LinkeDrive on Green Sense Radio

While new truck technologies are being developed to save fuel, there are ways for current trucks on the road to get better mileage by how their driven.  That’s where LinkeDrive comes in. Jeff Baer,the company’s CEO is our special guest on Green Sense Radio.

http://www.greensensefarms.com/linkedrive-on-green-sense-radio/

MIT Cambridge Internet of Things: Infinite Opportunities Together

Jeff Baer, LinkeDrive Founder and CEO, discusses how LinkeDrive is connecting humans with the Internet of Things in trucking.

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LinkeDrive and the Internet of Things at MIT

The Future Impact of Internet of Things (IoT) on Our Everyday Lives

By Peter Gorman

 

Over the last few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a buzz term in the technology industry. But what is it really and what impact will it have on our lives in the years to come? In short, IoT refers to how a network of products or systems interact and communicate with each other through the Internet. But don’t think of it as a technology nor a platform, nor something that consumers can buy. In certain cases, this does apply, as with the the smart thermostats marketed by Nest, but IoT is proving that it will have a much larger impact in practically everything we do in the very near future.

 

M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management recently held a seminar on this very subject and brought together a panel of IoT experts to discuss IoT’s future impact on business, the economy and everyday life. Panelists included M.I.T. alums Dip Patel, Co-founder and CEO of Ecovent Systems; Jeff Baer, Founder and CEO of LinkeDrive®, Inc.; and Frank Gillett, Vice President & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. The session was moderated by Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning, Dean of Digital Learning, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at M.I.T.

 

Sarma opened up the session by discussing his involvement in IoT through his early years of researching the many ways in which radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) can be used to track and collect data. In 1998, when Sarma formed the Distributed Information Scanning Center (DISC), he realized that while people were fascinated by the power of the Internet, they didn’t realize that they could also leverage it for storage, thereby storing information in the Cloud.

 

Worlds of New Possibilities

Sarma also discussed how younger generations who have grown up with the Internet, like his daughter – who was recently heard stating that she would ‘WhatsApp’ one of her friends – have their brains wired differently. Sarma discussed how his daughter also thought nothing of asking Alexa (Amazon Echo) what the weather was going to be before she headed off to school. “The Internet of Things is presenting us with a wide, new world of possibilities. It is similar to how in the mid 1990’s, we couldn’t conceive of everyone having their own cell phones…with maps that tell us how to get places…and batteries that could hold a charge for an entire day,” said Sarma. “IoT is a new design language. It’s an enablement about an entirely new way of thinking.”

 

Dip Patel, who worked as an engineer for Lockheed Martin after receiving his MBA, discussed how he came upon the idea for his company, Ecovent Systems, when he was saving up money for his upcoming wedding. “It was wasteful to have heat pouring into the rooms of my apartment that nobody was using. So, to save on heating bills, I was putting large books over the air vents in these rooms.” Ecovent merges Patel’s engineering knowledge from Lockheed Martin, where he managed submarine sonar and anti-ballistic missile tracking systems, enabling consumers to control air vents that control the flow of air in specific rooms, thereby controlling the temperature. Ecovent’s censors are connected to cell phones through the Cloud, allowing consumers to control the air flow in their homes wherever and whenever they want.

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Patel voiced how ‘value’ has to be a large part of how IoT is defined. “If you are able to connect something to the Internet to make life better…that’s value. IoT makes life better and creates value by connecting something to the Internet.”

 

IoT and the Trucking Industry?

While Patel’s company is similar to many of the other consumer-focused devices and apps that leverage IoT, Jeff Baer’s company, LinkeDrive, shows us how the wide range of other industries that could benefit from it. LinkeDrive, which is also based in the Boston area, has developed an app called PedalCoach® that enables fleet managers at trucking companies to collect driving data from their drivers to increase fuel efficiency, improve driving behavior and offer pay-for-performance incentives that help trucking companies retain their best drivers.

 

“People often don’t realize how important the trucking industry is to our everyday lives,” said Baer. “Every day, we drink something, we eat something and we use something that has been transported to us by trucks. Without trucks, the world would come to an abrupt stop. The trucking industry needs apps that change human behavior. Our PedalCoach app has been coined the ‘Fitbit’ for the trucking industry by the media. While I like hearing this, I believe that we are just starting to scratch the surface of what we can achieve through the use of IoT. The value props are so high.”

