Startup aims to democratize digital freight management

EKA Solutions builds ecosystem for small and medium-size brokers, carriers and shippers

Linda Baker, Staff Writer  Friday, May 15, 2020

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

J.J. Singh, a longtime transportation and logistics executive, decided to launch a digital freight management solutions company a few years ago after he realized that many small and medium-size shippers, brokers and carriers were not ready for “the Amazon world,” a pressure cooker environment that requires an immediate answer to the question: “‘Where is your load?’”

“We knew from the start these folks were at a cost disadvantage and an effectiveness disadvantage,” said Singh, whose previous experience includes stints at C.H. Robinson and Flying J. The reason for starting the new venture, he said “was to respond to the new business environment, help digitize folks and provide them with services so they are at least on par with larger companies that have a lot more resources.”

Founded in 2015, EKA Solutions offers a cloud-based logistics platform designed to facilitate collaboration and data exchange among small and medium-size shippers, trucking companies and brokers.

The Sacramento, California-based company is developing a range of products aimed at helping customers connect and thrive. Among the offerings: a broker, carrier and shipper transportation management system (TMS), a private marketplace platform, 4PL solutions, and solutions for service providers such as insurance companies.

“We are building an ecosystem for freight management,” said Singh, EKA’s chief executive officer. 

Several features distinguish the company’s products and services from others in the supply chain technology management sector, the company’s executives said.

EKA’s platform is end-to-end, “from order to cash,” Singh said. A centralized system of record, the platform enables real-time load management, shipment tracking, trade partner negotiations, payment and more.

Customizing offerings for different freight participants, EKA starts with a supply chain engine, then crafts different “lenses” on top of that engine, said Mark Walker, EKA’s president and chief digital officer, explaining there is a tailored TMS for carriers, for shippers and for brokers.

“The nuances of each of those lenses allows each party to run their business,” Walker said,  “and it is highly configurable as well, so one company could have a completely different look and feel in a lot of their use of the system.”

A broker TMS launched last fall, and a carrier TMS will be ready on July 1. A shipper TMS is ready to deploy.

The company’s supply chain platform features an intuitive interface and reports can be generated throughout the day in an easy-to-read dashboard style. Because of the “intelligent design,” the cost to deploy is a fraction of what other systems might charge, according to Singh, and the company offers its lowest pricing for the smallest customers, upending the common practice of giving large customers discounts.

“Our whole model is price as you need it,” he said.

Connected to the platform are web portals for any vendors, allowing customers to extend capacity and loads, and enabling “digital freighting in a marketplace environment,” Walker said. 

But unlike the large freight-matching services, typically wide open to all carriers and brokers, EKA’s offering is built around “trusted relationships,” the executives said. Customers can extend information to outsiders, but it is not suggested, Walker explained. “We are not trying to open freight up so they can get the lowest price or generate the highest profit.”

EKA is not a brokerage, but digital brokerage is a subset of what they offer broker customers. “We give them a whole gamut of lanes based on relationships, rather than a singular one-touch or touchless lane for doing their business,” explained Singh.

Looking ahead, the startup aims to broaden its ecosystem to include service providers such as insurance companies for brokers and carriers. That will debut in the second half of 2020.

Mirroring the experience of other technology companies, EKA Solutions experienced a tough time for sales in March and April, as the pandemic upended the economy, according to Singh. But the platform “shines” as a work-from-home solution, he emphasized. “All you need is high-speed internet and we take care of the rest. It’s just like running an airbnb platform.”

As the team continues to build out its product suite, “we are very close to delivering to the marketplace our vision of an end-to-end supply chain platform,” Singh said, “where the shipper can run their business end-to-end, the broker can run their business end-to-end and the carrier can run their business end-to-end. And they can all collaborate very effectively.”

Logistics Startup’s Tech Investment Helped Prepare it for COVID-19

ProServ Logistics’ empty offices in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Photo courtesy ProServ Logistics

For one logistics company, the need for employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has been made easier with technology. In fact, ProServ Logistics had a head start, as some of its employees were already working remotely.

