While many trucking companies are still transitioning away from paper-based processes, Schneider National has moved to digital transformation 2.0—integrating and streamlining numerous digital automation tools.
To meet regulatory requirements, Schneider, one of the largest trucking carriers in North America with nearly $5 billion in annual revenue, equips all of its 12,000 trucks with a locked-down electronic logging device (ELD) to track the time and location of over 10,000 drivers.
For nearly a decade, the company used a cellular-based appliance with proprietary software that collected performance and behavior data from the truck and gave drivers their assignment. But using a custom version of Android meant the appliances were susceptible to vulnerabilities, “and you’re locked down to that device, and we didn’t want to be dependent on that hardware,” said Mike Degeneffe, vice president of solution delivery and telematics, at Schneider.
Additionally, “we didn’t want to be in the patching game and we wanted a more mainstream solution,” he said.
Schneider selected Samsung Knox Configure, a cloud-based service that lets users configure Samsung devices to create and deploy their own app store on Samsung Galaxy tablets.
“What compelled us to Samsung wasn’t the tablets themselves, it was Knox” and the ability to lock down the tablet so drivers could only access company-sanctioned apps, Degeneffe said. “The combination of our own app store and the tight controls Knox provides, and the fact that it’s a mainstream solution and not pigeonholed to a custom version of Android, was compelling,” he said.
The app store on the tablets is also integrated with Schneider’s back-office system, which allows the company to ensure it is in compliance with state and federal laws on mandatory rest periods and employee regulations.
In the old appliance-based model the devices were bolted to the truck’s dash, Degeneffe said. “These are assigned and they can take them out. They can extend productivity outside the cab.”
When a driver gets in a truck, they simply log onto the device, which determines what their subscription is and downloads the appropriate apps or updates them, he said.
A blend of custom and third-party apps
Schneider uses a combination of custom and third-party apps. For example, it acquired a navigation app that is pushed to the device through the driver’s subscription. “We don’t want drivers maintaining and downloading apps,” Degeneffe explained. “We have our own development team and create apps, but we’re also assemblers.”
IT developed an internal “where’s my truck” app with an aerial map so drivers can find their assigned vehicle among the rows of distinctive orange trucks.
In the two years since the Knox devices have been in place, Schneider has realized a 25% reduction in total cost of ownership, according to Degeneffe.
There have also been increases in productivity, efficiency and reliability, he said.
Future plans include incorporating “a lot more functionality in terms of improving driver experience, like just-in-time capture of paperwork and better messaging capabilities,” he said. “We’re deploying a whole new navigation solution, which is kind of a big deal, and better planning tools for your day,” such as where a driver can stop and park, and lodging information.
It’s not all about work, either, as Schneider officials recognize the need for downtime.
“We’re looking at the potential for entertainment options so when [drivers] are off duty can we enable a connection back home?” Degeneffe said. “The ideas are out there, and obviously, there’s things we haven’t even dreamed about that we’ll be able to do with the technology.”