Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Our last full day of Outlook 2020 is a wrap! Here’s our recap


Jump-starting the day with a hearty conversation about generational differences

 “Just because it’s the way you’ve always done it doesn’t mean it has to be the way you do it today.”

- Meagan Johnson, Opening Tuesday Session

Father and daughter duo Meagan and Larry Johnson, Authors of Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters, Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work, hosted a meaningful, amusing, and engaging General Session for us this morning.

Meagan has worked with multiple organizations to build multi-generational, effective relationships. For 30 years, Larry Johnson has helped organizations become more productive and develop probable working cultures.

The duo opened the session with an exercise asking the audience to find positives and negatives between the older and younger generations, and they found that older generations use the same words to describe younger generations over the past 75 years.

We call generational differences “generational signposts”, which is an event or phenomenon that is specific to one generation. Generational signposts explain how events, technology, and the economy shape various generations of people. As Meagan said, “The conflict occurs because you have expectations of the people you work with and live with that are a part of your own generational signpost.”

Meagan then switched it over to Larry, who shared that boomers need to share their wisdom before they leave the workforce. He then shared a touching anecdote of an elderly woman he worked with while he was in college named Maude, who he says was the hardest working woman he has ever known. Maude spent part of her life in extreme poverty, and she told Larry that she valued her a job so much because it was the job that saved her and her family’s lives. Larry said that conversation was a turning point for him and moved him to place high value in his work ethic moving forward.

Here’s how the duo broke down generational timelines:

  • Traditional (1905 – 1945): Built the bedrock that our society is built on today
  • Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964): Brought teamwork into the corporate world
  • Gen X (1965 – 1980): Our most independent generation, and the first generation to want to participate in their career development
  • Millennials (1981 – 2002): First generation to have heavy parental involvement, and the first generation to have blended their personal and professional lives with specific focus on socially- and environmentally-conscious companies

In the trucking industry, as with many industries, there is often a pushback from older generations against trying new things. Meagan outlines that when it comes to looking at trying something new, you should ask if it will negatively impact cost, quality, safety, or service. If the answer is no —  try it! That’s how you’ll attract younger generations looking for innovative companies.

We closed out our Opening Session with a re-emphasis on all in the trucking industry who make everything possible. Omnitracs Vice President of Marketing Jeff Westover said, “Trucks are the backbone of the economy, and this industry is (and should be) proud of what they do for our economy.”

An open conversation on last mile routing and dispatch


Omnitracs Senior Product Manager John Cave moderated an informative roundtable aimed at last-mile deliveries today.

The panel of our leading customers consisted of:

  • Director of Route Optimization at US Foods, Carolyn Boom
  • Director of Delivery Operations at a leading North American beverage branch, Drew Reiss
  • Sr. Director of Transportation and Logistics at Iron Mountain, Brent Pfeiffer

We opened this panel with a discussion on customer deliveries. Reiss says that when it comes to territory planning, he often gets asked how often someone should utilize territory planning. He said the answer all depends on your business, but it’s important to change your territory plan to fit your business as you go along.

All organizations face issues with routing and dispatching, which means you have to constantly monitor your progress. Boom said that when it comes to measuring success within her organization’s routing and dispatching operations, she looks to the nuts and bolts of the customer’s delivery experience —  if the delivery was on-time, if something happened on the road, and if the customer was satisfied or unsatisfied.  “When it comes down to measuring success, it comes down to whether or not the customer is going to order from us tomorrow,” Boom said.

The roundtable moved into driver retention, and Pfeiffer stated the average driver retention at Iron Mountain is comparatively high because of the way they care for the quality drivers they bring on. With a lot of these trained drivers moving into retirement, it will be challenging to retain the skillset of an experienced driver. Pfeiffer has witnessed that there’s a strong relationship between leadership between driver turnover, and that’s why it’s so important to really take care of drivers.

Moving to the discussion to the topic of technology, Cave asked the panel what organizations should be doing to prepare for buzzed about technological trends. Boom said that with all the conversation surrounding autonomous vehicles, companies like US Foods will never not need drivers. What companies can do, though, is utilize features of autonomous driving to keep drivers and the people around them safe.

