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Truck leasing traceability

Telematics options to full-service truck leases broaden fleet management capabilities

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Editor-At-Large

Full-service leasing providers offer trucking fleets and food distributors various services not only through the trucks and trailers they lease, but also through fleet management solutions that give them the ability to track shipments on the road in real-time. And fleet management solutions can be made very affordable since they are built into the lease payment.

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But not all fleet management solutions can offer the degree of transparency and traceability grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and food service facilities want in their supply chains. There are several attributes and functions that fleets and distributors should look for in a fleet management solution.

First, does the fleet management solution offer over-the-air programming so that upgrades don’t require fleets to take their vehicles off the road to update the system? Does it offer an onboard computing and mobile communications system that provides reliable, bandwidth-rich coverage? Is it built for wireless performance? It should be. The solution also should be compatible with a variety of back-end systems and offer the versatility to add different tools to monitor vehicle and driver performance––or offer drivers in-cab navigation assistance, depending on the specific needs of fleets and their customers.

PacLease offers PacTrac, a scalable telematics solution powered by PeopleNet. The over-the-air programmable solution provides GPS-based tracking, onboard voice and data communications and Internet-based business systems integration. Fleets not only can communicate with drivers and know where they are, but also have useful information about their trucks and drivers.

Fleets and distributors should look for a fleet management solution that tracks vehicles in real-time so that their managers know where trucks are instantly. It should also monitor vehicle engines through their engine control module (ECM) and report results regularly so that managers can evaluate how drivers are performing in relation to fuel economy, vehicle speed, idling time and engine speed.

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The solution can help fleets and distributors get a handle on driver performance, which can greatly affect fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. Fleets can add onboard event recording, which gives them second-by-second recorded data that managers can use to monitor driver habits, alter behaviors, take corrective action and possibly prevent accidents.

An enhanced version features an application called PACOS, an automated messaging and geofencing platform. The system can be set at different thresholds depending on the route and the needs of the shipper or fleet. Managers can monitor drivers and know when they are out-of-route, delayed or stopped. Fleet managers also can set up the system to notify shippers when the truck reaches a certain distance from their door or loading dock so that personnel know exactly when shipments will arrive. Or the system can be set to provide exceptions-based alerts that notify shippers only when an issue will delay arrival.   

A good fleet management solution should offer companies an option that allows drivers to fill out driver trip records electronically to improve the speed and accuracy of the information. Such functionality means drivers don’t have to fill out fuel and trip sheets manually and hand them in at the end of their shifts. Since the system collects the data automatically, the chance of lost or forgotten information is greatly diminished, which reduces potential compliance issues. Dispatchers can use the information from electronic trip records to do a better job of assigning loads.

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PacTrac also allows fleets to add eDriver Logs, an electronic on-board recording tool that can automatically calculate driving hours of service through a combination of GPS locations and PerformX engine diagnostic information. Drivers indicate on-duty/off-duty time. The information can then be relayed to dispatchers or fleet managers. Drivers can also show up-to-date logbooks to law enforcement or DOT officers––viewed from the cab, on demand.

Fleet management solution providers are starting to offer tethered trailer tracking tools, which allow fleets to monitor when and where trailer doors are opened and closed, variances in tire pressures, when and where trailers are hooked/unhooked and the temperature inside a refrigerated trailer.

PacTrac currently offers compatible untethered trailer tracking solutions through partner providers, but will soon offer a tethered trailer tracking solution using the latest in radio frequency identification technology. This tethered solution will allow the PacTrac onboard computer to automatically recognize the RFID tag and sensors on trailers. Once the truck and trailer are connected and run for a specific distance that’s pre-determined by the fleet manager, the system will begin recording and relaying information about the trailer.

With the proper management tool, full-service leasing can help fleets and distributors increase fleet operating efficiency, reduce supply-chain inefficiencies, strengthen relationships with suppliers and customers, and keep costs in check. FE

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