All Pedigree Technologies posts related to the OneView platform and any products in our full range of available telematics solutions.


Six Ways to Use Technology to Save on Fuel

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Your two biggest trucking operational expenses are the cost of drivers and the cost of fuel. If you’re paying $70,000 a year for fuel logging 100,000 miles, the $7,000 savings you could receive with a 10% reduction in fuel costs is a pretty obvious reason to do all that you can to optimize fuel consumption. 

Here are six technologies to augment drivers’ performance and reduce fuel coststake note that not one of these technologies involves magnets, magic, or secret potions. 

 

1. Cruise Control:  Adaptive, Predictive Powertrain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Cruise control has come a long way in the last ten years in both cars and trucks. We’re all familiar with basic adaptive cruise control that helps reduce driver fatigue with a slight improvement in fuel usage. Adaptive cruise control manages distance to the vehicle ahead and more safely automates acceleration and deceleration to provide a limited level of automation and improve driver convenience.

Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) from OEMs like Mercedes-Benz Trucks and Mack Trucks can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5% by controlling acceleration, coasting, braking, and gear optimization in concert with the GPS location to determine the best speed for the vehicle. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) cruise control is PPC on steroids. Like PPC, it considers speed limits, gradients, downhill slopes, road conditions, and radius of bends to adjust speeds and predictively time gear shifts.   

AI systems, however, add real-time contextual data to dramatically improve fuel economy. These systems not only assess the vehicle load but also assess over-the-horizon traffic congestion and weather conditions, all while taking into account drivers’ Hours of Service and time of arrival requirements. Traxen, a provider of AI-based cruise control system called iQPilot for after-market installation, is seeing a 10-15% improvement in fuel efficiency on freeways. Interestingly, Traxen displays a map with upcoming conditions on ELD tablets, so drivers better understand AI-driven changes in truck activity. Without this display, drivers are less likely to trust AI-based decisions and tend not to use cruise control.

 

2. Optimize Engine Settings

Electronic Control Modules (ECM) provide a wide variety of parameters that can be tuned to reduce fuel usage. ECM settings for cruise control, speed management, acceleration, and intelligent coasting can deliver consistent driving behavior to save fuel. Reducing idling time can also be configured in ECM parameters to yield significant savings. OEM and after-market devices using “out of the box” settings may underperform given your actual fleet’s usage, so it is worth your effort to understand what you can configure that best meets your operational needs and whether you can do so with your own maintenance resources or engage the help of experts. 

 

3. “Skip the Line” – Inspections and Tolls 

Every time a truck stops and starts, it takes more fuel. Waiting in line is even worse. Weigh station bypass services such as DriveWyze can help drivers avoid lengthy enforcement inspections. The service is based largely on a carrier’s safety score and other state screening criteria. Carriers with the best safety scores can receive bypasses, in some states, up to 98% of the time.  Saved time and less hassle keeps drivers happier and fuel isn’t wasted idling in line. 

Take advantage of automated toll services to keep rolling through toll stations. You’ll save on fuel by not having to stop and the automated billing that comes with this service often includes reduced toll rates to further save money. 

 

4. Wasting Fuel – It’s a Drag 

Aerodynamic drag using add-ons to the tractor and trailer is one obvious method to reduce drag and save fuel. Those are “table stakes” in long-haul trucking, so what else can you do to reduce drag? 

Road drag is a key element of fuel consumption. If your wheels aren’t rolling properly, you’re essentially “dragging a sled” and burning more fuel than you should. What can make your rig behave like a sled? Underinflated, unbalanced tires and unbalanced loads can do that. 

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) – Tires lose pressure all the time. A TPMS can monitor all tires and axels and alert the driver and the dispatch system when action is needed to correct a tire inflation problem. 
  • Axle Load – Uneven loads can lead to increased road friction and reduced fuel mileage. On-vehicle axle load monitoring systems alert you to load imbalances, which not only helps with fuel economy but can help avoid expensive fines. 
  • Bad Tires/Hubs Efficient forward motion means you want your tires to roll straight and stay on the road. Unbalanced tires, uneven wear, and bald spots will all have an impact. Wheel hub monitoring technology from companies like ConMet use vibration analysis to detect problems in both the hub and the tires. 

Monitoring and maintaining tires, wheels, and axle load can not only save fuel as you roll but can prevent costly repairs and downtime by alerting you to conditions before they become critical. 

