How Decker Truck Line leverages technology to improve operating efficiency

How Decker Truck Line leverages technology to improve operating efficiency

Company ownership remains under the Decker family lineage with Dale Decker’s grandson, Donald, serving as chairman of the board and Donald’s son Dale enlisted as CEO.

Since 1931, family-owned and operated Decker Truck Line has been a household name in the Midwest and beyond for those in need of reliable temperature-controlled, dry van, and flatbed services. When the company was founded by Loren and Dale Decker nine decades ago, the two brothers operated a single Ford B Model truck that served customers in Iowa and adjacent states. Today, the company has grown into a modern fleet that consists of 750 10Peterbilt and Volvo trucks with a reach that spans the U.S. and Canada.

To withstand the ever-changing operating climate and challenges the trucking industry faces, Decker Truck Line is proactive in finding opportunities to operate more efficiently. The company was recently named a winner of the Best Fleets to Drive For program, which recognizes the industry’s top workplaces for drivers. Decker Truck Line is also committed to operating sustainably and is a SmartWay partner. SmartWay is a program under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that helps companies advance supply chain sustainability by measuring, benchmarking, and improving freight transportation efficiency.

For Decker Truck Line, technology is a crucial component in its ability to track operating expenses, vehicle productivity, and more. To improve operating efficiency, Decker Truck Line leveraged Drivewyze’s weight station bypass services and solutions

“Decker was an early adopter of using weigh station bypass services as a solution to cut down expenses associated with pulling into weigh stations and to allow drivers to rack up more miles on the road,” said Brent Ellis, vice president of business systems and process, Decker Truck Line. “When I joined Decker in 2019, the company had no intention of exploring other options for this service. But, after learning about Drivewyze and its product offerings through our ELD provider, I was convinced it would be worthwhile to compare the two to see what worked best.”

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According to Ellis, the platform and service analytics the company can access through the Drivewyze HUB–which provides fleets near real-time data on bypass rates, number of bypasses drivers receive, estimated operating costs through using the service, and more–was a key factor in switching to the service. The company also receives monthly reports that summarize bypass data and estimated cost reductions associated with bypasses it received. With Drivewyze, Ellis can receive weigh station bypass opportunities at more than 840 sites in 45 states and provinces.

“Having access to this data is a huge benefit because we can see exactly where and how often our drivers are receiving bypass opportunities as well as the associated operating cost reductions we’re getting through passing stations,” said Ellis. “This transparency helps justify using this service and it allows us to better route our drivers to go by Drivewyze-enabled weigh station sites, when possible, to maximize bypass opportunities.”

In one of Decker Truck Line’s monthly Drivewyze reports, the 674 company trucks that were activated with Drivewyze bypassed 4,573 weigh station sites. Some of Decker’s trucks receive up to 42 bypasses per month. By reducing time spent at weigh stations by 380 hours during that month, it’s estimated that bypasses helped save the company nearly $40,000 in fuel expenses. It also saved more than 20.5 tons of CO2 that would have otherwise been emitted, which is the emissions equivalent of nearly 51,000 miles driven by an average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle.

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Proactive Weigh Station, Safety Notifications

For Decker Truck Line, the audio and visual alerts drivers receive through their ELDs on upcoming weigh stations and safety hazards helps increase awareness and influences driving behavior. When drivers are granted permission to bypass weigh stations, they receive an in-cab notification one and two miles from the site. In addition to these alerts, drivers also receive Drivewyze Safety Notifications, which inform drivers of upcoming potential hazards such as low bridges, steep grades, dangerous curves, and more at over 2,500 critical locations across North America.

“The notifications prior to drivers coming up on weigh station sites are especially helpful because it can be easy to miss reading signs on the side of the highway that say a weigh station site is coming up, especially if there’s traffic,” Ellis said. “The safety alerts our drivers receive are also very helpful in informing drivers of upcoming potential hazards, especially for drivers that don’t have a lot of driving experience. You can never be too safe out on the road.” 

Shortly after Decker Truck Line made the switch to Drivewyze, they started to evaluate toll management solutions.

“We were referred to Bestpass and were impressed with the services they offered and that they covered all the main toll roads throughout the country,” Ellis said.

Bestpass works with 50 tolling authorities across the U.S. and has coast-to-coast coverage.

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Back-office management

Decker Truck Line determined Bestpass would help alleviate pain points in back-office management of tolls and quickly installed Bestpass transponders. According to Ellis, Bestpass’s invoicing system and back-office management tools were what impressed Decker Truck Line the most about the provider. With Bestpass, they get one toll bill, and one account, and they’re able to auto-pay bills from the cash deposit in their Bestpass account. When cash in the account runs low, it automatically withdraws funds from a Decker Truck Lines bank account so there is always enough money to pay incoming toll bills.

With Drivewyze and Bestpass recently announcing a partnership that will align the two providers together to create a streamlined solution for fleets seeking or already using weigh station bypass and toll management services, Ellis said he expects it to only strengthen both providers.

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