“I can go way back when,” Tom Alen Miller says. “It was just a notepad, an 800 number, and a phone booth, or a phone at a table in a truck stop.”
Tom has been driving trucks for decades. Reflecting on what life was like on the road before modern communications technology, he’s grateful for his mobile phone. “Now I’m able to use it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Yet, even today, most drivers are not so fortunate.
Tom has the advantage of working for USA Truck—a fleet running the Eleos driver workflow app. It runs on his mobile and gives him true real-time chat with Dispatch, as well as up-to-the-minute load and route information, document capture, training videos, and more.
But before the Eleos driver workflow app, his job was a lot more frustrating and stressful. He got less done, drove fewer miles, took home less pay, and was much less satisfied.
He theoretically had the benefits of mobile communications technology with mobilecomm, but the reality was barely an improvement on the old 800 number and phone booth. This reality is what most fleets still live with.
Every driver in every company still using older traditional mobilecomm platforms suffers from the limitations of these antiquated systems. Jim Brighton, IT Director at NAPA Transportation, describes the situation well:
Before when we sent a trip out to a driver, it would typically take about 15 minutes to show up on the mobilecomm device, which meant a driver had a lot of time to sit and wait. We have 400+ drivers…you do the math.
Not just trip information either—any communication suffered in the same way. When a message was sent to the old system, it would go through a messaging queue at NAPA’s site, would eventually be sent to the mobilecomm portal, where it sat in another queue, before it was finally sent down to the driver—again, up to 15 minutes later.
With hundreds of drivers waiting that long for every message, NAPA was losing weeks of man-hours every day. Every second their drivers were waiting for instructions or load confirmations, was one less second on the road.
When NAPA rolled out Eleos, the real-time communication transformed their business. “It’s immediately available—and I mean immediately,” says Jim Brighton. “When it’s entered in our system, it’s immediately available on the app. The drivers notice that.”
But reducing reaction times isn’t just a case of getting the messages out instantly. What use is a message that arrives in 2 seconds, but then sits on the in-cab device for 20 minutes before the driver sees it? The fact is, drivers have to spend plenty of time away from their trucks. Whether it’s taking breaks to stay fresh, getting a meal, waiting for their trucks to be loaded, or hanging around for repairs, they cannot be in their cabs every second.
This is a major problem if the only way to communicate with Dispatch is via the in-cab device. Travis Johnson, Executive VP of Operations at TMC, knew this problem all too well. “Prior to having our Eleos mobile app, our drivers had to wait in their trucks for the load information to come through, or any kind of communication from the fleet manager.”
Not only that, but the actual user experience was both wildly inefficient and enormously frustrating. Because everything came through as a message, drivers were forced to scroll through a firehose of text to find what they wanted and respond.
This led to mistakes. For instance, Jim Brighton at NAPA recalls, “The general management of the trip required you to go through multiple messages and reply directly to them. It was not the most efficient if someone replied to the wrong message.”
With Eleos, this problem does not exist.
Not only is the interface intuitive, with different kinds of information separated onto different screens, but it works on any iOS or Android devices.
This means drivers can always be in touch with Dispatch, no matter where they are. Eleos runs on the tablet in their cab, but it also runs on the phone in their pocket. Instead of having to sit in their truck idling while they wait for a new load, they can relax in a driver’s lounge and grab a bite to eat. Says Kyle Bailey, a TMC driver, “I don’t have to sit there with that question in the back of my head, have they sent me a load yet? Is it going to be something time-sensitive to where I’ve got to leave right now?”
Jim Brighton agrees. “The number one thing drivers appreciate is having the ability to manage their hours of service outside the cab. Before, they had to physically be in the cab to take themselves off duty. Often they wouldn’t realize they hadn’t done that until they were sitting at lunch. Now they can quickly deal with that.”
Brighton speculates that NAPA has been able to keep drivers who would otherwise have left. “Drivers who have worked for carriers before know that trip management and communication is a key part of their job that can be very, very frustrating. If you can keep one driver for a year, that’s paying for the app very quickly.”
Jason Key, Director of Operations at USA Truck, sums up their conclusions about Eleos:
Trucking is a business of time management, and anything we can do to reduce the time it takes for a driver to respond, or get information to him more quickly, increases the amount of time that he has to drive over the road and be productive. We are definitely seeing better driver utilization.
Marinee Fulner, Fleet Manager at TMC, agrees. “The biggest hurdle we face managing employees in this industry is always communication—quickly and clearly. Having the app has allowed us to communicate with our drivers in a more reliable manner, one that doesn’t seem to have any breakdown issues.”
Eleos’s reliable and instant messaging relieves driver stress, gives them freedom away from the truck, and helps them to deliver more loads with less downtime. When we ask Jim Brighton what it would be like if NAPA didn’t have Eleos, he is blunt. “I’d hate to think,” he says. “We have such volume now. If we didn’t have the Eleos platform, our phones would be ringing off the hook, and our drivers would be frustrated.”
If improving driver communication and saving significant valuable drive time interests you, why not schedule a free demo to see everything our app can do for you.