Brett Wilkie (0s):
So we treat all of our drivers in our shop as the customer, because they truly are, and that's, they're coming to us and we need to respect everything that they're looking for and everything they have to say about their equipment. We communicate very openly and honestly about it, very transparent. We have vehicles statuses up on TV so they can see what's going on with their equipment. We're working on printing out invoices and actually leaving invoices on their seats so they can see all the work that's done. And they have a copy of everything that we accomplished.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (31s):
And that was Brett Wilkie from JP Transco out of Chicago. And he's talking about maintenance and big data. Also how to treat drivers extra special, all that, and more on this week show, join us. Welcome to the dog on it. Trucking podcast. When it comes to trucking safety, the Dawg is on-it.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 1s):
What do we do on this show? I get to talk to some of the most influential trucking executives in our industry so that we can pick up new tips and tricks to use in our everyday businesses. So we'll get back. Let's get on with the show. Hey Brett. Welcome to the Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast. How in the heck are you
Brett Wilkie (1m 24s):
Doing very well, Chris, thanks for having me on,
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 26s):
Hey, it's my pleasure. Let me tell you, can you tell me a little bit about GP Transco? I know you are a trucking company out of the Chicago area. What is it that you guys do?
Brett Wilkie (1m 40s):
So we have about 400 tractor, 700 trailers where truckload carrier big emphasis of ours is using the most current technologies and utilizing those to make the driver experience and our customer experiences as positive as possible.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 56s):
Cool. And how large is your fleet?
Brett Wilkie (1m 59s):
We're about 400 tractors and 700 trailers. That number as we continue to grow will escalate throughout the rest of the year. And we're looking at some, some additional growth for next year.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (2m 10s):
I gotta ask, cause we're recording this and then
Brett Wilkie (2m 12s):
The middle of COVID and I don't see Colby individually
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (2m 16s):
Anytime soon, how has COVID affected the GP training?
Brett Wilkie (2m 21s):
So it's changed things in several different ways of how we communicate with each other, how we interact. We use technology very extensively. So everybody has webcams. We all have our own ways of, of working remotely. So it wasn't a huge departure. We were able to adapt very quickly. We just adopted different safety measures, masks and hand sanitizer, and that type of thing for our maintenance staff, as well as providing all the PPE equipment for our drivers.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (2m 50s):
That's good. That's cool. I mean, I know we're not talking about this yet, but how do the, you mentioned webcams are the forward facing or the driver and forward facing.
Brett Wilkie (3m 0s):
So that's for our office staff, we all have our own webcams. So when we moved to working remotely from home, we were able to go on teams or other zoom type softwares and have our own meetings and one-on-one calls, which makes it a little bit more personable than just picking up the phone or sending a text message.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (3m 17s):
Yeah, absolutely. And the drivers, how are they communicating with the company?
Brett Wilkie (3m 24s):
Nothing has changed too dramatically. As far as our driver interactions, we have multiple different means of communication with them from our own platforms to your phone call boats when they're safely parked and can, can do hands free calling. So when they come into the shop, we just have our, our social distancing measures. We have different precautions that we've taken to make sure that everybody's clean and are in their proper PPE. So we've, we've changed things a little bit in the shop, but for the drivers communication with their dispatchers and the rest of the team, not a whole lot has changed there.
Brett Wilkie (3m 56s):
We were already prepared for this type of remote conditions.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (4m 0s):
Well, that's pretty cool because I mean, as truck drivers are the backbone of both Canada and the U S and our store shelves would be empty. Now tell me a bit about yourself. I know you're the VP of maintenance at a GP. How long have you been with them?
