By the end of September, a Qualcomm tracking box will be attached to the nose of every Schneider National intermodal container. All van trailers will have them by December 2015.
It’s 11 p.m. Do you know where my load is?
That’s a shipper asking a trucker the whereabouts of the trailer or container carrying his cargo. He’s not asking about a tractor and its driver; he wants to know about his load. From that point of view, it’s odd that trucking companies attached the first satellite and cellular-based tracking devices to tractors years ago, when products became available.
For a while now, tracking products have been available for trailers, and Schneider National, one of the nation’s largest carriers, has announced that it is really jumping into the technology. It is installing Qualcomm Omnitracs’ Trailer Tracks 210 devices on more than 44,000 intermodal containers and van trailers.
All of Schneider’s intermodal containers are to be equipped with tracking devices by Sept. 30, 2013. The van trailer fleet upgrade will be complete by December 2015, the carrier said. The product will give Schneider continuous, real-time information on the location and load status of each trailer and container, while enhancing driver productivity and customer service.
The installation includes an upgrade to the trailer-tracking devices currently installed on the company’s Van Truckload and Dedicated fleets, as well as the first-time installation within the Intermodal container fleet. When containers are wired in, Schneider claims it will be the only intermodal provider in North America with 100% fleet coverage and cargo sensing capabilities.
Unlike trailers, intermodal containers are not tethered to a tractor for significant periods of time during the rail portion of a move, making it difficult to power a tracking device. Qualcomm’s new product gets around this by using solar and cellular power.
The comprehensive tracking device pinpoints the exact location of empty containers and trailers, eliminating the need for manual yard checks and helping to reduce bobtailing which represents empty miles and fuel costs. It also transmits information from the trailer to the cab, making the planning and dispatch process more efficient.
“I now have more control over how my time is spent, leading to increased efficiency and turnaround times,” said Schneider National driver Scott Dohman. “The new technology provides Schneider and drivers like me with the information we need to take immediate action, while better utilizing our time. I was also happy to find out it didn’t require much additional training.”
According to Don Aiken, Schneider’s vice president of intermodal operations, the company anticipates a reduction of eight empty miles per shipment upon full deployment of the tracking devices, equating to 15 minutes per driver per day in time savings.
When coupling or uncoupling a trailer, the device transmits data from the trailer to the cab, enabling Schneider’s dispatchers to read a driver’s trailer number within a matter of minutes via an electronic inventory system. In the past, a driver would have to manually submit a trailer number through an in-cab device. This was subject to error, like transposed numbers, creating more work for the driver and the office team. With the upgrade, the trailer number is auto-filled with dependable accuracy.
Schneider researched several products prior to selecting deciding on a Qualcomm system. Dave Geyer, Schneider’s senior vice president and general manager, Van Truckload, said the company chose to continue its use of Qualcomm’s tracking platform because of its comprehensiveness.
“The new technology gives us the ability to better manage our trailing units, providing clearer direction to drivers and faster response time to our customers, while minimizing the amount of time, fuel, and wear and tear on our equipment when having to locate a trailer,” Geyer added.
Meanwhile, Schneider said it continues to look for drivers. Solo and team jobs exist for company drivers and owner-operators in the company’s regional, over-the-road, dedicated, tanker and expedited operations. Local and regional jobs also exist for solo company drivers in Schneider’s intermodal division.
Info about about career opportunities is at www.schneiderjobs.com.