“With Samsara, we’ve found a partner that provides our company with the valuable technologies and solutions our fleet needs. But especially with the open API, we still have the flexibility to customize the solutions to suit our unique needs.”
Ryan Strauss, Chief Information Officer at Bulkmatic
Bulk goods transportation company Bulkmatic uses Samsara for better visibility into their operations to create a more efficient, innovative, and streamlined fleet.
An FMCSA-certified ELD solution provides real-time visibility into Hours of Service (HOS), making it easy to avoid violations.
Real-time GPS data paired with open API integrations powers more effective route planning, improves service to end-customers, and reduces manual back office workstreams.
Vehicle diagnostics and paperless DVIRs increase maintenance efficiency and decrease vehicle downtime.
Comprehensive reporting includes power take-off (PTO) usage, providing insights into driver productivity and fuel consumption.
With more than 500 trucks and 1,400 trailers, Bulkmatic is the largest dry bulk transportation fleet in the United States. On any given day, their vehicles travel across the country delivering a variety of essential bulk goods, from sugars to plastics to chemical powders. Because of the range of states they deliver to, it’s crucial that Bulkmatic has constant visibility into their trucks and drivers to run a streamlined operation and keep customers happy.
Before Samsara, Bulkmatic’s process for routing drivers and tracking their locations, hours, loads, and productivity involved a legacy AOBRD system and a variety of different applications that weren’t sharing data with each other. To upgrade the company to a newer fleet management system, Bulkmatic brought on Ryan Strauss as their CIO. While Strauss’ top priority was replacing their expiring AOBRD system, he wasn’t willing to settle for just any ELD solution—he wanted one that could improve the efficiency of his drivers, route planners, and maintenance team.
Tracking Hours of Service (HOS) with easy-to-install ELDs
Bulkmatic’s AOBRD system needed to be quickly replaced, so they were looking for an ELD solution that was easy to install and could provide real-time visibility into Hours of Service (HOS)—Samsara checked both those boxes.
Switching to Samsara’s ELD solution was simple for Strauss, his technicians, and his drivers. They deployed Samsara Vehicle Gateways (VGs) across all of their vehicles and trained drivers on how to log their hours in the Samsara Driver App. “We didn’t have any complications getting up and running. The VGs were super easy to install—our technicians can do it in 20 minutes or less,” said Strauss. “And the transition for drivers was easy too. I’m always worried about transitioning them to new systems, but they’ve responded positively to Samsara.”
Samsara’s ELD solution combines drivers’ logs, recorded in the Samsara Driver App, with real-time engine data to accurately and automatically track HOS. By leveraging real-time data, Bulkmatic now has live visibility into their drivers’ statuses in the Samsara Dashboard, including a color-coded chart of time left in cycle, time until break, and violation status. Bulkmatic’s dispatchers have found this dashboard view particularly helpful; they use Samsara’s HOS tracking to see how close drivers are to the end of their shifts, which helps them reroute drivers to avoid HOS violations.
Enhancing efficiency and service through real-time data and API integrations
With the ability to now track their drivers’ real-time HOS and GPS locations, Bulkmatic has improved their routing and customer service. Bulkmatic pulls over this real-time data into McLeod LoadMaster, their transportation management system, using Samsara's open API.
With Samsara’s real-time GPS tracking and open API, dispatchers now have a live map view of their entire fleet in LoadMaster. Bulkmatic dispatchers use this information to make informed decisions about which drivers to dispatch based on their real-time location. Samsara also provides real-time traffic data, which Bulkmatic dispatchers use to reroute drivers so they can make more on-time deliveries, which helps boost their customers’ satisfaction.
Bulkmatic additionally leverages Samsara’s GPS data to more efficiently process delivery documents. Bulkmatic’s drivers use McLeod to collect documents en route, like scale tickets and bills of lading. Before Samsara, Bulkmatic’s back office manually managed these delivery documents; it was a slow and inefficient process.
