Aiming for improvement

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ACV Enviro improves safety and asset tracking capabilities through the utilization of Samsara technologies.

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August 3, 2021

Image courtesy of ACV Enviro

ACV Enviro, Avenel, New Jersey, is an environmental, industrial and waste management company providing services ranging from environmental emergency response to hazardous waste management for hundreds of customers across the eastern United States.

The company, which has been in business since 1976, boasts more than 600 vehicles, 500 drivers and more than 1,000 unpowered assets.

While ACV Enviro’s customers have come to count on the company for its reliable waste management offerings, accountability on the road is just as important.

According to ACV Enviro Director of Transportation Compliance Kellie Case, its customers place a lot of weight on safety when selecting service providers.

“In our industry, customers are less focused on low prices and care more about our safety metrics. This means that the safer we are, the more enticing we are during the bidding process,” Case says.

At ACV Enviro, the primary use of vehicles is for transporting equipment and materials to and from customer sites. And since many of the company’s job sites are in large metro areas, such as New York City and Washington D.C., drivers spend most of their time navigating congested roads.

To help enhance the safety of its drivers, ACV Enviro’s management committed to outfitting its vehicles with new fleet management technology. After vetting various providers, they chose Samsara’s dash cam monitoring solution in 2020.

Before Samsara, ACV Enviro did not have a dash cam solution that provided visibility into driver safety and culture. This made it difficult to gain quality, unbiased information about how the company’s drivers operate on the road, which, in turn, resulted in the company having to be reactive in managing safety and driver behavior.

“We needed better leading safety indicators, and we wanted a way to share safety data with our customers,” ACV Enviro VP of Environmental, Health & Safety Donna Miller says.

With Samsara dual-facing AI Dash Cams, Miller says ACV Enviro’s back-office staff now has the ability to view driving conditions on the road as well as driver behavior inside the cab in order to benchmark driver safety. Plus, AI features such as real-time incident detection and in-cab coaching alerts help protect drivers and improve unsafe driving behaviors by issuing proactive warnings to operators.

“In-cab alerts are incredibly helpful because our drivers receive coaching before we have to step in,” Case explains.

If an accident does occur, Case says the company has the ability to review footage or distracted driving events within minutes to use in coaching conversations both with the employees directly involved in the incidents and across the entire workforce. 

Since last year’s implementation, Miller says the results have been transformational. ACV Enviro has seen a 60 percent decrease in accident rates and the data continues to get better month over month, she notes.

“The AI is unbelievable, and we’ve seen huge drops in harsh events,” she says. “It gives us more visibility than we could have anticipated.” 

Additionally, with Samsara AI Dash Cams, ACV Enviro now has the safety data it needs to set benchmarks and demonstrate its fleet safety performance to its existing and prospective customers.

Clear communication

To maximize its investment in dash cams, ACV Enviro knew that communication and driver buy-in would be key. However, convincing the company’s seasoned drivers that this fleet technology would be beneficial took a concerted effort from the company.

Case, who managed the company’s roll-out, offered the following advice:

      1. Nail down your timeline: Communicate the roll-out timeline in advance and give drivers plenty of notice before beginning installation.
      2. Focus on why: Tell the drivers why the company invested in dash cams. Share specific goals or behaviors the company is targeting if you have them.
      3. Explain the benefits: Provide details on how dash cams will help keep drivers safe.  
      4. Be clear on the use: Reiterate who has access to the footage and what it will be used for (coaching and driver exonerations).  
      5. Solidify procedures: Make the disciplinary program very clear so drivers know what to expect if they get caught doing something wrong more than once.

“When it was clear to our drivers that we were using the dash cams to keep everyone safe, there was no argument or pushback,” Case says.

Case also explained to drivers that dash cams would help detect illegal behaviors—such as cellphone usage or seatbelt violations—before law enforcement could cite them. This meant drivers could correct their behavior before it affected their driving record.

“Our drivers are focused on improvement, so I made sure to communicate how dash cams would improve their driving,” Case says. 

