It has been a very busy year in the trucking industry with many decisions finally being made about hours of service, EOBRs, and the value they bring to the industry and individual trucking companies. The added applications and functionality of the latest technology can not only greatly affect a trucking company’s bottom line but completely change the way it operates as well. With features like text-to-speech, navigation and route optimization, video playback functionality, access to Wi-Fi and internet, and automated logs, a trucking company can see drastic changes in not only the back office operational side but a direct impact of these features with a monetary value added to them.
Take a look at what an average company may uncover as benefits by upgrading to a newer mobile communications technology:
· Fewer out –of–route miles.
o Text-to-speech functionality can actually save the driver time from pulling over to read an urgent message. By simply pressing a remote device on the dashboard of the truck, a driver can listen to the message without taking the focus off of the road. It is then possible to act upon that message with any urgency needed.
o Navigation and route optimization can drastically reduce the miles being lost by taking a wrong exit, or even misjudging the correct road to take to a destination. Although this information is standard in most of the technology coming out right now at no extra charge, some companies see this as a value-added application and may charge a monthly fee for use.
· Better quality of life for drivers
o Less paperwork and data entry ensures that drivers can concentrate on managing minimal responsibilities easier and automating much of the information needed by dispatch. This greatly reduces errors, phone time, and even turnover.
o Internet and email availability enables drivers to have information when they need it and not rely on ancillary devices and added costs.
o Safety videos and executive level information can now be streamed or uploaded to the masses over newer on board communication devices. This can save time organizing group meetings with drivers and administrative personnel.
· Reliability of newer technology
o When an older system breaks down, it can be very frustrating. When a driver is relying on information and processes that are taken away, it can be blinding. Trying to fix older equipment that is teetering on the end of shelf life can be counterproductive and time costly. Newer equipment will have a higher success rate of operational ability as well as efficiencies in cosmetics and overall product design.
With constant changing FMCSA rulings, the inevitable mandates on Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR) seem to be likely enforced in the next two years. With the addition of this added functionality and value of innovative mobile communications equipment in the market, there is an influx of used mobile communications equipment with a diminishing shelf life coming out of trucks. The window for this equipment becoming obsolete is growing shorter proving legacy models to be defunct. This is good news for manufacturers and service providers of these new systems, as upgrading is definitely in the near future. For instance, the happy customers that have used Qualcomm OmniTRACS for the past ten plus years now will be forced to grasp on to the new technology and outlay capital for another system, as compatibility of the preceding wiring harnesses, separate components, and even some mounts will not match up. PeopleNet customers however, actually have a backwards compatible OBC that can function with newer add-on components such as the BLU2 or Tablet displays. These may require different wiring harnesses and cable assemblies, but the added cost of the main component is not required unless investing in PeopleNet as a new customer.
The upgrading of fleets to newer technologies has flooded the secondary market with used equipment. For example, the supply of used OmniTRACS alone added from just a few of the top trucking companies in North America has created a saturation of tens of thousands of used Qualcomm systems into the market. This absolutely does not mean every system is operational and worthy of use by another company, however, this does diminish the value of used equipment greatly on the open market with so much equipment available. In fact, after quality control testing procedures have been performed involving large batches of used equipment, results have seen over a 65% failure rate (in some cases, even 100%). Unless a policy is in place to ensure success in purchasing used equipment, there is risk involved on the open market.
Fleets are still using equipment that was considered innovative ten to fifteen years ago. The three-piece OmniTRACS MCT equipment is so outdated with such a minimal amount of users, it holds no value in resale on the secondary market with virtually no demand. With so many units out there (most of which are non-functional), a recycling effort has begun to relieve a company of this equipment to ensure proper disposal. For more information on Pivot Technology Resources Equipment Recycling Program, please go to http://www.pivotresources.com/services-recycling/ .
A fleet can still find much value in the secondary market before deciding to upgrade. Over the next two to five years, companies that are looking to get into used mobile communications systems have much to consider. Some questions when investing in any used Qualcomm OmniTRACS, Xata MobileMAX equipment, or even any used PeopleNet equipment, are listed below:
1. Can the equipment fill a need at a cost equal to the specific reasons necessary?
a. Why pay full manufacturer’s pricing for new equipment to use for six months until an upgrade is decided upon? (a band-aid fix)
b. Is there recourse if the used equipment is not functioning properly?
2. Is there a warranty on the equipment to ensure satisfaction of performance and cosmetics?
a. Is there a return process defined and accepted if the equipment does not perform or meet expectations?
3. Does the equipment belong to any fleet that has not authorized the transfer?
a. In many cases, eBay, Craigslist, and other advertisements will (unknowingly and knowingly) list equipment that has been blacklisted from the service provider as the equipment may have been lost in transit and claimed on insurance, stolen, or even shut off because of unpaid monthly services. Purchasing this type of equipment is leaving a company with junk.
As a breakdown, finding success investing in used equipment is simply reducing the risk involved. By defining warranty terms, the expectations of the equipment, and support policies and procedures, the secondary market can be a very substantial resource for saving money on quality used equipment.
Pivot Technology Resources was founded four years ago with the sole purpose of eliminating the risk of investing in used mobile communications and asset tracking equipment in the trucking industry. For more information on Pivot Technology Resources, please visit www.pivotresources.com or call 800 679 0177 and speak with a representative.