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In training circles there is a lot of buzz about gamification. Gamification is taking something that isn’t typically a game – for instance, safe driving techniques – and adding an element of competition in order to incent a behavior change.
Typically, this is done within a peer group, so drivers are competing against each other, either individually or within a team. In the fleet management world, this means making safe driving into a competition, complete with prizes.
But how do you implement Gamification into your fleet’s training?
1. Determine your goal(s).
We suggest using the SMART method: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. An example might be: decrease average idling time across the fleet to less than 10 per minutes per vehicle per day, within 90 days. Most fleet goals revolve around safe driving, fuel efficiency and Hours of Service (HOS), and specific factors that drivers have control over such as speeding, harsh accelerations and idling. While you can have more than one goal, if you’re just starting out we recommend implementing one at a time. And we recommend a time period of at least 90 days – enough to change bad behavior patterns.
2. Collect baseline data.
In order to measure improvements, first you need to collect baseline data. If your goal were to reduce idling, you’d collect data on idling in the fleet. We recommend at least 30 days’ of control data, without notifying drivers so the data presents a realistic picture of what’s currently going on.
3. Refine your goals, based on the control data.
Are they achievable in the timeline you’ve set? Make sure. Also consider that you may have to weight certain factors in your scoring. For idling for instance, you don’t want to penalize drivers who need to idle in extreme weather to stay safe.
4. Determine your incentives.
Will there be individual winners, or teams? Will there be one winner, or multiple winners? One category, or multiple categories (e.g., Most Improved)? The larger the group, the more winners and categories you might need to incent meaningful change – there has to be a reasonable chance of winning something. We’ve seen some fleets use raffle tickets towards one large prize, such as a trip. Others use company swag, cash or smaller prizes. When in doubt, remember cash is king. Consult with some of your drivers to make sure what you have in mind will be effective.
5. Put tools in place to share progress with drivers, and announce the campaign.
Some fleet management systems have this capability built in – pre-configured reports that can be posted to a breakroom or online showing each person or team’s progress against the goal, ranked. A few also offer driver apps specifically for sharing this data – so drivers can check their own scores and ranking. Driver awareness is the key to making gamification programs work. They need to know where they stand and what they need to do to improve. Fleet managers who provide tips and training throughout will achieve the most impact. This could be in a classroom-type setting at the yard, or via in-cab prompts such as an audible reminder from an ELD unit.
6. When the contest ends, share impact with drivers.
For instance, letting them know that their efforts at reducing idling reduced emissions by a certain percentage, or improved fuel economy by a certain percent. You could also share the cost savings, though this is most effective if the company is essentially giving back some of that money in the form of a major prize or pay raises.
Gamification can have a big impact on fleets. Some of the results we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere:
Improved service delivery, driver behavior and driver morale
Lower fuel consumption – we’ve seen 6-12% reductions
Lower accident rates – we’ve seen >50% reduction in accidents
Increased productivity and efficiency – some fleets are able to achieve a 10-20% reduction in fleet size as a result
Reduced maintenance costs and increased return on investment on your fleet management solution
If you’re ready to begin this advice should start you off on the right foot.
Pete Allen is the chief client officer for MiX Telematics, a global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions.This article was authored and edited according to the standards of HDT’s editors to provide useful information to our readers.
Mack has updated its Mack Connect suite of productivity management tools, which it highlighted during a press briefing at the Mid-America Trucking Show, along with introducing an Anthem truck configurator tool and discussing customer experience surveys.
The Mack Connect suite of tools, designed to help customers manage productivity and profitability, was officially launched last fall at the same time as the Mack Anthem highway tractor, but was somewhat overshadowed by the truck launch. At the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, Mack officials discussed updates.
Mack Connect integrates intelligent software, predictive analytics, and driver assist technologies, many of which were previously available from Mack, into three pillars: connected support, connected business and connected driving. Mack Connect is standard on all the truck maker's models, including the recently launched Anthem.
“Productivity translates to profitability, and our customers are always seeking the next advantage to gain an edge,” said Jonathan Randall, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Mack Trucks North America. “With Mack Connect, we’re providing the tools required for our customers, and their customers, to be successful in today’s competitive trucking industry.”
Some new options added to Mack Connect include Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and Apple Car Play integration. Drivers can also download other applications, including navigation software.
Mack Connect also offers several features for safety, including Bendix Wingman Fusion for collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Mack Predictive cruise is also part of Mack Connect, and is available on Mack mDrive-equipped models to help improve fuel efficiency by up to 1%.
