Communications help trucking weather the storm

Oct. 30, 2012

Wireless communications are indispensible to the trucking community, even on “routine” days and emergencies only serve to magnify the importance of staying in touch.  Communications and fleet management solution providers began reaching out to customers as Sandy approached the East Coast and have stayed in touch as disaster preparedness shifts to disaster recovery.

PeopleNet, for example, began sending out updates on how things were going before the storm made landfall, as well as making sure that the Navigo navigation system (provided with partner Telogis) was kept as current as possible ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,  according to Alicia Jarosh, director of customer support for PeopleNet,.“We just wanted to make sure customers knew what we were doing [to help support them],’ Jarosh told Fleet Owner. “We have been working very closely with our communications providers, first on preparedness and now on recovery.

“One other measure we took was to increase staffing across the board, especially during the early morning hours after the storm hit,’ she added. “It has been very quiet, though, very business-as-usual here. [We are not getting emergency calls from our customers.]”

Certainly one of the most cheering messages PeopleNet customers must have received came Monday evening at 8:51 p.m. EDT: “Good evening. This is a final update to previous notifications. PeopleNet is pleased to confirm that wireless communications remain solid as Sandy assaults the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern Regions. We are working in conjunction with wireless carriers and will remain on heightened awareness throughout the storm. Any changes in the status or performance of the wireless network will be shared directly with you.”

XRS also reached out to its customers to provide storm-specific information. In his blog, Tom Cuthbertson, vice president regulatory compliance, shared information from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) regarding the FMCSA emergency exemption for truckers taking part in relief efforts.

At Qualcomm Enterprise Services, the focus has also stayed on those in harm’s way. “Our thoughts and good wishes are with those who have been impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” Tim McCrady, senior director of customer service for Qualcomm Enterprise Services, told Fleet Owner.“We recognize the critical role the trucking industry plays in ensuring necessary supplies reach those in need. We are pleased to report that the large majority of our customers appear to have continued to rely on their terrestrial-based mobile fleet management technology to help avoid major disruption to their business. 
“In response to a request from one customer, we leveraged Qualcomm mobile technology to inform their drivers that the fleet had lost connectivity to our hub as a result of the storm. Additionally, with many of our fleet customers using server-based navigation/routing solutions, these fleets had ongoing access to updated routing information to avoid closed roads etc., since such server-based solutions enable routing changes to be made promptly and passed along to drivers to help keep them safe on the road... "

Carriers also reached out to their employees, customers and others to share critical information and support.  Tuesday evening, for example, Schneider National released prepared remarks noting that: “Schneider National’s top concern during Hurricane Sandy is for the people in the impacted area. Our contingency planning for a storm of this magnitude focuses on our associates living in its path, and our customers, facilities and operations in the area.

“Schneider has numerous facilities and thousands of associates in the multi-state area hit by this storm.  At this point, all of our office, maintenance and warehouse associates are safe and accounted for. We are still in the process of making contact with all of our driver associates and to date have no reports of any injuries….” 

About the Author

Wendy Leavitt

Wendy Leavitt joined Fleet Owner in 1998 after serving as editor-in-chief of Trucking Technology magazine for four years.

She began her career in the trucking industry at Kenworth Truck Company in Kirkland, WA where she spent 16 years—the first five years as safety and compliance manager in the engineering department and more than a decade as the company’s manager of advertising and public relations. She has also worked as a book editor, guided authors through the self-publishing process and operated her own marketing and public relations business.

Wendy has a Masters Degree in English and Art History from Western Washington University, where, as a graduate student, she also taught writing.  

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