Reiss shared final words of wisdom by stating it’s important to look for problems first and technology second versus the other way around. Pfeiffer said all of our challenges in the transportation industry — no matter the space we’re in — are really well aligned. That’s why it’s key to try to stay on top of new technology and get on the cutting edge to match the changing world.

Cave encouraged all attendees to leave the conference this week with a commitment to utilize all they’ve learned at Omnitracs Outlook 2020 to create and implement positive future change in their organizations.

Connected vehicle technology with OEM experts

Vice President of OEM Strategy Butch Winters, Robert Samuel with Cummins SDK, and Brian Mulshine from Navistar led this panel focused on vehicle telematics, diagnostics, and prognostics. Winters opened the panel and said, “The premise today is not so much about the technology that you bought but how you’re going to use it.”

Samuel asked the panel to focus on the importance of detailing fault codes to recommend customer actions and suggest root causes. According to Samuel, an enhanced, connected diagnostics solution can minimize reporting issues by more than 65%.

Mulshine highlighted the strong relationship his company has with both Omnitracs and Cummins SDK, and he turned the conversation to fault management and how a fault code is only one element of the problem. “A fault code is the ingredient to the repair,” Mulshine said. That’s why it’s imperative to examine synthetics to truly understand what’s going on.  

Moving the conversation to fleet operations, Samuel focused on the reading of fault codes and how that can help save you ample cost in future maintenance by getting ahead. He also said that with connected software updates, you can change the software to help a hardware failure.

When talking about incorporating data into your company workflow, Mulshine said eliminating siloed portals and utilizing solutions that are unified across one portal allows for connected vehicle telematics and vehicle management systems.

Create a smooth transition from the classroom to the road with Penske

Senior Manager at Penske Logistics John Feskanin starts this session off with an introductory dive into the five most popular methods of training:

  • Classroom: This is the most widely used training. It is interactive and can be good for high-level and initial training.
  • Documentation: This is beneficial for referencing specific items. A manual would be an example of this kind of training, and drivers can utilize these manuals for any specific questions or concerns they have.
  • Video: This is growing in use and offers a lot of benefits, as employees are more than likely to watch a video than read a document.
  • Hands-on: This is most widely preferred by employees, as it requires them to focus and retain information.
  • Computer-based training: This allows people to go at their own pace, and it can be flexible and comfortable.

“Drivers are all going to learn differently just as you and I do,” Feskanin said. He brought his point home by underscoring that the best form of training is one that combines the best of each section.

When it comes to training drivers, what matters most is having the right idea on how to train them on areas they need training in — like ELDs. Also, giving drivers objectives and goals that are measurable and achievable can prove very successful.

When designing a training program, it’s best to create an outline of all the training sessions and methods you’ll use to provide this training. Once you’ve put this together, you’ll need to figure out what tools you need to develop your training program. After conducting the training, monitoring drivers is key to understanding the areas they need more training in versus the ones they’re performing well in. Last, it’s important to have a survey or a resource for feedback at the end of your training to continuously improve.

With 30+ TB of data annually, Omnitracs enables unique data innovation for customers

“AI is everywhere,” Omnitracs Chief Data Scientist and VP of AI/ML Dr. Ashim Bose announced at the start of this session, focused on the impact that big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart vehicles and cities have on the industry. “While we were busy with other things, it has seeped into all of our lives.”

AI trends are all around us — from social media ads to cell phones. Dr. Bose discussed a few notable ones, which included data in the cloud, smart vehicles and autonomous driving, smart infrastructure and cities, a connected supply chain, and Software as a Service.

Ramprasad Renganathan, Principal Data Scientist at Omnitracs, then shared a few “potholes” to watch out for when working with big data, including:

  1. Data privacy
  2. Hardware and software complexities
  3. Diversity of data

With Omnitracs One, we are improving AI & machine learning on a near real-time basis. This platform is very unique, and Omnitracs can generate deep insights that even the largest carriers can’t offer on their own. With 1.1 million trucks managed daily, we are committed to building and expanding on our already powerful data network and intelligence systems.

Crafting a positive and productive workplace culture

Larry Johnson enthusiastically kicks off this session by touching on his background in mental health and counseling, which he worked with for several years before getting into the workplace training. He started his own company in 1986 geared toward training services.