Brett Wilkie (4m 19s):
I've been with GP Transco about four months now. It's been exceptional, absolutely loved being here.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (4m 25s):
Okay. What makes it exceptionally? You got to tell them
Brett Wilkie (4m 28s):
Sure. The it's the people. It really is. We have all kinds of technology, which makes it easier for us to perform our jobs, but it's really all about the people. We have tremendous drivers, easy to communicate with. I think they appreciate the technology as well. Cause we're, it enables us to make their jobs more efficient. We all, we all work together. It's pretty casual atmosphere, but very professional. And everybody seems to thrive in that positive atmosphere.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (4m 56s):
It's funny how, when you treat drivers, it sounds like you go out of your way and try to treat the drivers with respect and the dignity that they deserve, which is, you know, it creates a real positive atmosphere, I think.
Brett Wilkie (5m 14s):
Absolutely. So our new maintenance facility in Joliet, that we just moved into our break room for the technicians and all the shop staff is the same one as for the drivers. So we all eat together. Talk about different topics. It really builds a camaraderie that you don't see in many fleets. And it's a shame because that's where, that's where, they're where the rubber meets the road, if you will.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (5m 34s):
Wow. And I'm glad when you said the all eat together that you didn't say eat and sleep together, but you know, that's another story we got. We got you. I want to talk to you about some of the big data items that GP trans is using and you're using, how are you leveraging some of this as they call it, you know, quote unquote, big data to make decisions when it comes to a GP.
Brett Wilkie (6m 3s):
So as we continue to compile data, we can use it for asset management decisions for PM intervals. As we trend towards predictive maintenance, we're able to use all of the data that already exists and all the infrastructure of the tractors and trailers and put it to work for us to make better business decisions.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (6m 21s):
But what kind? Okay. So all of the data, what kind of data are you collecting now? How did we get it?
Brett Wilkie (6m 28s):
Data feedback from all the different various sensors miles per gallon. We have failure rates. We input that into maintenance software, as long as it's input correctly, you know, the old garbage in garbage out type mentality. As long as we input it correctly, we're able to filter and find trends that point us in the right direction.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (6m 47s):
And what kind of trends have you been seeing recently? Can you, without giving away obviously the trade secrets, because you own the data. Is there something that you can say we've spotted this and this is how we're handling it?
Brett Wilkie (7m 1s):
Sure. Yeah. There have been a, and I don't want to call it any, any specific manufacturers, but we've seen a pretty consistent alternator failure rate at a certain mileage. And we've seen that fairly consistently and it's going to enable us to change our PM, that our goals are added at a certain interval or create a new interval to inspect and, or replace the equipment at that time. So we don't turn into a roadside event.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (7m 25s):
So that was an alternator specific item you said? Yes. Well, that's pretty cool. So I would assume then that you're on a swap the alternator out before the typical timeframe that it fails now.
Brett Wilkie (7m 38s):
Correct. For example, if we're seeing a 45% failure rate by 500,000 miles, we'll look at 450,000 miles as a potential replacement date. So we don't have downtime for the driver, which could let down customers, it's frustrating for the drivers. It costs us money. We can be more proactive in how we treat these issues and can take care of them before they become a roadside event.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (8m 1s):
Yeah, that's, that's cool. Cause as a truck driver myself, or at least as a former truck driver, I hated breaking down on the road. It's, it's never at the best time and it's always inconvenient. It's always on that load that, Oh, I gotta get this done so I can get home to get to any event that I have planned. And here it is another time that I disappoint my family just pisses people off.
Brett Wilkie (8m 26s):
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (8m 28s):
Oh yeah. Can you give me an example of the, a, of a fleet or an operator, how you use the data potentially lowering your costs? Is that an example of the alternator?
Brett Wilkie (8m 40s):
Sure. Yeah. And that's a, so certain ways that we use the data is VMRs coding, which is vehicle maintenance reporting standards. So I wouldn't have, yeah.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (8m 49s):
Knowing what the hell that acronym was.
