Dohrn Transfer Company

Dohrn Transfer Company View as PDF

“The Samsara solution is so great for us—it’s not only improving our operating efficiency and saving us money, but also deeply engaging our employees in improving safety.”

Michael Leathers, VP of Administration, Dohrn Transfer Company

Less-than-truckload carrier utilizes Samsara to support ELD compliance, routing and dispatch efficiency, safety programs, and preventive maintenance for its 545-vehicle fleet.

  • Fleet of 470 tractors and 75 straight trucks utilizing Samsara vehicle gateways
  • 645 drivers in compliance with the ELD mandate via the Samsara Driver App
  • 50% reduction in idling after implementing a coaching program based on Samsara dashboard reports

Headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, Dohrn Transfer traces its roots back to 1921, when Charles Dohrn started the company with one wood slatted truck and a single route. Today Dohrn has 20 terminals and offers trucking services and local delivery throughout a 14-state service area. With 470 tractors, 75 straight trucks, and 645 drivers, Dohrn prides itself on on utilizing powerful logistical tools and showcasing excellence in service.

Dohrn Transfer is subject to Hours of Service regulations (HOS) and needed to find a solution for ELD compliance. Importantly, Dohrn’s leadership wanted the new technology to accomplish more than just providing HOS information—they wanted it to support broader business initiatives.

When the Dohrn team evaluated Samsara, they recognized the value of the integrated fleet platform, including sensor data reporting live GPS, maintenance diagnostics, fuel usage, and driver safety events. “With Samsara we quickly saw a ton of additional operational benefits in terms of efficiency and safety, which excited us,” said Michael Leathers, VP of Administration at Dohrn.

But one of the most important factors in Dohrn’s decision was ease of use and employee engagement, which Leathers believes to be critical to the success of any new technology program.

“Samsara is hands down more flexible and user-friendly than other solutions we tried,” Leathers said. “It was so much simpler to implement and to integrate with other parts of our business, and for drivers to get up to speed.”

The Dohrn team could picture Samsara at the heart of the organization, helping the company to improve safety, reduce hours spent on paperwork, optimize maintenance, and enhance dispatching efficiency. With that vision in mind, Dohrn deployed Samsara vehicle gateways (VGs) in every Dohrn truck.

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Improved Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings

Adam Hoste, the team’s Operations Technology Analyst, was responsible for rolling out the solution and onboarding Dohrn’s 645 drivers across 20 locations.

“The drivers appreciate the Samsara Driver App,” he said. “It’s not complicated, and it’s less paperwork for them to deal with—meaning they can get on the road more quickly.” The reduction in paperwork goes beyond the drivers, he explained. Before using Samsara, one Dohrn employee was spending four hours a day just processing HOS paper logs. “Now that Samsara automatically logs our HOS, we can spend that time on other initiatives.”

In the process of guiding the roll-out, Hoste became intimately familiar with how Samsara is impacting Dohrn across all parts of the business, and he’s proud to summarize other ways Dohrn is saving money through Samsara.

  • 50% reduction in idling after seeing idling reports in the Samsara dashboard and implementing a coaching program to cut idling time by half.
  • $200,000 annual savings on cellular data plans by relying on Samsara’s built-in WiFi hotspot to connect the tablets used to process pickups and deliveries.
  • Saving two days per week in administrative overhead plus additional hours auditing and assembling reports, by automating IFTA reporting.

Dohrn is also using Samsara VGs to capture accurate mileage on the trucks they rent—an average of five trucks each day to fill in gaps in the fleet. In the past, drivers often forgot to record their mileage, which caused IFTA reporting problems and overage charges.

Faster Dispatch and Routing for On-Time Service

Dohrn handles local pickup and last-mile delivery alongside their terminal-to-terminal routes, and dispatch administration has significantly improved since deploying Samsara. As customers make requests throughout the day via web forms and calls, Dohrn dispatchers are responsible for assigning drivers to meet every appointment.

Before Samsara, the team had to estimate when drivers might return for their next load, or they had to call drivers directly. Now the team relies on Samsara’s live-to-the-second GPS location tracking and easy search by truck number to make better hour-by-hour decisions about who to send where and how to plan the day.

“It’s helpful to see where a driver is delayed, so we can send a different driver out for a new assignment,” said Ryan Pitzer, Terminal Dispatch Manager. The Samsara dashboard shows the team exactly where every driver is and whether they’ve just arrived at a delivery or are taking longer than usual at a particular site. “More knowledge creates more efficiency, and with less guessing about timelines, we can get more done in a day.”

Enhanced Safety Through Driver Coaching

Michael Leathers sees improving safety at Dohrn as a virtuous cycle. “I truly believe we are a safer company today through our team’s engagement with Samsara,” he said. “We’re compliant with the ELD Mandate, but more importantly our drivers now understand what it means to drive safely, to get the right sleep and the right breaks. That’s true safety, and it gets them home to their families without incident.”

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Dohrn uses sensor data from Samsara as the foundation of a safe driving coaching program based on HOS violations and harsh braking. Dohrn subscribes to the Smith System principles for defensive driving, and managers use feedback forms to coach drivers on the appropriate defensive driving techniques to address challenging situations they encounter.

“Our goal in safety is to train our drivers to be defensive and maintain good distances,” said Troy Winthurst, Director of Safety at Dohrn. “Samsara automatically populates the information we need for our safety program, which is awesome. In just a few hours a week we’re able to audit nearly 700 drivers’ safety and create the feedback forms we need. We’ve already seen a big reduction in violations.”

Sandra Rose-Brown, Manager of Fleet Maintenance across all eight of Dohrn’s maintenance shops, also has safety top of mind. “Maintenance is all about safety, that’s our top priority,” she said. Drivers never want to send their trucks to the shop, she explained, and often there was no follow up on paper logs of unsafe vehicles until it was too late.

“Samsara provides us with a higher level of visibility, and there’s less human error,” she said. With the data from Samsara, mileage reports automatically trigger planned maintenance, and email alerts about unsafe vehicles are sent to terminal managers to coordinate repairs. When a check engine light comes on, Rose-Brown and her team have the ability to see remotely what’s going on. “Anything we can do to make it easier for drivers to report defects is going to improve our CSA scores and keep our team safer.”

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Samsara & Dohrn: Partners in Success

True to Dohrn’s original vision, Samsara is now a business-critical solution for the Dispatch, Safety, and Maintenance teams. Meanwhile, Adam Hoste highlighted the Samsara Support and Product teams as actively helpful during the roll-out and beyond. “We’ve been incredibly impressed with the support we’ve received,” Hoste said. “The best thing about Samsara is how we’ve been able to work together to find solutions to business problems.”

Michael Leathers remains focused on using Samsara to improve quality across all parts of the Dohrn business. “The Samsara solution is so great for us—it’s not only improving our operating efficiency and saving us money, but also deeply engaging our employees in improving safety,” he said. “We wanted to have a technology partner that would adapt to how we run our business. That’s what we found in Samsara.”

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