“We accomplished more in three months than we did in three years with our previous provider.”
Lloyd Keefer, Manager of Strategic Vendor Management at ArcBest
ArcBest® uses Samsara’s open API and comprehensive platform to enable efficiency and safety at scale in innovative ways. Samsara technology has helped ArcBest’s less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight® (ABF)and its fleet of nearly 7,000 drivers operate more effectively, allowing them to better serve their drivers and customers. It’s a result of these investments that ArcBest was recognized with the 2020 Samsara Top Fleet Award for Most Innovative Fleet.
The Samsara platform’s open API enables a custom integration into their proprietary software, leveraging more than 32 endpoints to minimize manual management and increase accuracy of their Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.
The Samsara Vehicle Gateway provides drivers with an easy-to-install and reliable tool to connect their operations.
Samsara AI Dash Cams provide visibility into driver behavior, offering insights to help decrease the frequency of preventable accidents by 13%.
ArcBest is a leader in supply chain logistics, with the 14th largest for-hire fleet in the United States with over 1,600 road units and 2,700 city vehicles. They offer a full array of logistics solutions, including everything from long haul and less-than-truckload to final-mile and home delivery solutions. In business for almost a century, ArcBest has a history of investing in technology to run their fleet efficiently and at scale. They consider themselves “pragmatic innovators” as the practical needs of the business drives their creative problem-solving.
ArcBest offers asset-based LTL services through ABF Freight, and ABF’s applications are developed in-house by ArcBest Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of ArcBest that designs, programs and maintains business application systems for the corporation’s operating companies. This dedicated research and development team helps ArcBest connect current and new technologies to automate repetitive tasks, improve data accuracy, and do more with less.
“Building in-house tools can be very cost-effective, and being able to customize systems to fit our exact needs has provided us a real advantage in this very competitive industry,” said Lee Easley, Director, IT Solutions at ArcBest Technologies. “This is why our relationship with Samsara has been such a great partnership.“
For a company the size of ArcBest, the decision to bring in an outside vendor must serve both their immediate and long-term goals.
“When we were looking for a replacement for our previous provider, we knew that there were certain things that needed to be better to go forward,” said Lloyd Keefer, Manager, Strategic Vendor Management at ArcBest Technologies. “We were looking for a company that would be able to partner with us and hit certain expectations. They have to be scalable enough to grow with us as our business needs change and have to be agile enough to quickly adapt.”
“We were looking for a company that would be able to partner with us and grow with us as our business needs change.”
That’s why it was so imperative to ArcBest to select a like-minded partner when deciding on a telematics and safety solution. It was Samsara’s commitment to partnership and innovation that appealed to ArcBest.
“The engineers and product owners are as passionate about our company as we are,” said Keefer. “We noticed the like-minded symmetry right away when we visited the Samsara office in San Francisco. That comes top down from our leadership and Samsara leadership. We have similar work ethics and put the customer first.”
Improving compliance with a custom API integration
To manage compliance, ABF developed an electronic time clock (ETC) application that captures an electronic snapshot when drivers clock in at the start of their day and clock out when they finish their 14-hour cycle. However, the team knew that without integrating this tool with their electronic logging device (ELD) provider, there would be inaccuracies.
With their previous provider, ArcBest lacked the complete integration they needed to get visibility into whether a driver was in compliance. They had limited options to compare the data collected by the telematics provider against ArcBest’s internal compliance reports. This put the business at risk of HOS violations, Department of Transportation (DOT) audits, and lower Compliance, Safety & Accountability (CSA) scores.
“The other part to consider is the impact on our drivers,” said Heath Lockhart, Manager, Safety Innovation and Technology at ABF Freight. “If their Hours of Service are not kept up, they can be put out of service, and that stops freight. That’s not good all around.”
By transitioning to Samsara and gaining access to the API, ArcBest had the opportunity to streamline data between drivers and the ABF operations team. The software team deployed 32 new API endpoints that connected operations between their internal systems and the Samsara platform.
“Instead of going to two different apps, we can reside in the system that we use day in and day out.”
Managers can monitor potential problems with a driver’s HOS and suggest a correction for those hours, simplifying the driver’s workflow and reducing the potential for errors. This saves time for both managers and drivers, not to mention giving them peace of mind.
“Instead of going to two different apps, we can reside in the system that we use day in and day out," said Keefer. “Managers can make suggested corrections there for the driver, apply the unassigned hours directly to that log, and pass it via the API. When it gets to the driver, he or she can accept or reject that edit.”
Supporting drivers with training and reliable tools
For ABF drivers, Samsara’s platform means access to reliable and easy-to-use technology that makes their lives simpler.
Implementation of that technology means installing Samsara hardware—thousands of Vehicle Gateways and AI Dash Cams—across ArcBest’s massive, distributed ABF fleet. “Once we signed the contract, the actual rollout took probably three and a half months to install approximately 4,400 units at more than 250 locations,” said Keefer.
Training took place in regional locations, with help from Samsara leads in some areas. Within the first year, approximately 2,000 road drivers and 3,000 city drivers were trained. For ongoing support, ArcBest relied on their own help desk for questions related to Samsara’s products.
