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Phillips Connect Technologies helps fleet managers increase driver retention

Driver turnover costs the trucking industry 8.8 billion dollars a year. Every time a transportation company hires a driver, it costs that company (on average) $8,000.

Voluntary turnover rates among truckload carriers are extremely high, ranging from 50 percent to more than 100 percent annually. These high turnover rates result in elevated costs for trucking companies.

Direct and indirect effects:

  • Recruitment costs
  • Hiring costs
  • Training costs
  • Idle trucks
  • Customer dissatisfaction with inexperienced drivers
  • Indirect costs associated with missed opportunities

Turnover rates are lower for experienced drivers (especially speciality drivers and vocational drivers)—but competition to hire/retain such skilled drivers is high.

Currently experienced oil-field drivers in West Texas, New Mexico, and North Dakota are earning $80,000 to $120,000 per year. This is putting upward pressure on the salaries of all experienced drivers. Less experienced drivers are also seeing growth in pay rates. This increases driver opportunity, and increases driver job mobility.

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute conducted a study of drivers from fifteen different transportation companies. These companies represented a mix of large and small common carriers, LTL carriers, and speciality carriers.

The UGPTI Executive Summary states, in part:

The average cost of turnover per driver for all companies in the study was $8,234 and ranged from $2,243 to $20,729. For company driver fleets, the average was $7,923. For dry van, company driver fleets, the average was $8,612. And for reefer, company driver fleets, the average was $6,420. Individual companies varied widely from these averages, usually depending on the quality of the records that they kept.

Reasons That Drivers Change Jobs

“The grass is greener on the other side of the fence”

Desirable company features:

  • Higher pay
  • More miles
  • Better organization
  • Good tools to help drivers
  • Less wasted time
  • Better home time
  • Constant improvements to the working environment
  • Less physical work
  • Adventure

Un-desirable company features:

  • Low pay
  • Fewer miles
  • Disorganization
  • Missing support from the company
  • Long periods of detention/waiting
  • Poor home time
  • Disinterest in driver’s input
  • Manual labor
  • Repetitive work

These two lists are almost mirror images. Companies that make life better for drivers (and better handle driver expectations) find less difficulty hiring and retaining. Lower turnover means less operational disorganization and lower operation costs.

Other affected employees

Dispatchers, load planners, operational people of all departments are also affected by high driver turnover—directly and indirectly.

In a high turnover environment, experienced operations-department employees are constantly explaining basic information to new hirees. It is difficult to establish rapport with an employee that is probably leaving the company. The same sort of systemic problems that make life difficult for drivers, make life difficult for other employees.

Making Your Company Desirable

Factors that are controllable:

  • Higher pay
  • More miles
  • Better organization
  • Efficient systems and tools to help drivers
  • Less wasted time

Drivers get paid (generally) on how much work they get accomplished. Drivers get paid for driving, loading, unloading, etc. Drivers don’t get paid for sitting. Route planning is necessary, but unprofitable. Highly efficient systems, tools and proper planning reduces wasted time. Drivers that are more productive make more money.

Nothing frustrates a driver more, than driving around a strange city “looking for an empty” trailer. When a trailer is lost or misplaced, productive time is wasted searching for it. Particularly frustrating is the when imprecise GPS information places the trailer within a 1/2 mile circle, which in some parts of the country could be ten or twenty different trailer lots or a dozen side streets.

Factors that are industry specific:

  • Constant improvements to the working environment
  • Less physical work

Depending on the specific industry that the company serves—a driver might spend most of his time sitting in an air-conditioned truck. He could spend most of his time outside, in the weather—doing intense physical labor. Even within a physically demanding industry, there are things that can be done to improve working conditions for the driver.

Phillips Connect Technologies

Phillips Connect Technologies (PCT) provides an open platform system, which is a useful planning and operations tool. PCT is a universal integration system—using smart-trailer sensors from trailer manufacturers and sensors from 3rd party manufacturers.


TrailerNet coordinates drivers, dispatchers, and trailers with information gathered directly from the the trailer’s on-board computer system. Data is shared with everyone in the Operations Department. Drivers can access this information via on-board devices to work efficiently, with reduced frustration.

GPS is a key element in operational efficiency. A GPS sensor attached to the PCT system provides highly-precise location information. A driver can easily find an assigned trailer. Precious time is saved. Driver frustration is reduced. Trailers are put back into productive service quickly.

Trailer-empty sensors can detect if there is anything inside the trailer. Knowing which trailers are actually empty, assists dispatchers finding empty trailers for drivers. Door-open sensors report when a trailer door is open. This helps estimate when the shipper or consignee will be finished with the trailer. Weight sensors reduce unproductive time drivers spend looking for a public scale and weighing the truck.

PCT can be equipped with anti-tampering systems—which reduce theft of product—and reduce the driver “hassle factor” of dealing with a load that has been tampered with. The PCT keypad has security codes that prevent unauthorized operators from gaining access to the computer system. Trailers can be equipped with door locks that will only open at the consignee’s address, and require a special code be entered into the PCT keypad. Other sensors can be attached to monitor the physical condition of the trailer: tire pressure sensors, brake wear sensors, etc.

PCT systems support in reducing driver frustration, increase driver productivity, increase operational efficiencies, return trailers into revenue service quicker, and increase driver pay.

PCT’s open-platform strategy combines a wide variety of sensors from multiple equipment providers. With PCT—system integration becomes seamless. Operational features increase system productivity and driver pay.

TrailerNet brings information from the trailer to a central control point. Computer systems carefully monitor the location and condition of trailers 24/7. Drivers can access this information on local devices to work efficiently and with reduced frustration.To start your smart trailer project, contact Phillips Connect Technologies today.

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