Learn about our mission and how LoadTrek got its start.
First, A Bit About Our History
First, it must be understood that all industries have a rocky yet innovative history, but the history of onboard telematics and ELDs is an interesting one. In 1976, the country was in the middle of a fuel crisis. The “Joint Truck and Bus Fuel Economy Initiative” was formed by the U.S Department of Energy and the U.S Department of Transportation. Many promising technologies that we take for granted today were in their infancy such as aerodynamic devices, radial tires, and fan clutches. The problem: how to measure the effectiveness of each device in the real world?
A company by the name of Rockwell International was given the contract to develop an onboard computer to measure the effectiveness of human behavior, environmental factors, and various devices; the result was Rockwell Tripmaster.
The Tripmaster System Is Born
In the September 1979 issue of Popular Mechanics, history was in the making as the Rockwell Tripmaster System was introduced to the public as a system that monitored numerous systems and conditions (device is illustrated). A group of Rockwell engineers, led by Ed Gulda, decided that a simplified version of the Tripmaster would benefit fleets and be a commercial success. Could the same company that built the space shuttle also build a simple and reliable onboard recording device for the trucking industry?
Furthermore, the goal for the initial project is largely as it is today; obtain information needed to provide meaningful coaching and correction to professional drivers, and review data from events and anomalies and take corrective action.
ELDs Make Their Way Behind The Wheel
Rockwell released the Tripmaster for testing in 1981 with J.B Hunt acting as one of the test fleets, and as a result the Tripmaster was released to the public with several large private fleets as early customers. In his autobiogprahy, JB Hunt credited much of the success of his trucking company and much of it’s later history to the systems and processes developed around the Tripmaster system. You can read about it in his book “The Long Haul to Success”. During the 1980’s, Rockwell sold and serviced the Tripmaster system through distributors, many of whom were Kenworth dealers. Two of these distributors, Fleet Economy Services and Transportation Management Systems, would later join forces to buy the company with founding engineer Ed Gulda. A third distributor would later go on to develop the next generation of fleet technology based on this foundation – LoadTrek.
In 1987 Frito-Lay started to use trip recorders as automated driver logging devices under a waiver from the U.S DOT. Due to this, in 1988 this process was formalized in the Code of Federal Regulations 49, 395.15. These devices were termed “Automatic Onboard Recording Devices” or ABORDs, and could be used as automated driver logs without any waivers. The 1980s through the 1990s saw an evolution of methods to move data between the truck and the office. The 1980s started with mailing data cassettes to Troy, MI for processing, and at the end of the 1990s companies began using infrared, memory cards, and proprietary LAN connections. By 2000, wifi was being used to move data, as well as cellular networks and satellites.
GPS & LoadTrek
Another significant advancement in the history of ELDs in the 1990s was the first commercial introdcution of GPS in 1995. As Rockwell focused its business units on automation and avionics, the Land Transportation Electronics business was spun off to Tripmaster Corporation on December 15, 1999. Large private fleets and companies with highly specialized needs used Tripmaster to become a key component of their overall technology roadmap. It was during that time that one Tripmaster distributor, Sheehy Enterprises, started to create a single system that included an onboard computer, dispatch, and financial functions. Instead of using large enterprise servers, this new system would utilize the internet to bring “large fleet” technology to small and medium sized companies. This new product would evolve into what is known today as LoadTrek.
LoadTrek hit the market in 2003. As was the case in the early 1980s, large-scale complex technology was simplified and made available to fleets. Today, LoadTrek is still the sole cloud-based fully functional all-in-one onboard computer and telematics and Transportation Management System.