Mack GuardDog Connect telematics are also integrated into Mack Connect to monitor a truck’s performance. The system can track needed maintenance and notify fleets if an issue requires service. Mack GuardDog Connect also enables Mack Over The Air for remote software updates.
Data from Mack’s GuardDog Connect telematics platform is made available to fleet management software providers, allowing customers to choose fleet management software that works for their business, without having to rely on third-party hardware installations.
Mack Online Truck Configurator
The company has also announced that the Mack Anthem model can be configured using the Mack Trucks Configurator online tool. With the tool, customers can virtually build and customize the Anthem model that best meets the needs of their business.
Customers can choose cab design, exterior and interior trims, engines, transmissions and axle choices as well as the uptime services and warranty options they prefer. Customers can print out their completed virtually built Anthem, share on social media, or send directly to a local Mack dealer for additional information and quoting.
“By prebuilding a truck with the configurator, a customer is already asked several of the starting questions a salesman would need to know in order to build a sales quote, so this is actually a way to shorten the quote process for the customer’s new Mack Anthem,” said Stu Russoli, Mack highway product manager. “It’s a great way to introduce customers to the new model, and it gets them more excited to take that next step.”
Customer Experience Management
Mack recently extended its commitment to uptime by incorporating a new process designed to capture customer feedback regarding their service experience.
During the first year of using the new Customer Experience Management approach, Mack slashed the time it took to address outstanding customer service issues by as much as 50%.
As part of the new process, Mack uses digitally distributed surveys to collect customer feedback during key service touchpoints that impact overall satisfaction, such as communication during the repair process, total time required for a repair, the availability of parts and the likelihood that the customer would recommend working with the service professional who assisted them.
Dealers and the Mack uptime organization use that information to help identify the root causes of any issues and improve processes. Surveys are triggered by the Mack Asist web-based service management system, making it easier for customers to respond and giving them a direct line of communication with Mack Trucks and its dealers. The result has been a 40% improvement in response rate, driving improved operations, including an increase in dealership staffing and warranty training for sales representatives, according to Mack.
“There is great value in capturing the voice of the customer because it allows us to equip ourselves and our dealers with more immediate information to improve our response and therefore increase customer satisfaction,” said David Pardue, vice president of connected vehicle and contract services with Mack Trucks.
BF Goodrich commercial truck tires launched the Cross Control S and Cross Control D tires, two all-terrain tires for use in construction, logging and energy applications. It announced the new tires at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
The BF Goodrich Cross Control tire line features thick sidewalls to resist damage from impacts, heat-release compounds to reduce internal casing temperatures, a full-protector ply to provide protection from penetrations and road hazards, and anti-cut and chip resistance.
The Cross Control S offers 20% more mileage in its wide-base iteration than the BFGoodrich ST565TM wide-base tire, according to the company. The serrated shoulder with staggered rib blocks assist with maneuverability in soft soils and snow conditions. The aggressive ribbed tread design provides traction in challenging conditions without sacrificing handling or ride comfort, according to the company.
The BFGoodrich Cross Control S tire is currently available in sizes 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 (Load Range H), 315/80R22.5 (Load Range L), and starting in May will be available in sizes 385/65R22.5 (Load Range J) and 425/65R22.5 (Load Range L).
The BFGoodrich Cross Control D, an all-terrain drive tire, offers many of the same features as its steer counterpart. Built for traction, it is designed with more lugs on the road to grip snow, mud and dirt.
"With wider lug spacing, traction remains great even as the tire wears," said Adam Murphy, vice president of B2B marketing for BFGoodrich commercial truck tires.
A wider protector provides greater protection from road hazards and penetrations, which can leave vehicles stranded on the side of the road with unexpected downtime.
The BFGoodrich Cross Control D tire is available in 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 sizes (Load Range H).
W.B. Mason, the nation’s second-largest privately owned office products dealer, has taken delivery of several Workhorse E-Gen electrified, range-extended step vans on leases from Ryder System, Inc., the company announced.
“Ryder is proud to be working with W.B. Mason to bring long-term environmental and cost-saving benefits of electric vehicles to its business and we look forward to expanding the partnership in the years to come,” said Dennis Cooke, Ryder's president of global fleet management solutions. “When companies outsource to Ryder, they get the value of our extensive experience operating and maintaining advanced vehicle technology fleets, so they can reduce risk, increase uptime, and speed return on investment.”