 

Baer commented that while the liberation of data that his company’s app provides to trucking companies is great, putting the data back in the hands of the drivers and using that data to change driver behavior is the really cool part.

 

Connecting the IoT Dots

After providing a brief overview of what Forrester Research does and how he got involved in IoT market research for the analyst firm, Frank Gillett outlined the three key things that he believes all IoT applications should answer:

  1. What is it? IoT applications that can determine the identity of a person or object
  2. What’s happening? Censor information about where something is or what it is doing
  3. What action can I take? Enabling humans to take actions based on the data provided

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Sarma and Patel commented on the noise in the current market around IoT and how many of the coolest technologies are coming from the startups instead of the major technology companies. Currently owning a Nest, an Amazon Echo among other IoT-related apps, Sarma questioned whether we should expect interoperability between these types of applications.

 

“We see a very wide set of standards for IoT applications,” said Gillett. “Consumers don’t yet understand them, nor do they quite understand the interoperability between different IoT applications. For example, your security system really does not need to communicate with your crockpot.” But this raises questions over whether certain industry standards should be set for IoT. Patel believes that many people don’t think of the value that interoperability would bring to seeing apps communicate on set standards.

 

Baer said his company focuses on building everything open to encourage interoperability. “We live in an open world where we are creating our own standards,” said Baer. “Industry-wide, our technology can be applied as easily to asset management as well as onboard diagnostics.”

 

During the Q&A session, the audience raised questions about whether there are integrations between IoT technologies that we haven’t yet looked at yet, and – while IoT applications can make life easier for people – whether consumers are ready (and comfortable enough) to give up control to these apps.

 

Patel raised the issue that about 70% of connected cameras (think cell phones) still do not have brute force security measures. “Consumers need to be vigilant,” said Patel. Gillett reminded participants how apps like Facebook enable access into everyone’s home. “A lot of people are in the business to collect your data. Would Apple like to make money off of their customer’s data? Absolutely. They are crippling themselves by being so protective of consumer data.”

 

Picture3Another audience member asked how IoT apps might be helpful in solving traffic problems in Boston and other metropolitan cities, and whether there was some way to minimize traffic flow by maximizing traffic behavior. While Sarma sees a big interest in smart parking right now, Baer addressed the question from a trucking industry perspective. “We’re still figuring out which apps are most needed by truck drivers,” said Baer. “Parking is certainly one of them. We need to apps to figure out how to do more with less.”

 

Patel agreed. “How can you make things really simple? User experience is critical. We need to get away from focusing on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and instead focus on how to make the apps simple,” he said, referring back to Sarma’s earlier discussion about how his young daughter used Alexa. “Sanjay’s daughter asked, ‘What’s the weather going to be today,’ not ‘What is the temperature going to be today in Fahrenheit degrees for Boston, Massachusetts in the United States.’”

 

Speaking of making things easy for consumers, Gillett noted how IoT is now changing the way consumers use and buy products. For example, he described how buyers of Tesla cars can turn on features and functions that are already built into the car after they have bought the car and brought it home simply by logging into their computer and purchasing them.

 

Sarma mentioned Amazon’s Dash buttons as another example of the simplicity that IoT is bringing to our lives. With Amazon Dash buttons, you simply purchase a button…say, for Tide laundry detergent…that you put next to your washing machine. When you run out of laundry detergent, you simply hit the button and an order for Tide is shipped to you automatically by Amazon. Gillett raised the possibility of whether the time will ever come when the soap companies will be the ones giving you a washing machine with the purchase of a 10-year detergent contract.

 

This very informative session at M.I.T. raised lots of questions about where we are today with IoT and what this new connective technology will have in store for all of us in the near future. Will we be living the lives of the Jetson’s by 2025? We’ll see… But if IoT continues to grow and expand as fast as the mobile industry has over the last ten years, we’ll all soon be living lives that are far more managed by and connected with the Internet.

 

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Predictions for the Internet of Things in 2016

Today’s post features commentary from JD Doyle, LinkeDrive’s CTO as told to David Oro, Editor at IoT Central.  For the complete article please click here:  IoT Central article_Dec 29 2015

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LinkeDrive’s Jeff Baer on Fox Business

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Using Real-time Driver Coaching to Obtain Better Fuel Economy from Under Performing Trucks

Today’s post is written by Chad Kosterman, LinkeDrive’s Director of Client Services and Operations.  Chad manages all customer service activities including onboarding and driver coaching.