Brett Wilkie (8m 51s):
Sure. Yeah. It's, it's maintained by the technology and maintenance council of the American trucking association, which I'm an active and participating member in. We use the BMRs coding, there's several hundred thousand codes. So we can get very, very granular and specific with all the data that we have. And when we use that data properly, we input it properly, filter it properly. It's very, very powerful to, to get a very clear picture of how your fleet's performing.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (9m 19s):
Oh, that's, that's cool. And now that would obviously lead us to talking about cost per mile, your CPM, how are you using this to more accurately, figure out what your fleet cost per mile is and how it affects pricing and in your market,
Brett Wilkie (9m 41s):
It helps dramatically. So there's, there's various different code keys in VMRs, which is how you input information and filter it. If you put everything as a repair, you have no idea what your accurate CPM is. For example, accidents, recalls, statutory, expec inspections, any damage from natural causes or deep decommissioning of equipment that gets withdrawn from CPM model. So you get an accurate portrayal of what it actually costs to run the equipment.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (10m 10s):
And can you tell us what a software is this stuff that you've developed in house, or is it a can piece of software that you're using to do all this?
Brett Wilkie (10m 21s):
There are various off the, off the shelf softwares that already use BMRs and are fully integrated. And that's a, that's what we're using right now. We're using a software called RTA. There's also TMT suite. There's a dossier. There's, there's several different software for fleets to use that already use that technology.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (10m 42s):
Yeah. And that's the important part there, I think is that unfortunately, a fleet's gotta spend some money to get the software, cause I'm sure none of this is inexpensive. And then you've got to maintain the software, just like a truck.
Brett Wilkie (10m 57s):
Exactly. Yeah. And you have to train your staff again, back to the, what you get out of. It is only what you put into it. So if you have to fully understand the VMRs coding system. So when you're, for example, if you have a roadside event and you get that invoice, you know how to properly put that invoice into the system, it's a lot easier when things are in the shop, when it happens over the road, you need to understand how that process works. So you ensure that your data is the most accurate as possible.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (11m 23s):
And in one of the things that I see up here often is when it comes to breakdowns on the road, the information isn't properly inputted into the system. And I'm specifically thinking of a DLT audit where the auditor is saying, Hey, prove to me that you fixed this breakdown or a violation at a scale, you know, prove to me that you fixed it. And the invoice that accompanied the fix, it doesn't have all the right stuff on it. Absolutely it's critical.
Brett Wilkie (11m 54s):
So when, when you're using a system that's as robust as some of these softwares are, as you go through and input the information in there, that's a great place to find where there may have been something admitted from the invoice. And you can find that proactively ask for it to be revised as to make sure it was done correctly in the first place and try to catch some of those things before they turn into a nightmare.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (12m 16s):
Speaking of nightmares, predictive maintenance without predictive maintenance fleets are a nightmare. I think, can you talk a little bit about predictive maintenance and smart trailers and how they're affecting GP trans code?
Brett Wilkie (12m 33s):
Sure. So as we trend towards predictive maintenance, I think this is going to be something that grows pretty dramatically in popularity. In the next several years, we have all the data already accessible. It's just learning how to best utilize it. So again, kind of back to the alternator idea, as we, as we look at our data sets and identify different trends of failures, we're able to be more proactive about how we repair equipment in the shop and we change our PM schedules accordingly. And we can do that by year, make model any sort of different way.
Brett Wilkie (13m 4s):
We want to set up our PM schedule based on the modeling that we get from all of our data. And that's going to increase as we go over to smart trailers and we start getting, you know, hub, temperature, feedback, break, life indicators, that type of thing is going to allow us to modify our PM schedules. So we don't have these roadside events on, you know, unreported issues that, that frustrates drivers to know it
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (13m 31s):
Frustrates drivers, frustrate straits, the shippers and the receivers, and even dispatch because it just, it's a breakdown. It's a breakthrough. Yeah. And that's, I think we all, as a driver, I think I accept that there are going to be some breakdowns, but yeah. You know, there's some fleets I wouldn't drive for it because I know they don't maintain their equipment. And there's other fleets that of course drivers do pick to drive for because they do keep their fleet up to date, but smart trailers.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (14m 4s):
This is something I'm a safety guy and I'm not in the maintenance department. So smart trailers is a new term to me, I'm sure it's not too many people, but can you explain what you mean by smart trailers? What kind of sensors are going to be? I assume that it's going to be sensors added to different components
Brett Wilkie (14m 22s):
There. So it's there, there's some varying opinions on what it should look like. There's there. Most of the technology already exists. The suppliers have most of this technology ready to implement. A lot of the popular ones are, you know, how boil temperature break, let mold break life indicators, weight indicators for the floor door, open door close. I know those are already popular, but he, you always probably seen or heard of that type of stuff. But there's, there's other things where we can potentially sense for moisture conditions inside the trailer or some of those things that the biggest, the biggest hold back on a lot of these is how do you get the data back to them?