Workhorse’s E-Gen step van demonstrates a 40 MPGe fuel efficiency in on-the-road applications, which reduces vehicle emissions by 75% and is six times more efficient than conventional step vans. The E-Gen model provides an average range of 120 miles on a single charge with 60 electric miles enabled by Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs, and an additional 60 miles using the integrated BMW range extender.
In 2017, W.B. Mason announced its plans to lease Workhorse E-Gen hybrid-electric vehicles through Ryder and is taking delivery of four electric vehicles from Ryder this year.
Ryder collaborated with Workhorse to develop the electrified vehicle chassis and Morgan Olson to configure a customized truck specification that meets the delivery requirements of W.B. Mason. The vehicles will be supported by ChargePoint, the world’s leading electric vehicle charging network, as the primary charging infrastructure provider.
Bestpass has launched Bestpass Rebilling to allow its customers to seamlessly reassign toll transactions to specific business units, customers or contractors, the toll management provider has announced.
"With Bestpass Rebilling, our customers can now recoup toll costs while radically simplifying their back-office operations," said John Andrews, president and CEO of Bestpass. "Not only will they save time and money on rebilling, but they will also benefit from the full Bestpass toll management service, including nationwide coverage, violation processing and account consolidation, among many other features."
Bestpass Rebilling customers will be able to use the Bestpass web portal to designate single vehicles or distinct groups of vehicles that are responsible for incurred toll transactions. The customers can also create toll statements on demand, for any period of time and with their company logo, to provide supporting documentation and to ensure reimbursement for all relevant transactions.
"When Bestpass Rebilling customers generate statements, they can include a toll processing fee while simultaneously transferring the toll liability to a contractor or other entity," said Andrews. "Our primary goal for this new product is to positively impact the bottom line for commercial fleets using the Bestpass service."
When it rains, it doesn’t always pour. At least not always for everyone in trucking. Livestock haulers will get a respite from complying with the electronic logging device rule if the omnibus funding measure making its way across Capitol Hill this week becomes law.
Tucked into the gargantuan bill is a provision that declares that “the use of electronic logging devices by operators of commercial motor vehicles… transporting livestock” will not be required during federal fiscal year 2018, which runs from Oct. 1 2017 to Sept. 30 2018.
But missing from the bill’s 2,232 pages is a measure long pushed for by trucking interests that would prevent individual states from mandating meal and rest break for commercial drivers.
Reacting to that fact, Joe Rajkovacz, director of Governmental Affairs & Communications for the Western States Trucking Association, told HDT that “We are disappointed that Congress has once again ‘kicked the can down the road’ related to clarifying congressional intent over preempting state laws related to meal and rest break issues by not including language to resolve this issue once and for all.”
The $1.3 trillion package was approved by the House on March 22. The Senate must pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 by midnight on March 23 to avert another shutdown of the federal government.
As it stands now, the omnibus bill includes more than $21 billion for infrastructure projects across the country, including transportation, energy, water, and cyber, according to the House Appropriations Committee.
“The bill provides an increase of $10.6 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level to begin to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure,” the committee stated in a summary sheet. “This funding is targeted to our nation’s airports, roads, bridges, rail, and community development, and will create jobs and spur economic growth.”
According to the House Appropriations Committee, the omnibus bill will:
Provide $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, which is $1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This funding mirrors the FAST Act authorized levels and will provide much needed growth and improvements within America’s highway system. In addition, the bill provides an extra $2.5 billion in discretionary highway funding – a total increase of $3.5 billion for roads and bridges over fiscal year 2017.
Fund the TIGER (National Infrastructure Investments) multimodal program at $1.5 billion, a $1 billion increase over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This program will fund states’ and local communities’ most critical transportation projects, and language is included in the bill to ensure that at least 30% of these funds go to rural communities.
Fund the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes $947 million in total budgetary resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an increase of $36 million over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $845 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, $201 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Also included is $272 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an increase of $8 million over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. Within these amounts, the bill provides more than $100 million for research and demonstrations of automated vehicles, a technology that has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
The amount of freight carried by the nation’s for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.4% in January from the month before, after it reached an all-time high in December, according to newly released figures from the Transportation Department's Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI).
The level of the January gauge, 132.3, however, was the second highest all-time level, just 0.4% below the December 2017 reading, which was revised upward to 132.8 from 132. Monthly numbers for March through November 2017 were revised up slightly.
The January decline in the Freight TSI followed three successive monthly increases during which the index rose 2.8% from September through January.
January 2018 for-hire freight shipments increased 6.3% from January 2017.
The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.
Decreases in rail carloads, rail intermodal, pipeline and water resulted in the overall January decline while trucking and air freight increased, according to the report.
