For any fleet, among the biggest costs associated with hauling freight is fuel. Though there are a lot of companies working in the freight space, most of them focus on making the business smoother, rather than working on solving the critical business need to meet operational goals while engaging drivers to be as efficient as possible.
Vnomics Corp, located in Rochester, New York, is changing the way fleets look at fuel efficiency and engage their drivers to work with them on saving fuel costs by leveraging connected sensors, machine learning, and data modeling to automatically deliver to fleet management and drivers actionable and meaningful insights on fuel efficiency through its True Fuel® solution.
“At a 1000-foot level, MPG is an OK ballpark measure of fuel efficiency. But using that to measure, incent or reward drivers leads to frustration – MPG is influenced by factors outside of the drivers control such as load weight, terrain, the condition of the truck, etc. so drivers know it’s unfair and not reflective of their professional skill. True Fuel’s patented solution provides fleets a way to isolate and precisely measure a driver’s impact on fuel efficiency. This gives fleets a fair way to incent and reward drivers – one that drivers will respect and willingly support.” said Alan Farnsworth, CEO of Vnomics Corp.
Vnomics recently announced mobile app puts the same information that fleet managers have, into the drivers’ hands so that they can see how well they are doing towards the fleet fuel efficiency goal, with easy to understand data on what exactly causes fuel consumption and what can be done to bring it lower. On the mobile app, the driver can see how much fuel has been saved and how well he or she is doing – along with specific tips on how to improve.
Trucking companies struggle with the balance of making operational improvements but also retaining drivers. This is a problem that Vnomics solves through precise vehicle monitoring and comprehensive fuel use analytics that are fair to drivers and respectful of them. Using the recently announced ROI tool, fleet managers can analyze different fuel efficiency benefit scenarios and determine how to reward drivers. True Fuel becomes a tool to provide incentives and rewards that are in-turn funded by the driver generated savings.
“Vnomics True Fuel’s® gives fleets a way to save money on fuel while fostering buy-in from drivers. Drivers can see how True Fuel quantifies their fuel efficiency in a fair and transparent way, one that helps reduce concerns many drivers have about using simple MPG or other telematics data,” said Farnsworth.
Competition to Vnomics comes in the form of other ways through which fleet companies try reducing fuel expenses. They include buying new equipment or aerodynamic devices and devising their own way to normalize MPG for fairness.
The genesis of the company’s initial solution is fascinating. The technology that forms the crux of Vnomics is founded on research done in the U.S. military – specifically for the U.S. Marine Corps – when it was looking for a rugged, precise, and reliable onboard computing technology for battlefield equipment. The technology was used for equipment maintenance and to make sure the Marines were always battle-ready.
“There was a fair amount of sponsored research done at an academic institution here in Rochester, NY. We developed onboard technology that could survive the rigors of any place on earth – be it the Kuwaiti desert or the mountains,” said Farnsworth. “When the tech was perfected, the academic institution realized that it could have great applicability in a normal commercial arena. This specifically takes advantage of the nature of cellular connectivity and can move information back and forth from the fleet to the dashboard.”
In the early days, Vnomics was focused on developing technology related to condition and maintenance of fleets, and to provide predictive insights on the equipment that is most likely to fail while in transit. But the idea did not quite resonate with the industry at that time, as the industry was relatively new to the concept of onboard technology.
“So we quickly pivoted to something that was absolutely a pressing concern for commercial trucking fleets – fuel consumption,” said Farnsworth. “We developed our fuel algorithms which allowed us to precisely quantify all the factors that drive fuel consumption, separate them into different causes and give the fleets real-time tools to optimize and improve their fuel costs’ profile. This was a solution that had great product-market fit.”
Farnsworth insisted on the importance of listening to customers while working on product iterations. “We are one of the few players in the market with a full-time on-shore employee-staffed customer care representatives. We are in constant contact with our customers, listening to them while making improvements on our product based on their suggestions,” he said.
Vnomics has collected data on and analyzed over 450 million gallons of fuel consumption to date, and the number keeps growing every week by several millions of gallons more. The bounce rates are extremely low, since customers understand the value created by the company for their fleets. “The average Vnomics customer cuts their fuel inefficiency in half and improves fuel economy 9% in the first 12 months, saving on average $169 per truck per month, or $2,000 annually,” said Farnsworth.
The prospects are looking bright for the company in 2018. “We are working on an app based driver interface,” he concluded. “We want to give drivers and fleets the best and easiest-to-use tools to make the driving experience as good as we can and also continue to provide savings for our customers.”
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