“Honestly? We didn’t really intend to be virtual,” says Brian Johnson, founder and CEO of ProServ Logistics, headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

“Not all the best people wanted to work in Eden Prairie,” admits David Buhl, co-founder and COO. “They wanted to work but didn’t want to commute.”

“So, I guess we went virtual,” Johnson says with a laugh. “Maybe reluctantly, at first. Before we were comfortable with it. Certainly, before we really knew what it could do for us.”

“And what it can do for our customers,” Buhl adds. 

Virtual Offices

Some of ProServ’s key personnel have been remote from the beginning. One of them was Diane Johnson (no relation to Brian), vice president of operations.

“I just reached a point in my life where I wanted to be closer to my family,” she explains. “I love logistics, supply chain, the constant challenges, helping people, preventing problems. But I can do that from home…or my cabin,” she adds, like a true Minnesotan.

Eric Jex, vice president of operations, climbed every hill his “out of college” career choice presented him with. “But I’d chased that rabbit long enough,” he says. “I just wanted to have more meaningful relationships with family, friends, co-workers and customers.”

Brian Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, ProServ Logistics, working from home during the COVID-19 crisis.
Photo courtesy ProServ Logistics

Jex, initially the most remote employee, joined ProServ when Brian Johnson and Buhl said he could come aboard without being on site. “The lifestyle I want is miles away from Eden Prairie,” he says. “When they said they were cool with me being remote, it was the easiest – and best – decision I ever made.”

ProServ had an office, where most of their employees showed up daily, intent on serving each customer, and committed to growing their business.

“I like coming into the office,” says Perry Torgerson, manager, business development.  “I’m a people person, and that’s what ‘having a job’ always meant to me. Until this Coronavirus,” he adds. “Now, a lot of offices are just risky.” 

Finding tech solutions

In addition to Johnson and Jex, they added a third remote employee, working from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“At first, it was easy to communicate the important stuff,” Johnson says.  “We were small, and we didn’t always have a lot that we needed to work together on.” But the business grew, and success presented challenges.

“As a service provider, you need your team to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate,” Johnson says. 

Buhl, whose expertise is technology, looked on the situation as an opportunity. “We’d been looking at what was out there, kicking some tires, so to speak. We knew it was time to upgrade our technology.”

ProServ agreed to be a beta tester for EKA Solutions, which developed a cloud-based Omni-TMS to allow brokers, shippers, and carriers to more easily work together. They went live the first of this year. That gave the company an advantage when the COVID-19 crisis forced the entire office to work remotely.

“And you know how all of our people are able to work remotely this week?” Johnson says.  “Because we’ve been doing it. Working remotely, communicating with each other, helping our customers and carriers use our technology.”

David Buhl, COO and co-founder of ProServ Logistics, working from home during the COVID-19 crisis.
Photo courtesy ProServ Logistics

“EKA is a distributive platform,” Buhl explains. “Its security protocols are second to none, but it allows our people – and trusted partners – single sign-on access, and, it’s role-based.”

“So, was it hard to tell everyone to not come to the office because of the pandemic?” Johnson asks. “Yes, because we’re all used to what we’re all used to.  But, did I worry about our business? Or about taking care of our customers? No, because we’ve got the best people, and the EKA platform does everything we need it to.”

Noting that EKA is regularly adding new features to the platform, Buhl says, “I tell them they need to keep pace with ProServ. Our team is working remotely, but we’re going places.”

EKA Solutions Offer Remote Business Service for Brokers

Photo: Bongkarn Thanyakij via Pexels

EKA Solutions will now offer its Omni-TMS platform to brokers who are operating their business partly or entirely remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The digital freight management, or dFEMX, ecosystem platform manages all the customer’s freight businesses, including freight exchange and third-party services. EKA serves as the system of record across multiple applications and seamlessly ties into other freight solutions – including TMS and driver applications – and third-party services.

