Hi-tech changes modify the face of OS/OW permitting.
The SC&RA Specialized Transportation Symposium in Charlotte, N.C. (February 18-21), will provide a deep dive into technology’s role across the next decade. Several presentations will focus on what members should be expecting from technology, including solutions for employing new tech by 2030.
In one particular session, Tim Pilcher, at ProMiles Software Development, will join Mike Morgan, CEO at Pit Row Transportation Solutions, and others, in delivering “What the Future Holds: Permitting in 2030 – Part 1,” which will educate STS attendees on what to expect and how to position for success in the next 10 years in OS/OW permitting.
Doing more with less
Noting that the mantra for state government since 2010 has been to “do more with less,” Pilcher indicated that, while true GIS-automated routing was initially very limited, a large number of automated routing systems have changed the face of the industry.
“I feel that virtually all states will have this capability by the end of the two thousand twenties,” he said, “and these systems will be able to push the OS/OW route out to the truck driver in the cab – improving safety.”
In terms of what SC&RA members should be excited about both now and in the 2020s, Pilcher thinks that getting route-following technology for the driver in the cab of the truck is the top area of improvement. “Following the complex routes is challenging, and I think the technology is becoming available and can make a huge difference for safety and infrastructure protection. Bridge hits and other issues with the truck not following the route continue to be a major problem, but I feel the vast majority of these are due to driver error or difficulty following the route. This technology will enormously simplify the process of following these complicated routes, and also provides the capability for route-change notifications to go directly to the driver.”
Pilcher sees e-credentials as an emerging trend that will make it easier to comply with all regulations and have the current credentials in the truck – where they are needed. “And another item that would be helpful is for the states to provide interfaces into their systems, allowing the routing and permit submission to be incorporated into the dispatch process,” he said. “This will improve efficiency and compliance by making it easier to get routes and permits. If this could be incorporated for annual permits, it would be a huge improvement in safety and infrastructure protection.”
Morgan pointed out that the amount of automation involved in all aspects of the permit ordering process has exploded over the last 10 years. “A decade ago, ordering OS/OW permits for a trip spanning a handful of states would almost certainly involve paper maps, multiple telephone calls and even fax machines,” he explained. “Today, in some states, with the help of the newer state permit systems, we can instantly order a variety of state permits with only a computer and an internet connection. In the next decade I hope to see more states implement technological solutions to make our lives easier – especially in regards to quickly obtaining safe routes for OS/OW loads moving through the state.”
That said, Morgan added that most states can have automated systems if they have the resource. “These systems require significant investments and some of the very small states may find it challenging to make this investment based on their small permit counts. Additional resources to help these smaller states would be helpful.”
With that in mind, Pit Row will be announcing its entry into the permitting industry this month. Morgan revealed that Pit Row has partnered with ProMiles, Nova Permits & Pilot Cars and AXYS Permits to produce what is called “Permit Manager,” a state-of the-art, comprehensive, full-service product designed to eliminate thousands of labor hours dedicated to manual processes, planning, ordering and managing OS/OW permits, trip and fuel permits and more.
Ultimately, Morgan believes that states should spend more time allowing technology to provide a better overall customer experience. “Automated routing and permit delivery have been proven to be safe and efficient– and it honestly seems like a matter of time before the technology is in every state,” he said. “There are multiple vendors and products available to these states, and I would imagine nearly every carrier who orders permits would be in favor of automation. Why wait?”
Worth a look: new 401K plan
SC&RA’s new 401K Program is now available at scra.tagresources.com. In development for almost a year, the in-house initiative represents another SC&RA benefit for members in search of greater access to 401K retirement solutions for themselves and their employees.
“What’s great about this program is that any SC&RA member in the U.S. will have access to it – regardless if they’re industry or allied,” said Membership Director Jason Bell. “The Association also draws no revenue from it – it will be available as an option for members to take advantage of.”
The program itself will be available through a partnership with SC&RA member One Retirement Source.
“So, the basic idea is to provide SC&RA members with access to a retirement plan as an employer, in terms of pricing and fiduciary services, that they may not be able to obtain individually on their own – especially smaller member companies,” said advisor representative and primary contact Dean J. DiGregorio, AIF, partner at One Retirement Source. “We’re able to do this through grouping – taking their plan, whether a new or existing retirement plan, and bulking it together with a much larger plan. This helps to achieve economies of scale in terms of pricing and services from the provider and other vendors.”
The new plan works for SC&RA member companies of any size, though DiGregorio highlighted that it typically works best for smaller-size businesses. “Primarily because it won’t make as much sense to the larger companies who have large plans of their own. However, this will really help the mom-and-pop shops who have maybe just a few employees up to, say, fifty. It allows them to become bigger than what they are.”
One misconception, said DiGregorio, is that companies think, if they have a plan, they’re all set. “Not necessarily – you may be responsible for a lot of the duties that are outsourced in the program, in terms of administration and investment responsibilities, as a planned sponsor or employer. But by going into this program, you can receive some of these fiduciary responsibilities for your plan that you may not have had access to elsewhere or on your own.” Ultimately, the process, added DiGregorio, couldn’t be easier.