It seems like that 2018 is going to be another hectic and productive year for Pilot Flying J.
The Tennessee-based company plans to add 20 more stores and renovate 50 existing ones, according to PFJ Chief Merchant Brian Ferguson.
Last year, the company established eight additional travel centers, remodeled 50 facilities, put up more parking spaces, built new shower facilities, and expanded their services at 50 locations.
Ferguson also said some of the new stores would have mini Bass Pro Shops. The establishment of small Bass Pro Shops in the stores is part of the partnership deal between PFJ and Bass Pro Shops
With Jimmy Haslam at the helm as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), PFJ is the biggest travel center operator in the North American region with over 750 locations spread across 43 states and 6 Canadian provinces. The company’s 26,000 employees cater to over 1.3 million guests each day.
PFJ Vice President of Shop Strategies and Operations Dave Latimer said that within the next few weeks, five maintenance facilities would open while 20 more would start operating in the summer.
Among the basic services that the shops will provide are preventive maintenance, light mechanical work, and Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections.
Latimer said, “We want to be the urgent care facilities to get things done that a trucker needs in three hours or less. We’ll let the truck dealers and those facilities be the hospitals for major work.”
Latimer also said that they launched a TruckCare program last year that involves emergency roadside service and the setup of maintenance shops at a few travel centers.
PFJ also made available 150 roadside assistance trucks to provide roadside service to drivers and opened seven service shops.
Meanwhile, Tyler Tanaka, the Digital Innovation Head at PFJ, revealed that they installed parking sensors at a few locations on the West Coast in 2017. The sensors notify drivers of an available parking slot at a PFJ location via the MyPilot app.
According to Tanaka, the sensors send real-time notifications on available parking spots, which can help drivers make the most out of their hours of service (HOS).
Tanaka’s team is looking into the possibility of turning the MyPilot app into a primary tool to inform drivers about in-store deals and other offers.
Tanaka also added that they are gathering feedback on the locations or areas where drivers find it difficult to find a parking spot so the company could determine where to best place the parking sensors.
“We feel like we’ve solved the I-5 corridor with sensors at 33 locations so far on the West Coast, and we know the Chicagoland area, Texas and New England are huge parking pain points for drivers. We’re focusing on the biggest congestion areas.”
Truck-parking detection technology, which involves the use of sensors, have been pushed by three researchers recently, given that parking is a persistent issue hounding drivers.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) compiled a list of the biggest trucking industry concerns, and the shortage or unavailability of truck parking spaces ranked on number four.
The implementation of the ELD mandate last December 18 further amplified the truck parking shortage problem.
In the next 10 months, Pilot Flying J is going to add more stores and modernize existing ones. This would definitely make life easier for truck drivers.
Moreover, as PFJ stores now also have FMCSA-compliant electronic logging devices, like the KeepTruckin ELD, drivers can easily become compliant — especially before the April 1, 2018, deadline after which ELD violations will have severe consequences.
If you are still looking for an ELD, you can visit your nearest PFJ travel center.