GROVELAND, Fla. — Every day, more than 500 drivers — including nearly 200 owner-operators — haul loads coast to coast for Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corporation, Groveland, Florida. Monte Vanover, director of fleet maintenance, keeps the trucks rolling — a challenge he says he enjoys even more since implementing Mack Trucks’ GuardDog® Connect.
Carroll Fulmer, a second-generation family-owned company, has expanded considerably since its early days of hauling grain and produce, and Mack Trucks has been part of their success story.
GuardDog Connect gets ahead of the curve on problems with the truck. Sometimes the Uptime Center will call and tell us, ‘Hey, this truck’s low on coolant’ or ‘this truck’s low on oil,’ and we can get to the driver, get to operations and get the problem handled before the driver picks up his next load. ~ Monte Vanover, director of fleet maintenance
Owner and president Carroll Fulmer began the company in 1961 with two Mack® B61 trucks. Today, the company owns approximately 460 trucks, with Mack Pinnacles™ making up more than half the fleet. They haul everything from electronics to sugar for Fortune 500 companies around the nation.
The longevity, durability and reliability of Mack’s products make them an ideal choice for Carroll Fulmer’s operations, Vanover says, and he appreciates knowing that Mack manufactures both the engines and transmissions in his trucks. If something goes wrong, Mack quickly addresses the issue without the finger pointing that sometimes happens between component manufacturers that don’t have the same level of control over the powertrain that Mack has.
Carroll Fulmer primarily uses 70-inch mid-rise Pinnacle sleepers. A 13-liter Mack MP8 445 hp Super Econodyne engine, with 1,760 lb.-ft. of torque, powers the axle back tractors, and they have converted to Mack’s mDRIVE™ automated manual transmission.
The company began using the mDRIVE in January 2015, with rave reviews from Carroll Fulmer’s drivers, who say the trucks are easier to handle in heavy traffic and they report feeling less fatigued at the end of the day. Vanover has two additional reasons to love the mDRIVE transmission – it improves his fleet’s fuel economy and works as a recruitment tool to attract new drivers, especially those who might not have considered a trucking career.
In addition, since operating the new Macks and using GuardDog Connect, Vanover says he has seen positive savings on maintenance and downtime.
GuardDog Connect gives drivers and fleet managers 24/7 access to customer service representatives and support centers who can alert them to issues and quickly resolve problems. The proprietary system monitors the truck’s performance continuously and identifies engine fault codes, diagnostic needs, maintenance milestones and potential solutions – sometimes before the driver is even aware he has a problem.
If an issue is discovered by GuardDog Connect, it immediately calls or sends an email to key decision-makers like Vanover and contacts Mack’s OneCall™ customer service center with the fault code. Experienced technicians are then able to examine the issue and determine the best course of action. The driver is notified, and information is sent to the closest Mack dealer. By the time the driver arrives, technicians already have the necessary information in hand, from parts list to service instructions and diagnostics.
“GuardDog Connect gets ahead of the curve on problems with the truck,” Vanover says. “Sometimes the Uptime Center will call and tell us, ‘Hey, this truck’s low on coolant’ or ‘this truck’s low on oil,’ and we can get to the driver, get to operations and get the problem handled before the driver picks up his next load. It’s a great thing for our cost of ownership, because now we’re not down.”
A day of downtime costs the company approximately $750, and with so many trucks on the road, that can add up quickly, Vanover says. GuardDog Connect gives the driver the ability to finish his route — depending on the problem — and handle the situation at the end of his route rather than interrupting his schedule to wait for his truck to be diagnosed and repaired before getting back on the road.
We use GuardDog Connect every day, all day, and that makes for a very consistent, seamless operation. ~ Monte Vanover, director of fleet maintenance
“We use GuardDog Connect every day, all day, and that makes for a very consistent, seamless operation,” Vanover says.
Barry Sessions, with Nextran Truck Center in Orlando, Florida, handles sales for Carroll Fulmer and has been instrumental not only in understanding the growing company’s daily needs but also in configuring trucks for special occasions, like the company’s annual driver of the year award.
Sessions and Vanover communicate constantly, talking almost every day, and the fleet is showing the benefits of that close relationship. By the end of summer, Vanover expects to operate all 2015 models or newer. Older trucks are moved into a lease-purchase program – a move that has been popular with the drivers, who show pride in not only their company but also in their equipment.
Recently, Sessions worked with Vanover on a one-of-a-kind project — designing a patriotic wrap for the driver of the year, who keeps the truck as long as he stays with the company. Sessions and Vanover went through several designs before they hit upon a winning combination – a billowing American flag extending the length of the cab, with a massive bald eagle in flight.
Sessions drove the truck from the dealership to Carroll Fulmer’s headquarters, and he was surprised at how enthusiastic passersby were about the flashy design.
“Everybody that saw it was just floored,” Sessions says. “Usually, we have a stock truck with the same powertrain, just with more chrome and a few more options, but this year, we went all out. It turned a lot of heads.”