Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
A Volvo tractor at the Verizon Connect conference highlights the ability to alert fleets to available hours of service.

Turning 'big data' into big savings

Oct. 25, 2018
Customers at the 2018 Verizon Connect Latitude user conference discuss how technology is turning into real-world savings.

DANA POINT, CA. For many years, the discussion surrounding “big data” has centered on the possibilities.

At the 2018 Verizon Connect Latitude user conference, a variety of customers shared how those possibilities were becoming a reality.

“Big data is a cliché buzzword, but it's true,” said Joe Bennett, senior director of delivery for Sysco. Data can be extracted quickly, allowing decisions to be “based on what is happening.” 

The transportation community is making more proactive “fact-based decisions versus reacting,” said Dave Meisel, executive vice president of operations for Quanta Services.

At YRC Freight, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate helped spark a modernization movement throughout the company, said Nicole Judd, senior IT project manager.

Initially focused on the mandate with “blinders on,” YRC Freight is now finding “other points of cost savings.”

Judd said it was a tough task just tracking down the 8,000 drivers and other field associates for training. “Getting comfortable with the technology was a challenge” for some older drivers, she noted.

That training is still ongoing as the fleet prepares to transition completely to ELDs from some automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) before the December 2019 federal deadline. Judd said the process will create more efficiencies, and that YRC continues to “look at ways to modernize other tech in our organization.”

Meanwhile, a main benefit of big data at Quanta Services is less fuel use.

“The cheapest gallon of fuel … is the one you will never use,” said Meisel.

The Houston-based company provides engineering and construction services for the electric, oil, and gas industries. It has about 53,000 assets around the globe, traveling more than 1 million miles on average every day.

Since phasing-in solutions from Verizon Connect over the past two years, there has been a 12.7% reduction in non-productive idle time, and a 3.5% drop in overall drive time. There has also been a double-digit drop in speeding.

These improvements have come without the need for lengthy driver training and coaching. Employees “generally do the right thing,” Meisel said.

For Sysco, the value of big data can be counted in seconds, said Bennett.

Rather than just seeing total delivery time, Sysco can better track the time between arrival and when the first case is scanned, as well as how much time between last scan and departure. “Every second saved …. multiplies to millions of dollars,” for a company of Sysco’s size, Bennett said.

YRC Freight’s Judd said the fleet is also leveraging technology to achieve better utilization of the 1,000 new tractors purchased last year.

Since the new models offer higher fuel economy, they are targeted for linehaul operations. So YRC is starting to use geofence technology to alert terminal managers if one of the newer vehicles are being used in city deliveries instead of its “intended purpose,” Judd said.

During the conference, Michael Espitia of Costco and Ken Jack of Verizon were among the others sharing stories how technology was providing new opportunities for cost savings.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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