For Southern California carrier Best Yet Express, which operates within a 100-mile radius, log books are only required if drivers have to work more than 12 hours. So if drivers of its 43 trucks unexpectedly had to go beyond that 12-hour period, they had to pull over and fill out their log right away.
“We wanted to make sure our trucks were always moving,” explains Jay Newjahr, CEO of the family-owned, primarily less-than-truckload and warehousing company. “Whether we work one hour or 14 hours, we didn’t want to make our drivers have to fill out those forms.”
None of the commercially available products really fit its needs, so the company decided to develop its own system, which would go beyond the electronic logging device mandate that kicks in this December and become a true productivity tool.
“We said, why does it have to stop at hours of service?” Newjahr says. “We want our HOS to develop in the background and run as the guys are doing their normal everyday shift.”
The project actually grew out of a desire to automate pretrip inspections, Newjahr explains. “I was having problems getting drivers to fill out vehicle reports accurately. So I said, why don't we find a way to do this electronically, and set it up so a driver has to do step one before he does step two,” and so forth. “It started getting very creative after that.”
In addition to electronic pre-trip inspections, Best Yet Express wanted its system to track not just city names, but the actual customer location. It wanted to be able to tell where drivers are, why they’re there, and what they’re doing.
The resulting system is a workflow application drivers can easily pull up on a Samsung 7-inch tablet.
“They used to have to fill out a paper form for [their manifest] and a paper form for hours of service and a paper form for their pretrips,” Newjahr says. Much of the information required on the manifest overlapped what’s required for hours of service. Putting it all into one electronic system streamlined the driver’s day.
The system was recently rolled out to drivers, and currently the company is working on making sure it meets the self-certification standards for ELDs as set up by the FMCSA. The plan eventually is to market the system to other trucking companies.
“Our drivers have been absolutely enthralled by it,” Newjahr says. “They love the no paperwork part, they love the simplicity of it, they love being in compliance.”