Rolling out new technology: In-house or outsource?

Rolling out new technology: In-house or outsource?

Hirschbach Motor Lines finds outsourcing installation leads to a faster return on investment

Improving fuel efficiency, safety and productivity are all important to your bottom line, and it is those benefits that are driving the growing number of aftermarket technologies being deployed by trucking operations today. When it falls on the shop to install those systems and devices, however, the management challenge grows.

Using internal resources for installing even the simplest of aftermarket technologies can have an unacceptable impact on operations. Working technology deployment into a daily maintenance operation can put a strain on shop productivity and compound an existing technician shortage at a time when your staff already needs to maintain and repair complex vehicle systems.

Faced recently with installing two systems on its fleet of over 850 tractors—EpicVue in-cab satellite TV packages to help improve driver retention and FlowBelow Tractor Aero Kits, which consist of aerodynamic wheel covers and tractor tandem fairings to enhance fuel efficiency-- Hirschbach Motor Lines opted to bring in Velociti, Inc., an aftermarket technology deployment services provider for installations on 382 of its units.

“Scheduling, planning and communication between our shops, dispatch operation and drivers were the keys,” says Brian Weiss, Hirschbach’s director of driver services at the refrigerated carrier. “Velociti helped manage the process and handled those installations, including tracking inventory and coordinating with Hirschbach’s scheduler so the trucks were available and drivers knew to budget their time.”

Customizable technology deployment services offered by Velociti include project planning, installation, design, hardware staging and configuration, shipping, scheduling and installations. For Hirschbach, Velociti managed the 382 installations at multiple company shop locations, planning and distributing the work so there was as little disruption to any one facility’s operation as possible.

“Preplanning included making sure specs for the systems and components were correct and the right items for each truck were in the right place ahead of time,” Weiss noted. “For example, our fleet includes a mix of International ProStar+ and Freightliner Cascadia tractors, and each truck model required slightly different versions of the aerodynamic kits. Once everything was set up we started pumping trucks through.”

Velociti estimates that upfront costs to deploy on-board technologies range from 10% to 50% of hardware costs. Every day the hardware is not installed, noted Deryk Powell, president of Velociti, fleets are losing money by not reaping the benefits.

“The focus should be on properly planning and implementing solutions quickly and efficiently,” Powell said. “Hirschbach Motor Lines realized that having both systems installed quickly and accurately was crucial for maximizing their return on investment. Additionally, having the installations done simultaneously allowed them to realize their driver retention and fuel economy goals much more quickly.”

Carriers using Velociti services have visibility into every aspect of the program via the company’s project management portal, Velogic. “Fleets often approach technology project management internally by naming a point person and using spreadsheets,” Powell related. “Those tools can be inadequate. For effective deployment of aftermarket technologies, a comprehensive solution can be more productive and lead to cost savings faster.”

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