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Trimble adds ‘driver intent’ to trip planning, ETA tool

Ray West, senior VP and general manager of TMS solutions

Ray West, senior vice president and general manager of TMS solutions, Trimble Transportation Enterprise.

Trimble’s Transportation Enterprise division — the new brand for TMW Systems — announced enhancements to TruETA, a route planning technology, that give the tool more dynamic and accurate predictions for arrival times.

The announcement came during Trimble’s third annual in.sight user conference and expo, Sept. 9-12 in Houston.

Fleets typically require drivers to send macro messages to update their projected time available (PTA) for the load planning process. Drivers make PTA estimates after considering future transit times, hours-of-service breaks, fuel stops and detention times for loading and unloading.

TruETA automates the PTA process using an integrated cloud-based planning tool introduced by Trimble last year. The technology pulls data from multiple systems and recalculates the ETAs and PTAs of trucks and drivers with every position update from a fleet customer’s in-cab PeopleNet mobile communication system.

The tool uses weather, traffic conditions and hours-of-service data as well as fuel stops and other trip details from a carrier’s transportation management system.

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“TruETA has helped us with keeping track of our trucks and knowing up-to-date locations,” said Shawn Dancer, owner of Dancer Logistics, a full-service transportation company based in Delphos, Ohio. “This new process is much faster and more efficient. We no longer have to wait for the driver to call in for an ETA.”

A new feature announced for TruETA called “driver intent” dynamically improves route planning and ETA accuracy by gathering additional trip planning details from drivers through a mobile app. A driver could update a trip plan with an intention to take a 12-hour break instead of a 10-hour break at a planned stop on the route, for example.

“Every system prior to this was limited to predicting ETAs based solely off driving conditions with no input from the driver,” said Ray West, senior vice president and general manager of TMS solutions, Trimble Transportation Enterprise.

Trimble in.sight user conference and expo

The Trimble in.sight user conference and expo, was held in Houston, Sept. 9-12

The tool currently uses TMWGo!, a driver mobile app, to prompt drivers to update their trip plans. The app recommends stops to drivers based off remaining drive time available.

Drivers have the flexibility to select stops based on brand preferences and amenities. They also will have traffic and weather information to “help them cope with changes,” said Dan Popkin, senior vice president of enterprise solutions for ALK, a Trimble company.

Having a more optimal trip plan will help drivers increase their earnings and to know more precisely when they will arrive, he explained.

“There is so much more we can do to benefit the lives of drivers,” Popkin said.

Dispatchers using TMW.Suite or TMWSuite software in the office will be able to see where and when drivers plan to take rest stops as well as get more accurate ETAs and PTAs, Popkin said, by using an add-on modules for TruETA called Driver Trip Planning.

Another module called Out-of-Route and Out-of-Corridor for TMW.Suite, TMWSuite and TruckMate lets carriers see when drivers take an alternate route that wasn’t part of the original plan. The carrier can see how long a trip may be extended in terms of distance, time, or both.

Out-of-Corridor alerts the driver that they have diverged from the planned route and proceed back to the correct road. The alert acts as a geofence that can notify dispatchers whenever the driver is a certain distance away from the intended route.

“Hitting the customer’s delivery window is no longer an aspirational goal for carriers – it’s imperative from a customer service score and financial standpoint,” added West. “TruETA helps eliminate much of the guesswork and manual data that comes with the trip planning process to help fleets reduce the risk of a dissatisfied customer.”

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Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.