

As ports across the U.S. continue to take on historic freight surges fueled by increased online shopping, NFI (CCJ Top 250, No. 21) has sought to mitigate the uptick in demand for equipment, especially chassis. 

Chassis supply levels were already strained prior to COVID, NFI senior vice president Aaron Brown said, prompting a need to think outside the box to keep up with growing demand at the ports.

Read the full story on December's Innovator here

CCJ Innovators profiles carriers and fleets that have found innovative ways to overcome trucking’s challenges. If you know a carrier that has displayed innovation, contact CCJ Chief Editor Jason Cannon at jasoncannon@randallreilly.com or 800-633-5953. The CCJ Innovators program is brought to you by ComdataFreightliner TrucksOmnitracs and EOX Vantage