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COMPETITION WATCH: Challenger pushes envelope on speed, efficiency and safety with new headquarters

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. In his 31 years in the industry Dan Einwechter has hardly shied away from making a statement. And...


CAMBRIDGE, Ont. In his 31 years in the industry Dan Einwechter has hardly shied away from making a statement. And the influential and sometimes outspoken head of Challenger Motor Freight certainly made a statement tonight on the future of trucking facility design with the official opening of the company’s new headquarters.

The new 126,000 sq ft facility built on 53 acres pushes the envelope in a number of areas, including driver amenities, technology and environmental design.

“This is a threshold moment in the Canadian trucking industry. This is the premier truckload facility in Canada,” Einwechter told a gathering of industry suppliers, customers and dignitaries. Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley described him as being so proud of the new building, he has been “like a little boy” over the past year as the building has grown into reality.

Einwechter, who started with 1 truck and has grown Challenger to a fleet of 1450 power units and 3300 trailers that was bursting at the seams at its old location, stressed he had three goals with the new building’s design: speed, efficiency and safety.

Speed and efficiency in processing equipment and drivers have become particularly critical as carriers deal with more restrictive hours of service regulations on both sides of the border.

The new facility has improved Challenger’s efficiencies in various aspects of its business. For example, the possibility of drivers picking up the wrong trailer or spending 15 minutes looking for the right one is always a problem that wastes valuable time for any fleet with more than 50 trailers. But Challenger’s new Yard Smart trailer management system locates each specific trailer is in its yard and alerts drivers if they pick the wrong one.

Also, Challenger’s highway drivers can use one of three bays in an indoor fuel building and have an automated tire reader read the tire pressure and temperature of each tire on their truck. The truck is then driven over a pit with an alignment pad, which will indicate if the tires are in alignment on the tractor and trailer.

“I tell our drivers I can’t guarantee they won’t have a breakdown at 2 a.m. but I can guarantee we will do our damn best to make sure that it doesn’t happen,” Einwechter said.

And the drivers can start their paperwork while their trucks are being checked and fuelled. The focus on drivers is evident throughout the building right from the driver entrance that looks more like the front of the building than the back of the building and a driver room with large comfortable chairs and a big screen TV. (Several drivers were in the room at the time I took the tour, enjoying a World Cup game.)

Another feature of the new building is a driver simulator, which Challenger is using to train recruits and provide remedial training on identified problems areas for experienced drivers. It can even recreate accident scenes.

“With improved driving skills and the ability to handle many different road conditions we expect to see fewer accidents ,” Einwechter had told Transportation Media in a previous interview.


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