“The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all our families, our businesses, our communities, and our way of life. During this time, EKA wants to help the transportation and logistics industry continue to run its business without interruption,” said JJ Singh, founder and CEO of EKA Solutions. “EKA’s cloud-based, end-to-end Omni-TMS platform is currently enabling customers to operate at a high performance level entirely remotely.”

“In this uncertain time and though many of our operations are in ‘shelter in place’ locations, EKA Omni-TMS is a platform that allows us to continue to create and maintain our brokerage, agent, and digital marketplace while keeping our associates connected, even at home and remotely,” said Ryan Farrell, President and CFO for Wilson Logistics.

“So, was it hard to tell everyone to not come to the office because of the pandemic? Yes, because we’re all used to what we’re all used to. But, did I worry about our business? Or about taking care of our customers? No,” said Brian Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, Proserv Logistics, “because we’ve got the best people, and the EKA Omni-TMS platform does everything we need it to.:

“EKA is a cloud-based distributive platform,” added David Buhl, COO and Co-Founder, ProServ Logistics. “Its security protocols are second to none, but it allows our people – and trusted partners – single sign-on access and to operate entirely remotely.”

According to Mark Walker, president and chief digital officer, the company will on-board customers with EKA’s standard Broker TMS configuration for brokers of all different sizes without charging onboarding fees or committing to a term contract.

Brokers Operate at Peak Performance and Entirely Remotely using EKA Platform

SALT LAKE CITY, March 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — EKA Solutions, Inc., provider of a cloud-based integrated freight management ecosystem platform, announced today that many of its customers are successfully operating entirely remotely using its Omni-TMS™ Platform.

This follows EKA’s announcement yesterday of its special Omni-TMS® platform offer to Brokers who wish to operate their business partly or entirely remotely: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eka-solutions-announces-tms-offer-for-brokers-to-operate-their-business-entirely-remotely-301028725.html?tc=eml_cleartime

“In this uncertain time and though many of our operations are in ‘Shelter in Place’ locations, EKA Omni-TMS™ is a platform that allows us to continue to create and maintain our brokerage, agent, and digital marketplace while keeping our associates connected, even at home and remotely,” said Ryan Farrell, President and CFO for Wilsons Logistics, Inc. “EKA has helped define our digital solutions and allowed us to deploy our network to our customers, drivers, and carriers in the most efficient manner.”

“So, was it hard to tell everyone to not come to the office because of the pandemic? Yes, because we’re all used to what we’re all used to.  But, did I worry about our business?  Or about taking care of our customers? No,” said Brian Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, Proserv Logistics, “because we’ve got the best people, and the EKA Omni-TMS™ platform does everything we need it to.  And they’re building new features in all the time to help us operate at peak business performance.”

“EKA is a cloud-based distributive platform,” said David Buhl, COO and Co-Founder, ProServ Logistics. “Its security protocols are second to none, but it allows our people – and trusted partners – single sign-on access – and, to operate entirely remotely.”

About EKA

EKA Solutions, Inc., provides a transformational cloud-based SaaS digital freight management, dFEMX®, ecosystem platform to manage all the customer’s freight businesses including freight exchange and third-party services. As part of dFEMX® Offering, EKA provides the Smart, Unified Platform EKA Omni-TMS® for – Virtually – Everyone. EKA Omni-TMS™ is designed to transform the transportation and logistics industry. It empowers small, medium and large size broker, carrier and shipper businesses to operate from quote-to-cash with affordable and best-in-class digital tools, enabling the higher performance demanded in tomorrow’s supply chain. With real-time information, EKA Omni-TMS® enables brokers, carriers and shippers to provide visibility and transparency as they fluidly trade across an expanding and verified network with key, trusted partners. For more information about EKA, visit: https://www.go-eka.com

About Wilson Logistics

Wilsons Logistics, Inc., is a multi-modal transportation and logistics service provider offering multiple capacity solutions through its agent, brokerage, and freight network while operating more than 1,000 company owned trucks.  Wilson Logistics is based in Springfield, MO with terminals and operations in MO, TX, MT, WA, OR, and CA. visit: https://www.wilsonlogistics.com

About ProServ Logistics

ProServ Logistics is a customer-centric non-asset-based 3PL focusing on the North American supply chain.  It provides truckload, less-than-truckload and expedited transportation management services to meet customer’s needs for timeliness, transparency and overall excellence in their supply chain. Based in Eden Prairie, MN, their highly skilled, experienced professionals blend their expertise with superb technology to support their customers’ success. Visit: https://www.proservlogistics.com

For all other inquiries:
Arune Singh
arune@go-eka.com

SOURCE EKA Solutions, Inc.