The TSI decline was consistent with the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production index, which dropped by 0.1% in January, led by a fall in mining. However, a range of other indicators, including employment, personal income and housing starts grew in January. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index fell to a reading of 59.1 in January, indicating positive but decelerating growth.
The January decline in the Freight TSI followed three successive monthly increases during which the index rose 2.8% from September through January.
Jeff Harris, vice president of maintenance at USA Truck, has been in trucking for almost three decades, since graduating from the Nashville Auto Diesel College in 1988. Today, the newly named chairman of the American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council says he wants to build on the work of his successors while making even greater strides to promote diesel technicians as a career of choice for today’s young people. HDT caught up with him shortly after the TMC annual meeting in Atlanta.
"I’m a firm believer that we have to get our technicians back to the basics in trucking. Because if we can’t make it from one oil change to the next, we’re going to be in trouble." – Jeff Harris
HDT:How long have you been involved with TMC?
Harris: I’ve been an active member since 2006. I entered the trucking industry when I got a job at a small fleet – MS Carriers in Memphis, Tennessee, – 14 days after graduating from Nashville Auto Diesel College. We had 200 trucks at the time. And 13 years later, we’d grown that to 5,000 tractors. In 2001, we were bought out by a larger fleet, and the number of power units grew to 17,000. So I’ve been based out of the same office for 29 years, and just came on with USA Truck as vice president of maintenance last September.
HDT: What do you see as the primary challenges facing the trucking industry?
Harris: The need to fill positions on the maintenance side of things. Everybody talks about the driver shortage – which is a very important issue. But we’re having a tough time filling any maintenance position you can think of, from parts techs, to external breakdown technicians, to shop techs. We’re really struggling to find people.
HDT: How do you plan to tackle that issue?
Harris: I’ll start by following up on the chairmen who have worked on this issue before me. I’d like to expand on our existing strategy to reach out to younger children and catch their attention while they’re still in grade school. And I think we need to do a more aggressive job using social media and television to promote the idea that being a diesel technician is an exciting field to enter, with new technology coming into it almost daily, it seems. And we really need to drive the point home that that is a field a young person can enter without taking on a ton of student loans in the process. Right out of high school they can learn a trade that can help them succeed through many of life’s challenges. It’s like that ad for insurance on TV today: You don’t want to be the guy who doesn’t know what a tire wrench is. You want to be the person who can get out of any mechanical challenge life throws at you. Trucking is really one great big family. And we need to get the next generation interested and involved in it.
HDT: Speaking of technology, how do you intend to help TMC steer through the many changes the industry faces today?
Harris: Changes come in phases. We need to remember that and the fact that we’re not going to have to deal with everything all at once. Like right now, we’re getting introduced to assisted driving technology, that builds on predictive cruise control and advanced safety systems. I’ve driven one of these systems, and they are impressive. It can be tough to stay on top of the latest technology. But I’m a firm believer that we have to get our technicians back to the basics in trucking. Because if we can’t make it from one oil change to the next, we’re going to be in trouble.
HDT: Do you think we need to be thinking about the role of technicians today? Is that changing?
Harris: We need guys who can do brake and oil jobs, as well as guys who can troubleshoot 10 different electronic control modules on a truck and use 10 different types of software to get them up and running again.
HDT: Can vocational schools deliver on that need?
Harris: So many schools today are using older, donated equipment to train their students on. And that’s good in that they’re learning the basics. But the newest technology simply isn’t making it into the schools today. And we really need to get the entire industry – and particularly the OEMs – involved in that effort. The schools are doing everything they can. I hire graduates every day – and I won’t turn them down, because we need them. But education on the more high-tech repairs today is coming solely from the fleets.
"Pretty much any legal or DOT requirement you can name eventually comes down to maintenance."
HDT: The TMC chairman typically has to deal with legislative issues as well. Are you looking forward to that aspect of your tenure?
Harris: People think this is a departure for us. But the reality is that the maintenance side of a fleet operation is also the police force for your entire operation. Pretty much any legal or DOT requirement you can name eventually comes down to maintenance – whether you’re talking about ELDs, hours of service, CVSA – you name it. So this is something I’m used to dealing with and look forward to working on.
HDT: The annual meeting in Atlanta that just wrapped up seemed bigger than ever.
Harris: That’s because it was! We had 4,700 registered for that show – which is a new attendance record. And it’s great to have everyone coming in like that are today with a large exhibition hall and all the vendors. But you know, for us older TMC guys, this has always been a maintenance-focused meeting. So one thing I want to do is encourage everyone that attends participate in what we do, which is create good maintenance practices for American trucking fleets.