 

5. Don’t Burn Fuel When Standing Still 

Idling engines consume a lot of fuel. The easy but not very practical answer is to turn the engine off and go “dark.” The practical answer: use the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) instead of the primary engine for power generation purposes to keep the cab’s “lights on.”  A diesel-fueled APU is just as much an “engine” as the primary power train engine, but it uses only a tenth of the fuel to operate. Battery-powered APUs can be even more efficient.

It is important to actively monitor APU use to gain maximum benefits: 

  • Ensure engines are not idling when they should be using the APU. 
  • Monitor the APU status before problems arise. 
  • Enforce engine idling policies to deliver fuel savings and avoid fines where strict “No Idling” rules are in place.

 

6. Better Planning  

Time, distance, and fuel prices can all be optimized by good planning. Giving dispatchers and drivers the tools to select the optimum route is an important means of saving fuel. 

  • Routing Software – Driving a route that considers duration, regulatory restrictions, rest stop locations, traffic patterns, etc., is going to optimize the time and distance required to minimize fuel usage. 
  • Fuel Stop Aware Routing Software – Stopping for fuel has its own cost in time and idling. A routing package that is aware of in-network fuel stops can plan routes and fuel stops for the best-priced fuel as well as time and distance.   
  • ELD and Fuel Stops – Allow your ELD and fleet management system to plan fuel stops with full knowledge of driver hours to save money and avoid inefficient and out-of-network fuel stops just because driver time is nearing its end. 

 

Summary 

There are lots of ways to waste fuel when transporting a load. Fortunately, there are lots of ways and tools to optimize fuel efficiency. Some of the solutions even provide additional cost-saving benefits like avoiding fines, extending tire life, and monitoring vehicle system health to avoid failures. Using solutions that improve efficiency and save the driver time could help with driver retention. 

Bottom line?  Fuel costs are so high that implementing any number of these solutions can be easily justified on fuel savings alone.   

 

 

What is Cloud-Since-Birth and Why Does it Matter?

Choosing a Tech Platform in 2022

Today it seems that software solutions targeting enterprise operations are doing so with the positioning that the solution(s) is housed in the “cloud”, but what does that really mean? Well, it means different things to different people, and the complexity goes up when trying to compare solutions (apples to apples) vs infrastructures (apples to oranges). That said, it is very important to understand and incorporate into your buying criteria.

We come across this topic a lot when working with clients or prospects on solution evaluations, and you’d be surprised at the amount of misleading information being presented to the market. As an example, just because a sales rep presents their solution to you as a SaaS solution (software as a service) does not mean that it is a cloud-based solution. And, if it was a cloud-based solution, what type is it? Is it an old clunky technology stack that has been ported from private servers to public cloud and or private cloud? The fact is, each deployment and instance is different, and if done properly would present huge advantages to the provider and the end users. That said, not all cloud solutions are equal.

In the transportation technology industry, solutions have been consolidated, ported, integrated and glued together after years of acquisitions, generations of technical debt and decades of sins and scale issues. The opportunity to completely rebuild a technology stack while paying customers are using it and relying on new features and continuous availability is scarce. That is bundled with the likelihood that R&D funding is most likely allocated to the platforms generating the most revenue (aka: legacy platforms), and the opportunity to invest needed resources and focus on building something from the ground up is equally unlikely. So why does this matter to you as a transportation company or services company that is evaluating providers before making a material investment into technology? It’s simple — if a solution was built from scratch using the newest technologies such as cloud services, high-performing software languages, and processes such as the use of microservices, then it will perform better, update faster, and provide scale and velocity to the provider. This in turn means more features, less bugs, and better reliability for you as the end user.

The truth is, cloud computing today takes many shapes. As an example multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions offer technology companies further flexibility when it comes to performance redundancy and costs. Hybrid cloud combines both a public cloud infrastructure with that of a private cloud infrastructure. The combination of the two enables extensive computing (which can be costly) to operate in the private cloud while the main functionality and hierarchy live in the high availability public cloud solution. This offers the ability to provide end customers with data intensive solutions like analytics and visualization tools like BI without slowing down the core functionality of the system.

Another common deployment is the multi-cloud infrastructure. It combines two separate public cloud architectures to provide redundancy, and load balancing across disparate networks, which provides end users with a high-reliability and high-performance experience, free from major outages — we have all heard about them in the news — that cripple access to mission-critical tools such as driver log books and load assignments.