Two of the leading concerns faced in the trucking industry today are ways in which to improve fuel efficiency and retain drivers. In this industry, drivers face long hours and difficult challenges in their travels, so drivers often leave one job for another when they become dissatisfied with the compensation or their relationship with fleet managers. At the same time, with the high dependency on fuel, trucking companies need to deploy solutions that help them increase MPG rates. While truckin­­g companies have used solutions to gauge fuel efficiency for some time now, most of these are antiquated and provide unreliable data or information that is weeks or even months old.

LinkeDrive, an emerging technology company based in Boston, has created a mobile solution for the trucking industry called PedalCoach® that leverages a cloud-based platform to provide real-time, adaptive feedback for improving fuel efficiency and safety. The patented and proprietary algorithms in PedalCoach sets a unique fuel target for each driver communicated in a simple red-yellow-green interface that allows drivers to earn “points” for achieving optimal behaviors and patterns. Companies can then leverage LinkeDrive’s patented scoring of driver performance to provide fair and equal pay-for-performance incentives to drivers based on how hard they are working to attain the best in class fuel efficiency. In doing so, LinkeDrive helps to improve driver retention metrics measurably across its user-base.

Steve Page, Vice President of Safety for Transport Distribution Company (TDC) of Joplin, Missouri, has been leveraging PedalCoach and it’s patented in-cab fuel efficiency coaching technology since 2013 to help drivers that are struggling, assisting them in improving their MPGs, and to ultimately help them achieve their fuel bonus.  Aaron Huff from Commercial Carrier Journal first covered the success here.

Peggy at Transport Distribution Company in Joplin, MO

Peggy at Transport Distribution Company

When Steve presented driver Peggy McCullah with the challenge of testing the PedalCoach application on one of the fleet’s historically lowest MPG performing tractors, she happily accepted the challenge. Peggy is a veteran truck driver with over 10 years in the industry and well over a million miles under her belt. Having spent many of those years as an owner-operator, Peggy is intimately familiar with importance of fuel efficiency.

“While I had used PedalCoach to improve and report on the performance of drivers who typically did not have the most fuel efficient driving records, I was curious to see how Peggy would do on a truck that typically performed poorly for fuel efficiency among several other drivers,” said Page.

Up for the challenge of using PedalCoach, McCullah jumped into the tractor that had performed at an average of 6.65 MPG. Peggy quickly took to the intuitive nature of the PedalCoach gauge, with the core focus of doing her best to keep the gauge “in the green.” PedalCoach immediately showed her some of the bad habits that she had picked up over the years.

“PedalCoach provided me with clear visibility into my problem areas, and showed ways that I could be a more fuel efficient driver,” said McCullah. “I love this tool and believe it should be in every driver’s cab, regardless of your level and how good you are performing today. PedalCoach can help you become a better and more fuel efficient driver.”

After of a month of driving with PedalCoach, McCullah brought the tractor back into the TDC’s garage for the standard maintenance and DDEC® download. Since she had been assessing her ongoing progress through PedalCoach’s reports, McCullah had an inkling that she performed much better. However, even she was surprised by the results that were shown to her by the technician performing the DDEC download. The tractor that had previously averaged a low of 6.65 MPG across multiple drivers now touted an average of 8.3 MPG for the past month.

“When the technician asked in amazement how I was able to go from 6.65 to 8.3 MPG, I pointed to the PedalCoach and said that tool right there is what helped me do it,” said McCullah. “I gave him an overview of PedalCoach and how I used it to reach the 8.3. He responded ‘Wow, that is amazing!’”

When asked for any closing thoughts on PedalCoach, McCullah smiled and said, “I’ve been driving for over 10 years and well over a million miles, and PedalCoach has helped improve my driving everyday… I love the impact it has on my fuel bonus!”

Based in Boston, Mass., LinkeDrive is committed to helping trucking and logistics companies improve fuel efficiency, heighten safety, and increase the retention rates of their drivers. The company’s combined expertise in cloud-based, mobile technology and the trucking industry helps to deliver solutions that accurately measure, coach and report on vehicle dynamics, fuel usage and driver performance. For further information, please visit http://www.linkedrive.com/.

