Driving Better Safety with Interstate Batteries

Having been involved with Geoforce’s deployments of our GO7 Advanced Vehicle Tracker solution at Interstate Batteries’ facilities in Texas, I was eager to meet many of Interstate’s 1,400 team members and 300 distributors at their annual convention in Orlando, Florida, last week.

Our team met with folks from all over the United States and the world – including one group from Colombia. One thing very obvious from our conversations is the Interstate team has and continues to work hard to maintain their place as the #1 replacement brand battery in North America.

We asked about their operations and challenges with safety and efficiency. More than a few told us they had no idea what their drivers were doing once they left. Some of their most common concerns included:

  • Where are they on their route?
  • Why don’t they answer my calls?
  • Are they using the shortest routes possible?
  • What’s that doing to my fuel cost?
  • How are they driving? Speeding? Hard braking or cornering?
  • How many close calls have they had?
  • Are they logging their Hours of Service (HOS) and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) properly?

Quite a few already had a GPS tracking solution in place, but their overall opinion was not glowing. Common complaints were:

  • “Too slow to update” – Apparently, managers would need to dispatch a driver to a location that the tracking device showed them to be at or near, only to find the driver hadn’t been at that location for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • “Too pricey for what you get” – A tracking solution should help lower operating costs. Apparently, that was not always happening.
  • “No engine data” – Many stated they could not get any data about the vehicle’s performance. To help lower operating costs, it’s good to know when a vehicle is about to have an issue.
  • “No logging for HOS or DVIR capability” – No current solution had a way of logging HOS and DVIRs electronically, which is a huge problem with upcoming FMCSA mandates going into effect on December 18, 2017.

Fortunately, we were able to talk to the Interstate team members and distributors about the GO7 Advanced Vehicle Tracker, which we believe solves all of their stated challenges. Geoforce recently partnered with Geotab to provide a comprehensive tracking solution with training, support and installation services.

The GO7 is a plug and play device which is installed into the OBD port of any vehicle. It can also be installed in a larger truck, Mack, Kenworth, etc., using a uniquely designed harness. The GO7’s tracking capability is unique to the industry in that it doesn’t depend upon a set reporting rate. The GO7 reports by events in the vehicle; acceleration, braking, engine RPMs, etc. This allows for a smoothing of the map view while tracking to give an exact route depiction. It also provides up to the minute location, speed and direction.

Because the GO7 plugs into the OBD port, fleet operators are able to get all the data from the Engine Control Module (ECM). This allows Geoforce to report engine measurements or faults, which can predict engine issues before they happen.

And since the GO7 gets data directly from the engine, it will log driver behavior which can be used to “coach” drivers into modifying their behavior and employ safe driving skills.

For logging HOS and DVIRs in compliance with the FMCSA mandates, the Drive App can be downloaded to an iOS and Android smartphone or tablet. There is a minimum set up requirement for the drivers to begin logging their HOS and DVIRs electronically, satisfying the mandate. The Drive App is very intuitive and has a user friendly interface which tells drivers how many hours they have daily and in their cycle.

It was great talking with all the folks here at Interstate Batteries. I expect to hear from most of them again as we deploy a proven GPS tracking solution for enhancing driver safety.