We may have packed up and moved out of Phoenix, but what we learned at Omnitracs Outlook 2017 will stay with us for a while. Whether you missed out, or simply want to relive it all, read on to get the highlights (in no particular order).
- Preparation is going to be key for ELD Mandate compliance
According to Tuesday’s general session keynote Joe DeLorenzo of the FMCSA, the biggest mistake carriers can make right now is to not pre-plan for the ELD Mandate. Said DeLorenzo, there are three electronic means to keep track — ELD self-certification, AOBRDs, and devices with logging software. His number one piece of advice? Make sure drivers know what type of devices they have and how to use them.
He also gave advice on how to make things easier for roadside inspection. If you’re running two systems, make sure to have instructions on which one is your official record. Make sure the roadside officer knows. Create “cheater cards” to help the officer understand what the device is and how they can check for hours of service. In addition to electronic transfer, RODs can be shared in one of two ways: a printout or a screen display visible to enforcement.
- XRS and Roadnet routing are one powerful combo
At the show, we publically announced the launch of Omnitracs Routing, Dispatching, and Compliance (RDC), which brings together the best of XRS and Roadnet routing. RDC offers a combination of routing, trip management, and Hours of Service and DVIR compliance as a single application. The RDC kiosk stayed busy at the Partner Pavilion & Solutions Center.
- Loverboy can still bring the house down
Attendees piled in to get a closer look — and that unforgettable feeling of yesteryear. But one didn’t need to get close to hear or feel the energy. Tunes blared out into the “quieter” section of the venue, which was filled with foosball, arcade games, a photo booth, and on-the-spot silk screened Omnitracs concert tees. And yes, Loverboy did perform “Working for the Weekend” and “Turn Me Loose” just as passionately as ever before.
- ELD Mandate won’t change — and the Canadian ELD Mandate is coming
President & CEO of ATA Chris Spear stated in Monday’s opening general session that he anticipates the ELD Mandate going into full effect come December 2017. Addressing talk that Trump could put the regulation to a halt, Spear stated "I don't look at this president as one who's going to favor mandates. I think he's going to embrace innovation.”
So, what about the Canadian ELD Mandate? Tom Cuthbertson, VP of Compliance at Omnitracs, thinks it will be the same as the U.S. version. Said Cuthbertson in a regulatory update breakout session, Canada Gazette Part 1 and Part 2, which are like the notice for proposed rulemaking (NPRM), are expected in April or May of this year. He says the final regulation could be out as early as later this year or early 2018.
- Fleet managers love Harleys
An Outlook first, we offered customer attendees the chance to win a pretty slick custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle. To arouse interest, the Harley was parked at the entrance of the Partner Pavilion & Solutions Center, all VIP-like, with stanchions around it.
On Monday night, the crowd gathered to the world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealership, the Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, for an unbelievable experience — especially for the customer who won the Harley! Attendees enjoyed food, libations, tunes, and plenty of eye candy (we’re talking about the motorcycles). Omnitracs employees did the honors of drawing a customer name and the winner appeared to be in complete shock. He got to sit on his new hog, bang a gong, and look up at a venue filled with an envious, cheering crowd.
- Autonomous trucks may be a while, but the framework is here with platooning
Autonomous trucks came into discussion several times at Outlook. Omnitracs CEO John Graham talked about how the government is already authorizing this technology out in the market. ATA President & CEO Chris Spear stated that he sees that as something about 20-25 years away from now — but the framework for how that will feel is right now. How so? Platooning. In Tuesday’s general session, Josh Switkes, CEO of Peloton, explained how platooning technology works and how Omnitracs is partnering with the Silicon Valley-based company to bring platooning technology to Omnitracs customers in the near future.
Should we be scared? The general consensus was no — and stated several times throughout the conference. Both Spear and Cuthbertson said to be careful of the media hype. Said Spear, we still have pilots in the plane to help mitigate circumstances. Driver-assist technology is not driverless technology.
- Wearables could change how we monitor driver health and fatigue
Another topic that came up often at Outlook was wearables and how biomonitoring of drivers can help increase driver safety and reduce risk. One example of this could be seen right in the Partner Pavilion & Solutions Center with exhibitor SmartCap, whose wearable product uses EEG technology to measure brain technology. The predictive technology enables users to accurately monitor their fatigue level before a microsleep can occur.
- Routing can be fun, too
During Outlook, we unveiled a new game called Route Race, which sparked friendly competition among conference attendees. In Route Race, players are challenged to find the most efficient route to deliver products across the city without running out of gas. Players guide their truck through the streets while strategically picking paths to avoid obstacles. After the player has completed the route, their path is compared to the ideal route, or the “Roadnet Recommended Route.”
The game was designed to bring awareness to challenges faced by companies making daily deliveries, from staying on schedule to ensuring the most optimal delivery routes and customer satisfaction. Outlook attendees certainly enjoyed the competition!
- Drones can help last mile delivery
Do not fear the drone. In John Graham’s opening session, he stated that drones can add efficiency and lower delivery costs — providing about 80% savings in last mile shipping. Futurist Jim Carroll spoke about how UPS recently tested launching a drone from a truck for deliveries, reminding us that the drone can complement the truck; not compete with it.
- Embracing technology is the only way to move forward
Futurist Jim Carroll said that no truck will ever be offline going forward — a truck went from a hardware platform to a computer on wheels! What does that mean for drivers? According to Chris Spear, drivers need new skills and they “almost need a software degree in the future to manage all that goes into the power unit.” Addressing the driver shortage, Spear said “Want new talent? Speak to a new generation. Don’t be threatened by technology; you need to embrace it. It’s a catalyst to make America and our economy even better.”
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