Founded in 1990, Paper Transport Inc. (PTI) is a De Pere, Wisconsin-based regional carrier that offers for-hire and dedicated truckload, intermodal, and logistics services. Today, it employs more than 850 drivers, who pick up and deliver freight throughout the Midwest and Southern U.S.
PTI says one of its core philosophies is to care for those drivers, which includes alleviating any pain points they might encounter on the job. Several years ago, the company realized that one of the drivers’ primary frustrations was the hassle of searching for empty trailers to hook up to their Class 8 trucks.
“Everyone wants to perform well at their job by doing value-added work, and searching for empty trailers doesn’t add value,” PTI’s vice president for maintenance, Dan Deppeler, said in a release. “For a driver, searching for a trailer actually costs them time and money …, so it’s important for PTI to assist them with the search.”
In 2016, PTI sought help with its trailer tracking woes from Spireon, an Irvine, California-based provider of trackers and sensors that generate live data-capture information on vehicles, trailers, and other transportation assets. The company chose Spireon’s FleetLocate (FL) product, which provides both trailer tracking and cargo-sensing capabilities, for deployment on its fleet vehicles. The benefits began to add up immediately, since drivers no longer had to worry about whether or not a particular trailer was empty when they arrived to pick it up, the company reports.
PTI has greatly expanded its use of the products since those early days. It now uses Spireon’s FL 22+ with IntelliScan sensing technology on 2,400 trailers. The carrier also uses the FL 22+ base model on an additional 800 trailers and plans to add the IntelliScan cargo sensor to those units as well.
“IntelliScan allows us to pull images and see when a trailer is actually empty,” Deppeler explained in the release. “Pallets shown, even without product, is a troubling use-case that we can now adjust for. In the end, our drivers want to know if it’s loaded or empty and where it is. This level of precision helps us [determine that].”
In addition to saving time and boosting efficiency, the system saves the company money, PTI says. Without a tracking system in place, the business was losing over $100 per hour in lost productivity any time a driver showed up to a trailer that wasn’t empty. Spread out over time and trucks, those losses once added up to more than $30,000 per month, but thanks to the tracking sensors, that expense has now disappeared.
Buoyed by those results, PTI plans to make another upgrade to its Spireon systems soon in order to keep up with nationwide changes in cellular data networks. As cellphone providers prepare to replace their legacy third-generation (3G) antennas with faster fourth-generation (4G) models, PTI will upgrade its Spireon devices to the new standard.