Manager: Murry Fitzer
Fleet: Florilli Transportation, West Liberty, IA
Operation: 48-state refrigerated TL carrier
“Trucking has always been a business of pennies, but when diesel is topping $2.30 a gallon, even a quarter-cent savings or 1/10th to 2/10th improvement in fuel economy can really add up over the life of a truck,” says Murry Fitzer, CEO of Florilli, which operates 225 tractors and 300 refrigerated trailers.
That's part of why he jumped on the satellite communication bandwagon back in 1994 Not just to give his drivers a better way to communicate with dispatch and to get real-time vehicle location, but to tap more regularly into other data on his fleet's tractors.
The satellite channel sends regular streams of data from the engine control module (ECM) so Fitzer can better control fuel economy, idle time, and thus — by extension — help save on maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle.
“The connectivity to the ECM gives us more effective leverage to drive out costs, from both an operating and maintenance perspective,” he says. “Prior to having that connectivity, the only way to get that data would be to physically download it when the truck came in for service. That meant that the data we were collecting would be intermittent at best, with large gaps, making it hard to use.”
But Fitzer was not satisfied to stick with technology that worked but was nonetheless not the most advanced or efficient.
After sifting through available options and completing a five-month evaluation last year, Florilli has begun adopting the latest MobileMax satellite communication package offered by from Herndon, VA-based GeoLogic Solutions.
Florilli views on-board communications and tracking capabilities as an integral part of doing business and providing a high level of service.
“We are anticipating measurable benefits from the new GeoLogic system in terms of fuel efficiency, vehicle utilization and enhanced customer service,” says Fitzer. He also plans to use the MobileMax system to help capture more accurate arrival and departure times to benefit customers.
“As a refrigerated carrier we have exposure to cargo claims,” he explains. “One consideration in adopting MobileMax is to ultimately have the ability to monitor shipment temperatures in transit and fix problems quickly so we can mitigate cargo claims.”
That's not all though. Improving fuel efficiency by linking the communications system to the ECM to monitor fuel economy and idling in real time gives Florilli a more effective means to gather performance data.
“For example, we bought 20 auxiliary power units (APUs) last year to see if we could reduce idle time without sacrificing driver comfort,” he says. “We use the satellite link to make sure the driver is using the APU so we can get idle time under 10% to achieve payback. That's also going to help us extend oil drains. Lower idle time translates into less engine hours, meaning we can probably extend our drains beyond 25,000 miles.”
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.