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Technology Overload with Fleets a Common Theme at TMC2024

Learn how fleets are integrating technology into their process to make things easier for heavy-duty people.

Episode 312:  We were happy to attend this year’s TMC annual meeting in New Orleans, and we have the latest news on how the industry is embracing technology to solve common problems heavy-duty people face.

In this episode, Jamie Irvine interviewed industry leaders who have used technology to create solutions that increase efficiency. Join us as Matthew Harris, VP Account Management at PowerFleet, and Chris Garcia, Head of Sales at Anyline, share their insights on the opportunities and challenges of integrating new software systems.

Learn how fleets are integrating technology into their process to make things easier for heavy-duty people.


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Transcript of Episode

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

Welcome to another episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the inability for fleets to have one more dashboard or consume one more data stream.

We’re going to talk about the importance of having a unified platform provider for fleets, and I’m going to highlight a unique solution for monitoring tire wear with a very, very interesting technology that I discovered at TMC in New Orleans for their annual spring meeting. Now, before we get into all of that, I wanted to take a minute to talk about how we are always promoting the idea of challenging the status quo in the industry.

At the Heavy Duty Consulting Corporation, we work with dozens of manufacturers and distributors every week, and we’re always trying to help them to find ways to make their business more productive, to empower their employees, to help them to challenge the way things have done, challenge that status quo, and really push themselves to find new ways to be more competitive.

When you are doing this, it involves integrating both the traditional ways that we have manufactured and distributed parts, and really taking the best parts of the traditional and moving them forward and integrating them with new technologies that really help us to produce more, be more effective, and make our people empowered to do what they need to do to accomplish the goals, not only of the company, but also to serve that customer and to serve the industry at a higher level.

Now, just like we’re going to discuss a little later on in the episode with fleets, heavy-duty manufacturers and distributors have been struggling with the amount of data that is now required to operate their business.

Now, it might be data that is needed to, for example, sell your parts on an e-commerce platform, but often it’s also using software and data and technology in a meaningful way that helps them to accomplish their goals and to become more productive.

And what ends up happening over time is you start to stack various technologies, various software stacks, various hardware stacks, one on top of the other, and there becomes an integration problem.

So you’ve got one ERP, you’ve got an e-commerce platform, maybe you’ve got other software that you’re using inside of your business to help you. And when you try to put them all together, sometimes it’s very difficult to get the most out of everything you’ve invested in, and that’s where we can help.

So whether it’s acquiring the needed data to sell your parts on a B2B e-commerce platform from the supplier to the distributor, or a more B2C platform from the distributor to the end user.

Or if it’s understanding how to integrate several software solutions together or several systems together in an effort to modernize the business and really achieve digital mobility where this technology is actually, it’s translating into empowering real heavy-duty people to be measurably more productive and more efficient and more successful.

And that’s really where the rubber meets the road with all of this. And when you accomplish that, that’s when you can achieve your business goals. So if this is something that your company is struggling with and you’d like to talk to us, head over to heavydutyconsulting.com and just click the Meet with Us button. I’ve also included a link in the show notes where if you just click it, it’ll take you right through to our scheduling page.

We will conduct an integration consultation and we will provide you with a proposal that will guide you through integrating your various software systems and technologies with the end goal of streamlining your operation. So again, if this is something that you’re struggling with and that this interests you, head over to heavydutyconsulting.com. Today we’re now going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors.

And when we get back, I’m going to share with you a couple of interviews that I had at TMC in New Orleans at their annual meeting. We’ll be right back.

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We’re back from the break. Before the break, we were talking about how there are challenges associated with integrating various software systems at the manufacturing and distribution level.

And just like with the manufacturers and distributors, fleets are having a challenge with data as well. And so now it’s time to hear from our featured guests that I interviewed at TMC in New Orleans.

One of the things I kept hearing from fleets this year at TMC is that they were not interested in having any more dashboards onboard in the trucks and that they really were struggling to consume any more data, all that data that was coming in, it was very difficult to turn that into meaningful, actionable things that could actually change the direction of their business and make their business more efficient.

And so what really came to the forefront here is the need to have a provider that can bring some unity between all of these systems. And that’s exactly what I found when I talked with Matthew Harris, VP of Account Management at Power Fleet. Listen into my interview with Matthew Harris. My guest today is Matthew Harris. He is the Vice President of Sales at Power Fleet. Matthew, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Matthew Harris:

I’m really happy to be here. Thank you.