So, in summary, not all cloud solutions and deployments are created equal. Your larger legacy options, with their long lists of customers and cluttered logo slides, are more often than not ticking timebombs waiting for another rack to be thrown at a pervasive problem that can not be fixed, but rather needs to be replaced.

At Pedigree Technologies, we are a cloud-since-birth technology company, meaning our solutions were built from the ground up in the cloud, and have been iterated over the years using only the best processing and infrastructure advancements available; we never had to undergo a server migration from our closets or “data center” to a cloud provider.

What is a data center by the way?! I sure hope our competitors stop listing that as some type of advantage versus the costly lease space and redundant headcount it really is.

Do your homework, and when you’re evaluating options and you are checking the box for “cloud hosted”, remember that cloud hosted does not mean it’s a true cloud solution — and if it is, it’s crucial to ask what kind and why and which services are running on which parts. Ask the tough questions and see how they respond; if it truly is an advantage, then their sales staff will be educated on it and use it as such. Reliable infrastructure is not a bullet point on a slide, but the foundation of the solution you are seeking.

See why Pedigree Technologies exceeds performance and reliability standards >>

Buying Based on Functionality vs History

In the transportation technology industry we have been trading bragging rights for years now. One provider does X better than Y and the other bought B & A but what really matters to fleets when making an investment into technology?

We spent the last year or so collecting information from our customers, prospects and even competitors and a few themes emerged. While the ability to solve complex business problems remains top of mind for the fleet operator, it is not always the deciding factor when evaluating one provider over the other. 3 out of 5 prospects we talked with said that relationships and references were deciding factors in why they were leaning our way or another way. 2 out of the 5 stated that most providers “all do the same things” and 4 out of 5 competitors listed “name dropping” and references as a leading sales tactic when soliciting new business.

These findings (amongst others) were telling and influenced us writing this blog post to our audiences with a few pointers and some advice when it comes to attributing weight to decision criteria. So here it goes…

 


 

Not All Features Are Created Equal:

Just because a provider can state that they provide electronic log books does not make them as competent as another provider that provides a comprehensive, integrated hours of service (HOS) solution that happens to include an electronic log book. As an example at Pedigree Technologies we support over 45 HOS exemptions which provide our clients with competitive advantage fueled by more operating hours because we can support various calculations for niche industry applications such as Oil & Gas or North of 60. What’s that you ask? Exactly our point!

 

Tech Over Talk:

We have sat through our fair share of painful sales presentations and it’s one thing to talk about features or functionality but it’s far more powerful to discuss business problems and how the tech will solve them vs listing off a series of cool functionality that may or may not be applicable to the audience. Our team must undergo rigorous industry training to qualify as a sales professional, in fact most of our sales team comes from the transportation industry vs the technology industry. This provides a knowledge base that you can’t teach, but rather have to live. The benefits of industry experience come out in spades when working on solutions.

 

Buying to Catch Up Is Not a Sign of Progress, It’s a Sign of Upcoming Integration Challenges:

We have all seen dozens of transactions in the telematics and fleet technology space over the last decade or so. It is incredibly predictable to identify the path of these consolidating entities over the first few years post combination. As an example: It does not make financial sense for these companies to maintain two technology stacks, so eventually one of them will sunset and many customers will be forced to migrate to either the other platform or a new one all together. Either way the misnomer surrounding buying from one of the consolidators is flawed and almost always results in a shift away from that provider within 3 years. The safest bet is to work with a real tech company that has a fully integrated solution since birth.

 

Bigger Isn’t Always Better:

Have you ever heard the term, “it takes a long time to turn this ship”? That is in relation to the effort and complexity that comes with larger less nimble organization. In fact there are many business books written about this very corporate challenge. Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore for one. A good read for innovators and those looking to buy from innovators. It is hard enough to produce leading edge technology and mission critical solutions without having to worry about how it will impact legacy platforms and deployments. You know who we are referring to here. ;)

 


So in summary it is important to evaluate not just the technology, not just the referenceable customers, not only the size of the organization and not only the people, but a combination of all of them. Think about it this way — as a fleet operator, how do you solicit new business and how do you want your target audience to measure your value? What are your competitive strengths? Now that you’ve answered that question — apply the same logic to your vendor and partner selections.

Let’s build something remarkable together — the unofficial member of your fleet operations team!