How tech-driven CalArk supports driver safety, reduces operational costs

How tech-driven CalArk supports driver safety, reduces operational costs

When it comes to integrating the latest technology the trucking industry, CalArk is as tech-savvy of a transportation company as they come. Since its founding in 1975, CalArk has grown its operation to include more than 600 trucks between its two operating companies–CalArk International and Central Hauling Company. What originated as a full truckload carrier that operated throughout the United States, the Little Rock, Ark.-based company has expanded its service offerings to include local delivery and final-mile services.

Through the years, CalArk’s ability to adapt to an evolving industry has aided in the company’s upward trajectory. While some companies may find learning or using new technology as a daunting task, CalArk sees it as an opportunity to continuously improve and operate more efficiently.

“We’re always looking at data analytics to see what we’re doing well and what we can improve on,” said Ray LaPrade, vice president of information technology, CalArk. “CalArk is very proactive when it comes to utilizing technologies that allow us to improve the fuel efficiency of our trucks, optimize routes, and increase efficiencies in other areas of business to reduce operational costs.”

Those other areas of business include driver safety, which LaPrade acknowledges is a driving force behind many of the decisions the company makes, especially given the current state of the insurance market and nuclear verdicts. Combined with its comprehensive safety programs, CalArk doesn’t shy away from using technologies to assist drivers on the road and help keep them and those they share the roads with safe.


Proactive safety notifications for drivers

It’s one of the reasons why CalArk uses Drivewyze as its weigh station bypass provider. In addition to receiving weigh station bypass opportunities, CalArk’s drivers receive safety notifications on upcoming potential hazards like low bridges, high rollover zones, mountain alerts (steep grades, runaway ramps) and more. The safety alert feature is a free option for Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass subscribers. CalArk drivers receive Drivewyze safety and weigh station bypass alerts through their ELDs, which are supplied by Omnitracs. Drivers can also access notifications through their smartphones or tablets.

“What’s nice about the Drivewyze platform is that it’s simple to set up on our ELDs or access on Internet-connected devices,” LaPrade said. “It’s an easy service for our drivers to use and since there are no transponders, it’s one less piece of equipment drivers need to worry about in the cab.”

According to LaPrade, the threat of experiencing a catastrophic event is all too real, having experienced truck rollovers previously. With CalArk continuing to grow its final-mile and local delivery divisions, which requires its drivers to make runs on secondary highways and city roads, LaPrade finds safety notifications to be a useful service to inform drivers of upcoming potential hazards. With the advance notice, drivers can adjust their driving behavior or alter their route accordingly.

“What Drivewyze is doing to provide safety alerts to drivers is a tremendous benefit to us, our drivers, and the industry. Unfortunately, incidents like low bridge strikes and rollovers happen more often than they should, and safety notifications can help prevent those incidents from occurring,” LaPrade said. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our drivers on this service and they are delivered in a way that isn’t distracting or annoying to drivers, which they appreciate.”

From a productivity standpoint, LaPrade said weigh station bypass is a service CalArk has used for several years to keep freight moving and drivers more productive and to reduce fuel consumption of trucks idling at weigh station. While the marriage between safety and weigh station bypass services under one subscription is what compelled CalArk to begin using Drivewyze, weigh station bypass coverage was also a driving factor.

“We have trucks running all across the United States and with more than 800 weigh stations online with Drivewyze, our drivers receive many bypass opportunities,” LaPrade said. “In fact, March (2022) we had several drivers bypass 25 or more weigh stations locations. It’s a service our drivers really appreciate – it keeps them more productive on the road–running more–miles and helps us cut our fuel expenses and other associated operating costs.”

All of CalArk’s trucks are enabled with Drivewyze PreClear and Safety Notifications, and the company recently began providing owner operators it contracts with, subscriptions to Drivewyze as a benefit to working with the company.

According to LaPrade, with an optimized ISS score, CalArk trucks receive an average of 13 weigh station bypasses a month: “There’s nothing our drivers enjoy about pulling into weigh stations, so to provide them with a service that help cut down the times they need to stop is a huge plus.”

Reduced costs from bypassing weigh stations

As tech-savvy and data-oriented as CalArk is, the company is constantly monitoring its operations strategies to ensure its trucks are running as efficiently as they can be. That includes analyzing data provided by outside vendors to evaluate the ROI the company is getting from using a particular service.

Each month, CalArk receives a detailed report from Drivewyze that summarizes the total number of weigh stations its trucks bypasses, estimated hours drivers saved bypassing weigh stations, gallons of fuel saved, CO2 savings, and more. Drivewyze calculates the average cost of a truck to pull into a weigh station and provides an estimated total monetary amount the company saves each month through bypassing weigh station locations. CalArk also receives information that covers the number of safety notifications drivers receive.

With fuel prices hitting all-time highs, the cost of diesel is top of mind for fleets. As the leading operating cost for trucking companies, fuel consumption is closely monitored by CalArk. According to reports by Drivewyze, in a recent 30-day period CalArk’s trucks bypassed 5,096 weigh stations, which helped save approximately 2,038 gallons of diesel and $44,233 in operating costs. “And, with diesel costing 60 cents more per gallon since those numbers were calculated, the savings have increased considerably,” LaPrade said.

“Think of it this way,” he continued, “the amount of time it takes for a truck to bypass a scale is about five seconds, whereas the average time our drivers spend when they pull into a weigh station is five minutes. When you think about the time drivers spend idling at weigh stations and multiply that by thousands of site visits, that adds up to be a significant amount of fuel that is burned, and carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Reducing the number of times our drivers have to pull in to weigh stations is not only good for our bottom line, it’s good for the environment. We want to operate more sustainably and Drivewyze helps us better manage our carbon footprint.”

For LaPrade, operating safely and efficiently goes hand in hand. A fleet can’t run at an optimal level without prioritizing driver safety.

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