Transforming Life & Business: Recapping MassTLC’s Mobile Summit

Transforming Life & Business: Recapping MassTLC’s Mobile Summit

By Peter Gorman, Principal, Black Rocket Consulting

 

Over the last 10-15 years, the ways in which we conduct our lives has changed significantly. From making purchases on our phones though Amazon and streaming the latest movies and shows on NetFlix or Hulu, to the ways we now leverage apps on our phones to find parking spaces and exercise with Fitbit, mobile technology has changed our lives and has made things more convenient to do and use. The days of thinking that “people will never want to do this on their phones” is gone, especially as newer generations of phones have almost the same capacity as our laptops. At the same time, the emergence of mobile technologies has created an industry like no other that is currently exceeding $14.4 billion and is continuing to grow.

 

Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) held a forum on November 17th at Microsoft’s N.E.R.D. Center in Cambridge, Mass., to discuss the many ways in which mobile technology is affecting and improving our lives, as well as how we anticipate mobility changing our lives in the years to come.

 

Providing the keynote address at this forum was Philip Redman, who has been involved in the research and development of mobile technologies from its infancy, starting back in 1999 at Yankee Group, where he focused his research on wireless communications and with companies that were making the transition from analog to digital. Today, as Senior Manager of Mobility Strategy at Accenture Digital, Redman provided some interesting facts about how we have all quickly embraced mobile technology and how it has now become such an integral part of our lives.

 

For example, while the “old school” crowds still continue to wait in long lines to get into stores at midnight on Thanksgiving, currently between 25-30% of all Black Friday sales in the United States are now conducted through our mobile devices. And this is nothing compared to China’s Singles’ Day, where on November 11, 2015, over 70% of sales in one day was done through mobile phones on the massive Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, totaling $14.32 billion.

 

According to Redman, four out of the top five global brands are all digital now. Given that analysts anticipate to see over 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the wave towards digital is clearly here, especially as enterprise businesses begin to see returns in their investments in the Cloud.

 

Today, some of the biggest and well-known brands are now being disrupted by new market entrants because of their foray into the market with mobile technologies. Examples here can be seen between BestBuy being disrupted by Amazon; Vodafone being disrupted by Skype, and American Express and Bank of America being disrupted by Square and Lending Club.

 

In order to survive in today’s market, Redman underscored the importance of businesses having a digital strategy that leverages Big Data, location capabilities and analytics to enhance the customer experience.

Redman capped his discussion by outlining “seven no regret digital characteristics required to win within the next few years.” These include being able to:

  1. Sense and interpret disruption
  2. Develop and launch new ideas faster
  3. Reorganize for speed
  4. Design a delightful user experience
  5. Understand and leverage data
  6. Partner and build “camps”
  7. Build a high digital quotient team

 

The Reality Panel of Mobile Experts

With Philip Redman having set the stage for MassTLC’s mobility forum, the discussion turned to a panel of mobility experts to discuss how mobility is going to change our lives and our businesses; how marketers are going to reach us in new ways; and finally, how mobile is going to change how we shop. Moderated by Nitzan Shaer of High Start Group, panelists for this part of the discussion included Geoffrey Bock of Bock & Company; Michael Davies of Endeavor Partners/MIT; and Christian Galvin of Fiksu, each of whom gave an overview of their businesses and how each integrated with the mobile sector.

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Shaer kicked off the session with a simple question: If each of you were given a million dollars and had to invest it in mobile technology, what would you invest it in?

 

Michael Davies responded that his big investment would be in an interesting mobile app called Espresso, which based on your location can tell you how far you would need to drive to obtain everything from brown water that tastes something like coffee to the best coffee you’ve ever had. While I attempted to find this app online, I could not find it easily, so we’ll have to take Davies word for it that it exists. Christian Galvan of Fiksu, which sells mobile marketing and advertising solutions, said he’d invest in a mobile mileage app called MileIQ, which automatically tracks the miles you travel for business so that you can easily integrate this data into expense reports.

 

Geoffrey Bock strayed from investing all of his virtual million dollars in one particular area but instead chose to split his investment into two areas. Half would be in a mobile mapping app similar to Waze, in that it could tell him the best travel route and where accidents and police are located, but also indicate the precise time to leave based on whether patterns during travel. Bock explained that his son lives in Rochester, New York, and an app like this would help him avoid all the snow storms. The other half of the investment Bock would be into a mobile app that captured the user experience and transitioned the experience based on the context of what the user is doing (similar in nature to responsive design). “Don’t just give me the screen experience…give me the whole experience,” said Bock.