Brett Wilkie (15m 5s):
How do we tie into a data link and send that information back? Because if it just existed in the trailer, it's not useful to a fleet. We have to get that information home somehow. And that seems to be one of the issues right now.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (15m 17s):
Yeah. I would imagine it's got to get home and often these, from what I understand and, and understand that it's been at least 15 years, no, God longer than since I've worked for a fleet. I know you don't know. I used to my last corporate job, I worked for an insurance company that insured trucking. So you may have heard of a great West casualty over the States. I worked for the Canadian arm up here for great West, but I've been far removed the last time I thought about it.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (15m 50s):
When a trailer was unplugged from a tractor, then basically most of the GPS or the most of the sensors would go dormant because they had had no power. Is that still the case today?
Brett Wilkie (16m 2s):
Oftentimes it is. We can remotely activate them and turn things on, but it does affect battery life. So we have to be prudent on how we do those systems and how we activate them for tracking purposes. But the battery life has dramatically improved over the years. So we don't have as many of those issues now as say 10 years ago.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (16m 23s):
Well, back in my day, batteries were something new, not, and I don't mean new, but they just didn't have the life that they have today. Sure. You know, because we're talking 20 years ago. So Hey, any thoughts on how you GP Transco better utilizing the fleet affects your vendors?
Brett Wilkie (16m 49s):
Sure. I think the biggest thing that we can do to manage our vendor relationships is just to be open and honest. That's the best philosophy for both us and I feel for our dealer and vendor partners, if we have open and honest communication throughout whether it's a repair roadside event, ordering equipment, but if we're constantly communicating and being honest about the expectations, it minimizes confusion and frustration for everybody. So to understand some of the roadblocks that they may face, and if they understand the deadlines that we need things done from the get go, it makes it just a much smoother transaction for everybody.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (17m 28s):
Well, not just that, you know, I'm thinking of the alternator example. Again, they need to know if a part is failing prematurely on a regular basis. They also need to know all about all of that.
Brett Wilkie (17m 41s):
Absolutely. We'll take some of those data sets as we continue to compile more and more information the points, as soon as these directions and show us trends. We absolutely give that information back to the OEM. And are you,
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (17m 56s):
You must be tracking cost per mile or mileage vehicle. What do you call it? Miles per gallon. That's what you would say. You must be tracking that. How, how is the fleet doing when it comes to a fuel economy? Knowing that one of my good friends is an environmentalist. So fuel economy and the environment, or
Brett Wilkie (18m 23s):
Are tightly intertwined
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (18m 25s):
Wind, I believe in, in miles per gallon is a big metric for a lot of fleets.
Brett Wilkie (18m 31s):
Absolutely fuel is not only a huge expense, but as you burn more fuel, you're polluting more. So it's a win win to, to encourage every single possible way that we can to improve our fuel economy. So we offer incentive programs for our drivers. They get an extra cent per mile. They're in the top 50% of fuel utilization for their category. So they're not competing. They're competing with drivers in the exact same category. So if they have an EDU, they're not competing with a driver with an APU and their same make model year, it's a, it's just an incentive to, to be more efficient with your equipment.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (19m 9s):
Yeah, that, that I like, first of all, it costs or miles per gallon. I really believe from a safety point of view, those drivers who are most fuel efficient are also the safest because being fuel efficient means you gotta to leave. Or one of the ways is to leave a lot of space in between you and the vehicle in front of you. So you don't have to touch your brakes. That translates into safety to me.
