california freight logo with a person sitting on a truck working on laptop

California Freight: Using telematics to cut idling costs by 59%

Published on October 27, 2023

california freight logo with a person sitting on a truck working on laptop

California Freight provides customized transportation services to all industries, with strategic involvement in brokerage, rail/port drayage, food grade tankers and warehousing. They also provide logistics support that offers their clients everything they need to ship refrigerated, dry or specialized equipment across the nation or around the world, putting California Freight at the forefront of their industry.


With operations this large and services this diverse, California Freight needed a telematics solution that was both flexible and provided the data intelligence needed to make sure goods were being delivered safely and efficiently. They turned to the leader in the telematics industry – Geotab.


Partnering with Geotab proved transformative for California Freight almost immediately. Geotab data provided a comprehensive story of their operations, flagged opportunities for development and opened the doors to a future full of possibilities regarding cost savings, efficiency, safety and sustainability. With Geotab, California Freight is continually finding new ways to evolve their business and they’re excited about the results.


“Geotab sparked transformative ideas.”

– Nick Donahoe, Director of Logistics

Results at a glance

  • 100% of California Freight’s fleet uses Geotab
  • 40 dispatchers on MyGeotab daily
  • 300 Class A drivers, 35 Hostlers using 3 different vehicle models, including Peterbilt, Freightliner, Kalmar Ottawa
  • Idling costs dropped from $100k to $41k per month – a reduction of 59% to date
  • Overall reduction in emissions


The Challenge

California Freight understood data was key to safety and efficiency for their fleet. They needed a solution that would pull everything together. They were using multiple systems daily and they wanted to improve logistics by streamlining on one platform. As a long-time client of AT&T for their mobile devices, California Freight learned that AT&T supported Geotab as well and in 2019, they made the switch.


With AT&T facilitating the relationship with Geotab, work began to seamlessly integrate California Freight’s internal website with this powerful telematics solution. The integration of existing systems on the Geotab platform was easier than expected and what they thought would be a challenge turned out to be a smooth implementation. Data and intelligent insights started to pour in on day one, painting a comprehensive picture of California Freight operations. MyGeotab reports made it clear that there were opportunities for major improvements, specifically in the areas of cost, safety and compliance.


California Freight was paying an average of $100,000 a month in idling costs – a number that was previously looked at as simply the cost of doing business. However, the MyGeotab idling report showed that these costs could be greatly reduced with a few small changes.


When it came to driver and public safety, something that was always a priority to California Freight, there was a lack of visibility into roadside incidents. After looking at MyGeotab reporting on driver violations regarding Hours of Service (HOS) and other infractions, California Freight saw that these costs could be reduced with some simple changes as well.


Finally, compliance requirements are changing in California in the near future, with smog checks increasing from two to four a year per vehicle. The current process employs testing stations to capture emissions. But Geotab suggested a different approach to testing – one where California Freight can remain compliant while avoiding the cost of pulling their vehicles off the road.


“We’re aligned on our overall values which makes it really easy and enjoyable to work with Geotab. They have a smart team who are always willing to help, and we appreciate the strong partnership.”

– Jonathan Hamilton, Director of Fleet Safety and Compliance


The Solution

Within the first few months of using the Geotab solution, California Freight’s idling costs dropped by the hundreds of thousands and operations improved beyond their expectations. Now 100% of their fleet uses Geotab products and services every day, which include Geotab GO9 devices, Lat-Lon asset trackers, key fob readers, MyGeotab for dispatchers and Geotab APIs. They are also pilot testing tools from Geotab Marketplace Partners that layer onto the platform for extra capabilities. And after attending Geotab Connect 2023 (Geotab’s annual partner conference), California Freight discovered even more ways to leverage the platform for their business.


“Geotab has taken our operations to another level – helping us realize the potential of applying the right technology to modernize our fleet, save money and streamline operations.”

– Nick Donahoe, Director of Logistics


Seamless, easy integration

California Freight’s initial goal of creating a one-stop shop on the Geotab platform was easily accomplished, with Geotab support being directly accessible for guidance at every stage. Geotab APIs were used to integrate internal systems so that drivers can access important documents from anywhere, at any time. Now there’s less of a dependency on their head office to provide documentation and drivers can remotely access vehicle registration records whenever they need to. As a result, California Freight has seen a decrease in driver citations because digital records are acceptable across every state.