 

When asked what they expected from Mobility over the next few years, Davies saw more integration between mobile apps in a way that they would string together seamlessly to perform a task. For example, one could go from Yelp to OpenTable to Uber when planning a night out. In the future, one would see seamless integration between these apps to achieve a task. Galvin wants to see data being leveraged more to provide a utility. For example, people use Waze to get from point A to B, but this app now also tells drivers where the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is located on the map. “We’ll see more identifiers integrated within apps to improve targeted advertising on smartphones,” said Galvin. Bock believes we’ll see more semantically-aware APIs, adding that Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the semantic web is now starting to evolve in tools such as Google. He envisions a proliferation of very powerful, semantically-driven end-user apps to handle tasks within the workplace.

 

Davies rounded out this discussion by stating that he thought that there would be a shift in how companies promote themselves and that less emphasis would be placed on advertising and outward promotion. Instead, more focus would be placed on the user experience and how users rate a company and its products, such as in Yelp. For obvious reasons, Galvan politely disagreed with this assessment but agreed on the increasing importance of “word of mouth” marketing for increasing customer acquisition.

 

Mobile Transforming Transportation

Next up, the Mobility forum dispersed into several break-out sessions on how mobility is impacting industries including Transportation, Finance, Retail, and Healthcare. I chose to listen into the panel on Transportation, which was moderated by Ian Cox of Boston-based digital design and development agency, Cantina. This panel of transportation industry experts in this session included Jeff Baer of LinkeDrive; Igor Bratnikov of Wanderu; Eli Daniel of Bridj; and Nichole Mace of Zipcar.

 

To kick off the session, each panelist addressed why they chose to focus their companies on the transportation industry. Bratnikov commented that he created Wanderu because he saw a big gap between what the transportation carriers were providing and what the consumer wanted. With Wanderu, consumers can go online or use the app to find the best rates and routes for getting from one destination to another. Daniels was determined to figure out new ways to help consumers address the growth of urban development through improved transportation. With Bridj, consumers in urban areas can hop on shuttles that have routes that change dynamically based on the location of its riders. Mace aligned with the need for new transportation methods to address urban development by citing how one Zipcar can now serve 40-50 members whereas before, most cars were driven by their owners on a one-to-one ratio. She also noted that Zipcar is currently paying particular attention to how electric and autonomous vehicles will play into our mobile future.

 

Baer offered a slightly different response in that he has always been passionate about the transportation industry, specifically trucks and trucking. That and football (Baer is a big guy who played football for Northwestern University). “As a kid growing up in the ‘80’s, I always loved trucks and learned to code on a Commodore 64. I was excited to move to Boston from the Motor City and find a way to work with “wheels” and software. Boston has been fantastic and I can’t think of a better place to be building the LinkeDrive business,” said Baer.

 

Keeping with the Boston theme, each spoke on why the Northeast is important to their businesses. “It’s one of the most traveled corridors in the U.S.,” commented Bratnikov. “It also has a lot of universities from which we can attract talent. Plus, in the Northeast, you can easily get around…and travel to 20-30 popular destinations within a short amount of time.”

 

Mace and others agreed that the location offers a wealth of talent with all the local universities in the Boston area. In addition to being headquartered in Boston, Zipcar uses the Boston area as its “test kitchen” for new innovations.

 

“Boston has a reputation as a dense area with a good transportation system. But is still offers many problems for people trying to get around. Our goal is to help them with this,” said Daniel, who also commented on how Bridj is also based in Washington DC and has recently expanded to Kansas City.

 

“This is one of the toughest places to operate in the trucking industry.  Due to congestion, endless construction and limited parking areas, truck drivers typically need to work harder for fewer revenue miles compared to a location in the middle of the country. Drivers often don’t want to come here. While most of our PedalCoach drivers are based in the Midwest, Massachusetts holds quite a mystique for them. But that’s good for us,” said Baer. “Our goals with PedalCoach are simple – to reduce your cost-per-mile by empowering drivers, and if we can do that in New England, we can do it anywhere in the country.”

