Big Data at Schneider National
Schneider National, one of North America’s largest truckload, logistics and intermodal services providers, has been pursuing various forms of analytical optimization for a couple of decades. What has changed in Schneider’s business over the past several years is the availability of lowcost sensors for its trucks, trailers and intermodal containers. The sensors monitor location, driving behaviors, fuel levels and whether a trailer/container is loaded or empty. Schneider has been transitioning to a new technology platform over the last five years, but leaders there don’t draw a bright line between big data and more traditional data types. However, the quality of the optimized decisions it makes with the sensor data – dispatching of trucks and containers, for example – is improving substantially, and the company’s use of prescriptive analytics is changing job roles and relationships.
New sensors are constantly becoming available. For example, fuel-level sensors, which Schneider is beginning to implement, allow better fueling optimization, i.e., identifying the optimal location at which a driver should stop for fuel based on how much is left in the tank, the truck’s destination and fuel prices along the way. In the past, drivers have entered the data manually, but sensor data is both more accurate and free of bias.
Safety is a core value at Schneider. Driving sensors are triggering safety discussions between drivers and their leaders. Hard braking in a truck, for example, is captured by sensors and relayed to headquarters. This data is tracked in dashboard-based safety metrics and initiates a review between the driver and his/her leader. Schneider is piloting a process where the sensor data, along with other factors, goes into a model that predicts which drivers may be at greater risk of a safety incident. The use of predictive analytics produces a score that initiates a pre-emptive conversation with the driver and leads to less safety-related incidents.
Source: Big Data in Big Companies, Thomas H. Davenport and Jill Dyché, May 2013 (Go to Suggested Readings to view full article)