(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The trucking industry is witnessing the advent of autonomous trucks and concepts like truck platooning, as companies are hard at work in testing them on the highways to see if they are viable solutions going forward. Integral to these ideas is the need for a mobile distribution network that connects trucks on the highway to systems on the roadside and pushing data to cloud storage.
Drivewyze is a connected truck solutions company which uses vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology to make weigh station bypassing quick and easy for drivers. “We connect trucks on the highways in North America to the screening system that allows them to bypass weigh stations without having to pull in all the time, based on their carrier safety score,” said Doug Johnson, Director of Marketing at Drivewyze.
Drivewyze is a startup that effectively started out as a spin-off from another company called Intelligent Imaging Systems (IIS). “IIS was founded 15 years ago, and it specialized in commercial vehicles screening systems for law enforcement. So when a truck pulled into a weigh station or an inspection site, it went through a pretty sophisticated technical screening,” said Johnson. “IIS did a thermal inspection on wheels, checked if the brakes were operational, and did optical character recognition on license plates.”
This stint had allowed IIS to develop a close relationship with the law enforcement agencies that were in charge of pulling in and inspecting commercial trucks in all 50 states and provinces. “So it was in the process of building out a constant relationship that we were asked by law enforcement if there is a way to better a weigh bypass service,” said Johnson.
Though Johnson considers the idea of a weigh station bypass service as something that has been in the industry for a long time, he insists that the underlying technology was ancient and Drivewyze was revamping the system with its in-house innovation. “The technology that our competitors use was all transponder based. So you stick an RFID tag on your window, you pull into a red lane under a pole, and you get a red or green light. The problem with that system is that it takes a long time for the network to grow,” he said.
A conventional RFID weigh station is not just time-consuming, but also expensive to build. Johnson explains that it requires an investment of around half a million dollars to set up an RFID weigh station, which can be circumvented by using Drivewyze, as it leverages cellular connectivity for the procedure, making it more cost-effective and efficient.
“We use GPS and cellular to run our network, which means all of our infrastructure is essentially up in orbit, and it was put up there by the cell phone companies. It means that when we move into a state or a province, we can quickly add a site to our inspection or bypass network,” said Johnson. “We check the screening rules for the weigh station and based on it, we have the authority to give the participating truck either a green or red light in a bypass polling at the weigh station while they are still a mile down the road on the highway.”
To an extent, Johnson believes that the ELD mandate has helped Drivewyze’s cause. The ELDs that trucks are equipped with, come with GPS and cellular connectivity allowing the startup to install their software into the devices for easy access. Johnson contends that this solves a huge asset management problem that fleets had with regard to transponder devices. Since Drivewyze is a plug-and-play SaaS-based solution and not a physical device, it does not need frequent looking into, nor does it require fleets to train their drivers on the software.
Because Drivewyze has been able to differentiate itself from its competition by providing more value, it has now grown to become the largest V2I safety network in North America as a means of providing weigh station bypass services. The company is now present in 43 states in the U.S. and one Canadian province, with 700 active centers across all these locations.
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