EDMONTON, Alta. — A Canadian tech company is making waves in the US, where its weigh station bypass system has the potential to save the trucking industry and enforcement agencies untold millions.
But Drivewyze is having a bigger struggle getting its system implemented in its home country. Brian Heath, president of Edmonton, Alta.-based Drivewyze, said the company is in discussions with numerous provinces and he hopes to have the program implemented in at least one province by the end of the year.
In the US, the system has already been implemented at more than 220 inspection stations in 16 states. Subscribers with clean safety records can bypass participating inspection stations up to 98% of the time.
But what’s most intriguing to state and provincial enforcement agencies is that there are no infrastructure expenses associated with implementing the program.
“Traditionally, what you do is spend $1 million per site putting up some poles on the side of the highway, hanging some radio transceivers and putting transponders in the trucks, like the Alberta PIC (Partners in Compliance) program does to enable bypass service,” Heath explained. “We leverage that $355-billion investment that the wireless carriers like Bell have already spent, building digital wireless infrastructure across North America.”
Drivewyze uses existing cellular services and an app that can be downloaded onto any smartphone, tablet and some in-cab electronic logging devices, including those offered by PeopleNet. The device must have: GPS capability; access to a digital cellular connection; and some type of user interface.
When a registered truck approaches a participating inspection station, the app communicates driver and vehicle information (including logbook status, if e-logs are used) to the inspection station. Almost immediately, the driver receives a green or red light indicator on their device, indicating whether or not they are allowed to drive by without stopping.
“The amazing thing about that, is you just did that without putting a shovel in the ground,” Heath said in an interview with Truck News. “You didn’t spend $1 million. There’s no hardware required to accomplish that, which is fantastic, and you did not have to purchase a standalone transponder. You didn’t have to buy a battery-operated box that only performs bypass operations inside your truck. There is literally no extra hardware costs.”
The program is quickly gaining momentum in the US, though to date, Canadian provinces have taken a wait-and-see approach. Asked if the US is more progressive in terms of intelligent transportation systems, Heath said, “There’s no doubt.”
He added “In the commercial vehicle enforcement world, the US has a really strong federal program.”
He noted state enforcement agencies are able to easily drill down into carrier profiles created at the federal level by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Even though Canadian provinces have not yet implemented the system, Canadian carriers with a US DoT number can still participate while operating in the US, and Heath is sure some are already doing so.
“Any Canadian fleet running south of the border that has a US DoT number has a safety and compliance record that is built into the screening system of all the participating enforcement agencies, so they’re welcome to participate in the program,” Heath said. “I know fleets are participating that have cross-border operations. A lot of our sites are in the northeastern US and I know those trucks are travelling up into Quebec and Ontario, so I’d be surprised if there were not some trucks that are Canadian-based (participating).”
So far, said Heath, carriers that do take part are enjoying significant savings. The cost is based on a subscription model that starts at about $12.99 per truck each month, but comes down with volume. The payback, of course, is dependent on how frequently those trucks are allowed to drive past weigh stations.
Heath said a 2006 study by the FMCSA found that it typically costs $8.68 every time a truck has to pull into an inspection station. That figure accounted for time lost, the fuel spent accelerating back up to highway speed and maintenance costs.
“So you can see how quickly you can get a payback on this service,” Heath said. “All you have to do is bypass twice a month – just a little over once a month – and you are actually saving money. We’ve seen ROIs in the hundreds per month. They’re saving an incredible amount of money and the more times you get the bypass, the more money you’re saving.”
Some US fleets, Heath said, are using the system as a driver retention tool, since drivers see a direct boost to their earnings and get home sooner when they don’t have to pull through as many inspection stations.
As for why Canadian provinces have been slow to adopt the program, Heath said talks are “At a sensitive point with a few different provinces right now.”
“There is no national program in Canada that allows trucks to travel east-west without having to stop at inspection sites and there’s no service that allows them to go north-south with full inter-operability,” he said. “It hasn’t existed before. I think it is really exciting for NAFTA carriers and will be really exciting for Canadian carriers when we open it up between provinces.”