Jamie Irvine:

Great. Thank you for taking some time to talk to us. I’m really interested in learning more about what you do as a company, but before we talk about that, talk to me a little bit about the segment of the market that you serve in the trucking industry. Why is that so important to all of us?

Matthew Harris:

Well, Power Fleet is a technology solutions provider, and so we’re in the technology segment for, in terms of the industry. Technology really is the game changer that enables everything from compliance, maintenance, visibility and management, and most importantly, safety and our company, but our industry supporting that. We find that the most critical element we can do.

Jamie Irvine:

And when I hear those words, what I think of right away is I think of the family in a van on a long trip. They’re on the highway and there’s a semi-truck right beside them, and your technology is empowering that fleet to be safe on the road, to be operating correctly, to preserve the safety on the road.

But in addition to that, when I think of transportation fleets having breakdown events, those are major, major issues. It can affect traffic, it can affect even the economic output of the area. I heard of one breakdown in, I think it was Washington, and they estimated at over a hundred million dollars of economic impact because of a breakdown on a bridge.

Matthew Harris:

It is incredible, right, that the cost of safety and the importance of safety are so critical, whether it’s to the fleet, to the community, to the industry, it’s just vital. But some of the other elements, it’s not just safety, but it is the cost of operation because that affects safety. When you have a fleet that operates inefficiently, the opportunity, the idea to cut corners, to reduce cost becomes imperative, and that could affect safety. So there really are all types.

Jamie Irvine:

Now we are here at TMC and this is really a fleet show and trucking, I mean, that’s a big, big word that encompasses a lot of different types of fleets, different types of companies. Talk to me a little bit about who Power Fleet’s ideal customer would be.

Matthew Harris:

So at the highest level, that customer profile is wide, the enterprise fleets, but also for us, our market also hits small and mid-size fleets. In fact, that is who our customer is today from 50 unit tractor fleets to the largest private fleets out there.

So while it’s not a single profile we target, we certainly have our infrastructure built to support a large scale fleet because of the demands they have for integration, insight analytics, but our other customers on the smaller side, maybe not the same scale, but the same critical information is needed. So our idea is to have a platform that scales to the customer.

So it makes it easier for us to say, well, that’s not really in our target segment because they are. Now one unit owner operator is not our target, but certainly the small fleet with 200 trailers or 50 tractors is in our fleet space and we have for us bespoke solutions that target what they need specifically, which may be different than an enterprise fleet.

Jamie Irvine:

I’d like you to tell me a little bit about the real world problems that your customers encounter and the impact that that has on them, specifically from an economic perspective.

Matthew Harris:

So it is real. So it reminds me of a customer we have in the chassis leasing space. So a large fleet deployed for their customer’s visibility to that leased equipment and rental equipment, but the customer came to us with another challenge. Their roadside service cost for them, the average cost is over $450 per roadside service.

That’s a significant cost to any operator, but it’s not just that direct cost, it’s the hours of service for the driver risk, it’s the customer service delivery level expectations missed. So it’s significant. What our customer in this case was looking for and the market even broader is how do we know, how can we better predict a tire issue?

So help us understand we have other technology deployed, automated tire inflation sensors, tire pressure monitoring sensors. We need something that integrates to those to give us real time and predictive understanding so that we can avoid those costs, but also provide longer life of a tire.

What we’ve done, and it really speaks to what this industry does well in technology, there’s partnerships and that’s what we do. We didn’t offer the sensor, but we have the opportunity and wherewithal to partner with those types of providers. And so when I think about our industry, the good things we do, that’s one of them.

There’s a lot of partnering in this industry to provide the ideal solution, just not one thing. It’s not a gateway as an iot provider, it’s not just the sensor. It’s bringing the solution to the customer. And fortunately we’ve done that. So the opportunity to really avoid that very direct and inconvenient service, roadside service is practical and is delivering benefits today to fleets.

Jamie Irvine:

So tell me more about Power Fleet as a company. What is it specifically that you are providing to the trucking industry that empowers you to solve those kinds of problems?

Matthew Harris:

Right. Well, you and I were talking earlier, the number one thing we hear in the market today from enterprise to smaller fleets is data. The inability to consume one more data point, one more solution dashboard.

