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Customizing the fleet driver’s experience

Dec. 17, 2020
Industrial IoT company Samsara, which offers a host of technologies to fleets, is creating tools to help fleets retain good drivers while maximizing their productivity.

Finding and keeping good drivers was not an easy task for most fleets last decade. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many older drivers to retire early. It also shut commercial driving schools and made CDL testing more difficult because of social distancing, which cuts down on the number of new drivers entering the industry to replace the retiring generation. This past year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse initiative, which requires more regular testings of commercial drivers, has led to tens of thousands of drivers to leave the market because of failed tests or fears of failure, according to estimates from FTR Transportation Intelligence. All of this has only increased the competition for drivers among fleets across the country.

It was no surprise that — for the fourth straight year — the growing driver shortage topped the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry survey. Industrial IoT company Samsara, which offers a host of technologies to fleets, is creating tools to help fleets retain good drivers while maximizing their productivity. 

“Driver workflows are effective tools to help drivers streamline their activities and stay connected to dispatch,” explained Joel Davis, Samsara product manager. “But finding the right technology to deliver those workflows can be challenging.”

To deliver those workflows, Samsara is making it easier for fleets to customize the Samsara Driver App for operations without the need for any proprietary hardware and need for coding. “While an increasing number of fleets are opting to provide drivers with modern smartphone and tablet technology, customizing workflow applications for those devices often require technical resources and expertise,” Davis said. 

The latest Samsara offering has two parts: a workflow builder and an app designer. With a drag-and-drop interface, the workflow builder allows fleet managers to define, customize, and instantly publish guided workflows to help drivers plan their shifts and comply with fleet policies. The app designer gives managers control over which features are available in the Driver App and configure how those features work for drivers on the road. 

“The most effective driver workflows strike the right balance to give drivers all the information they need to be productive while presenting it in a way that minimizes confusion,” Davis said. “You can select which steps are required, drag and drop to rearrange the order, and delete tasks that aren’t relevant for your operations. Once you publish a workflow, the Driver App automatically takes drivers through step-by-step flows, giving drivers the guidance they need to successfully complete their tasks.”

Davis said the workflow builder allows fleets to define start-of-day workflows. “Whether you want your drivers to start their days by reviewing hours of service (HOS), performing pre-trip inspections, checking inventory, or completing a custom document, you can define it all with the workflow builder.”

The app designer part of the offering gives fleets the option to customize what drivers see in their Samsara Driver App. “Managers can choose exactly which features drivers can access and when,” Davis explained. “Want to use ‘Routes,’ but not feeling ready? With the app designer, you can remove that feature from the Driver App and add it right back when you’re ready. Want to make sure drivers perform comprehensive vehicle inspections? You can require walkaround photos and comments on DVIRs with just a few clicks.”

Davis said these additions to the Driver App are based on feedback from Samsara’s large fleet customer base. “We’ll continue to work side-by-side with our customers to help develop even more robust tools to help drivers around the world work safer, smarter, and happier,” Davis said.

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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