Brett Wilkie (19m 35s):
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (19m 37s):
One of my things, one of my goals, quite honestly, between you and I is I want a Tesla model X and it's on my, a list. I'm going to get a Tesla model. X don't know when yet, but I'm going to get one, but Tesla is a boat to bring out an electric truck in 2021. I think I may be delayed till 22. But what do you think generally speaking, it's not just Tesla. Of course. There's the Nicola Freightliners now brought one out.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (20m 8s):
Pretty much all the trucking manufacturers are bringing out electric. What's your thoughts on electric trucks? What he brought up
Brett Wilkie (20m 16s):
The Tesla truck. We actually have two of them on order. So we're very anxious to take delivery of those Tesla trucks and put them to work. I think there's a, there's a great market for them. There's ways that we can utilize them very efficiently. One of the biggest hold backs right now seems to be infrastructure for charging networks across the country. But that will improve. I know we'll get there. It's just gonna take some time. So it's, it's very positive. Volvo is currently using some electric, B N ours out in California and they're running the route with them.
Brett Wilkie (20m 48s):
So I believe they have a, maybe a dozen of them, so right running right now. So it seems to be up and up and running and electric trucks are gaining traction.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 0s):
And this is just an opinion from the guy who knows shit, sorry. He doesn't know anything. I really think both cars and trucks, electricity is the way of the future. I think gas and diesel have had their day. It's going to be, it's not going to be immediate in the next couple of years because you know your fleet. I don't know. How long, how long do you keep a tractor? Typically now
Brett Wilkie (21m 25s):
About three years, three years, 400,000 miles is the target.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 29s):
Okay. So after three years you sell it and somebody else buys it and uses it for another, anywhere from five to seven. So, you know, in my experience, typically a tractor stays on the road for 10 years. So anybody who buys a diesel tractor today, it's not coming off of our highways for another 10 or so years, perhaps even longer. So when I say Electric's coming, I really believe it is part of that. And you mentioned you purchased two of the Tesla trucks.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 60s):
One of my customers up here in Canada also purchased a couple. I think they ordered four, but being in Canada, a we will be at near the bottom of the list of getting them. But it's still, it's interesting. What do you think of autonomous or driver assisted technologies? Just speak to that for what's today. What's your fleet buying? Are you ordering any of these, you know, the cruise control that automatically breaks.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (22m 31s):
I forget what you call it and things like that on your trucks now.
Brett Wilkie (22m 34s):
Absolutely. All of our equipment has the full safety suite, every single safety option we can get to assist our drivers and every other person out on the, in the motoring public, we take full advantage of. We have some trucks on order now with predictive cruise control, which is pretty cool. You know, it learns the highways as you drive and let you carry a little momentum down the Hill. So you carry it up the other side and it learns everything else. So it's, it's really neat. We have all of the safety suite items on, on all of our equipment.
Brett Wilkie (23m 4s):
We even spec our trailers in the most safe manner as possible.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 7s):
Yeah, that's, that's cool. Cause I really think like the, you know, if you don't use your turn signal in a lot of these trucks to switch lanes and alarm goes off in, gosh, darn it. I think truck drivers in largely, I know they do use their turn signals, but of course that's not the reason for the alarm. The reason for the alarm is if the driver is drowsy and starts to leave his lane, but I wish we could come up with a way that car drivers would also be told to use their GED signals.
