Based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, J. Carey Logging provides cut-to-length logging, chipping and biomass production services, residential and commercial excavating services, and vegetation and brush control. The company was founded in 1980 as a part-time operation by Jim Carey, an employee of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, eventually going full-time four years later with ten employees.
According to Ryan Carey, Operations Manager and son of the founder, the logging industry has had to overcome misconceptions in a society increasingly concerned with conservation and protecting the environment. “The mentality back then was that logging was bad,” he says. “Dad made it his goal to change the perception of the logging industry and loggers overall.”
J. Carey Logging is committed to helping its customers properly harvest and manage their property’s natural resources to reap its ongoing benefits. As the company’s website states, “Trees are crops; if not utilized, they grow old and eventually die. They need management to keep them healthy and valuable.”
Since its start, J. Carey Logging has worked to earn the respect of the community as well as the industry. “The logging industry is a close-knit group, and a lot of logging companies are family-run,” says Carey. “However, that doesn’t mean we skimp on our employees. We have a very good health insurance plan, a pension program, and each of our drivers have a company pickup they can take home with them.”
He’s quick to credit the team his company has built over the years with their success. “I have awesome guys. They are very self-motivated and want to do the best they can. Our company goal is to have well-compensated, highly trained, happy employees. GPS fleet tracking is one of the tools that we use to achieve this goal.”
Carey initially looked into a GPS fleet tracking solution to stay on top of vehicle maintenance. “The process of keeping up to date with maintenance used to be a manual process, that had the potential for human error and oversights,” he says. “At times things would fall through the cracks, and the vehicles would miss necessary routine maintenance.”
His search led him to Fleetmatics. “I was surprised at how reasonable the price was for all of the functionality and information the system provides,” Carey says. “The Maintenance alerts and Live Fleet feature are what sold us.” Fleet Maintenance Reports can extend the life of a company’s vehicles, helping to keep the fleet productive. The Service Alerts help the user manage maintenance needs, and can be set by calendar time, engine on-time or mileage, depending on the type of service needed for each vehicle.
“The Maintenance features help us keep track to the mile the last time the truck was in the shop and why it was there,” says Carey. “We can set alerts when it’s time for an oil change to keep the trucks up to par. Now I know exactly when each vehicle was last in the shop, and what was done.” Carey uses the alerts to streamline his maintenance schedules; in addition, his shop manager gets real time alerts via text and e-mail when each vehicle is due for maintenance. “As a result, our safety and DOT scores have gone up, making the trucks safer on the road, and increasing the life and productivity of the fleet.”
For a company with such a high profile in the community, safety is paramount. That’s why Carey has also implemented the Speeding Report, which sends him an alert when a vehicle has gone over a specified speed threshold. “We had a few lead foots,” he says. “Any time they went over 65 miles per hour, I would get an alert text message telling me they were speeding. I’d then call them up and tell them to slow down.”
Federal safety regulations make it imperative that J. Carey Logging stays compliant with the rules of the road. For example, says Carey, “One of my drivers got a speeding ticket in his personal pickup truck, and then another in the company truck just a few days later. The CSA 2012 rules makes that go on the driver record as well as the company record as an infraction that affects our DOT score. Now that we are able to monitor speeding, all my guys have slowed down quite a bit.”
Carey begins every workday by looking at Live Map first thing in the morning. Live Map displays the exact location of every vehicle in a fleet in real time, with 24/7 availability, using Google Maps API Premier for the most accurate maps available with current traffic information. “It gives me peace of mind,” he says. “It’s nice to know where the trucks are at all times. I want to make sure that all my trucks are up and rolling and no one is broken down somewhere. If a situation comes up and we need parts, I pull up the Live Map and see which of my trucks are closest and have them pick those up.”
Carey also gets Daily Reports every day, to get information on the movement of his vehicles. Providing such data as ignition on- and off-time, arrival and departure of locations, drive time and distance traveled, it functions as an electronic timesheet for his drivers.
One area Carey didn’t expect to be an issue was idling: “It’s not something we were worried about. We have very good guys, and we thought there was no real issue.” But after just one week of monitoring using the Idling Report, which provides true idling times for every vehicle in a fleet, he found out his fleet was idling 25 hours a day. “I could not believe it was that high. But I realized I was doing the same thing—when I would pull up to the pump, I wouldn’t turn the truck off. But five minutes here and ten minutes there can really add up.”
Carey’s employees had already become accustomed to being tracked—“It helped that that they knew I was being tracked too,” he points out—so he was able to meet with his drivers to address the idling problem. “I said, ‘I am not mad, I am just trying to reduce costs to become more efficient and profitable. Can you help me out this week and pay attention to your idling times?’ The next Monday when I pulled the report we had reduced idling by 10 hours a day, which works out to 50 hours a week. I started a program financially rewarding the employee with the least amount of idling for the month. I’ve further reduced weekly idling and created a friendly competition while maintaining positive morale.”
By minimizing idle times, the company can decrease engine wear and tear. Best of all, Carey estimates that he has saved about $1,200 in fuel per month since implementing Fleetmatics' solution.
Having his drivers embrace the benefits of GPS tracking has further helped the company become more efficient, especially with the added convenience of the Fleetmatics Mobile App. Available for Android and iPhone, it allows the user to access key fleet information anytime, anywhere. “Four of our guys now use the Mobile App every day to help with dispatching by monitoring the chipper and grinder times,” Carey explains. “The chipper takes some time to set up before the trucks arrive with the new load. They guys didn’t know when the next load was going to arrive, so they would have to set up when the truck got there. Now, they know exactly when the truck is headed to the chipper and can have everything ready to go ahead of time. There is no more guessing. And with the time saved, we are able to get two more loads each day.”
Dispatching has improved overall, Carey says. “The guys dispatch and plan the day before the stops need to be made. The solution shows the route that the trucks are taking, and shows the optimal route. That has also helped us cut fuel expenses, so we can get more loads done in a week. We have spotty cell service up here, so I expected the signal to go out here and there, but it’s pretty good.”
There was one person in the company who wasn’t initially sold on the technology, Carey admits. “My dad was very skeptical about implementing Fleetmatics, but now he loves it! He’s even considering buying a smartphone to be able to use the mobile app.”
Carey feels the system is good not just for his business, but for the industry as a whole. “Fleetmatics has improved our safety, made us more efficient and more profitable. Our industry is tough; improving and increasing profitability is very challenging. Most of our profits are dictated by paper mills, because they control the prices. Any advantage we can get, any smaller corners we can cut really makes a big difference in making us more profitable.
“Our company harvests the woods as if it were our property. We have a big responsibility to change the way this industry is perceived and having Fleetmatics is helping us do just that.”
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