Samsara introduces new platform features at first user conference

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Updated Jun 17, 2022
Driver being coached following In-Cab Nudges alerts
Samsara introduces multiple new platform features, including In-Cab Nudges that provides safety alerts to drivers and allows administrators to coach if a driver fails to self-correct.

IoT company Samsara launched its customer feedback loop that has fueled its growth when it met with Revolution Foods, a company that delivers healthy meals to schools in 23 states across the U.S. When Samsara showed up on site with a box of temperature sensors for the company to deploy on its vehicles, the team recognized an even greater need in a room full of paper: charts everywhere and maps on the walls.

“That's how they were doing their route plans, and then we heard it. We heard phone calls everywhere from their customers, and these were cafeterias basically calling in asking where the driver was,” said Samsara CEO Sanjit Biswas. “They wanted a better way to operate, but they didn't know how. Being the tech people, we had some ideas. We went back, started writing a bunch of code, and came back a couple of weeks later with a new feature. This was the feature that literally put Samsara on the map: real-time GPS tracking.”

And the company has expanded from there across many industries.

In the past year, Samsara has added more than 200 new features and enhancements to its connected operations cloud, and it introduced its newest product features on Wednesday at its inaugural Beyond user conference.

Through its well-established customer feedback loop, the company is now working to create solutions to a variety of problems in the trucking industry, from supply chain and fuel efficiency to labor shortages and driver safety. Its newest features focus on transforming the worker experience to help companies not only retain drivers but also to improve operational efficiencies and, ultimately, save money.

Those new features include Driver Workflows to improve productivity, In-Cab Nudges to encourage safe driving behavior, Multi-Stop ETAs to provide customers with exact arrival times and potentially help decrease driver wait times and Remote Support so carriers can help their drivers troubleshoot from anywhere.

Just like with Revolution Foods, the industry standard has been using paper to keep track of tasks, which is an inefficient use of time. Driver Workflows digitizes driver tasks to get drivers on the road more quickly and easily, prevent a driver from forgetting an important step that could land him or her in violation of regulations, and keep them on track throughout their day.

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The app allows administrators to keep drivers safe and compliant, streamline access to tasks in external apps and customize workflows to the needs of the individual driver. Administrators can drag and drop steps their drivers need to complete during various parts of their day, from photos of their vehicle during pre-trip inspection to payroll.

“We got early feedback from drivers that they love Workflows; it made their jobs easier, and there are fewer mistakes on the back end,” said Samsara Chief Product Officer Kiren Sekar. “So we enhanced workflows with new capabilities like end-of-day workflows … and we announced the ability to link to third party apps right from your Workflows. So now, as you're deploying new apps (or) custom software into your operations, Workflows can serve as a central hub for your drivers.”

In-Cab Nudges provides real-time alerts to drivers when Samsara’s AI technology detects any risky behaviors, like picking up a cellphone. It gives drivers ownership over their own coaching and allows them to maintain their safety scores without notifying a manager if they correct their behavior and don’t repeat it, saving managers time and allowing them to focus on the riskiest drivers.

“Nudges create a powerful tool to motivate drivers to improve their own safety. They also make it easier to operate safety programs at scale,” Sekar said. “Think about a large operation like Carroll Fulmer (Logistics). Their cameras are analyzing thousands of hours of video from drivers on the road every single day. AI detects unsafe behaviors within that driving time and can nudge the drivers in the cab to self-correct, and now you as a safety manager can focus your time on the hopefully small number of drivers who really need that personalized attention to improve.”

Multi-Stop ETAs provide dispatch and operations teams accurate, up-to-date predicted arrival times at all stops along all active routes. Samsara Product Manager Aditi Dugar said the feature factors things like route mileage, traffic and weather when alerting end customers with real-time updates on estimated times of arrival so they can make the appropriate adjustments to accommodate carriers who may be running behind.

She said it could also help minimize wait times for drivers, which is another key to driver retention because they’re not making money when they’re sitting still.

“Did you make all those stops at the times that you expected to? In ideal world,” Dugar said. “There are always delays: things like weather, etc., so Multi-Stop ETAs allows you to calculate an ETA for every stop along the route and then update in real time. Say you’re traveling to your first stop, and you hit a bunch of traffic; the next set of ETAs for stops two, three, four and five are going to update automatically.”

Sekar said the feature allows carriers to connect their customer relationship management system through Samsara’s APIs to directly inform customers of ETAs, which can be helpful especially when a customer needs to coordinate with crews on site who need to prepare to receive a driver.

And then there’s Remote Support, which will be available in open beta this fall. The feature allows administrators to view and control mobile devices from anywhere with a goal to streamline troubleshooting, increase productivity and support workers whether they’re on the road or in the field.

This is another feature that aims to improve the driver experience.

Dugar said more than 50% of respondents to the inaugural Samsara State of Connected Operations Report cited easy-to-use technology as a key factor in retaining drivers.

In addition to these new features, Biswas said Samsara is working on continuous improvements and new solutions.

“We're excited to continue to scale, to continue to unlock the value of this data, because that is what's next: this idea that we can use data to drive even more change,” he said.

Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at [email protected].