“We have 24/7 coverage and we're open 365 days a year, so we have very good foundational support with our help desk doing tier one support,” said Keefer. “Samsara hands down allowed us to really excel. It takes the pressure off by allowing us to do what we do best.”
“Samsara hands down allowed us to really excel. It takes the pressure off by allowing us to do what we do best.”
Once drivers are onboarded, they need to be able to count on the technology to work reliably while they are on the job. “Uptime from our ELD partner is a big thing because if it's down then drivers have to revert to paper logs,” said Matt Jarvis, Manager, Information Systems at ArcBest Technologies. “When drivers have to revert to paper logs, that requires manual entries and it becomes a big drain on time.”
Samsara’s dependable uptime not only means efficiency gains, but significant cost savings. “The cost of maintenance nearly went away when we transitioned from our previous provider. When you're not spending money repairing constantly and worrying about the integrity of your data, you're able to reallocate that money, which enables us to invest in better technology,” said Keefer.
Thanks to the integration with ABF’s core systems, managers have seen a 50% decrease in time spent managing unassigned HOS. That time savings is incredibly valuable to a fleet this size and can be invested in critical business priorities, like expanding their safety program.
Coaching drivers at scale with a robust safety program
With almost 7,000 drivers operating across a wide range of routes, a safety program that promotes a culture of safe driving habits is key. Regardless of the type of driver (road vs. city) or the experience level, ArcBest engages drivers with a robust coaching and incentive program.
For example, with their rewards program, ABF road drivers receive 1, 2, 3 and 4 Million Mile awards when they reach these levels of accident-free driving. For ABF city drivers, the program is adjusted to account for their hours driven, receiving the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum awards. The most prestigious award, an emerald-encrusted “ABF” ring, is granted to drivers who achieve 30 years of safe driving. Programs like these show drivers their safety is a top priority and recognizes safe driving behavior. That’s why ArcBest can proudly say that their drivers stick with them for years.
“Safety is a top priority at ArcBest and retaining talented drivers is all about showing that you care about their safety,” said Josh Lovan, Director of Safety & Security, ABF Freight. “The average number of years a driver is with ArcBest is around 11 to 12 years. That longevity speaks volumes.”
To ensure all their drivers are able to succeed and enjoy the rewards from this program, ABF leverages Samsara AI Dash Cams.
Samsara offers a streamlined system for reviewing incident footage and providing hands-on, video-based coaching. Safety managers review incidents and mark them as “needs coaching” before assigning to the driver’s manager. That manager gets an email notification, has a conversation with the driver, shows them the footage, and walks them through what they did and what they could improve. “The footage from the Samsara dash cams really paints a picture,” said Lovan. “Drivers can observe from a different perspective and managers can see exactly what the driver was facing. That level of detail makes all the difference.”
When paired with the Samsara Safety Score, coaching becomes less subjective and more concrete. The Safety Score calculation is based on over 25 specific safety-related categories of harsh events and speeding severity, and can be customized to match specific program priorities, goals, and desired incentives. “We share that safety score with the driver so he can objectively see how he is doing,” said Lovan. “If he has questions, our coaches will go into depth and explain how the score was calculated and how to improve that score.”
As a result of the video-based driver coaching, ArcBest has seen a 13% reduction in preventable accidents, which, for a company the size of ArcBest translates to a considerable number of prevented accidents.
“We like to focus on the power of 1%. If we can make a 1% improvement, that's a substantial impact for the size of our company,” said Jarvis. “When we're talking about a 13% reduction in preventable accidents, those are significant improvements for our organization.”
While ArcBest’s road unit already had dash cams, for many drivers in the fleet, having dash cams installed in their vehicles was an adjustment.
“I think the number one consideration was the consistency with how we treat the drivers in regards to the camera,” said Lockhart. “Our goal from the start is to make them safer. It's really becoming a non-issue now that they've seen how the cameras have helped us be safer on the road.”
“The footage from the Samsara dash cams really paints a picture. Drivers can observe from a different perspective and managers can see exactly what the driver was facing. That level of detail makes all the difference.”
ArcBest has begun to see greater success with driver buy-in the longer the dash cams are used, especially in instances when drivers are exonerated from false claims.
“It was actually the drivers who were first using it—our pilots—who were our best advocates,” said Keefer. “Because there were regularly incidents where the camera captured exactly what happened, and that video helped exonerate them.”
A truly collaborative partnership
The close technical collaboration between Samsara and ArcBest led to innovative new efficiency and safety programs that impacted the business at scale. The key to the success was a partnership based on similar ideals.
“It's been refreshing to work with a like-minded team,” said Jarvis. “With our previous provider, we had a lot of struggles and it was just difficult to partner with them. However, the collaboration with Samsara has been top notch from the beginning, and we've been really impressed.”
That symmetry makes for an effective partnership that benefits all of us. The feedback Samsara receives from customers like ArcBest is critical to our success. Our relationship with ArcBest has led to improvements that have benefited our entire customer base. It’s this investment in the customer feedback loop that allows us to innovate quickly, launching hundreds of new features each year.
When it comes right down to it, a solid partnership is what the job gets done, not only today, but tomorrow, and 10 years from now. “We accomplished more in three months than we did in three years with our previous provider,” said Keefer.