When people in the technology world think of innovation, weigh station preclearance for commercial vehicles may not be the first thing to come to mind. However, as the Drivewyze team has shown in the last few years, it was a transportation area desperately needing a high-tech overhaul.
All commercial vehicles must report to weigh stations on the highway. For drivers, this involves a time-consuming process of slowing down, getting into the station, rolling onto the scale and getting a document inspection before getting back up to highway speed to continue the trip. Brian Mofford, Drivewyze Vice President, knew his team could come up with a better way.
Technology that allows commercial vehicles to bypass weigh stations has been around for many years but is traditionally delivered by hardware-based systems requiring a lot of infrastructure, the cost of which to implement ranges from $200,000 to $1 million.
Rather than embarking on an expensive infrastructure project, the Drivewyze team explored leveraging technology already on the market – and in their future customers’ pockets.
“We looked at the problem back in 2010, and looked at location-based services and display and audio alerts,” explains Brian. “Smartphones with GPS became a way to replace the traditional hardware responder.”
From the initial research, the team built a product in 2011 and launched commercially by 2012.
The company’s preclearance technology allows drivers to bypass scales with heads-up alerts from a smartphone or tablet. Drivewyze made this possible by working with law enforcement to set up preclearance information ahead of time: if everything passes, the driver receives a notification that they can bypass the weigh station, saving time, money and fuel.
As a former TEC Edmonton client, the Drivewyze team received help from a TEC Edmonton Executive in Residence to successfully raise $8 million in financing. That same Executive in Residence ended up joining Drivewyze full time for a year as Chief Financial Officer.
Drivewyze has been an Edmonton-based company since the beginning, leveraging software and resources build by Drivewyze’s parent company. Brian cites the relationships they built as well as funding mechanisms in Canada and Alberta as advantageous: “Funding from Alberta Innovates, TECTERRA and the SR&ED program helped in the early days and today.”
Of course, having access to local talent doesn’t hurt either. “There’s a misconception for technology companies that you have to look elsewhere. We’ve been successful in finding quality resources right here in Edmonton.”
Today, Drivewyze technology adoption allows commercial drivers to bypass over 700 stations in 43 states in the U.S., in addition to Alberta. Always looking ahead, the team is working on growing the Drivewyze service across Canada.
After the success of Drivewyze, Brian has a few pieces of advice for Edmonton companies who want to ramp up business: “From a funding perspective, plan to raise a little bit more than you initially expect and account for the unknowns. Leverage funding mechanisms from the provincial and federal forces”
“…And talk to your TEC Edmonton representative!” Brian adds. “They can help guide you to what’s available.”
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