Exchange Terminal Managers, Dispatchers Take Giant Leap into Technology

Beth Muller, Brenda Cruz, Amy Garcia Danny Watkins, Tanya Zills, Gary Sweeney, Robert Lopez, Nate Jackson, Matt Echols and Jeff Byerly

Talk about a convoy.

Terminal managers and dispatchers from the Exchange’s Dan Daniel, West Coast and Waco distribution centers—as well as the Dayton Terminal in Ohio—convened at the Dallas headquarters recently for training in the latest cloud-based fleet management technology.

The new TMW dispatch software increases visibility, communication and efficiency, and bridges the gap between other applications used throughout fleet, such as PeopleNet, SkyBitz and Transman.

It’s the latest improvement in a high-tech overhaul of the Exchange’s transportation fleet that is now in its third year, said Kristy Moore, transportation analyst with the Exchange’s Logistics Directorate.

“We have been focusing on technology to improve safety, efficiency, driver retention and satisfaction,” Moore said. “We are excited to be in the final stages of system upgrades for fleet safety and technology.”

From automatic transmissions to stability control

In 2016, the Exchange fleet transitioned to automatic transmissions, making their already skilled drivers even better and improving fuel economy. The fleet also implemented disc brakes on new tractors, improving stopping distances and making the roads safer for Exchange drivers and nearby motorists.

“This year, we procured trucks with stability control, lane departure and adaptive cruise control—all geared toward improving the overall safety of our drivers,” Moore said. “Our goal is to bring each driver home safely to their families each and every day.”

“We are very proud of our experienced fleet drivers, and we want to do everything we can to keep them out of harm’s way. Technology will help us get there.”

-Kristy Moore, transportation analyst, Logistics Directorate

The Exchange has also equipped trailers with LED lighting, galvanized frame rails and steps that are integrated into the bumper, making climbing in and out of the trailer easier for drivers. The fleet has also rolled out trailer skirts designed to recruit potential drivers.

“These days, it’s challenging to find an experienced and safe driver, so the last thing we want to do is lose one,” Moore said. “We need to keep our drivers safe and make them comfortable for those long 14-hour days and overnight trips.”

Tablets and tractor trailing

Last year, the Exchange implemented PeopleNet’s Android-based tablets, which can geo-fence deliveries, facilitate two-way communication between drivers and the dispatch team, detect vehicle mechanical problems and driver safety concerns, and minimize the need for paper. It also provides turn-by-turn live navigation with weather and traffic overlays to help drivers get to their destinations and back safely.

The fleet also upgraded their SkyBitz trailer tracking devices from battery-operated to solar and implemented cargo sensors that will help the terminal determine which trailers and loaded and which are empty.

“Eventually, when we have this technology on all of our trailers, our dispatchers will be able to conduct a complete yard check and identify loaded and empty trailers from their desktop,” Moore said.

Keeping drivers ‘out of harm’s way’

This year, the Exchange implemented a fleet maintenance software package that, combined with new truck technology, can self-diagnose vehicle issues. If needed, the system can schedule a service appointment with the manufacturer and have parts ordered to minimize vehicle downtime.

The Exchange is looking at implementing front and blind-spot recorders later this year. These are very similar to dashboard-mounted cameras but are triggered by events or by the drivers if they sense a problem. This technology has exonerated drivers wrongly cited for moving violations and accidents.

“We are very proud of our experienced fleet drivers, and we want to do everything we can to keep them out of harm’s way,” Moore said. “Technology will help us get there.”

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