U.S. Xpress’ (NYSE: USX) development of its Variant fleet has generated plenty of buzz in the industry, and on Wall Street. On its recent earnings call, one analyst questioned what Variant is really about and why it is different.
“This is not incremental change,” Variant President Cameron Ramsdell said in response. “Our mission is a step change from anything else that’s out there.”
The Variant fleet is designed to haul the most efficient loads. Load planning and scheduling are performed by machine learning and artificial intelligence using algorithms called the Variant Optimizer, which reduces operating costs and allows the fleet to be managed by exception.
Growing a digitally focused fleet requires access to top-shelf technology, and the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions. To that end, U.S. Xpress has decided to adopt Platform Science’s Remote Platform Management (RPM) platform.
“As a leader in developing their own solutions, U.S. Xpress is accelerating fleet innovation at an extraordinary rate,” said Jake Fields, co-founder and CTO of Platform Science. “By leveraging Platform Science, they are able to deliver new solutions to their drivers faster and expand their capability based on our broad set of connected vehicle platform tools. We are honored to partner with them on solutions that transform the transportation industry and change the standards of trucking.”
U.S. Xpress will install Platform Science’s full suite of products, including its electronic logging device, messaging and workflow solutions, in its entire fleet. That includes the approximately 800 Variant tractors, which will be first in line for the install.
The platform allows fleets to install Platform Science, third-party and custom apps without the need to install additional hardware.
“As we transform towards a true digital transportation solutions provider, we’re embracing technology and innovation to drive growth,” said Bob Pischke, chief information officer at U.S. Xpress. “Platform Science provides a modern, streamlined solution to help improve communication with our most important asset — our drivers.”
Platform Science’s technology allows users to connect to its own apps, but also those of third-party companies. In addition, leading fleets such as Schneider (NYSE: SNDR) and Werner Enterprises are able to leverage the platform to develop their own technology solutions unique to their operations. U.S. Xpress plans to do the same. Company drivers will benefit from a single pane-of-glass view, single sign-on and integrated experience from top providers across the industry, the company said.
In 2020, Daimler Trucks North America announced it would include Platform Science’s RPM in its vehicles at the factory level. RPM allows vehicle users and owners to use their preferred technology solutions without the need to install new hardware and wiring each time.
An integration announced in November makes the Platform Science technology available on Samsung Galaxy Tab mobile devices.
Disclosure: FreightWaves founder and CEO, Craig Fuller, retains ownership of US Xpress shares through his family trust.