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Highlighting the Role of Commercial Navigation in Fleet Safety and Productivity: A Q&A with Dwayne Lazarre

We’ve all seen photos on the internet of heavy-duty trucks in situations they clearly didn’t mean to end up in: driving the wrong way on one-way roads, backed into tight corners, or hitting low bridges. These incidents are unfortunate to see, and often make outsiders scratch their heads and wonder, “What were they thinking?”

As truck drivers and back office managers know, these incidents are typically not the result of a highly-trained professional simply forgetting their training. The individuals at fault were likely given incorrect directions, or perhaps not enough directions, from a consumer-grade navigation device in the cab.

Implementing a truck-specific, commercial-grade navigation system minimizes the risk of these incidents happening to a fleet, as well as a host of other features that help keep drivers safe and happy, and ultimately keep freight moving. 

To get to the bottom of why truck-specific navigation solutions are so critical to the supply chain, we met up with Dwayne Lazarre, director of strategic accounts for Trimble MAPS, who is passionate about developing and delivering their navigation solution, CoPilot, to drivers and fleets.

Let’s start by learning a little more about you. What has your career path been over the years, and what is your current role with Trimble MAPS?

I currently serve as the director of strategic accounts for the Trimble MAPS division, running our strategic business for North America. This is my tenth year with Trimble – it goes by quickly! 

It’s actually a funny story how I wound up here – I initially was offered a position with one of the division’s major partners, but I would have needed to relocate, and at the time that wasn’t going to work on my end. 

Luckily, they ultimately referred me to one of their trusted partners, which at the time was called “ALK Technologies.” A few years later, ALK was acquired by Trimble and merged with Appian, becoming what is now known as Trimble MAPS.

Prior to that, I had a background in telecommunications on both the data and cloud sides of the business. I also delivered telecommunications to multi-site facilities, making sure everything was connected and secure. I’ve been in sales and business for more than 20 years now.

What are you and your team working on right now?

I really like what we’ve accomplished, and I’m proud of what we’re doing at Trimble MAPS. What I enjoy most is getting to hear from both the drivers and the management team about their experiences, their goals and their pain points, and help both sides “see the light” and meet in the middle. I like bringing those new technologies and ways of thinking to stakeholders to try to solve problems for many different people. 

Our team is on a mission of constant improvement. We are always looking for ways to improve the CoPilot solution – and thus the driver’s experience -- and remain a trusted, reliable mainstay in a fleet’s technology suite. 

I like to compare our work to a Rubik’s Cube – there’s only one answer at the end, but there are many ways to get there. The problem is, in transportation, not everyone always agrees on how to get there, or what the final solution is.

At its most basic, what is commercial navigation, and why is it so critical to the transportation and logistics industry? 

Basically, navigation is starting at an origin, and getting to a destination – and it should be a tool that helps drivers do that in the most efficient, safe way possible. It should remove all the unknowns and guesswork, empowering drivers with the information they need to know to confidently make it from Point A to Point B.

It’s so important for the trucking industry to use a solution built specifically for trucks. Everyone knows that the experience of driving a heavy-duty truck is completely different from driving a consumer vehicle – there’s a reason why truck drivers are required to earn a CDL and complete so many safety courses before hitting the road. 

When fleets and drivers use consumer-grade navigation solutions, it’s not uncommon to hear about incidents like bridge strikes, or a truck turning down the wrong road. These are unfortunate accidents that are often the result of a driver who received poor directions from their navigation solution. A mapping solution for trucks should be able to account for the differences in driving experiences vs. cars. Considerations like bridge heights, road weight restrictions, weigh station locations, etc. are just the beginning. 

What role do commercial navigation solutions play in advancing driver productivity and safety?

We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for drivers, while bringing value to the industry. The most important thing for us – and also the largest challenge – is the many layers of information that are necessary to bring the best possible routing and navigation experience to drivers and the back office. There are so many different things that go into the CoPilot solution: road conditions, dwell times, wait times, changing HOS regulations, the best time to take breaks, where to stop, what the amenities are at rest stops, how to enter a facility and so much more. Each of these details can help drivers stay up-to-date along their routes to help them maximize productivity and safety.

We also aim to be proactive, providing drivers with features like facility-specific directions to show drivers the truck entrance, path to the loading dock, facility amenities and more. Commercial navigation solutions should also include traffic slowdown alerts (like those provided in the CoPilot solution) that give heavy-duty drivers heads-up notifications several minutes in advance, allowing them sufficient time to safely slow down. 

How does commercial navigation contribute to a connected supply chain?

When you start to think about what a truly connected supply chain can enable, the benefits are easy to understand – there is a clear need for a mechanism that can notify all the stakeholders about how things are moving along. 

The mapping and navigation solutions we’re providing at Trimble MAPS are really a window into that information. The supply chain can’t move without drivers, so within the connected supply chain, navigation solutions help the back office find the most efficient, safe route, track the status of freight and allow them to make adjustments as needed. For the driver, a connected supply chain solution can help them see how they’re doing against their goals, figure out if anything has changed in their day, and communicate all of that back to the office, completing the circle of information.

The supply chain is constantly changing, and navigation needs to flow with it as conditions change. In the event of a change in weather conditions, or a major catastrophe, navigation is at the forefront, right there in the cab with drivers, to help them deal with the circumstances and stay safe. 

At the same time, the back office needs to be able to dynamically shift routes to address unforeseen issues like traffic, weather or road closures, and communicate that to other stakeholders – a load might be early, or they need to re-route to a different location, for example.

All of this is absolutely connected, and navigation and mapping are key pieces of it. 

Experience the Power of Commercial Navigation in Your Fleet

From increasing safety to enhancing routing efficiencies, commercial navigation solutions can bring value to fleets of all shapes and sizes.

Ready to explore how commercial navigation can fit in your technology stack? Connect with Trimble MAPS today to find out more about their CoPilot solution and how they can help put you on the road to increased performance and productivity.