By Al Muskewitz
Analytics turned a rebuilt Oakland Athletics team back into a 100-win pennant contender in 2002, made general manager Billy Beane an overnight guru and sparked a revolution that changed the way baseball is played today.
If you’ve read the best-selling book “Moneyball” or seen the critically acclaimed film of the same title you get it.
The team at TLD Logistics Services is applying the same concept of predictive analytics to trucking and creating its own winning formula for safety success.
“In some sports, particularly baseball, analytics has become the new method of trying to (win) and I think trucking is similar in that we’re trying to look at the numbers of the performance to help give us direction about what to expect in the future and tell us what we need to work on,” TLD president Jim Peters said. “If you pay attention to what’s happening in that sport, it’s very similar.
“We participated in a benchmarking group and one of the things we spent a lot of time on was taking a look at the history of accidents, what type of accidents are occurring, classifying the accidents, whether they’re weather related, backing related, to drive where do we need to do more training.”
The new approach is right in new TLD safety manager Nina Jolly’s wheel house. She has led the charge to bring the company’s new transportation management software into the safety arena.
In baseball, the numbers tell managers where a batter hits the ball to shift his defense accordingly or who’s the best pinch-hitter in the late innings against a certain pitcher. TLD applies its analytics to preempt potential CSA violations and trouble spots. Every incident that occurs is logged into the system to help crunch the numbers.
One situation that has caught the Tennessee carrier’s attention is the frequency of incidents that occur at the truck stop, so they’ve instituted training sessions specifically related to situations that could and have come up there.
“I think it lends a lot more credibility to the whole training process when you’ve got real-life examples to show them,” Peters said.
It’s a little too early in the process to see tangible carrier-wide results of the analytics, but company officials have started identifying issues and putting together intense, eight-hour training schedules for at-risk drivers.
“It’s not to punish anybody,” general manager Chris Stephens said during a recent driver meeting at TLD’s Lebanon, Tenn., terminal. “It’s to help the driver get better.
“We’re going to be serious about staying under the threshold of CSA and the way we’re going to attack that is we’re going to look at the people who are driving our scores.”
Another component of the overall safety program is the newly instituted Safety First initiative.
It’s basically a regular series of safety-related affirmations drivers receive in their social media accounts. Its forerunner was the GOAL initiative designed by former safety manager John Wiegand with input from facility manager Roger Whittenburg, basically a mirror sticker reminding drivers to “Get Out and Look” when backing in new or unfamiliar locations.
But Safety First is not just about the trucks. There’s also a wellness component as well, reminding drivers to be health conscious and communicate with dispatchers when things may feel a little off.
“Talk to someone when you’re feeling down or uneasy. Talk to someone” and “Second inhaler. Spare pair of glasses. Prescription medicine. Always be prepared” have been among the Safety First offerings that have found their way into drivers’ inboxes.
“Being OK driving for hours and hours at a time, that’s part of safety, too,” TLD marketing coordinator Tristiny Bell said. “Safety is so much more than just the road and the truck.”
Al Muskewitz is Editor-in-Chief of Wright Media Corp.