Related Links

https://www.go-eka.com/

EKA Solutions Announces TMS Offer for Brokers to Operate their Business Entirely Remotely

SALT LAKE CITY, March 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — EKA Solutions, Inc., provider of a cloud-based integrated freight management ecosystem platform, announced today its special Omni-TMS® platform offer to Brokers who wish to operate their business partly or entirely remotely.

EKA provides a transformational digital freight management, dFEMX®, ecosystem platform to manage all the customer’s freight businesses including freight exchange and third-party services. EKA serves as the system of record across multiple applications and seamlessly ties into other freight solutions (TMS, driver apps, etc.) and third-party services.

“Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation. The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all our families, our businesses, our communities, and our way of life. During this time, EKA wants to help the transportation and logistics industry continue to run its business without interruption,” said JJ Singh, Founder, Investor and CEO of EKA Solutions, Inc. “EKA’s cloud-based, end-to-end Omni-TMS® platform is currently enabling customers to operate at a high performance level entirely remotely (https://eka-beacon.com/2020/03/23/smart-covid-19-business-continuity-response-tech-up-not-shut-down/). EKA is integrated with the core industry data services; all you require to run your entire broker business is either a PC, laptop or tablet and a high-speed internet connection.” 

“In support of our industry, we will on-board customers with EKA’s standard Broker TMS configuration for Brokers of all different sizes without charging onboarding fees or committing to a Term Contract,” said Mark Walker, Investor, President and Chief Digital Officer for EKA solutions, Inc. “We can on-board new customers in as little a time as a few days and at affordable monthly fees.”

About EKA

EKA Solutions, Inc., provides a transformational cloud-based SaaS digital freight management, dFEMX®, ecosystem platform to manage all the customer’s freight businesses including freight exchange and third-party services. As part of dFEMX® Offering, EKA provides the Smart, Unified Platform EKA Omni-TMS® for – Virtually – Everyone. EKA Omni-TMS ® is designed to transform the transportation and logistics industry. It empowers small, medium and large size broker, carrier and shipper businesses to operate from quote-to-cash with affordable and best-in-class digital tools, enabling the higher performance demanded in tomorrow’s supply chain. With real-time information, EKA Omni-TMS® enables brokers, carriers and shippers to provide visibility and transparency as they fluidly trade across an expanding and verified network with key, trusted partners. For more information about EKA, visit:  https://www.go-eka.com

For all other inquiries:
Arune Singh
arune@go-eka.com

SOURCE EKA Solutions, Inc.

Related Links

www.go-eka.com

Smart COVID-19 “Business Continuity” Response – Tech Up Not Shut Down!

Today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, millions, perhaps billions, of people are trying to work from home.  Some current adapters have been forced out of their offices by the specter of COVID-19, struggle with time – and family – management, and hope to return to the comfortable routine of office life asap.  But others adjust easily, as if they have been working remotely all along. They’re the ones that Tech Up.

What makes the telling difference?  It is likely too early to draw conclusions.  However, there is one young, growing business that, with a versatile approach, a “whatever it takes for the customer” attitude and a savvy, insightful technology decision, is able to make their “remote opportunity” thrive.    

ProServ Logistics

“Honestly? We didn’t really intend to be virtual,” says Brian Johnson, Founder and CEO of ProServ Logistics.  Headquartered n Eden Prairie, MN, they recently drew positive attention from the local press http://www.startribune.com/long-game-starting-to-pay-off-for-logistics-startup-proserv/565358672/

“We were glad to do what they wanted,” says David Buhl, co-founder and COO, “But not all the best people wanted to work in Eden Prairie.  They wanted to work but didn’t want to commute.”

