Tara Cellinese's picture

Feb 5, 2016


Tara Cellinese

Marketing Communications Manager

It’s hard to believe that Omnitracs Outlook 2016 has already come to a close. We had a great time, and hope that our attendees are returning to work with new ideas, tools, and knowledge to work smarter this year. 

The morning after a day full of sessions and a fun time at House of Blues (see photo), attendees piled in to the general session to hear from Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement. DeLorenzo gave an informative session about the ELD mandate, highlighting the changes that electronic logging devices will require now that the final rule has published.

DeLorenzo stated that this is a “key time to be talking about the ELD rule” and that “we’re in the awareness and transition phase.” DeLorenzo said to expect the first ELDs sometime after February 16, 2016, the date when ELD registration begins for manufacturers of ELD products. Carriers have until December 16, 2017 to comply. However, DeLorenzo suspects that the transition to ELDs will happen faster than the mandatory timeline.

DeLorenzo went into detail about driver harassment and the difference between that and driver coercion, stating that coercion is a much broader subject. A tip that DeLorenzo gave was to not believe everything you read — really take a look at it for yourself. He also recommended making sure drivers understand the technology that they will be using and to become informed of documentation requirements. 

Shifting gears a bit, we then welcomed Omnitracs’ product and transportation experts to the stage to discuss new innovations. First up was Brad Taylor, vice president of data and Internet of Things (IoT). Taylor got the crowd thinking about how the transportation industry was actually ahead of its time in regard to IoT.

Taylor referenced Dr. Jacobs, who pioneered the original OmniTRACS advanced two-way mobile satellite communications and tracking systems. Taylor reminded the audience that this version of The Internet of Logistics Things (as CEO John Graham called it) was when only five million devices were connected to the Internet. Before the “explosion of devices,” someone was creating the Internet of Things as it relates to the transportation industry. 

Taylor explained that the industry can take advantage of this explosion of devices, but we don’t want to do it at random. He said that effective innovation is responding to industry change and technology change at the same time. Taylor used “The Internet of Beer” to illustrate some key points, explaining how a major beer brand had connected kegs and how these “smart containers” are relevant to Omnitracs in that 25% of the top beer wholesalers are customers of Omnitracs. With IoT, Taylor explained, there are all sorts of devices with potential for connectivity. 

Following Taylor, Omnitracs’ Jimmy Fortuna, Cyndi Brandt, and Jeff Champa went on stage for an innovations panel discussion. The main themes in the discussion were connectivity, integration, and how we’re responding to our customers’ appetite for leveraging more and more data points.

The discussion began with vehicle to vehicle infrastructure and how people think of it as being in the far future but it’s in fact right here and right now. We are now exposed to data we did not even see before. The panel talked about wearables and notifications that come with them. “Wearables allow engagement with a driver without distracting them from the road” — this is the near future of our industry. Brandt said “we have a high level of responsibility to keep data in the cloud secure. This only grows when we add more end points like with wearables.”

The panel continued to discuss how smartphones have been a seamless part of most people’s lives and now we need to make it a seamless part of business as well. Our mobile data capture product asks drivers to perform tasks out of the cab — proof of delivery, signature capture, photos of invoices, barcode scanning, etc. We’re doing all of that with seamless integration.

Analytics were another big topic for this panel discussion. The different types of analytics were discussed — descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive.

Brandt said that prescriptive analytics is the “holy grail” of analytics and that you need to deliver reports to people at the right time, when it matters. For example, if a driver violates a safety policy, he or she could be required/”prescribed” to watch three training videos — and that content could be delivered right on a mobile app.

Integration was another timely topic and panelists went into detail about some Omnitracs products that integrate. They continued to discuss how we now enable vehicles as they roll off the line with partnerships with OEMs. Going deeper than that, our data doesn’t just stop with the vehicle — we’re going all the way to the component level in the case of using over-the-air (OTA) programming with our partnership with Cummins. 

The main takeaway of the new innovations session is that all of these ideas come from speaking to our customers. 

After two very informative morning general sessions, attendees moved on to breakouts, with topics including: Omnitracs Sylectus TMS, mobile technology, getting ready for the ELD mandate, securing assets and improving trailer utilization, understanding benchmarks, and more. We then had lunch in the Partner Pavilion and Solutions Center where exhibitors, sponsors, and Omnitracs showed off their latest solutions. 

Afternoon breakouts included: Per Diem Manager, analytics tools, regulatory FAQs, the hacker threat, data-driven decision making, dynamic routing, weigh station delays, Roadnet Anywhere, Driver Workflow, and more.

Tuesday’s activities ended with a cocktail reception and an evening of comedy. Attendees were treated to a three-course dinner in the ballroom and enjoyed comedy from Joe Bolster and headliner Brian Regan. Both comedians used observational humor to get the crowd erupting in laughter. Headliner Regan even sprinkled in several jokes about transportation technology, often asking “Can Omnitracs do that?” 

We concluded the conference on Wednesday with a half day of sessions and roundtable discussions. We are sad to say that Outlook 2016 is over, but hope that everyone who participated will be energized to perform better the rest of the year. 

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