Track Haul Trucks with New Fleet Management Tools

Original article published on Asphalt Pro

There are a number of new fleet management tools on the market to track haul trucks traveling to and from the jobsite and asphalt plant. AsphaltPro compares some promising new solutions.

Bulk materials transportation is a trillion dollar industry requiring bulk material producers, trucking companies and general contractors to collaborate across sectors. This collaboration can be especially difficult when many drivers are independent hired haulers. It becomes even more challenging when hauling a perishable material like asphalt.

That’s why a number of companies have invested in GPS-based tracking solutions that allow dispatchers at the plant and foremen at the job site the ability to oversee fleets in real time and review previous jobs to identify opportunities for improvement.

Improved productivity can increase truck driver compensation, reduce truck traffic on roads, and reduce transportation costs.

There are a number of new fleet management tools on the market to track haul trucks traveling to and from the jobsite and asphalt plant. AsphaltPro compares some promising new solutions.

Bulk materials transportation is a trillion dollar industry requiring bulk material producers, trucking companies and general contractors to collaborate across sectors. This collaboration can be especially difficult when many drivers are independent hired haulers. It becomes even more challenging when hauling a perishable material like asphalt.

That’s why a number of companies have invested in GPS-based tracking solutions that allow dispatchers at the plant and foremen at the job site the ability to oversee fleets in real time and review previous jobs to identify opportunities for improvement.

Improved productivity can increase truck driver compensation, reduce truck traffic on roads, and reduce transportation costs.

Libra Systems’ Sentinel

Compatibility: Android and iOS apps (for drivers), web-based interface (for dispatchers, foremen, etc.)
Price: The price structure for Sentinel is an asset tracking fee based on number of hardware units and app usage.

Onboarding

Libra will train Sentinel users and configure their system via web conference.

Before the Shift

The user will draw geofences at the plant and at the jobsite on an interactive map via the web-based interface. Sentinel allows for multiple geofences in the yard, if need be. It’s also possible to set up a mobile geofence by monitoring trucks arriving or leaving from the paver or mill machine.

“The Sentinel software can operate very nicely in stand-alone mode,” said Libra Systems President Ken Cardy. “However, it’s true power is realized when it’s coupled with the Libra Dispatch Module and point-of-sale systems. This seamlessly-integration solution provides feedback on driver behavior and when waste is occurring during the delivery cycle.”

With Sentinel, users can track their assets with either a physical GPS tracking device or by a BYOD (bring your own device) approach using the Sentinel mobile app for Android or iOS.

“A hardware GPS device is ideal for company-owned assets,” Cardy said, adding that the GPS tracking device could be a direct wire, lighter adapter, portable unit, or with an on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) connector. Using the OBD connector allows retrieval of other diagnostic information, such as hard acceleration/braking, fuel consumption and oil temperature. Meanwhile, Cardy said, BYOD is useful for hired trucks. The mobile app can also be used alongside the hardware device, enabling manual statusing and driver vehicle inspection reports.

Dispatchers can either use Sentinel or Libra’s Enterprise Information Server (EIS), which synchronizes with Sentinel, to assign trucks to each job.

Each day, drivers will receive their daily schedule, real-time changes and dispatcher comments via the app. If they don’t have the app, this will arrive via text message.

During the Shift: Drivers

At the start of each shift, the driver will use the app to sign in, report a manual status change (for example, if they are at lunch), and submit a driver vehicle inspection report. They can also use the app for directions to and from the job site and plant, or directly to an asset, such as the mill machine.

Libra plans to add safety push notifications in the near future. “We are designing them to be configurable, so there is no limit to what they might be,” Cardy said.

Sentinel’s e-ticket system interfaces with Libra’s batch, silo loadout and truck scale ticketing systems, so authorized personnel can access tickets on demand. Libra has built this system to comply with state e-ticketed specs. Although this varies by state, the specs often include the following information: truck ID, job ID, mix ID, net weight, time at the plant, time at the job, and time between the plant and job.

In the future, Libra also plans to expand Sentinel to do time cards, simplifying payroll for producers and making it easy for drivers to track their earnings in real time.

During the Shift: Dispatchers, Plant, Foremen

Within Sentinel’s web interface, the dispatcher will be able to see the location of all trucks, trucks per job, or assign tags to view assets through various filters on a high-resolution map. This can be done in real time or at various snapshots in time throughout the shift. They can also add and remove trucks mid-shift, if need be.

They can also choose to receive automatic notifications for various events, such as every time a truck enters or exits a geofence, late arrival/early departure, or speeding alerts. This data is used to create a driver scorecard to rate drivers relative to one another.

Foremen can access the Sentinel web interface from the job via smartphone or tablet to see where the trucks for his job are and estimate a time of arrival.

“The foreman can see all the info, but it’s the dispatcher who’s watching over every job to keep things humming and solve problems before they happen rather than after the fact,” Cardy said. “For example, if too many trucks are on a job, he can reroute a couple to another job. The result is a highly profitable reduction in overall trucking costs.”

After the Shift

After the job, the dispatcher will have the delivery data for that job available at their fingertips. Libra is currently working with a number of partners to identify the data companies find most useful and build those features into the Sentinel system. They are also working on integrating OBD-acquired data, including fuel consumption and other driver performance metrics.