“So, I guess we went virtual,” laughs Johnson, whose love for life and logistics shows in his upbeat demeanor and continual optimism.  “Maybe reluctantly, at first. Before we were comfortable with it. Certainly, before we really knew what it could do for us.”

“And what it can do for our customers,” Buhl adds.  

Virtually, Everyone?

ProServ is not all virtual, not all remote.  

“I like coming into the office,” says Perry Torgenson, Manager, Business Development.  “I’m a people person, and that’s what ‘having a job’ always meant to me.”

“Until this Coronavirus,” he adds, over the phone.  “Now, a lot of offices are just risky.”  

But, some of their key personnel have been remote from the beginning.  Diane Johnson (no relation to Brian), VP Operations and an industry leader for more than twenty years, was “officed out.”

“I just reached a point in my life where I wanted to be closer to my family,” she explains.  “I love logistics, supply chain, the constant challenges, helping people, preventing problems.  But I can do that from home…or my cabin,” she adds, like a true Minnesotan. “And my commitment to my customers and ProServ?  I’ll reach out to you before you need me, but I’m always available.”

Eric Jex, VP Operations, is an intense, “make things happen” dynamo who climbed every hill his “out of college” career choice presented him with. 

“But I’d chased that rabbit long enough,” he says, smiling to help you understand.  “I just wanted to have more meaningful relationships with family, friends, co-workers and customers.  Brian and I had worked together earlier, and, when I heard what he had started, I was intrigued.”

 Jex, initially the most remote employee, went from “intrigued” to “all in” when Brian Johnson and Buhl said he could “come aboard” without being on site. “The lifestyle I want is miles away from Eden Prairie,” he says.  “When they said they were cool with me being remote, it was the easiest – and best – decision I ever made.”

Remoteness Becomes a Strength

ProServ had an office, where most of their employees showed up daily, intent on serving each customer, and committed to growing their business.  But, two of their key personnel – Johnson and Jex – were miles away. Then came Melissa, a customer advocate whose name and talent was well-known.  

“We had identified her as a rising star,” says Jex, who had recruited Melissa earlier in their careers.  “When we had the chance to get her on our team, we wanted to find a way.”

“I live in Kalamazoo,” Melissa says with a laugh.  “When I interviewed, I told them, ‘Give me a chance and I will help you build your business…but I’ve got to do it from Kalamazoo.”  

Then, there were three who were remote; vital team members, core to Pro Serv’s success.  “At first, it was easy to communicate the important stuff,” Johnson says. “We were small, and we didn’t always have a lot that we needed to work together on.”

But, the business grew, and success presented challenges.

“As a service provider, you need your team to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate,” Johnson realized.  

“And technology is my area of expertise,” Buhl states.  “And this looked like an opportunity. We’d been looking at what was out there, kicking some tires, so to speak.  We knew it was time to upgrade our technology.”

“We’d heard about EKA Solutions,” Johnson recalls.  “And had worked with some of their people earlier in our careers.  So, we put them to the test. This is our livelihood; we can’t gamble.”

“We agreed to be a BETA tester,” says Buhl.  “And, first of this year, we went live.”

“And you know how all of our people are able to work remotely this week?” Johnson asks.  “Because we’ve been doing it. Working remotely, communicating with each other, helping our customers and carriers use our technology.”

“EKA is a distributive platform,” Buhl elaborates.  “Its security protocols are second to none, but it allows our people – and trusted partners – single sign-on access – and, it’s role-based.”

“So, was it hard to tell everyone to not come to the office because of the pandemic?”  Johnson asks. “Yes, because we’re all used to what we’re all used to. But, did I worry about our business?  Or about taking care of our customers? No, because we’ve got the best people, and the EKA platform does everything we need it to.  And they’re building new features in all the time.”

