Company: Jim Beam Brands-Maine, Lewiston, ME
Operation: Dry van, private fleet of eight tractors primarily delivering finished products such as vodka and rum and backhauling raw materials and other loads for a Lewiston, ME, plant and other shippers
Stopping at weigh stations always meant delays, but when the new hours-of-service (HOS) requirements went into effect, those delays further impacted productivity and increased costs for the Jim Beam Brands-Maine fleet, according to Harold Jones, the company’s traffic manager.
“Even if you just roll over a scale, a driver can end up waiting 5 to 10 minutes to get in and out of the weigh station and back up to speed on the Interstate,” Jones says. “Our drivers like to be home for the weekends, even those on regional and longer-distance routes.
“When there are extended delays at weigh stations, the new hours-of-service rules mean drivers can run out of hours before they reach their destinations,” he continues. “In some cases, we’ve had drivers have to stay in their trucks an extra 10 hours and then drive the 30 to 40 mi. to get home the next morning. It can be very frustrating.
“The new HOS has definitely decreased efficiencies,” he adds. “Our adjusted fleet miles were down 9.03% in Q3 of 2013 as compared to Q2. Our adjusted fixed operating costs were up 2.16% in the same period, excluding variable costs like fuel. Of course, there may have been other factors impacting the numbers to some extent.”
When Drivewyze approached Jim Beam Brands-Maine (then White Rock Distilleries) about participating in a beta test of the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass application for mobile devices, Jones was in. The fact that no transponders or other additional equipment was required may have made the decision easier still. Participation of drivers was completely voluntary, he notes. Seven of the company’s drivers elected to give the system a try and downloaded the app to their smartphones. Jones says he began seeing a drop in delays associated with weigh station stops right away.
Today, after the beta test period, drivers seem to be “very satisfied” with the system, and the company has been saving about 15 hours per month thanks to being able to bypass weigh stations much of the time. The day cab operator, who typically had to stop at weigh stations 10-12 times per week, reports getting a bypass more than 9 times out of 10.
That translates into about $1,200 per month, according to Jones. “Just the fuel savings alone (formerly about $74/month due to engine idling at weigh stations) nearly pays for the service on seven trucks,” he says. The Drivewyze application cost is $15.75/month per truck. Of course, these numbers have what-if assumptions behind them, Jones notes. “It is what we believe we saved based on vehicle inspection levels and times in the past.
“We have drivers who leave about noon, make a delivery, and do their pick-ups. [Now, thanks to Drivewyze] they can still get back home that night versus having to stay out an extra 10 hours pretty close to the terminal—30 minutes away even—because they ran out of hours,” says Jones. “If a driver can bypass just one or two scales, that can make the difference between getting home or not.”
It has also been an extra plus for day cab driver Heath Morris, who sometimes has a 15-minute window to make deliveries or pick up loads at busy regional warehouse operations or container facilities at seaports. Miss the window and you wait for the next available time—whenever that is.
Weigh stations have deployed Drivewyze in most of the states where the Jim Beam fleet operates and the number is expanding all the time.
Drivewyze is available from Google Play as an app for Android-based tablets or smartphones or from the Drivewyze website for iOS-based tablets or smartphones. Reseller agreements are expected to expand the commercial availability on other devices in the months ahead.