Jamie Irvine:

If there is one more dashboard, they’re going to lose it.

Matthew Harris:

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small fleet, you have limited IT resources or you’re the largest provider, very resource rich, it’s still more consumption. How do you synthesize that data into meaningful insights across technology platforms, whether it’s in the tractor, it’s on the trailer, inside the refrigerator, they need information, but they can’t consume with so much data. We see that as our opportunity and other providers as well to unify that data. And that’s really our story.

So if you ask, what is Power Fleet, we’re, while we are a technology solution provider, we are really a unified platform provider. To us that means not just our set of solutions we’ve developed and that have a market position, but also others that really is where the market goes to and leveraging the type of partnership we develop for a tire inflation integration.

It’s where we can bring in data from other providers, competitors, but also sensors and technology into a single platform. That’s what the market’s asking for in order to manage so much information because the technology, if it’s not used, it’s wasted and then it parks the entire industry because well, I’ve already done that. Didn’t work.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, exactly. So tell me a story of where someone was able to consume all of this data using their platform and then turn it into something actionable that really yielded a good result.

Matthew Harris:

Yeah. Well, we certainly have a customer today, the largest gray provider in the country using our technology, which is great for us. It’s a large opportunity to provide very specific capabilities around telematics for chassis.

But because the way that fleet has grown, they have a lot of different technology providers, many providers, but they can’t manage all of these individual providers at a centralized view. And they came to us with this problem and using our Unity platform where we can bring in that data. So great what’s the point of bringing in the data?

It really is synthesizing the data into a single view, whether it’s the map view, so I sing all my assets regardless of provider, but then the reporting and the insights that it provides. So for example, dwell and utilization to understand, so you get to a common baseline capability. Now, some sensors and devices do different things, so there’s additional deep drill down capabilities.

For example, we can not only detect where it’s at the basic visibility, but if you can know how long it’s operating, where it’s operating, there’s maintenance opportunities for service either to avoid because it’s underutilized or to service because of the over utilization of the equipment, not just a time-based, I’m sorry, not just a time-based interval, but a use based interval.

That’s what fleets are looking for on top of the core capabilities of visibility. They want to integrate to their maintenance systems, and that’s another point. So not just in receiving all that data, you’ve got to present that data back, not just through your platform, but into their systems.

So you have to have the capabilities that integrate to a variety of TMS platforms, maintenance platforms, and other internally developed requirements. So it really is the scale of data is really complex and broad, and so finding that partner that understands that is the key requirement today.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’ve been speaking with Matthew Harris, VP of Sales at Power Fleet, and we are here at the Technology and Maintenance Council’s annual spring meeting in New Orleans.

To learn more about Power Fleet visit powerfleet.com links will be in the show notes. Matthew, great to have you on the show. Thank you so much. What a great interview. As you can see, it is so important to find a provider that can really bring unity amongst all of these systems and can provide you with meaningful actionable items that you can really take that information.

You can deploy a strategy to make your fleet more efficient, and that will actually result in accomplishing goals like lowering total cost of operation. Now, what about specific problems that happen and is there technology solutions being developed for those specific problems?

What am I talking about? Well, one specific problem is tire wear. Tires are a major cost center for fleets. This is one of the biggest amounts of money they spend on replacement items is on tires and tire wear is a real issue.

And so in my interview with Chris Garcia, Head of Sales at Anyline, we talk about how they have developed a solution that is agnostic to whatever systems you’re already using and can be plugged in to empower your drivers to be able to monitor tire wear and to be able to provide the fleet maintenance manager or the operations manager with the needed information to make decisions that will actually result in less tire blowouts and less problems on the road.

A fascinating piece of technology that I wanted to share with you. So listen in to my conversation with Chris Garcia, Head of Sales at Anyline, and my guest today is Chris Garcia. He’s Head of Automotive USA at Anyline. Chris, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Chris Garcia:

Hey, Jamie, pleasure to be here.

Jamie Irvine:

Glad to have you. Thanks for taking a bit of time. I know these trade shows we’re busy, we’re talking to people, we’re talking to customers, we’re making connections.

It’s a people show, but let’s talk a little bit about your company, but before we get into what you do, I kind of want to have a better understanding of what part of this trucking industry you’re trying to serve and how does that impact people?