 

In response to Cox’s question about what each panelist saw as their greatest challenge to getting customer acceptance to their app, Mace noted that she was lucky that Zipcar already had a great reputation when she joined the company, but added that expanded partnerships are key to sharing their assets. And feeding off of what was discussed earlier in the forum, Bratnikov said that his company doesn’t do a lot of self-promotion but instead relies on word-of-mouth about how easy Wanderu is to use. Baer commented that in the trucking industry, it’s a little different because there is typically a lot of tension between truck drivers and the fleet managers who supervise them. “You have to have a product that works well,” said Baer. “We also have a brilliant product management effort in being polite with our customers and working closely with them to meet their needs no matter how small.” Baer used an example of a truck driver who commented that the displays were a bit too bright. “Our customers are passionate about PedalCoach, so we rely on them to spread the word to other truckers about all the capabilities PedalCoach has to improve fuel efficiency and gain incentives through good driving behavior,” added Baer.

 

“Most of our customers are people who are not happy driving in urban areas and are seeking out new ways to get from one place to another,” said Daniel. “As a result, we are not stealing customers from other companies, but instead growing the customer pie organically. Getting around needs to be as seamless as possible, really fast and really responsive.”

 

Asked what technologies the panel viewed as changing transportation, Mace commented on how Zipcar is working closely with The University of Texas on creating a “car city” with autonomous cars. Bratnikov then remarked that he believed the ways in which people want to travel – not in how the transportation companies want you to travel – is having a big impact on the market.

 

Cox asked the panel how they are planning for machine-to-machine or IoT interactions with their technologies. While Daniel focused on the need for seamlessness between technologies, Baer spoke about an IoT problem that LinkeDrive solves with its PedalCoach application. “In a way, IoT has been around for over 20 years, starting in the trucking industry. But data has traditionally been very slow, low-fidelity, and difficult to send via older platforms and before 4G/LTE…and there has always been gaps in data transmissions due to drivers being in areas with little to no reception. Our aggregating, buffering and posting web-service enables the data to be sent back to the shop in real-time, or held securely until the truck enters a service area again. Most of our drivers are in and out of service areas everyday, and so the data gets where it needs to be in a timely fashion.”

 

Giving further insight into the trucking industry, Baer provided insight into how difficult the life of a trucker is and how this has driven an ongoing shortage of drivers in the industry. By working with the trucking companies to include cash-based incentives to drivers based on good driving performance, LinkeDrive’s app is helping trucking companies retain their best drivers. He added that the company is also constantly looking into ways in which to integrate PedalCoach with other mobile apps, such as a Fitbit, to add a human element to the customer’s experience and improve life for the truck driver.

 

Cox asked the panel why they thought one-third of the U.S. population still doesn’t have smartphones. Since LinkeDrive’s PedalCoach app can be used on an Android-based smartphone device, Baer noted that a few drivers are a little hesitant to use the technology at first. “While some drivers are still using clamshell phones, over 80% of drivers have a smartphone in their pocket. For those that may not be comfortable using a “smartphone,” we remind them that PedalCoach is really just a “gauge.” The most important gauge in the truck.”

 

Mace did not seem to be overly concerned with this percentage of the population who still don’t use smartphones. “We find that many of our customers who don’t have smartphones are simply using their desktop computers to use our cars.”

 

Wrapping up the session, the panelist ended with some final thoughts on the key takeaways from this breakout session on mobility and transportation. Mace stressed the importance of customer service in the loop of a great business. “There is a loop… Good technology builds great customer experience and helps to build the brand, which in turn helps to build the company and advance innovation.”

 

“The combination of mobile and cloud computing will continue to drive the transportation market,” said Daniel.

 

Finally, Baer touched on his earlier comments about moving to New England. “One great thing about the people of New England is that we are not afraid of anything. So, when thinking about mobile and transportation, I have two suggestions: Don’t be afraid of the humans and don’t be afraid of a little bit of hardware. The point of mobile enterprise solutions is to help humans perform better, and there will always be hardware in the transportation industry… That is until we can be beamed up!”

 

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“Nickel Per Mile”

We often get asked, “Can I really save an additional .05 per mile in fuel?  I’ve already put truck skirts on the truck and other aerodynamic equipment on the truck…is there still more?”   The answer is yes. 

Thirty percent of fuel economy is under direct control of the driver, no matter what type of equipment, limiters, etc. you have on-board.  The key is driver coaching in three areas outside of idling and progressive shifting which can bring fuel economy back into your control. 