“Every two weeks EKA does another release,” Buhl says.  “I tell them they need to keep pace with ProServ. Our team is working remotely, but we’re going places.”

“That we are,” Johnson says with a laugh.  “We may be remote now, but we’re all still in sync!”

It’s Time To Tech Up

The world is changing rapidly – and more so in the last four weeks. While many factors are out of our control, that makes it more imperative to learn from the success of ProServ Logistics who decided to embrace technological progress in business.

They decided to Tech Up.

This is no longer a choice. Companies rigidly holding to the old ways of doing business in an analog mindset aren’t prepared for the myriad of challenges about to arrive in an increasingly digital world.

No one can predict everything that’s coming – but we can say with confidence that refusing to embrace cloud-based technologies and platforms means you won’t be ready for the future. 

A Letter to Our Customers

A Letter to Our Customers

Together, we are watching the world change in ways beyond our imagination. The global COVID-19 pandemic affects every single one of our families, our businesses, our communities and our very way of life. Given the way the situation is rapidly changing around us, I wanted to reach out with an update on how we’re approaching this situation at EKA.

Most importantly, our thoughts are with anyone who’s been impacted by the virus, either directly or indirectly. We extend our heartfelt good wishes to them for a full recovery. And we extend the greatest thanks to the inspiring healthcare workers who step onto the front lines every day, putting the needs of others above their own.

At EKA, our focus is on the health and safety of our employees, families and communities.

We’ve asked all our employees to work from home so we can minimize the potential risk of infection and spread of this deadly virus. With our highly distributed workforce and many of our employees typically working remotely, this shift has been relatively smooth, and we continue to deliver the highest levels of customer service and platform performance, availability, and security. 

Even as we deal with the impact of this pandemic on our personal and professional lives, EKA remains committed to fulfilling the promise we made to you – driving your success. We know that with uncertainty in other areas of your business, you need EKA to be true to core values upon which we were founded — trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. Have no doubt: our values are unwavering, and it guides everything we do.

As we go forward, we’ll be sure to keep you updated, and know that we always value your questions, ideas and feedback.

Sincerely,

JJ Singh, CEO, EKA Solutions, Inc.

EKA Offers Omni-TMS for Brokers, 3PLs

February 20, 2020 • by HDT Staff

EKA Solutions has launched a version of its Omni-TMS for brokers and third-party logistics providers, a SaaS 4PL Omni-TMS solution. This new software-as-a-service platform will help brokers and 3PLs deliver a full complement of outsourced digital transportation management services to customers.

EKA provides a digital freight management platform to manage all the customer’s freight businesses, including freight exchange and third-party services. EKA serves as the system of record across multiple applications and seamlessly ties into other freight solutions (TMS, driver apps, etc.) and third-party services.

The digital freight management platform, or dfmX, includes a robust suite of products, such as broker, carrier and shipper TMS, EKA’s MPlace private marketplace platform, 4PL solutions, and smart digital solutions for service providers (receivables financing, insurance, etc.) to small and medium sized businesses, explained J.J. Singh, CEO of EKA Solutions. “EKA is not just a TMS company, but is developing solutions for the digital freight marketplace for trusted partners. The overall objective is to provide solutions that ‘democratize” the freight marketplace for small and medium size carriers, brokers, and shippers, making them as cost-efficient and effective as their large competitors.”

A single digital end-to-end hub delivers a seamlessly unified, consistent, efficient and effective experience across all freight management systems, freight exchanges and third-party services for a customer’s entire business with trusted entities, according to the company.

“EKA 4PL solution enables brokers and 3PLs to deliver complete customer visibility of transport movement and costs, monitor and control transport movements, benchmark carrier performance across the customer’s entire transportation chain,” said Singh. “Brokers and 3PLs are able to streamline, re-engineer and scale customers’ entire transportation function, optimize transportation performance while minimizing customer risk and transportation costs.”

