Forget the CB: Here’s How Drivers Communicate in the 21st Century

Once upon a time trucks had CB radios and truck drivers communicated using colorful language like “10-4,”and “Breaker-one-nine.” But technology moves on, and so do we. Now, Earl T. Wadhams is pulling ahead of the curve in the milk-hauling industry with the new satellite communications systems that we’ve installed in all our trucks and terminals.

Our drivers no longer have to rely on painstakingly handwriting their mileage and other activity logs. Now they can punch in the information on their in-cab keyboards and check their dashboard monitors for up-to-date information and crucial messages.

Not a bad way to save our customers and drivers time, and boost our efficiency.

Why Bother With New Technology?

We did it to upgrade our technology and communications with the drivers and with the trucks themselves. The truck engine computer gives off a lot of information, and now we can make it much easier.

We also want the very best for our customers. In the world of freight hauling, many companies already have such communications equipment, but the milk sector has lagged behind simply because milk operations typically tend to be small, family-owned businesses with correspondingly smaller budgets.

The new technology will allow us to track our drivers wherever they are, and at whatever speed they’re travelling. This will improve efficiency because the system can accurately measure miles per gallon, idling times, stop-and-go times and over-speeds, leading to driver efficiency and increased fuel economy. 

What Else Does the Satellite System Do?

It does a lot. For example, the engine has a computer that tracks all the information, such as mileage and activity logs, that the driver enters as he goes about his day. It’s all being tracked through the satellite.

We also have a history and a “breadcrumb trail” for all our drivers, so we can make sure they’re being as efficient as they can be when they’re doing their routes and performing their duties, and we can use the satellite to communicate with the driver at any time.

Where is the Data Collected, and How Often are Reports Reviewed?

Certain reports are run daily, and automatically. Right now it’s the daily hours of service log because it’s new and we want to make sure the drivers are doing it correctly. We also get weekly performance reports that tell us their miles per gallon, idling time, as well as any over-speed.

What’s great about this system is that we access the information with web-based software, so we can get at it anywhere. I can look at any part of the business I want to, whether it is a specific truck, or the whole fleet, or any terminal or driver I need to review. And the terminal managers, in turn, have the option to check on their own drivers.

Other Benefits Of Our Satellite Communications

We can use the satellite communications as a fail-safe system to help out a driver in trouble. It can also pinpoint or diagnose maintenance issues. For example, if we have an exhaust or emissions problem (which is a big focus these days as emissions regulations on commercial vehicles develop), the system will flash a symbol on the trucks allowing both the driver and the supervisor at the terminal to see and acknowledge the problem, leading to a quick diagnosis and repair. 

Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson

As ETW’s Director of Milk Operations, it’s Mark Stevenson’s job to look at the big picture. Right now, he’s working hard to ensure that the new satellite communications system that is installed in all the trucks and terminals is being used, and used correctly. Thanks to Mark, there’s also a smooth transition between dispatch, terminals and drivers. He’s a problem-solver – whether it is staffing issues, maintenance glitches or customer challenges, he’s the go-to-guy. He makes sure loads are full, equipment is well maintained and staff members are satisfied.