The Lonestar Corporation is a full-service instrumentation and electrical construction company operating a fleet of 214 vehicles in the challenging terrain surrounding Odessa, Texas. Lonestar is licensed to serve in New Mexico and Texas, providing innovative, single source electrical construction services for some of the most demanding heavy industrial clients in diverse sectors including:
- Oil and Gas
- Gas Processing and Treatment
- Petroleum and Petrochemicals
- Power Plants
Lonestar's Fleet Management Problems Before Whip Around
When your company motto is "power to provide", and your customer base consists of the demanding, no-excuse, clients in the heavy-duty industries listed above, efficient fleet management has got to be a top priority. For these industrial clients, failure is not an option. Chief Operating Officer Landon Hobbs turned to Whip Around (WA) to meet the challenges which Lonestar was facing each day while providing the Odessa region with services such as power line maintenance and repair, power distribution, and electrical systems installation, to name just a few of Lonestar's wide array of services.
With industrial projects underway all across the challenging West Texas region, Lonestar's fleet of 214 specialized vehicles is constantly on the move. Lonestar crews frequently need to traverse poor roads in adverse weather conditions that accelerate vehicle wear and tear. This leads to more accidents, lawsuits from people who are involved in those accidents with company vehicles, and insurance company issues generated by fleet inspection reporting demands.
Unreliable Inspections Caused Problems
Without a reliable, robust, daily inspection procedure vehicle faults went undetected and repair costs soared when catastrophic breakdowns which could have been prevented by a rigorous DVIR procedure left the fleet undermanned and under-equipped. Vehicle downtime meant specialty crews were also down, racking up costs as high as $12,000 per day. "Vehicles offline is the single biggest cost to our business," says COO Hobbs.
Eventually, Landon Hobbs found himself at the breaking point, one we see all too frequently with fleet operations managers who are overwhelmed by a sea of DOT paperwork, not to mention a costly barrage of DOT fines, and out-of-control vehicle downtime. After suffering through one of the most costly periods for the Lonestar fleet four years ago, Landon described the stressful scenario which led him to seek the Whip Around paperless solution.
Too Much Paper Caused More Problems
At one point Lonestar's HQ actually ran out of space to store the massive piles of paperwork generated by day-to-day fleet operations. Lonestar's HQ was a mess. As we'll see shortly, the ability to lay hands on a specific daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) in a timely manner can have huge returns on investment, aside from the other ROI advantages which WA provides for fleet managers in high-performance industries.
Landon told us how he found and made his final choice to use Whip Around recalling the day when finally, enough was enough. "I was so sick and tired of using paper and one day I literally snapped when trying to find a report for insurance purposes. I googled "Paperless Daily Vehicle Inspections" and you guys (Lonestar)were about 5th on the page. I decided to try Fleetio and you guys but went with Whip Around as it was so much easier to use and Fleetio kept trying to upsell me products and features we weren't interested in, like their GPS."
Life at Lonestar With Whip Around
Whip Around's custom form builder had Landon up and running almost immediately to improve prioritizing of inspection faults and maintenance tasks with better flow and status control. WA allowed him to do it all from the app on his smartphone, all without the need to generate more paper clutter. The form builder became one of the COO's favorite features. Landon told us about his experience with Whip Around's highly intuitive, user-friendly app.
"I was building forms within minutes of signing up which was pretty much when I decided we would definitely purchase. I confirmed that 4 days later even though you guys were offering me a longer trial period."
Landon also had rave reviews for the customer support Lonestar received from our Whip Around customer support rep Lauren, commenting that, "Lauren has been great to deal with. She made the entire on-boarding of all the vehicles and drivers super easy". That was a welcome surprise after what the harried COO had gone through with Verizon's Fleetmatics. Landon described his Fleetmatics experience in bluntly honest Texan style without pulling his punches, saying the product was just OK, " But god damn their customer support and service is bad!"
Today, Whip Around has become the cornerstone of Lonestar's fleet operations management system. Every driver receives an iPhone with WA pre-loaded and each new driver spends 2 weeks in the yard as part of the induction process. The WA module is used to orient the newcomer on the daily Vehicle Inspections & Health & Safety procedures. Landon also uses the custom form builder to compile checklists that keep everyone up to speed on health and safety compliance for the yard and buildings.
Whip Around's ROI at Lonestar
Fleet management is all about the bottom line and ROI, return on investment. While the primary purpose of WA at Lonestar is meeting the demands of DOT compliance with DVIR, (daily vehicle inspection reports) Landon is reporting some other very significant returns on his Whip Around investment, some which he'd never anticipated.
Cost Savings Generated by Robust Maintenance
DVIR identified filter issues which allowed early preventative servicing and saving of $6,000 per unit in replacement filter costs. This also spares the 3-4 week wait for these hard-to-stock parts to arrive, reducing downtime numbers for the fleet. Says COO Hobbs, "We've already saved close to $20,000 in maintenance repair bills via Whip Around's ability to identify early indicators."
Reduced Liability With Digitized Well Managed Records
In Odessa (and sadly, most other regions of the country) it's very common for a company to be sued anytime a company vehicle is involved in an accident. This can include company personnel who have been injured as well as other parties involved. Lonestar told us about several cases where being able to produce timely DVIR documentation reduced the company's liability.
In one case a driver tried to blame faulty steering alignment for the head-on crash of his company vehicle. Landon was able to quickly lay hands on the DVIR history which documented that the driver had successfully carried out all daily inspections for the previous 4 months on that particular vehicle without a fault. Confronted with such indisputable evidence the driver had to admit that he'd been distracted by eating and cleaning his glasses, which was the true cause of the accident.
The ability to showcase the vehicle inspection history has played prominent roles in eliminating liability claims when the company has been accused of being negligent or at fault.
Lonestar Made WA Mandatory
Lonestar has now made WA compulsory for all drivers, with driver bonuses providing the incentive for carrying out the daily inspections which are so vital to efficient fleet operations and management. Now, with all drivers reliably carrying out mandatory DVIRs at 6 AM, Landon can receive all detected faults in the fleet by 7 AM, prioritize them with fleet manager Steve, and pass them on to the in-house or external mechanics for leased vehicles by 8 AM. COO Hobbs remarked about his typical day with WA, "I do use the dashboard but there are days when I run the entire process purely through the fault emails especially if I'm on the move".
But our favorite comment from Lonestar's satisfied COO Landon Hobbs concerning his Whip Around experience has to be "Your guys' product is way too cheap!". Coming from the COO of Lonestar, a company which operates in such a challenging business environment, there can be no higher praise.
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If your fleet operations are buried in a mountain of paper, your vehicle downtime is out of control, and you're ready to make the digital transformation for streamlined DOT compliance with a robust DVIR-based maintenance program that can boost your bottom line it's time to take advantage of the digital Whip Around solution. If you have any questions about integrating Whip Around into your fleet management program please don't hesitate to contact us.