Chris Garcia:

Yeah. Well, I think for us in particular, I always think about the actual end user. Everything that we do is really to make their life easier, to make their life and job safer, and it’s really important to me that we have solutions that are easy for them to use that get good data back, and then obviously can ladder up and be usable by their companies as well.

So for me, it’s really important though that we keep the end user in mind. The driver who’s on the road, who’s exhausted at the end of the day, but still has to do a post-trip inspection, right? How can we make his or her life easier and make that just a little bit more efficient, but still maintain the quality of data that we’re getting?

Jamie Irvine:

As someone who’s sold at many levels of the supply chain, it doesn’t matter if you’re at the manufacturing level, if you’re at a service level, I mean it is at the end of the day about the men and women who are driving those trucks, and it’s also about the men and women who maintain those vehicles.

Right. So let’s talk a little bit about your ideal customer. Give me a bit of a profile of who they are. I know we were talking about this before we started rolling.

Chris Garcia:

Yeah. Yeah. So look, I think at the end of the day, our ideal customer, and this might sound broad here, is anybody who’s looking to optimize their tire maintenance. So tires as everybody in this building knows are usually the second largest expense for a fleet.

So anything that we can do to optimize that maintenance is what we want to be focused on, and those are primarily what our solutions are geared and driven towards, right? So optimizing that inspection workflow so that the driver gets more time back on the road, less time doing inspections, and we can actually reduce downtime in the long

Jamie Irvine:

Run. Okay. Let’s expand on that a little bit. So if you have a fleet and they haven’t done this optimization, what does that actually look like?

Chris Garcia:

Yeah, so I think the funny part is we ran a survey and we can see that in 80% of fleets it looks very manual. So it is a process that look hasn’t changed for decades. Decades, if I’m being honest, right? We’re still using manual gauges to measure dread depth. We’re still using pen and paper to record that information.

These are things where, hey, the paperless revolution and digitization has been here for many years. It’s just still taking its time to really reach adoption. And in a lot of cases, I think partially just that people don’t know we have really truly an awareness issue more than we do an adoption issue because once they see the tech, it’s fairly easy to adopt, and that’s by design. It’s easy to use, but we’ve really just got to improve awareness.

Jamie Irvine:

So one of the things I’ve heard repeatedly at this show is that we don’t need another dashboard. We don’t need another subscription. There is so many things that they have to do and there’s so much data coming at the fleets that they sometimes have a difficult time even just consuming it and then turning it into anything actionable. How is your solution with the specific goal of tire optimization, why is it easy for them to use your solutions?

Chris Garcia:

Excellent question. So you’re a hundred percent right? So I’m going to give you on a couple levels why our solutions are perfect for exactly what you’re saying. The people who don’t want another solution, neither does the driver, by the way.

They don’t want another tool. They’ve got plenty of them already to maintain. Here’s why. So from the start, one of the first things that we were conscious about was not being an end-to-end application. We consider ourselves a piece of the puzzle, a valuable piece, an important piece, but a piece of the puzzle.

And we integrate with solutions and partners so that those fleet managers and those drivers don’t have to open two or three or four different apps. They can stay in the existing application and actually never knew that they used Anyline and hopefully other providers as well to optimize that workflow. It all just happened as part of an existing workflow, and that’s really at the core how we started.

Now, you also ask about actionable because look, let’s be honest, there’s a ton of data. There’s more data than any of us can consume. There’s just not enough hours in the day. We need actionable insights. So one of the great things about our solutions, if I were to take our tread measuring for example, is it’s actually actionable at the point of inspection, which is key because now the driver is empowered, right?

Or the technician is empowered to take action to get the tire off the road or to get an alignment rotation, you name it, but to take better care of that tire. So at the point of inspection, they get an immediate result back so that they know, excellent, my steer tires are actually a little below where the company is mandated, they should be. I need to get those swapped out asap, but that’s not where it stops.

That data then flows where it’s traditionally stopped, it flows now to the fleet manager. So in real time, I could be sitting in Houston, Texas and my driver in San Antonio’s conducted his inspection and I can see immediately, oh, hey, he’s got to get those drive tires changed out on the driver’s side because they’re below the legal limit and I can immediately action that.

So that’s really the key is being able to get that information not only from the point of inspection, accurate there, but also accurately and immediately up to the manager who can then again take action as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Tell me a story of one of your customers who took action on this. They implemented it, how did it turn out for them?

