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White Line Fever
Can you afford to lose visibility of this cargo’s location? For an hour? For a day? For a week? Of course, we all know the answer already: losing visibility into critical assets can mean losing even more: money, time, productivity, safety, sanity…
I felt nostalgic this week as I entered the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for the Great American Trucking Show. It was difficult to focus my eyes on any one facet of the show. The new trucks in all their brilliant array of colors, and the chrome. Chrome everywhere and so polished that you could use a fender for a mirror. Any space that wasn’t occupied by a shiny new truck or trailer was filled with technology booths. The latest advancements in fuel efficiency, safety and GPS systems for the vehicles and for the drivers. I was a kid again at the “5 and Dime” checking out the newest “Hot Wheels” creation.
You see, I have this “bug” and have had it for some time. I caught it at an early age while listening to stories from my father’s youth about crisscrossing the hills of Arkansas hauling logs, hogs and chickens (not his favorite). The “bug” took further root in the following years with exposure to the tunes coming out of my little transistor radio. “Six Days on the Road”, “On the Road Again” and “Eastbound and Down” were my lullabies. To this day, I can’t sing along to C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” without pretending to hold a CB radio. That stands for Citizen’s Band radio. For those not around in the ’70s, the whole country went nuts for these CB radios where you could talk to the truckers on the road in a faraway place. The truckers used the CB to give out traffic reports, dining reviews and the latest gossip. Occasionally, they would pass along information about a “County Mounty” or “Kojak with a Kodak” who’d set up a speed trap up on I-10.
After this much exposure, the infection had set in so much I even began dating a truck driver’s daughter (still do, on Date Night).
The “Fever” took complete root when I got a job with UPS to pay for college. As a result, I spent almost two decades in and around trucks with “Buster Brown”. I still get nostalgic for the smell of diesel in the morning.
For those who don’t know what “White Line Fever” is, the next time you are in your car or truck and out on the highway, look out your window and spot one of those “white lines” on the road ahead. Concentrate on it until it gets closer and closer. As it gets almost to your vehicle, look out the driver’s side window. Those “white lines” are 10 feet long. But when you see them whiz by, they seem no more than a few inches. The big question is, do you feel anything? You see, folks who have the “Fever” get a thrill, to the point of addiction, watching those “white lines” whoosh past. It’s hard to describe if you don’t feel it. It’s the promise and adventure of the road ahead. It’s the joy and anticipation when you see the lights of the Dallas skyline rising from the horizon and know you are almost home.
For the professional driver, it’s about the power and the independence. A big truck. A big job. No boss looking over your shoulder. The master of your domain.
Fortunately or unfortunately, those days of total independence are numbered. It is the times we live in. Information is key and patience is in short supply. And while I am sympathetic to the truck driver on the road just trying to do his job, I am also sympathetic to the Operations Manager. They need to be able to tell that customer who’s breathing down their neck when that vital piece of equipment will be delivered. The need to know when that service was started and completed so the customer will pay the invoice without delay.
I am sympathetic to the Safety Manager as well, who has to wonder what his drivers are really doing on the road. There are so many hazards on the road, the Safety Managers must feel like a parent trying to keep a toddler out of the cabinet under the sink. Their minds are bombarded with questions. “Are my drivers where they are supposed to be? Are they driving in a safe manner? Is today the day I get THAT phone call? Is today the day I have to make THAT phone call?”
Geoforce, with its Track and Trace, Service Verification, and Driver Focused Metrics software applications can alleviate a lot of the anxiety with Operations and Safety without intruding on letting the drivers do what they love. This marriage of the “old days” and “new technology” lets everyone involved enjoy the “best of both worlds” and I’m proud to say that Geoforce is making this happen!