Brett Wilkie (23m 41s):
Absolutely. So a pretty cool technology that we have on our equipment too, is if there is a vehicle in your blind spot and you turn on your turn signal to alert you. So it has radar on the side of the truck, which is, which is very helpful.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 54s):
That sounds kind of cool, cause I'm sure that's what my Tesla, when I get it, my Tesla is going to do the same thing
Brett Wilkie (24m 0s):
And it'll pick you up remotely.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (24m 4s):
Yeah. That as I say, well, I don't know that I'll be buying a new Tesla. My goal right now with, I think it's going to be a 2016, 2017 model year probably. But with the electric motor, that Tesla figures, you can get a million miles out of. Well, I think I can afford to pick up a used vehicle. There's other things of course wear out on vehicles, not just the motor, but as you know, maintenance guy, but Hey, whatever tips on keeping drivers happy, what tips do you have for our listeners and Watchers about keeping your truck drivers in your fleet?
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (24m 46s):
Happy? So we treat
Brett Wilkie (24m 49s):
All of our drivers in our shop as the customer, because they truly are, and that's, they're coming to us and we need to respect everything that they're looking for and everything they have to say about their equipment. We communicate very openly and honestly about it, very transparent. We have vehicle statuses up on TV so they can see what's going on with their equipment. We're working on printing out invoices and actually leaving invoices on their seats so they can see all the work that's done. And they have a copy of everything that we accomplished. We have people that are go to people in the company.
Brett Wilkie (25m 21s):
So if there's any issues, we take care of it on the back end and try to make it as seamless and quick as possible for our drivers.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (25m 29s):
Just the invoice thing. That's kind of cool. Cause I know what I drove the truck. I would take it in and I would never know what they did. I'm the mechanic never thought it was my right, I guess to know. I think that's great. I assume then that you have dedicated units to drivers.
Brett Wilkie (25m 47s):
We largely do most of it's over the road. So they're there, they're in their trucks, the vast majority of the time. So we don't switch around a whole lot. And it's important. Like you said that if maybe there's a concern that somebody forgot to mention to us and if we give them a receipt and they see on the, on the invoice that it wasn't done before they leave, they can tell us, Hey, you know, we didn't do this. Or maybe the maintenance staff forgot to put it on the ticket or maybe they forgot to tell us or whatever it may be, but we'll get it taken care of before they leave now.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (26m 18s):
And I think that goes a long way to keeping drivers happy and thus reducing driver turnover. Because of course that's a huge cost to every trucking company. Sure. Right. Brett, what parting words of wisdom I'm putting the pressure on you now? What parting words of wisdom do you have for our Watchers? And viewers? Biggest thing is from a
Brett Wilkie (26m 44s):
Maintenance perspective is just to treat the drivers with respect and they will reciprocate the respect back. Everybody just wants to be treated fairly, do the best, the best job you can. The first time nobody wants to come back. And you know, one thing we do is we send surveys out to all of our drivers, gauging our performance from a maintenance standard. That's not all about what we want to do all the time and how we want to fix equipment. It's about how we're performing from their standards too. So it's, you know, we have to try to look at it from every possible perspective.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (27m 15s):
Well, I think it's, I mean, many companies send out surveys to their customers and that's what you said. A driver is to the maintenance department. Literally they are the customer in this case. And you may or may not know this. Does GP Transco send out other surveys besides from this the maintenance department?
Brett Wilkie (27m 35s):
Yes, we do. Company-wide ones as well from operations to dispatch. We cover everything from a to Z and then we actually just recently sent one out last week regarding maintenance specifically.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (27m 46s):
Oh, that's pretty cool. Hey Brett, I really want to thank you for appearing on the dog on a trucking podcast. Thank you so much. My friend and we are taping this just before independence day. So I hopefully are you off tomorrow?
Brett Wilkie (28m 4s):
We are we're off tomorrow and Saturday. So it'll be a nice long holiday weekend.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 8s):
Well, enjoy your weekend. My friend. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Brett Wilkie (28m 12s):
All right. Thanks so much for having me. It's great.
Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 16s):
Hope you love the show as much as I did, please leave us a, like a thumbs up a review, a comment, a rating. Thank you so much. And I do really appreciate your time and join us again next week for another exciting interview.