Libra will continue to support third-party GPS solutions, as they have in the past. However, Cardy is confident that a solution offering both BYOD and GPS hardware tracking as well as integration with Libra’s other solutions will be a serious contender.

What Customers Say

“A number of our clients have switched from other GPS vendors to Libra because of the seamless integration with the Libra Dispatch software and point-of-sale systems,” Cardy said. “This has allowed them to proactively manage their fleet so changes are made in real-time before they become a problem. Previously, they were reacting to problems after the fact, when there was little that could be done. One client said, ‘The owner needs to know who he can yell at when the fleet is bunched up or there are no trucks at the paver.’ In actuality, with Sentinel, there is no yelling because these potential problems are visible and rectified in advance.”

Libra Systems’ Sentinel

Compatibility: Android and iOS apps (for drivers), web-based interface (for dispatchers, foremen, etc.)
Price: The price structure for Sentinel is an asset tracking fee based on number of hardware units and app usage.

Onboarding

Libra will train Sentinel users and configure their system via web conference.

Before the Shift

The user will draw geofences at the plant and at the jobsite on an interactive map via the web-based interface. Sentinel allows for multiple geofences in the yard, if need be. It’s also possible to set up a mobile geofence by monitoring trucks arriving or leaving from the paver or mill machine.

“The Sentinel software can operate very nicely in stand-alone mode,” said Libra Systems President Ken Cardy. “However, it’s true power is realized when it’s coupled with the Libra Dispatch Module and point-of-sale systems. This seamlessly-integration solution provides feedback on driver behavior and when waste is occurring during the delivery cycle.”

With Sentinel, users can track their assets with either a physical GPS tracking device or by a BYOD (bring your own device) approach using the Sentinel mobile app for Android or iOS.

“A hardware GPS device is ideal for company-owned assets,” Cardy said, adding that the GPS tracking device could be a direct wire, lighter adapter, portable unit, or with an on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) connector. Using the OBD connector allows retrieval of other diagnostic information, such as hard acceleration/braking, fuel consumption and oil temperature. Meanwhile, Cardy said, BYOD is useful for hired trucks. The mobile app can also be used alongside the hardware device, enabling manual statusing and driver vehicle inspection reports.

Dispatchers can either use Sentinel or Libra’s Enterprise Information Server (EIS), which synchronizes with Sentinel, to assign trucks to each job.

Each day, drivers will receive their daily schedule, real-time changes and dispatcher comments via the app. If they don’t have the app, this will arrive via text message.

During the Shift: Drivers

At the start of each shift, the driver will use the app to sign in, report a manual status change (for example, if they are at lunch), and submit a driver vehicle inspection report. They can also use the app for directions to and from the job site and plant, or directly to an asset, such as the mill machine.

Libra plans to add safety push notifications in the near future. “We are designing them to be configurable, so there is no limit to what they might be,” Cardy said.

Sentinel’s e-ticket system interfaces with Libra’s batch, silo loadout and truck scale ticketing systems, so authorized personnel can access tickets on demand. Libra has built this system to comply with state e-ticketed specs. Although this varies by state, the specs often include the following information: truck ID, job ID, mix ID, net weight, time at the plant, time at the job, and time between the plant and job.

In the future, Libra also plans to expand Sentinel to do time cards, simplifying payroll for producers and making it easy for drivers to track their earnings in real time.

During the Shift: Dispatchers, Plant, Foremen

Within Sentinel’s web interface, the dispatcher will be able to see the location of all trucks, trucks per job, or assign tags to view assets through various filters on a high-resolution map. This can be done in real time or at various snapshots in time throughout the shift. They can also add and remove trucks mid-shift, if need be.

They can also choose to receive automatic notifications for various events, such as every time a truck enters or exits a geofence, late arrival/early departure, or speeding alerts. This data is used to create a driver scorecard to rate drivers relative to one another.

Foremen can access the Sentinel web interface from the job via smartphone or tablet to see where the trucks for his job are and estimate a time of arrival.

“The foreman can see all the info, but it’s the dispatcher who’s watching over every job to keep things humming and solve problems before they happen rather than after the fact,” Cardy said. “For example, if too many trucks are on a job, he can reroute a couple to another job. The result is a highly profitable reduction in overall trucking costs.”

After the Shift

After the job, the dispatcher will have the delivery data for that job available at their fingertips. Libra is currently working with a number of partners to identify the data companies find most useful and build those features into the Sentinel system. They are also working on integrating OBD-acquired data, including fuel consumption and other driver performance metrics.

Libra will continue to support third-party GPS solutions, as they have in the past. However, Cardy is confident that a solution offering both BYOD and GPS hardware tracking as well as integration with Libra’s other solutions will be a serious contender.

What Customers Say

“A number of our clients have switched from other GPS vendors to Libra because of the seamless integration with the Libra Dispatch software and point-of-sale systems,” Cardy said. “This has allowed them to proactively manage their fleet so changes are made in real-time before they become a problem. Previously, they were reacting to problems after the fact, when there was little that could be done. One client said, ‘The owner needs to know who he can yell at when the fleet is bunched up or there are no trucks at the paver.’ In actuality, with Sentinel, there is no yelling because these potential problems are visible and rectified in advance.”

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