Driver and public safety a top priority

Safety is, and always has been, a priority for California Freight from both a driver and public perspective. Geotab provides vehicle data that flags potential issues, so that proactive maintenance can be scheduled at opportune times to avoid roadside breakdowns.


But support for drivers doesn’t end there. Reporting has flagged potential driving infractions, leading to targeted, individual driver training that has resulted in a decrease in violations. However, if an incident occurs, California Freight has developed an accident response procedure that drivers follow within Geotab to notify headquarters of the accident and the location of the driver. Dispatch can contact the driver to ensure they’re ok and reach out to emergency response teams if necessary.


Now California Freight’s adding another layer of support for drivers, developing a customized app using Geotab’s open platform to walk a driver through the creation of a minor accident report. Integrated with Geotab Drive, the reports can be created immediately and will contain critical information and pictures of the incident.


For situations that are more serious, the accident reconstruction tool has proven to be invaluable. The tool paints an accurate picture of the circumstances of a roadside incident, reporting on the speed and g-force of the vehicle in the seconds before and after the accident. This information has helped clear California Freight drivers of fault and has avoided legal proceedings because data was provided in advance to investigators.


“I don’t know how we’d do it without Geotab – the solution is literally in every aspect of our operations.”

– Jonathan Hamilton, Director of Fleet Safety and Compliance


Making compliance simple

Geotab’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solutions take the complexity out of compliance. These devices automatically log HOS, ensuring that California Freight drivers are adhering to regulations across the country. These devices are more reliable than self-reporting methods and provide critical information into violations. There’s a big difference between a two-minute violation and one that’s two hours. Geotab provides intelligent insights that help the business understand the context of the violations so that appropriate action can be taken.


California Freight is also committed to complying with environmental regulations. Smog checks in California are increasing from two to four a year, per vehicle, and are performed at testing stations. But California Freight is working with Geotab on a GO9 pilot project that will run smog checks while the vehicle is in transit. This will ensure that California Freight remains compliant without compromising on revenue, since trucks will be able to continue delivering goods while tests are being conducted. Geotab’s close partnership with its customers allows for a strong working relationship that continually solves business challenges.


The Results

Incredible cost savings

Idling is a serious challenge for many fleets–adding to the climate crisis, draining resources and inflating operational costs.


With Geotab, California Freight gained intelligent insights that showed them how a few minor tweaks could significantly decrease idling costs.


Before Geotab, those costs were running at $100,000 per month on average. California Freight set a goal to bring that down to $50,000 – and within 30 days of using Geotab, idling costs dropped by 30%. Today, California Freight’s idling costs have dropped 59% therefore reducing overall emissions and bringing them closer to their sustainability targets.


The company has also added auxiliary power units (APUs) in sleeper trucks. APUs reduce idle time and fuel consumption, with reports helping identify excess fuel consumption so that issues can be addressed promptly.


Geotab has also helped with asset utilization. Reporting shows which assets are being used and which are sitting, so the business can strategically relocate vehicles to ensure goods are moving quickly and efficiently.


Geotab Connect: Advancing technology together

Geotab Connect is a yearly conference that brings together all of Geotab’s clients under one roof. The event encourages discussions around the prevailing challenges of the industry, fosters collaboration between partners on how to resolve these issues and sparks ideas on how telematics can be advanced in anticipation of future business demands.


California Freight attended the conference with representatives from different parts of their organization and it surpassed their expectations. Not only were their questions answered, but the team also came home inspired with new goals. They’re currently working on implementing those ideas, including using the Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) tool to evaluate whether certain functions of their fleet can be performed by electric vehicles. The future holds many exciting possibilities for California Freight and Geotab remains a committed partner in helping them achieve their goals. 

Client profile

Client name:

California Freight


Liquid bulk food-grade transport

Types of vehicles:

Peterbilt, Freightliner, Kalmar Ottawa

Fleet size:


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