Progressive Acceleration nickel

Shifting is obviously a major factor in fuel economy but it is what the driver is doing to approach that shift point is even more critical.  By approaching the shift point in a “gentle” fashion, even more fuel savings are to be gained.

Progressive Deceleration

We call this “forward awareness.”  By looking ahead at what the driver is approaching whether it be an intersection, traffic, etc. and begin decelerating in advance, you will also see a great fuel savings but also, improved safety.  Forward awareness keeps the driver’s focus on what is in front of him and planning his shifting.

Handling the Hills

Using gravity to the driver’s advantage in the efficient creation and preservation of momentum is the last area in which you can find savings.  The effect of driving a little bit slower up grades and carrying momentum through the downhill segments is where you can find those extra pennies.

The reality is, there is not enough time and resources to have an in-person coach with your drivers each day to teach them these key driving skills.  Not to mention, some of your driver managers may have not been drivers themselves and would have difficulty showing a driver how to take advantage of them.  That’s why we developed PedalCoach….your in-cab, real-time driver coach, putting fuel savings and driver safety back into your control. 

 

 

New Year….New Ideas

Each New Year brings new goals, plans and expectations. Are you looking to squeeze out further fuel savings? Develop new programs to improve your driver retention rate? Reduce accidents?

Of all of the factors that affect fuel economy, more than a third are attributable to driver skill. Consider new ideas and technology such as in-cab, real-time coaching to help drivers learn and utilize efficient techniques such as progressive acceleration AND deceleration as well as handling changes in elevation efficiently. Remember, there is a 25% to 35% difference in MPG performance between the best and worst drivers. Furthermore, by using an in-cab coaching solution such as PedalCoach™ and our team of driving experts, carriers reap the benefits to the tune of a “nickel per mile” in fuel savings without creating additional workflow for the driver management function.

Another idea is to create a sense of competition that is fun with fuel-saving leaderboards accompanied by non-monetary and savings share incentives to get your drivers engaged with your company and pay attention to their driving habits. And, because they will actually watch their driving carefully to ensure they are on the boards, safety is a natural result.

If you would like help implementing a real-time, in-cab coaching device and developing a pay-for-performance program like this, please contact us at info@linkedrive.com.

Better Fuel Economy? Drivers Hold the Key.

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In trucking, 70% of achieved fuel economy has nothing to do with the driver.  It is simply the specification and maintenance level of the truck, the location where it is operated, and the weight of the load.  It comes down to the raw chemistry and physics of converting fuel into kinetic energy thru a machine to perform work.  Reduce weight, reduce resistance, burn all fuel injected into the cylinder:  improve MPG.  The OEMs and suppliers are largely doing a great job on the truck side of the fuel economy equation, however hampered we all may be by the regulatory environment our industry has seen thus far in this 21st century in North America.

Carriers have their hands full when it comes to determining the proper specification for a new order of trucks.  Obviously the truck must meet some minimum level of power and performance to be capable of  doing the job at hand.  But how can we set it up in a way that also maximizes fuel economy?  The answers are not always intuitive.

For example, Kevin Rutherford of LetsTruck and Overdrive magazine makes a great point we all should put to use:  “Slowing down 1 mile per hour will improve fuel economy by 1/10 of 1 mile per gallon.”  This is a universally accepted fact in the industry.  But rather than coaching the driver to simply slow down, fleet managers often decide to limit performance of the truck via a speed governor.  The challenge with the use of speed governors in general, and most definitely with setting a speed governor too low, is that a driver now often must downshift multiple times to climb a grade that he or she could have pulled in top gear if able to carry a little more momentum into the hill.  So the impact of slowing down actually forced them into lower gears with less overall efficiency.  This often nets out the potential gain.  Should a truck be ordered with a speed governor?  The answer is not an easy one to determine.  Perhaps in some cases,  for safety reasons it makes sense.  (If only there were a way to get drivers to slow down most of the time but allow them to drive hills in an efficient manner…hint – hint:  PedalCoach™)

When it comes to spec’ing a new truck, decisions that 20 years ago were pretty easy (tire size, final drive ratio, transmission, etc) are now very complicated (super singles? tag axles?  manual, AMT, automatic?  13L/15L/Natural Gas?).  These decisions are easiest where a fleet has a stable routes and a good dialogue with drivers coupled with a useful sales rep at the dealer or lease company who can and will find answers to questions on the latest models, features, and real-world performance.

