The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Telematics Case Study: DOT Compliance

Golden Flake operates a fleet of 32 transport trucks.

June 2013, by Shelley Mika

Photo via BirminghamLights.
Photo via BirminghamLights.

For almost 100 years, Southerners have enjoyed potato chips made by Golden Flake Snack Foods, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company with production plants in Alabama and Florida.

In addition to its original kettle-cooked chips, Golden Flake sells a full line of flavored potato and corn chips, pork skins, crackers, nuts, and other snack foods in 14 states.

The Fleet: Golden Flake operates a fleet of 32 transport trucks.

The Challenge: Golden Flake posted record sales last year, but spiraling fuel and commodity prices decreased net profits.

As the company explored ways to increase operational efficiency, it also had to develop a cost-effective way to ensure that the drivers of its 32 transport trucks followed strict new Department of Transportation performance and safety regulations.

The company needed a solution to address the problems of fuel, efficiency, and compliance.

The Solution: Golden Flake chose a telematics solution with real-time and historical GPS-based information, making it easier to support driver compliance with federal regulations.

The web-based fleet management solution supplies the extensive vehicle and driver performance data the company requires, helping to improve operations and reduce errors by eliminating the need for drivers to fill out paper logs.

In addition, report preparation to document results has been cut back to a fraction of the time it used to take.

The Results: With real-time location, telematics and vehicle diagnostics, Golden Flake's telematics solution supplies a wealth of information that supports driver safety.

"If a mechanical issue develops, we can notify the driver and possibly avoid a breakdown," said Golden Flake Transportation Director Butch Owens. "There are savings to be made by letting a little problem remain a little problem."

The unit also has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by monitoring hard acceleration, excessive speeds and idling time.

A suite of customizable reports lets officials define the information they want to receive, how often and in what form.

"We tie the unit into as many safety skill measurements as we can," Owens said. Now Owens knows right away if a driver has a panic stop and requests daily reports on hours of service violations. Golden Flake's telematics solutions is helping the company eliminate those violations.

The solution has also saved significant staff time formerly spent preparing federal fuel tax reports. "Our department had to input drivers' trip tickets every day to learn how many miles each truck traveled in each state and how much fuel was purchased, " Owens said.

Finance department staff then spent days validating the data and compiling the report. "It was very labor intensive," Owens said. "It now takes us about a minute and a half to get that quarterly report."

Chief Financial Officer Patty Townsend is pleased by the solution's efficiency and the possibility it will lower workers' compensation and auto casualty insurance costs. "The ability to have a safer fleet on the road because we monitor drivers and get alerts will be reflected in lower premium dollars," she said.

The company is impressed with the product's stability, which it saw firsthand when one unit continued to perform even after a tornado in Arkansas slammed a Golden Flake truck onto its side. "I don't advise that's a good way to test it," Owens joked.

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