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July 8, 2015

Company: Pason Systems Corp., Calgary, Alberta

Operation: Oil field services centered on managing and analyzing drilling data


Pason knows quite a bit about collecting data remotely and using it to improve efficiency. The oil field services company provides customers with hardware and software to monitor drilling operations and well production.

“The oil and gas drilling industry has become very computerized,” says Sterlin Smith, HSE manager for U.S. operations. “Our software and hardware can tell drillers and the rig crew how deep the well is, how fast the drill is turning, and what’s coming out of the hole.”

In the U.S., Pason services that well-head equipment with a fleet of 250 light-duty trucks, almost all of them General Motors fullsize pickups.  The heavy mix of on- and off-road operation presented an opportunity to recover on-road fuel taxes if it could document those off-road miles.  Some accidents attributed to excessive speed were also causing concern, and there was a strong belief that the trucks weren’t delivering the fuel economy they should. 

Given its familiarity with telemetry and remote data analysis, the company naturally began exploring vehicle monitoring, but it wanted its approach to be one embraced by drivers rather than feared as a tattletale.


Since its trucks came equipped with GM’s proprietary OnStar telematics system, the logical solution was adopting Telogis Fleet for GM, a web-based management system specifically designed to run over OnStar and available without any aftermarket or bolt-on components.

With safety the primary objective, Pason decided to use the system to reinforce good driving practices by creating a competition. Using an upgrade called Telogis Coach, the system not only provides drivers with in-cab alerts about their performance, but also displays company-wide rankings based on individual safety scores.

“One of the things that works better than anything in safety is competition,” says Smith. “If you can create competition among your ranks, guys will do really well. They’re young guys, so if you can throw in a prize package, these guys will turn themselves inside out. I want to find out who the best driver is and throw him a bone, and then I want all the other guys around him to say ‘damn, I want that bone.’”

The result of Pason’s competitive approach has been a dramatic decrease in high-speed accidents and excessive speed violations, he reports.

While safety was the major motivation for moving to the telematics system, it’s also proved to help the fleet’s operating costs.  Idling, which could sometimes run up to 150 hours a month for some trucks, was not only wasting expensive fuel, but it was adding to equipment maintenance and repair costs while shortening usable life.

“We’re getting much greater longevity out of our vehicles,” says Smith. “We previously turned a vehicle over every 150,000 mi. We’re now able to drive them up to 200,000 because we’ve eliminated so much idle time. That’s a huge cost savings for us.”

And then there’s the money recouped with fuel tax rebates.  Now able to accurately and easily record all miles run off-road or on private property, Pason has the information it needs to file for road-use fuel tax rebates. 

“We get a huge tax break from that,” says Smith. “At the end of the year, I’m going to run a report that shows that 40% of the miles our company drove were on non-maintained roadways. I don’t have to pay fuel tax for that, and we spend $3 million a year on fuel. We get a huge tax bang for that—enough I think to pay for the [telematics system] for the entire year.”       

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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