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Schmuhl Brothers Enhances Safety & Efficiency for Intermodal Freight Trucking
In 1995 in the middle of America’s heartland, two brothers Ryan and Ty Schmuhl set out to make a name for themselves in the transportation industry when they founded Schmuhl Brothers with two trucks.
They did that and more. Since its inception, the company has established itself as a highly reputable intermodal freight transportation provider in Kansas City, operating nearly 90 trucks that support regional and long-haul operations across the country.
According to Rick Liebau, who serves as Schmuhl Brothers’ safety director, part of the company’s recipe for growth is finding solutions to increase operational efficiency and safety. As a former driver with more than 25 years of experience, Liebau understands what types of technology can make a difference when it comes to making improvements.
For several years, Schmuhl Brothers has been using weigh station bypass services as a solution to reduce operating costs associated with the time drivers spend pulling into weigh stations for inspection. It’s a solution that’s not only helped the company reduce fuel costs associated with idling at weigh stations but has supported drivers in making on-time deliveries by spending less time at weigh stations along their route.
When Liebau made the transition from driver to his current position as safety director, he identified opportunities to better integrate the technologies the company uses to streamline operations practices and to bolster its safety programs.
“As a former driver, the less technology drivers need to worry about, the better,” said Liebau.
“Being able to consolidate and have driver productivity and safety services delivered through a single device, like an ELD, makes it easier on the driver and management so that we don’t have to manage multiple devices inside the cab.”Rick Liebau, Safety Director at Schmuhl Bros
Liebau also realized the company needed to make significant changes to its safety practices to improve its ratings with the FMCSA. To do that, Liebau began to leverage telematics data the company collected from its ELD provider, Samsara, and enlisted in other safety services to support safe driving behavior.
One of the changes Liebau made was switching to Drivewyze for weigh station bypass service. According to Liebau, since Drivewyze is integrated with Samsara, it allowed drivers to access Drivewyze’s PreClear weigh station bypass service through their ELD or mobile device. The more streamlined approach meant additional hardware inside the cab for drivers to receive notifications of bypass opportunities would no longer be needed.
Another factor in Liebau’s decision to switch to Drivewyze was the ability to incorporate proactive safety alerts Drivewyze offers through its Safety+ service.
Under Liebau’s leadership, the company began utilizing telematics data provided by its ELDs and dashcams to detect and correct unsafe driving behavior. In addition to coaching drivers in response to driving incidents or dangerous driving behavior, the company began using Drivewyze Safety+, which delivers drivers visual and audible alerts through their ELD or mobile devices of upcoming road hazards, such as low bridges, high rollover areas, high citation corridors for speeding, severe weather, and more.
From a driver productivity perspective, Liebau is happy with the results he’s seen from Drivewyze’s weigh station bypass solution, PreClear. Through the Drivewyze Hub, Liebau has access to near real-time data on bypass rates, the number of bypasses drivers receive, estimated operating savings through using the service, and more. The company also receives monthly reports that summarize bypass data and estimated operating cost reductions.
In one of Schmuhl Brothers’ recent monthly reports, the 51 trucks with PreClear activated bypassed more than 610 weigh station sites, for an average of 12 bypasses per truck. According to Drivewyze, these bypasses helped reduce the time drivers spent at weigh stations collectively by approximately 51 hours. It’s estimated that the cost savings associated with bypassing those weigh stations helped Schmuhl Brothers save more than $5,320 in operating costs in that month alone.
“When you have to slow down a fully loaded truck and get back up to highway speeds after pulling into a weigh station, it definitely takes a toll on the fuel economy,” said Liebau.
“It’s beneficial for us to minimize the stop and go with our trucks, and utilizing weigh station bypass helps our fuel economy numbers, which is especially important given the high price of diesel.”Rick Liebau, Safety Director at Schmuhl Bros
When drivers approach a Drivewyze-enabled weigh station, they’re notified whether they’re allowed to bypass the site on their ELD or mobile device.
“Our drivers appreciate the audible and visual notifications they receive when they approach a weigh station,” said Liebau. “It makes it easy for them to know if they received the green light to bypass a site or not. A transponder only provides an audible chime, which can be easy to miss.”
In addition to experiencing a more simplified approach to managing weigh station bypass services, Drivewyze’s Safety+ service has helped Schmuhl Brothers significantly improve its safety ratings across the board with the FMCSA.
With Safety+, Liebau can analyze how drivers react in response to the safety alerts drivers receive through the Drivewyze Hub. This information, combined with telematics data collected by Samsara helps Schmuhl Brothers monitor safe driving practices.
“As a former driver, I know that drivers appreciate receiving information that can help them perform their jobs more safely or steer clear of troublesome areas along their route, especially when they’re traveling on roads they’re unfamiliar with,” said Liebau. “Safety+ is a great communications tool that allows us to keep our drivers informed of what’s on the road ahead and to encourage safe driving behavior.”
In addition to standard safety alerts, such as high rollover and low bridge warnings that are provided by Drivewyze, Schmuhl Brothers creates custom safety alerts in the Drivewyze portal by geo-fencing a specific location and developing a message to appear when a truck enters that area. According to Liebau, he creates custom alerts and messages for each customer location the company works with so that drivers are reminded of specific tasks or rules they must follow when they enter and leave a customer site.
“I’ve essentially created a checklist of all the things drivers should be doing when they deliver to our customer locations,” said Liebau. “Each series of alerts are specific to each of our customers, so that our drivers stay compliant with their policies.”
Liebau said he also monitors current events happening out on the road and in the local community and will create alerts in response, which range from locations where major collisions have taken place to non-vehicle related emergency events.
“A few months ago, we had an active shooter near our facility, so I created an emergency alert to inform our drivers in the area to take extra precautions,” said Liebau. “We wanted to make sure our drivers were safe and aware of what was going on.”
For Liebau, the streamlined integration between Drivewyze and Samsara was a key selling point when he decided to switch weigh station bypass providers, and the transition couldn’t have been easier.
“The customer support we’ve received and continue to receive from Drivewyze is top-notch,” said Liebau. “Activating Drivewyze on our trucks’ ELDs was very simple, and any time we have a question or need assistance from the Drivewyze team, they’re right there to help. The services they provide enhance the efficiency and safety practices of our operation.”