Medium-duty: Ford F-150 Lightning trucks charge into electrify vocational applications in California
“We’re a small business with a varied fleet that services select markets daily delivering perishable commodities,” says James Galbato, director of technology at Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce & Garden Center. “Any company with a distribution structure similar to ours can attest to the logistics challenges this creates.”
Based in Jamestown, N.Y., Brigiotta’s specializes in produce distribution, primarily serving grocers, wholesalers, institutions and restaurants in western New York and Erie, Pennsylvania. The operation fields 23 vehicles that deliver a range of products to customers up to six times each week and twice daily in some markets.
The Brigiotta’s fleet ranges in size from small vans to tractor-trailers. Included are Ford vans and chassis, and Peterbilt and International medium- and heavy-duty trucks and tractors. A variety of manufacturers supply the fleet’s refrigerated bodies and trailers, which are fitted with a mix of Carrier and Thermo King refrigeration units.
“We spec equipment based on two criteria to meet short- or long-range and low or high volume needs,” Galbato explains. “The fleet includes both company-owned and leased units. Unexpected downtime happens, no matter how much you anticipate and prepare. To operate with a lean fleet while maximizing service productivity, we partnered with a leasing company that offers us a replacement vehicle when our leased vehicles are down for maintenance and repair. This decreased our need for spares or rental trucks and cut downtime.”
“Our biggest challenge is consistently making rapid, accurate deliveries locally and outside the 100 air-mile radius,” Galbato continues. “Trying to find harmony by meeting that objective and ensuring efficiency without compromising on safety can be daunting without technology in place to manage and measure performance.”
How does Brigiotta’s meet those needs? “We utilize off the shelf solutions like Microsoft O365 as well as some specialized software for inventory and sales management for the food service industry, and systems with API access for time and asset management,” Galbato relates. “The key is integrating everything into one cohesive solution in order to gain insight over the entire operation. For example, Microsoft Power Automate, previously Microsoft Flow, easily creates automated workflows that help improve productivity.”
In some ways, according to Galbato, justifying a technology purchase by projecting a return on investment has proven to be difficult. “Few providers can measure the ROI on their solutions and many inflate their projections,” he says, “so you’re left to benchmarking on your own before and after the initial investment. That has not been the case, however, for our Geotab fleet management and Lytx video telematics systems. With those solutions there’s no shortage of actionable data for improving safety, productivity and compliance.”
With Geotab, Galbato notes, Brigiotta’s has been able to quantify fuel savings from optimizing routes. While justifying a dash cam solution was more difficult unless you spend a considerable amount of time spot-checking drivers, he adds, Lytx is proactive because it automatically watches for distracted or potentially dangerous driving behaviors.
“The most significant benefit is how well the Lytx and Geotab solutions complement each other,” Galbato says. “Geotab has always excelled at measurement and reporting, and Lytx has a comprehensive feature set and machine vision learning technology. Leveraging their strengths gives us a deeper insight into all aspects of our fleet, drivers and customers.”
Early this year, Lytx and Geotab announced a new integration that enables a single sign-on and seamless browsing of video and data from Lytx DriveCam event recorders through the Geotab platform. “When you take into account that Geotab’s reports are in Excel format, we’re able to bring all that information from both solutions together with the rest of our data,” Galbato says. “What’s very effective for us is to have safety and performance solutions like Geotab and Lytx integrate with each other with no effort.”
Galbato is also quick to credit Assured Telematics, Brigiotta’s Geotab reseller, for its support. “Over the past 10 years they have created apps, plug-ins and customized reports to help us,” he shares. “We’re very fortunate to have partnered with a reseller that is always innovating and building on Geotab’s expandable architecture. They were also pivotal in our decision to partner with Lytx this past fall because we knew they would be able to enhance two great solutions through the new integration.
“The Geotab and Lytx integration even goes as far as to allow us to click on any point of the trip history and view the footage for that very moment,” Galbato continues. “One of my favorite examples of this is when a driver fails to log in for a trip, which causes issues with compliance as well as with making sure driving behavior is linked to an actual driver.
Commitment to safety
The highest priority at Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce & Garden Center, Galbato says, is ensuring the safety of drivers and the communities that the 90-year-old family owned and operated business serves.
“We utilize Geotab to trigger an exception any time a vehicle is moving outside of our yard without having a driver logged in,” Galbato explains further. “When we get the alert with a link to the exception, we can click on the trip history and see which driver is in the truck and assign that driver to the vehicle. We can also use the Lytx video footage to confirm if the driver completed a pre-trip inspection.”
Geotab allows Brigiotta’s to create specific rules and alerts based on accelerator, engine and GPS data, Galbato notes. “Now, with the Lytx video solution integration, when an exception is triggered by one of the rules, we can actually see what’s going on inside and outside of the cab, as well as what happened before and after the time of the exception,” he relates further. “This not only saves management time, but by knowing what’s happening at any moment, we have information to coach drivers and improve safety and compliance.
“We have found that the key to enhancing safety is through transparency,” Galbato adds. “We provide our data to drivers at any time and we were surprised how many of them repeatedly ask to see it. With that information, some of our drivers are striving for improvement by benchmarking themselves against their colleagues and others identify where they need improvement within their own metrics.”