Add in aftermarket options like trailer skirts/tails, wheel covers, air tabs, etc and a lot of money can be spent chasing better fuel mileage…and measuring results can be difficult.  This is because even with a properly spec’d truck, there are many things that are out of the drivers’ control which have significant impact on fuel economy:  weather, topography, gross weight, truck maintenance issues, etc.

Furthermore, ever-tightening emissions standards serve to re-set any knowledge we develop about specific set-ups and real performance, as EGR’s, DPF regeneration (SCR), and other emissions technology change from year to year and often prove costly to operate in their first and second generations.  Hopefully this improves and we are seeing a lot of good results with our partners and customers from the late-2013 and 2014 engines available in North America.

With today’s burgeoning cost of fuel, carriers must find a way to obtain and operate properly spec’d trucks.  This is critical as the truck represents 70% of achieved fuel economy.  But what about the driver?

At LinkeDrive™, we believe that truck drivers hold the key to the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to fuel economy.  As Cummins notes in their helpful guide “Secrets of Better Fuel Economy”, 30% of fuel economy is directly the result of driver performance.  Daimler, the ATA/TMC, and other industry experts have published similar or even higher numbers regarding the impact of drivers on fuel economy.

Though currently in vogue, solutions that effectively take the driver out of the loop (speed governors, cruise control) are not working and have the negative effect of increased distraction and fatigued driving, according to DOT studies and many fleets with which we have spoken.

Driver turnover renders (expensive) driver training largely ineffective as a means to improve fleet fuel economy, as any benefit gained is fleeting when drivers leave and wanes over time for any drivers that remain.

The telematics industry has given us driver scorecards, which are not working very well either.  According to telematics industry consultants and analysts at the 2012 Telematics For Fleet Management conference, driver scorecards are reviewed less than 20% of the time with drivers — which makes sense when we realize that the scorecards facilitate a tough conversation that neither drivers nor fleet managers typically want to have.  Scorecards unfortunately are lagging indicators and where used are often “too little, too late”.

Fuel mileage bonus programs are great, but tend to reward the top tier of drivers that have the advantage of knowing how to drive well. Furthermore, high-performing drivers are quite often assigned the newest, most fuel efficient trucks!  This effectively handicaps the lower-performing drivers making it even more difficult to improve.  And trust us when we tell you, taking a driver from 5mpg to 5.5mpg has a profound impact on fuel costs (1000s of dollars a year per truck)!

Because the opportunity to help drivers achieve better fuel economy is so enormous and existing “solutions” on the driver side are largely ineffective in helping fleets save meaningful money when it comes to fuel costs, we have launched PedalCoach™.  PedalCoach™ is an in-cab coaching program that helps all drivers do better when it comes to fuel economy.  The key to this is our unique ability to mathematically filter out everything that is out of the drivers’ control (in real time with no input from the fleet or the drivers).  We present this as an efficient target using an intuitive audio/visual feedback gauge that is so simple even my toddlers can get it.  We follow this with a bonus program (or we can feed an existing bonus program) that compels the drivers to work hard to make and sustain improvements.

The direct, immediate effect of PedalCoach™ is that drivers save fuel.  Furthermore, driving with PedalCoach™ increases focus and engagement which is reducing accidents.  Drivers are happier and turnover is reduced.

We have proven the solution over the last 6 months across 5 commercial fleets.  We are saving fleets $0.03 – 0.12 / mile right now with a payback on the order of months.  Furthermore, PedalCoach™ savings are additive to any investments a fleet has made on the “truck” side of the fuel economy equation.  We help good-performing drivers & trucks and poorly-performing drivers & trucks do better:

 

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MPG Trend – PedalCoach™ Pilot Fleets 2012 into 2013

 

We’ll use this site to update our followers and customers as we continue our progress in helping commercial truck fleets reduce fuel costs.  We have a number of features we’ll be adding to PedalCoach™ over the next few months that we believe will further round-out the solution.  Stay tuned for more of this and we’ll keep you posted on our results!  If you are interested in learning more about how much your fleet could save by deploying PedalCoach™, please reach out to us at:  info @ linkedrive.com.  Thanks!!! — Jeff Baer