The EKA 4PL Omi-TMS has been designed to be modular and flexible, for seamless integration and rapid deployment with broker or 3PL and customer legacy transportation systems, said Mark Walker, EKA president and chief digital officer. “The patented and uniquely engineered carrier negotiating, trading and integrated carrier work process portals deliver a step-change in carrier capacity acquisition productivity. The platform’s real-time visibility tools, carrier settlement and financial reporting capabilities ensure that the broker or 3PL customer is always in full control of its transportation business.”

EKA Solutions’ Omni-TMS empowers small, medium and large size broker, carrier and shipper businesses to operate from quote-to-cash with affordable digital tools, according to the company.


Why is driver turnover in trucking so high?

Larger carriers tend to have bigger turnover challenges versus small carriers. LTL carriers have the least turnover of all trucking carrier types.

FreightWaves Staff   For more information read here

The North American trucking industry has long suffered from a severe driver retention issue. Driver retention is the inverse of turnover – the percentage of drivers that stayed as opposed to left a carrier. The operating realities of long-haul, for-hire trucking translates into working conditions that require both employee and independent contractor drivers to be away from home, and alone for days and sometimes weeks at a time. This combined with transit delays (both on the road and at customer facilities), and lifestyle-related health pressures (sleep deprivation and poor eating choices) are the primary causes of both short and long-term turnover. 

Based on periodic surveys of TCA Profitability Program participants, trucking industry turnover is heavily weighted to drivers with limited tenure  (voluntary and involuntary terminations), which is drivers with less than 180 days since original hire date. For those carriers that participated in the surveys, short-term turnover accounted for over 85% of total annualized turnover. This reinforces the hypothesis that the root cause of the industry’s retention issue is the difficulty acclimating to  working conditions that exist for drivers, especially long haul drivers. Further, the longer the average length of haul, the higher the turnover. 

Annualized Turnover Rate Formula (Monthly Method)

((# of Drivers Departed) * 12) / (Driver Count Beg. of Month + Driver Count End of Month)/2))

Interpretation: Based on the above formula, the way to interpret is if the current level of turnover reported in the period continued at the same rate for the entire year. 

Driver Turnover Statistics

Q3 2019Q2 2019Q1 2019Q4 2018
TPP Participants (All)97.50%103.13%105.31%99.74%
TPP Participants (1-249 Trucks)94.61%109.75%107.71%98.77%
TPP Participants (250 + Trucks)99.11%103.59%103.08%98.45%
ATA Large Carrier Turnover96%Not Reported83%78%
ATA Small Carrier Turnover73%Not Reported73%77%
ATA LTL Carrier Turnover9.00%Not Reported18%10%

Sources: TCA Profitability Program (TPP) participants, American Trucking Associations (ATA)

The Primary Causes of Driver Turnover

  1. Human Nature – Humans are social animals. We crave interaction and connection with others. Any occupation or endeavor that limits the connection or communication with others has an inherent labor or participation rate challenge. Truck driving, specifically long-haul trucking is one of those endeavors. In recent years, there has been a large effort among for-hire carriers to lower their average trip length (otherwise known as ‘Average Length of Haul’). The motivation behind this effort has been to increase the amount of hometime that drivers would realize in a given week or month. The hypothesis is that the more frequent the driver is home during a given month or week, the lower the possibility of voluntary turnover. Macro supply chain forces have aided this effort with the increased prevalence of regional distribution centres, and the growth of e-commerce. 
  2. Economic – The majority of long-haul professional truck drivers are paid on a per-mile basis, which remains the main freight pricing mechanism for truckload. The disparity between the number of miles driven during a payroll or settlement period can vary dramatically. This can result in a significant difference in take home pay. The contrast can lead to budgeting and expense challenges, especially for new drivers that are not used to inconsistent (albeit larger) compensation amounts. In recent years, carriers have experimented with guaranteed and even salary-based compensation for their long-haul drivers to combat turnover related to this issue. 
  3. Health – Any occupation that requires a significant amount of travel presents the worker with an overwhelming amount of unhealthy food options. The tradeoff of health for convenience has led to high levels of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases among truck drivers. Voluntary health-related turnover has sadly remained one of the largest contributors to driver turnover for decades.