Chris Garcia:

Yeah, absolutely. So I love to mention one customer in particular because they’re not a logistics company, they’re actually an energy company, but they have a very large fleet, over 5,000 vehicles in their fleet today, and tire control is something that was costing them every year in wasted premature tire replacements, over $400,000, not an exaggeration, over $400,000 in wasted tires because they’re prematurely replacing them and they have no way to control it.

What did they do? They actually built their own app tied into their systems, integrated Anyline all in one month, not a six month project or a 12 month project. It was 30 days, a 30 day project, and Anyline integration was probably one day of that. The other 29 was building the application the way they wanted it, and that was something that they did, but that’s how easy it was.

They knew they had a problem, they were able to identify a solution to help them solve that problem, and they took action immediately. And in one month they’ve now changed an entire workflow and they’ve enhanced their tire control within their fleet.

Jamie Irvine:

Amazing. So you talk about how you want it optimized and to work with all of the existing software and the existing tools that they’re already using. I assume also then that this solution is agnostic to the type of tires or what vehicle you’re on, whether it’s an ICE vehicle, a BEV, it doesn’t matter if it’s got a tire, you can use the application.

Chris Garcia:

Exactly, and you’re exactly right. Look, all vehicles have a lot in common. They all have license plates and VIN numbers and odometers and tires. Show me the vehicle that doesn’t have one of those four things.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s not a vehicle. Not a usable one.

Chris Garcia:

Exactly. It’s not on the road. That’s sure. So they all have this information that is being captured today, right? It’s just being done in a very manual process.

Jamie Irvine:

How has the information that you’ve captured on tire wear influenced maybe other maintenance items? Because it’s not just like a tire problem oftentimes, that’s just the symptom.

Chris Garcia:

Exactly. No, you’re a hundred percent right. One of the key advantages actually to how we measure tread and why it’s so unique as we’re not looking at a single point on the tire, most tire measurements are point measurements.

If you’re lucky and you can get your drivers and techs to do it, they might be measuring three points across the tire. What we’re doing is measuring tens of thousands of points across the surface of the tire, and we’re actually looking at a zone. Well, why does that matter? Because, and you can’t see it here, but this tire has not worn evenly, right?

If I look at this side of the tire, it looks perfectly fine, sits at around 12 30 seconds, but on the far side it’s sitting at around five 30 seconds while I have a severe issue with uneven wear on this tire. So now I’ve identified, hey, I need to action this tire. Something that if I’m only measuring a single point, we just don’t have the data that we need to be able to even take action in that point.

Jamie Irvine:

So how is this measurement digitally taken and what does that process look like?

Chris Garcia:

Absolutely. So it’s really simple. It’s as easy as pulling out your phone, opening your, you insert name here, application that you’re already using today. Now when you get to the tire portion, rather than just keying in or eyeballing, you can just open the camera of that device, move it along the surface of the tire and move on to the next one automatically.

Exactly, automatically in the background we’re processing and we will deliver it back to you, a left, center and right measurement for that tire for the specific zone. So it’s really that simple, and that’s one of the great things is our solutions are not super complex. They are designed to be simple and effective, efficient, right, to save you time.

Jamie Irvine:

My name is Jamie Irvine and you’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report and I’ve been with Chris Garcia from Anyline. If you want to learn about Anyline, go to anyline.com. Chris, thank you so much for being on the show and taking some time to talk to me today.

Chris Garcia:

Thank you so much, Jamie. It’s been a pleasure.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, that brings our episode to a conclusion. I hope that you enjoyed my interviews with both Power Fleet and Anyline. There’s some great companies out there that are really moving things forward with technology and making it so that fleets can operate more efficiently.

Of course, that has a big impact on the parts industry as well, which is why I like to cover these subjects. In this episode, we did focus on the technology side. Next week we’re going to focus on some of the interviews I conducted at TMC with exhibitors who are bringing forward innovative solutions on the parts side of the business to really help the trucking industry move forward.

So tune in for that in our next episode. If you haven’t already, head over to heavydutypartsreport.com. Hit the follow button, sign up to our weekly email where you will get one weekly email where we put all of our new content so you never miss out.

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It really does help us to spread the word. For those who are visual like me and like to watch things on YouTube. Make sure you hit the subscribe button and the bell notification. So once again, you don’t miss out on any of our content. Thank you so much for listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report, and as always, I want to encourage you to Be Heavy Duty.

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