Onboard Technology Solution from Omnitracs and Brother Delivers Improvements to Productivity, Safety, Driver Morale and Retention
Englander Transportation, Inc. specializes in refrigerated transportation of freight from Virginia and North Carolina to the West Coast, where it picks up mixed produce loads for markets back in Virginia, Maryland and the Washington, DC metro area. With two qualified drivers aboard, each truck makes the complete coast-to-coast turn every 5 or 6 days, giving drivers a break of two days between runs.
Englander Transportation was officially launched in January 2014 when Carl Bumgarner purchased Englander Transport, a well-established central VA refrigerated transportation firm. No stranger to the trucking business, he also heads up Fleetmaster Express, a highly successful, 28-year-old private trucking firm based in Roanoke, VA, operating a fleet of hundreds of trucks out of numerous terminals across several states. Englander Transportation currently has over 25 tractors and 30 well-maintained refrigerated trailers on the road.
As with most acquisitions, Bumgarner knew that the purchase of an existing company would bring both opportunity and challenge – and that was certainly the case with Englander Transportation. In just the past year, the firm improved business performance, safety and driver morale by implementing an onboard digital communications solution from Omnitracs, and Brother PocketJet mobile printers.
The Problem: Inefficient Over-the-Road Access to Information
Bumgarner discusses the decision-making process they went through as he and his management team evaluated various strategies going forward. “We recognized that over the years the company had built an excellent reputation with customers, as well as strong loyalty among its customers and employees – so for the most part, we decided to maintain the same focus and ideals that had made Englander a premier refrigerated carrier. However, we also determined that a new and modern communications solution would be needed to bring the fleet technology up-to-date, keep us competitive, and make our drivers’ jobs easier.”
At the time Englander was acquired, communications between drivers on the road and company headquarters in VA were done via phone or fax. This meant that drivers in transit had to interrupt their planned schedule and visit a designated truck stop to make check calls or receive manifests for produce orders. This methodology was not popular with drivers, since truck stops tend to be extremely congested, with accidents in the parking lot not uncommon. In addition, faxing from truck stops not only costs the company money for each page, documents frequently get lost behind the counter, costing drivers time they would prefer to spend covering miles on the road.
“The inefficient manual processes drivers had been following were obviously a huge waste of time and money for our company,” says Bumgarner. “This had to change. All across the transportation industry today, electronic devices and digital technology is being used to manage fleets and facilitate real-time information flow from point-to-point, regardless of geography. Outdated manual processes were having a negative impact on driver productivity and morale. The safety and comfort of our drivers has always been of paramount importance to us, and these core values are critically important to driver satisfaction and retention. So we set out to source a practical solution that would provide value for all concerned.”
The Technology Solution: Omnitracs MCP Platform
After evaluating potential options, the Englander Transportation team decided to implement the Omnitracs MCP110 fleet management solution. This award-winning mobile information system is designed to help transportation and logistics providers and their carriers improve mobile asset management, safety and compliance, and operational efficiency.
Englander equipped each truck cab with an Omnitracs Mobile Computing Platform (MCP), display screen and location-based software which enables bi-directional, real-time communication between drivers in transit and Englander’s Virginia HQ. The new system saves time by automating how drivers report load status, log their hours of service, perform pre-trip inspections, and print any documents that may be required along the way. According to Gary Hudelson, Englander’s IT Director, the modernization project proved to be a huge success. “The system worked well and we could see the benefits immediately, both for the company and our drivers,” he notes. “We are now working on an application that will allow us to provide all drivers with safety updates and training documentation to ensure everyone is up-to-speed on new regulations and company procedures.”
The Printing Solution: Brother PocketJet Full-Page Mobile Printers
After selecting the fleet management technology solution, the Englander team set out to find mobile printers capable of reliable printing clear, legible full-page documents such as customer returns and orders, trip logs, hours of service logs, and bills of lading for regulatory agencies. The section criteria involved finding a plug-and-play printer that would be rugged enough for day-to-day use by drivers inside the cab. The printer also needed to be reliable with high performance, low maintenance, and upkeep required. The printer also had to simple, fast and easy for drivers to learn and use.
Englander selected the Brother PocketJet mobile thermal printer. The PocketJet printers are compact and easily mountable in the cab’s limited space. They generate high-speed, high-quality print-outs of full-page documents containing text, graphics and photos. PocketJet thermal printing technology eliminates inks, toners and ribbons. The only consumable is Brother’s premium thermal paper, available in cut sheets, fanfold paper, or rolls. Brother’s rugged carrying cases keep the printer and media securely enclosed while giving users full access to controls. This allows Englander’s drivers to print with at the click of a button without even opening the case and quickly print full-page documents, anytime and anywhere.
Matt Johnson, Senior Product Manager at Omnitracs summed up the Omnitracs mobile printing solutions noting that “Omnitracs in-cab printing solutions allow drivers to spend their time driving, instead of focusing on paperwork. Our solutions provide the ability to print appropriate documentation on-demand as needed instead of carrying and tracking excess paperwork.”
Commenting on their experience and results since implementing its high-tech fleet management solution, CEO Bumgarner concludes: “With the Omnitracs solution and Brother mobile printers, our driving teams now have the latest in-cab tools and technology to make their time on the road as smooth and productive as possible. They really appreciate our efforts, and it’s been great for our overall business performance as well. We easily see a return on our investment in the first year of operation, and that’s something everyone at Englander Transportation can appreciate.”