Johnson said the immediate boss for each employee is responsible for creating a positive workplace culture, reiterating that people often leave a boss and not a job.

He started the audience off with a brief brainstorming session, where he encouraged them to come up with characteristics of their best and worst bosses. After discussing the characteristics over with the audience, Johnson said that it’s important to always aim — as much as possible — to be on the side of the good characteristics, although poor management practices, like micro-managing, can happen to the best of us from time to time.

“The primary reason employees stick around after pay is they are happy where they are working, which is why it’s important we do the best we can,” Johnson said.

Johnson then moved the conversation to motivators for employees at work. Motivators like money will get employees to commit to a job, but it will not motivate them to do the work the job requires. According to Johnson, money doesn’t motivate people to do a good job. Motivators like success and recognition are what will drive people.

Closing out the session with a focus on how important leadership is, Johnson compared the boss-employee relationship to that of youth and celebrity role models. He said, “When you become a boss, you are a famous person,” which is why it’s always important to be a role model and not a tyrant to your employees.  

How collaborating with competitors can drive explosive growth

Co-founder and CEO at V3 Transportation Bob Poulos and Omnitracs Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Initiatives Mic Yariv kicked off this afternoon session with a discussion on how embracing collaboration with your competitors can help you become more productive and profitable.

To address industry challenges, V3 Transportation developed a system of collaboration, which was made possible by Omnitracs Sylectus, a platform that supports and manages a cooperative network of carriers. They do business with competitors and share equipment in a cooperative manner. This had a positive impact on V3’s growth and load volume.

When discussing how Omnitracs Sylectus’ brokerage and dispatch functions have helped their operation, Poulos said, “I think back to when I started the business, and I really think we wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had over the past 8 years if it weren’t for the system and the ability to plug in and have those critical functions established for us. We could compete with the big guys.”  

Poulos stressed that often times, it’s all about the network. For V3, their customers think they are this massive, giant company, but really, they are able to attain success because of the network and alliance they are able to plug into.

When it comes to collaborating, Yariv stated that everyone can be a winner, as there is much room for creativity on areas like capacity. When asked if our company could continue to benefit from collaboration, Yariv said that Omnitracs is actively gauging interest in new alliances.

Helping drivers get over obstacles to their health on the road

Stephen Kane, President of Rolling Stone, is a former driver who has worked with fleet operations and athletic training. When he got cancer years ago, he was told he would never be able to live the athlete-lifestyle he was accustomed to. After overcoming his cancer, he fell into an unhealthy lifestyle — but not for long. He turned his life around by committing to a healthy lifestyle and losing 65 pounds.  

Kane focused the majority of his session on lifestyle challenges for truck drivers. One of the main challenges comes from long hours spent sitting in a sedentary position. This is especially dangerous for drivers because their muscles will get extremely tight leading a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to work-related back and shoulder injuries, weight gain, lower back pain, and various health issues. Other common hinderances to driver health include limited healthy choices, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and a high-stress lifestyle.

With professional truck drivers being amongst some of the unhealthiest employees in the workforce, Kane is hoping to drive the topic of health and wellness in the industry home.

Here is what the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle results in:

  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea and fatigue
  • Injury from musculoskeletal issues

While the trucking industry has pushed for bettering driver health with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, medical exams, committees, and research, Kane says pushing for more nutritious stops at truck stops, adding an extra hour to the HOS regulation, and focusing on education and research will go a long way.

With 3.5 million truck drivers, almost half of the trucking population has less than acceptable health. An unhealthy lifestyle culture negatively impacts productivity, workplace culture, average turnover, and safety, so it’s essential that the trucking industry invest in the health and wellbeing of their drivers.


With that, we want to thank all of you for reading our blog posts over the past two days, and we want to give a special thanks to everyone who has made our 2020 Outlook so special — from speakers to attendees. Check out our other Outlook recap blog post if you haven’t yet, and be sure to mark your calendars for February 28 – March 3 of next year, where Omnitracs Outlook 2021 will be coming to you from New Orleans. We can’t wait to see you in the Big Easy!