"The transition for drivers was easy. I’m always worried about transitioning them to new systems, but they’ve responded positively to Samsara.”
“Before Samsara, our drivers would turn their documents into the terminal, the terminal would then scan those documents, and then our Logistics Services team would index them so we could bill our customer," said Strauss. "Today, our drivers scan the documents themselves and our Logistics Services team simply confirms the document is correct.”
Now with Samsara’s GPS data integrated into McLeod, all documents can be automatically assigned to the appropriate driver and delivery location. With this automation in place, Bulkmatic has streamlined their billing process to easily create accurate customer invoices, which lets them bill customers quickly so they can get paid faster.
Improving maintenance efficiency with diagnostic data and DVIRs
Before Samsara, Bulkmatic's mechanics scheduled preventative maintenance based on the estimated daily mileage of vehicles. And if a vehicle unexpectedly broke down, it had to be transported to a shop with a computer that could pull fault codes.
Using Samsara VGs, Bulkmatic’s mechanics now create more accurate preventative maintenance schedules based on real-time vehicle usage data, like mileage and engine hours. They’re immediately alerted through the Samsara dashboard when VGs detect an engine fault code, so mechanics can prepare the tools and parts they need before the truck even arrives at the shop. And because Samsara automatically pulls engine fault codes, mechanics no longer need to rely on manually connecting vehicles to computers to detect issues and read codes. By eliminating manual maintenance processes, Bulkmatic has reduced vehicle downtime and streamlined their preventative maintenance scheduling.
Additionally, electronic DVIR’s have enabled Bulkmatic to more effectively manage the pre-trip and post-trip process with their drivers. If a driver detects an issue and maintenance is needed, the DVIR is flagged and sent to a mechanic so they can schedule repairs, which helps to further reduce downtime and get trucks back on the road.
Increased insights into power take-off (PTO)
Bulkmatic relies on power take-off (PTO)—a device that transfers an engine’s mechanical power to another piece of equipment—to deliver their bulk goods to customers. To load goods, the PTO powers a blower, which is used to vacuum products into their trailers from a railcar. To unload goods, the PTO powers a blower to pump product out of their trailers and into a customer’s silo.
“Before Samsara, we could only see the percentage of time PTOs were used during a specified period,” said Strauss. “Now we can see when it was turned on and when it was turned off, which is very helpful when trying to understand how long it takes to load and unload at a particular location.”
By understanding how long unloading takes, Bulkmatic’s dispatchers can plan more efficient routes for drivers to create faster deliveries. Drivers with faster unloading times can take on more deliveries or can be sent out to farther delivery locations.
In addition, Bulkmatic now has the ability to see if a vehicle is idling or if fuel is being used to power a PTO. This ability to differentiate allows them to better understand and manage their drivers’ fuel efficiency.
Continuing to innovate with Samsara
Bulkmatic has leveraged Samsara’s real-time HOS, engine diagnostics data, and real-time GPS data to streamline their fleet. They’ve reduced back office workloads, created preventative maintenance schedules to decrease vehicle downtime, and improved routes and driver efficiency.
“With Samsara, we’ve found a partner that provides our company with the valuable technologies and solutions our fleet needs,” Strauss said. “But especially with the open API, we still have the flexibility to customize the solutions to suit our unique needs.”
Meanwhile, Strauss has also seen firsthand how Samsara partners with customers to create innovative solutions to address a fleet’s specific needs. When Strauss submitted feedback that his dispatchers could more quickly assign routes if they could search for drivers by their number, not just their name, Samsara added that exact feature to the Samsara dashboard. “That feature got added less than a month later,” he said. “It’s refreshing to have a partner that is responsive in that way.”
Bulkmatic is excited to continue their partnership with Samsara. They plan to continue leveraging the open API to create more custom integrations to streamline and improve their fleet’s workflows.
“The pace at which Samsara is innovating is what we hope to see with a partner but rarely experience,” Strauss said. “We’re looking forward to finding new ways to support and enable our whole fleet with Samsara.”