The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Magnetics International Uses Smart Trucks to Increase Performance

May 2007, by Dave Fern

In this post 9/11 era, the Department of Transportation has adopted increased regulations for hauling hazardous materials. The increase usually brings delays caused by paperwork, lack of training, etc. Magnetics International has adjusted to this increase with a solution that not only meets regulations, but also increases performance to customers.

Magnetics International reclaims acid from steel mills, draws out the iron oxide, and resells that iron oxide for magnet production. Roger Cooper, general manager of transportation for Magnetics International needed a practical, affordable solution to improve his fleet’s business performance when meeting all the new requirements and becoming more efficient. “We are a hazmat company, so we need to track our vehicles as part of our security plan, and tracking is also important for customer service. Cost savings, improved maintenance, and compliance issues also had to be addressed,” said Cooper.

Magnetics International discussed the options with its fleet lessor, Ryder. Ryder had teamed up with Teletrac and Cingular to create “smart” trucks for fleets of all sizes. Customers can utilize Ryder’s “RydeSmart” to access real-time online vehicle fleet data and view vehicle locations, driver routes, and performance, and continuously monitor vehicle data including automated transmittal of odometer readings to replace trip records for fuel tax and vehicle licensing regulatory compliance.

Magnetics’ fleet of 16 trucks travel into ports, and having a system like RydeSmart, “actually helps us get port customers when they see that we have this kind of tracking and security program in place. If a customer calls and asks ‘where is your vehicle?’ I know instantly,” said Cooper.

RydeSmart hardware and software units continously monitor vehicle location, mileage, speed, and diagnostic data to improve fleet operational efficiencies.

Currently,12 Magnetics’ tankers are fitted with the RydeSmart system. They saw benefits almost immediately.

“I noticed that some drivers were going way out of route to buy fuel from a ‘favorite’ station where the fuel was more expensive. I was able to stop that. I’ve also been able to see when a truck was idle for extended periods of time. By correcting some of these situations, I’ve diminished downtime and reduced costs,” noted Cooper.

RydeSmart is a compact hardware and software unit installed in the truck and connected to the vehicle’s existing computer and diagnostics systems. The unit continuously monitors the vehicle’s location, mileage, and speed, as well as other performance and diagnostic data.

The four remaining trucks may pilot a more advanced RydeSmart system with keyboard communication capability instead of the current cell phone method. “You couldn’t ask for an easier system to operate,” according to Cooper.

Information is communicated every 15 minutes and on-demand, as necessary, via a dedicated and secure connection with the Cingular network to the fleet operators’ desktop. Using this real-time fleet information and visibility down to individual vehicles, Magnetics International can save labor, time, and money, while improving productivity and customer satisfaction. In addition, integrated GPS capabilities enable Magnetics to locate its vehicles in case of emergency and provide central dispatch capabilities enabling pickup and delivery assignment using the closest available vehicles.

Using the RydeSmart system, Magnetics International can utilize its features and benefits to provide a built-in continuous improvement program, which enables the company to continuously monitor and refine route design, enhance efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. These benefits also make dealing with security issues easier. A security plan was submitted to the Department of Transportation outlining how Magnetics International complies with strict guidelines for hazmat carriers. With the RydeSmart system, they can exceed these guidelines and offer good customer service.

About the Author:David Fern has more than 15 years of fleet management experience. He currently works as an audit consultant for Resources Global Professionals and can be reached at

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