One of ACV Enviro’s lab pack supervisors and drivers says that the initial concern from some drivers revolved around feeling like their privacy was being invaded. However, over time, the drivers came to see that the cams were used for their benefit.

“ACV did a great job at communicating to drivers and employees what the system was being used for,” a maintenance technician and driver for ACV Enviro says. “Drivers had a lot of comfort knowing that the system wasn’t about disciplining drivers, but instead, making them safer drivers.”

In fact, this driver notes that the first few times dash cam footage helped exonerate drivers, tensions eased and operators came to appreciate the technology. 

“Samsara dash cams helped exonerate me from an incident in New York City,” the lab pack supervisor says. “I feel more confident when there’s a dash cam in my vehicle [now]. I know I’m a safe driver and dash cams help me prove that.” 

Increasing driver engagement

To increase engagement in the ACV Enviro safety program, Case instituted weekly, monthly and quarterly driver rewards. The program uses Samsara safety scores to recognize the safest drivers by region, as well as across the entire organization. Within the Samsara dashboard, Case can segment drivers using tags so that drivers can compare their performance to their peers.

Each Friday, Case shares the results and announces the top drivers during a company-wide meeting. Winners are also awarded prizes such as T-shirts, hats and other items to help recognize their commitment to safety.

Case says that shortly after rolling out this driver safety program, engagement among drivers soared as workers became competitive in monitoring their own safety scores and trying to outdo their peers.

Since tracking driver safety scores, ACV Enviro has noticed a week over week improvement across every region.

“Safety scores continue to go up. The more the drivers understand what the system is looking for, the more they improve their behaviors,” says Case.

In addition, accident rates continue to decline, and Case has noticed that drivers pay more attention to how they’re driving, in part, to outperform their peers. 

“I use the driver app to check the safety score leaderboards every day—sometimes every hour,” says Miguel Mercado, regional dispatch specialist and occasional driver for ACV Enviro. “It’s a great system for our drivers.” 

Utilizing tracking data

Beyond the dash cams, ACV Enviro uses Samsara technology to keep inventory of more than 1,000 assets ranging in cost from $3,000 to more than $500,000. Their most common assets are roll-off containers specialized for their hazardous waste work, but they also own assets such as generators, tankers, light towers and even boats.

Before Samsara, ACV Enviro tracked its asset inventory on paper and in spreadsheets, which made the process challenging and labor-intensive.

Due to complications with manually tracking its assets, ACV Enviro had to occasionally supplement resources and rent from third-party companies, which added significant cost to the business. However, Samara’s asset-tracking solutions help eliminate these issues.

“Logistics become much more efficient when you can track utilization and asset locations so easily across all of our service centers,” says Case.

Miller adds, “Samsara makes it easy to inventory assets when we have projects that span multiple months and large geographic areas.”

In addition to helping understand where its assets are, ACV Enviro wanted a system that went beyond just location tracking. They wanted to know if they were getting the maximum value out of their equipment.

To accomplish this, ACV Enviro installed Samsara asset trackers known as AG46s on all of its unpowered assets.

“Now, we not only know where our assets are, but we know how long they’ve been sitting in one location, and logistically, we can move these assets throughout our organization with great efficiency,” Miller says.  

Plus, by using Samsara time-on-site reports and geofences, Case says his team is able to show customers exactly how long equipment was at their job site. This has helped the company improve its billing and increase its revenues. 

Additionally, with Samsara utilization reports, ACV Enviro can evaluate its inventory and make better budget planning decisions for future years.

“We want to ensure that our assets are working enough to justify their costs,” Case says. 

As an added benefit, Case anticipates ACV Enviro’s insurance premiums could go down now that the company has Samsara’s theft-prevention solution in place that can both reduce asset theft and track down assets to avoid replacement costs.

While ACV Enviro’s clients choose them because of their track record of quality service, with Samsara, they are now able to quantify improvements related to safety while better managing assets. This has allowed the company to focus on what they do best—managing waste and serving their customers’ needs.

The author is the editor of Waste Today magazine and can be reached at aredling@gie.net.