Expectations vs. Realities – Truck driving has always been an occupation that provides a worker the opportunity to earn above-average wages relative to educational requirements. However, the benefit of higher compensation comes with costs, most of which are outlined above. The other disparity that drivers face, especially new entrants, is expectations versus the realities of long-haul truck driving. Trucking provides a way for drivers to experience the beautiful landscapes of the continent first hand, but it also forces drivers to experience deteriorating infrastructure and general inefficiencies in supply chains. Drivers bare the costs of these.

The camera sees all: Phone usage, smoking in cab now trigger driver alerts

Brian Straight

In-cab video monitoring continues to advance, and an Israeli-based computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) company is introducing software that allows it to provide real-time alerts for common in-cab distractions.

Eyesight Technologies announced the additions to its FleetSense software and video product on Nov. 21. With the updated solution, users of FleetSense, which utilizes an infrared (IR) sensor in the camera, can be notified if a driver is using a cellphone or smoking when driving.

FleetSense is a fatigue- and driver-monitoring system. It tracks the driver’s head pose, eyelids and eyes and, using AI, detects fatigue and levels of drowsiness and inattentiveness. Eyesight offers an operation feature that can recognize who is driving a vehicle at any given time.

“This IR sensor is designed to work in all lighting conditions [including complete darkness] to track facial features such as the head position, blink rate, eye openness and even the direction of gaze in order to define the state of the driver. Is the driver drowsy? Focused on the road or distracted?” Tal Krzypow, vice president of product for Eyesight, told FreightWaves. “On top of that, we have added new computer-vision capabilities that allow us to detect more than just the driver.”

These new detections include whether the driver is wearing a seat belt and if it is being worn correctly, if the driver is holding a cellphone and if the driver might be smoking. The software is advanced enough, Krzypow explained, to avoid false alerts.

“The system analyzes both the driver’s actions and the objects in view and should not generate a smoking alert in the case that a driver merely enjoys a candy,” he said. “However, if an object similar to a cigarette is handled in a manner similar to smoking, it may generate an alert.”

The AI has been programmed to recognize several styles of holding a cigarette for more accurate alerts. The ability to identify and monitor in-cab smoking is a critical safety element for certain freight segments, the company said, such as hazmat shipments involving oil and gas when smoking is illegal.

Eyesight cited a National Center for Biotechnology Information study that said 67% of long-haul truck drivers in the U.S. smoke.

Krzypow said that because FleetSense is software-based, fleets could potentially adjust alerts. “They can define that if the vehicle is stopped, smoking is allowed. They can also define the types of alerts that they want to receive or provide to the driver,” he said.

There are various levels of alerts as well, so drowsiness detection can generate a more critical alert than a smoking alert does.

The monitoring of cellphones reduces the potential for a distracted driving incident, the company said. According to the teen distracted driving organization TeenSafe, distracted driving is a factor in 80% of all accidents in the U.S. Cellphone use accounts for 25% of those. According to an AT&T survey, 43% of teens and 49% of adults admit to texting while driving.

Krzypow said there is no intrusion into the cellphone since the system uses AI and the camera to identify usage. Hands-free usage does not trigger alerts.

“The computer-vision technology detects what is in the field of view, so a hands-free device would not be detected,” he said. “However, as our solution already has the ability to detect distracted drivers, the system could provide an alert for general distraction if detected, but it would not be able to detect a hands-free phone outside the field of view.”

David Tolub, CEO of Eyesight Technologies, said, “There’s no greater distraction and danger on today’s road than mobile phones. The average driver doesn’t realize that looking down at your phone to check a text is six times more likely to result in an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol. Our first priority is the safety of all people on the road, and eliminating the distraction created by our cellphones is a huge step towards a much safer road.” 

Eyesight Technologies offers FleetSense and other driver safety solutions globally. The company has offices in Cupertino, Shenzhen, China, and Hong Kong.