Manufacturing activity this month hit a three-year high, while other reports showed healthy increases in where the economy is headed over the next several months.
U.S. manufacturers experienced a robust and accelerated improvement in their overall business conditions in March, as the IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a reading of 55.7, from 55.3 in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The gauge signaled the strongest upturn in manufacturing operating conditions since March 2015. Stronger contributions from the employment, inventories and suppliers’ delivery times components helped to lift the headline reading.
The latest data also pointed to robust rises in manufacturing production and new orders, although in both cases the rates of expansion eased since February.
Also, input buying increased at the fastest pace since September 2014, which a number of survey respondents linked to pre-purchasing and stock-building ahead of expected raw material price rises, particularly steel-related items. A number of survey respondents cited higher prices for metals and increased charges by suppliers amid strong demand for raw materials.
The findings are part of a larger report that includes a look at the services industry. The IHS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index declined slightly to a reading of 54.3 this month from 55.8 in February.
“The Flash PMI surveys indicate that the economy likely continued to expand at a robust pace in March, rounding off a solid opening quarter of the year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. “The surveys are running at a level consistent with annualized first quarter gross domestic product growth approaching 2.5%, though we note that official GDP estimates may once again understate growth in the opening quarter of the year.”
He said the survey found average prices charged for goods and services are rising at one of the strongest rates seen since 2014. Also with factory costs showing the largest jump for seven years amid growing shortages of key inputs, inflationary pressures appear to be on the rise.
Leading Indicators up Third Month in a Row
The Conference Board, a private research group, reported its Leading Economic Index rose 0.6% in February to a level of 108.7, increasing for the third straight month, following a 0.8% increase in January and a 0.7% increase in December.
The LEI uses 10 key economic metrics, including manufacturers' new orders, stock prices, and average weekly unemployment claims, for the composite reading.
“The U.S. LEI rose again, despite a sharp downturn in stock markets and weakness in housing construction in February,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The LEI points to robust economic growth throughout 2018. Its six-month growth rate has not been this high since the first quarter of 2011.”
Despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth, existing-home sales recovered in February after two straight months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, grew 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February. After last month’s increase, sales are now 1.1% above a year ago.
“A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices, especially in the West, shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue, because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.”
According to Yun, the unseasonably cold weather that started the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month.
“Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March,” he said.
Spot truckload freight volume slipped 1.2% and truck posts increased 2% for the week ending March 17, according to DAT Solutions and its load boards, while load-to-truck ratios and rates were relatively even, although both are considerably higher compared to a year ago.
The national average load-to-truck ratio for all freight was 14.1 to 1, meaning there were 14.1 loads for every available truck, nearly double what it was at this time last year.
Load-to-truck ratio for all three equipment types were stable week-over-week:
Van ratio: 6.8 to 1, unchanged
Flatbed ratio: 86.7 to 1, down slightly from 88.5
Reefer ratio: 10.1 to 1, down from 10.5
National average spot rates, which include fuel surcharges, were unchanged compared to the previous week but are well ahead of last year’s pace:
Van: $2.14 per mile, unchanged for the fourth week in a row but 51 cents higher year-over-year
Flatbed: $2.50 per mile, unchanged but 48 cents higher from a year earlier
Reefer: $2.40 per mile, unchanged for the third week in a row but 54 cents higher compared to last year
The number of van loads increased 3.1% last week and truck posts rose 2.2% last week. Overall, rates trended up on 54 of the top 100 lanes while 41 were down and five were unchanged.
Houston volume jumped 4.6% last week. Industrial freight has helped make Houston the leading van market in terms of growth in 2018 so far, according to DAT. Houston-Oklahoma City, a key lane for energy-related freight, gained 22 cents for a rate of $2.35 per mile.
Refrigerated freight volume rose 9% last week, led by increases in 13 of 17 major markets. They include Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Midwest; Sacramento and Twin Falls, Idaho, in the West; New Jersey and Philadelphia in the Northeast; and Dallas in the South Central.
California reefer volumes were up 7.6% last week and Florida volumes are gaining strength as fresh fruits and vegetables start to move. Chicago load availability jumped 16% and rates on several outbound lanes were higher, including Chicago-Philadelphia, up 36 cents to $3.53 per mile and Chicago-Kansas City, up 36 cents to $3.53 per mile.
Capacity in the flatbed market remains tight, as flatbed load posts declined 4% and truck posts dropped 2%.