Flexible, Efficient Resource Planning for Driver Hours of Service

By Scott Balthaser | January 10, 2024

Running a trucking company involves many moving parts—literally and figuratively.

On the inbound side, you’re handling sales, processing orders, receiving goods, and organizing your warehouses. On the outbound side, you’re creating route and load plans, dispatching drivers, and ensuring goods are delivered on time. In the middle of all that, you need to manage driver schedules—paying attention to Department of Transportation (DOT) hours of service (HOS) compliance—and monitor your fleet to ensure that your trucks are all adequately utilized and properly maintained.

Syntelic’s three applications lighten the load:

  1. Route Planning generates optimized routes for your vehicles using dynamic or master routing while also accounting for all the variables that matter to your particular operation.
  2. Load Planning generates efficient load plans that eliminate DOT overweight violations and problems with axle weight distribution and minimize over, short, and damaged (OS&D) orders.
  3. Transportation Analytics enables flexible, ad hoc reporting on data aggregated from on-board diagnostic (OBD) sensors, electronic logging devices (ELDs), Route Planning, and Load Planning.

Syntelic’s Resource Manager tool—part of the Transportation Analytics application—fills in the gap between planning optimized routes and getting drivers out on the road and cargo delivered. Let’s look at how this versatile tool fits into your transportation operation’s workflow.

HOS Management With Syntelic’s Resource Manager

You’ve mapped out the routes and loads your trucks will take, but before the rubber meets the road, you need effective resource management. Resource management is the process of assigning drivers and equipment to each route to ensure that goods are delivered on time and in the most efficient manner.

Sounds simple, right? But if you’re involved in resource planning, you know that there is a dizzying array of variables involved. If you have separate software solutions for route planning and resource planning, your resource planning process probably involves a lot of cross-referencing between programs or printed records. That kind of resource planning is tedious, error-prone, and doesn’t adapt well to last-minute changes.

Our Resource Manager tool streamlines the dispatch procedure. It pulls in planned routes, load plans, OBD data, driver HOS logs, and much more to enable you to confidently assign drivers and equipment with the click of a mouse.

Dispatch Planning for Drivers

A mistake in dispatch and delivery planning is more than a nuisance—it’s often costly. You may end up with a fine for an HOS violation or miss a scheduled delivery window. You may also end up with unhappy drivers if you don’t account for seniority or distribute hours fairly.

Our Resource Manager keeps track of personnel-related factors and automatically applies them to your dispatch planning. For example, Resource Manager monitors:

  • Driver HOS: Service logs are automatically imported from each driver’s ELD. The system will alert you when a driver assignment will violate DOT regulations. Specifically, Resource Manager tracks:
    • The 8-day/70-hour or 7-day/60-hour rules (whichever you select)
    • The required 10 hours off between shifts
  • Driver time off: Within Resource Manager, you can set up categories of driver time off, such as vacation time, personal days, and sick time. You can either manually input or import (using *.csv files) time-off records. The system will alert you when you try to assign a driver to a route, and they’re marked as having the day off.
  • Company dispatch policies: Resource Manager allows you to create and apply dispatch planning rules to the route assignment process. For example, if your policy is to assign routes by seniority, the system can rank available drivers by seniority. If your policy is to distribute routes and hours as evenly as possible, you can set the system up that way, too.
  • Conflict monitoring: As mentioned previously, Resource Manager looks backward to prevent HOS violations. It also looks forward to anticipate potential problems. For example, if a late or long route puts a driver over their weekly hours limit or results in overtime, the system will flag that route assignment for review.

After you use Route Planning to set the day’s routes, you open Resource Manager for dispatch planning. When you select the first route, the system displays the drivers who are available for that route—considering all the foregoing factors.

So, if a route leaves at 6 a.m. tomorrow, a driver who finishes tonight at 9 p.m. won’t be listed—based on DOT HOS rules, they can’t take another route until 7 a.m. tomorrow. Once you click to assign a driver to a route, their name is removed from the list of available drivers.

Adapting to last-minute changes is (relatively) easy. If a driver calls out sick, simply click to remove them from their assigned route; then, the Resource Manager shows you who’s available to cover the route.

Troubleshooting Your Driver HOS Tracking Procedure

Even with the best software, you’ll run into trouble if the information on hand isn’t accurate. Establish procedures for tracking driver time off and ensure that scheduled absences are regularly entered into the system.

It’s also wise to thoroughly train drivers on DOT HOS compliance, maintaining driver logs, and what to do if they encounter an ELD that’s not working. If, for any reason, a driver has to keep a paper log, that information has to be manually entered into the system!

Optimize Your Driver Scheduling With Syntelic Software

We know that no two transportation operations run the same way, so we don’t make one-size-fits-all software and expect it to work for every company. We work with client companies to understand their operations and tailor our Route Planning, Load Planning, and Transportation Analytics software to meet their particular needs.

To learn more about how Syntelic can help optimize your resource planning, contact us today.

Related Posts