April 15, 2015

Mobile technology makes weigh-station bypass easier, faster

Drivers can get notifications anywhere on mobile phones, tablets, and electronic on-board recorders.

By DC Velocity Staff

Trucking has come a long way since the days when Lowell George of the band Little Feat sang about "drivin' the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed" in his song "Willin'." For years, fleets have used transponders that ping drivers to notify them that their rigs and loads are approved to bypass weigh and inspection stations, which saves them time, fuel, and money.

Mobile technology has recently gotten into the act. Using cloud-based software, truckers can have transponder-like functionality in their tablets, smartphones, and certain electronic logging devices (ELDs), also known as electronic on-board recorders. Unlike traditional transponders that must pass beneath a reader to receive a weigh-station bypass signal, the cellular technology enables notifications to be sent no matter where a driver is on the road. In addition, the mobile technology doesn't require the installation of additional equipment.

To no one's surprise, the technology keeps getting richer. For example, Canadian company Drivewyze Inc., which provides a mobile weigh-station bypass service, recently broadened its portfolio by embedding its technology in ELDs sold by Rand McNally and PeopleNet. A third ELD provider, Zonar, is currently testing the technology. The ELD manufacturers sell the equipment to fleets and drivers with Drivewyze's analytics software, available free on a trial basis. Users can run the software to determine how much they could save with the bypass service before taking out a subscription.

One advantage of the ELD embed is that, unlike with mobile devices, the technology and the accumulated data stay with the truck, Drivewyze said. One Drivewyze customer, Centerville, Minn.-based intermodal carrier BarOle Trucking, plans to install Drivewyze technology in ELDs in response to the upcoming federal government mandate that all trucks be equipped with the recorders.

BarOle's drivers currently access Drivewyze's service through tablets. BarOle Fleet Manager Karol Smith says that because the service allows state police to automatically check the company's credentials and safety score, it has eliminated about 15 hours' worth of delays at weigh stations per month. The savings will translate into greater availability of trucks to handle drayage of the expected flood of containers that have been held up at West Coast ports during recent labor slowdowns, Smith says.

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