Oakley Transport launches new tools aimed at educating and supporting new and tenured drivers

Nov. 5, 2015
TRANSPORTATION companies everywhere are challenged with keeping their drivers performing at their best—for the business’s growth and success, the driver’s professional development and to ensure the product’s quality and safe arrival.

TRANSPORTATION companies everywhere are challenged with keeping their drivers performing at their best—for the business’s growth and success, the driver’s professional development and to ensure the product’s quality and safe arrival. While training and support are words often used in recruitment within the trucking industry, Lake Wales, Florida-based Oakley Transport Inc is giving new meaning to those terms.

The newest addition to the Oakley Transport fleet isn’t a tanker, box truck, or semi-trailer. It is a 48-foot-long, steel-fabricated corporate trainers dream.

The new trailer, which carries four scaled-down versions of liquid product tanks, was designed by the team at Oakley with their partner, Brenner Tank LLC, in an effort to provide hand-on experience for their professional drivers. And while new recruits will learn on the trailer firsthand at orientation, over-the-road and tenured drivers will benefit from ongoing support and training to keep them knowledgeable and comfortable with the equipment and products they’re entrusted with daily.

“We understand the value of ongoing training,” says Thomas Oakley, president and chief executive officer of Oakley Transport. “It’s not just something we promote and sell to recruit here at Oakley. We believe that professional drivers thrive on support and ongoing education to perform at their best and remain at the top of the industry.” 

Lengthy discussion

The trailer is the result of months of discussions, sketches, and fabrication, all of which included input from every level of the organization—from drivers, to maintenance and training team members, to leaders from operations. One Oakley Transport tenured driver, Ed Appleton, was in part responsible for the development of the trailer concept.  

“While Oakley has always focused on training, in addition to quality and safety, our existing training tools were not representative of the wide array of products we carry, and the concept of a multi-purpose training unit was a perfect solution,” says Appleton.  

With Appleton’s input, the team at Oakley Transport realized that training on a single full-sized tank only offered a single pumping process. Given that the organization hauls for multiple customers with various products all requiring different delivery processes, the idea for a tool that covered multiple pumping processes quickly became a reality.  

A retired DOT407 barrel was used for the three cargo tank simulators on the training trailer. From left is a sanitary juice tank, a DOT407 alcoholic beverage tank, and a sweetener tank. Each has a roughly 500-gallon capacity.

Designed with four fully functional tanks, complete with sanitary pumps, hydraulics, outlet valves, and in- transit heating systems, the trailer provides drivers with the opportunity to train on three styles of transport trailers currently used by Oakley.

“This new state-of-the-art training trailer allows our bulk tank professionals to experience firsthand how to properly pump various products including sugar, whiskey, and juice before they interact with a customer and live product,” says Garry Dutcher, onboarding manager at Oakley Transport. “The trailer adds functionality to our training process that will help ensure that our professional drivers are properly trained to handle the various scenarios they may encounter when they’re representing our company with a customer.”

While the trailer will serve as a key element in onboarding and in the orientation process for new drivers, Oakley plans to use the trailer to keep OTR and tenured drivers performing at their best. “We’re excited to use this new tool for our team members who may not work regularly with various products,” says Dutcher. “The trailer gives us the opportunity to keep our team members fresh and educated to mitigate product loss and potential service failures due to insufficient or irregular training.”

Cabinets on the training trailer tanks contain working pumps and valves.
Driving simulator

In addition to the trailer, Oakley Transport recently invested in the addition of a driving simulator to its training arsenal. Similar to a computer system, the simulator allows Oakley’s trainers to test professional drivers regularly and evaluate driving and reaction habits and skills—good or bad—that they’ve developed over time or had before beginning their career at Oakley Transport.

Following their route in the simulator, drivers are able to review their performance, noting both the positive and negative behaviors and reactions. “Challenging our professional drivers with scenarios including high wind, rain, ice, or snow, and other environmental conditions is extremely helpful in identifying their skills or areas needing improvement,” Dutcher says. “We can simulate nearly any situation imaginable, including road hazards or even animals jumping from the shoulder, all with the intention of educating and correcting potentially harmful reactions.”

Oakley states that the simulator is all about helping to sharpen the skills of drivers. The custom-designed simulator is geared toward training drivers in a tanker setting. The seat and controls are impacted by the simulated “surge and slush” movement of liquid product. Drivers are graded on their habits from following distance to reaction time and more.  

“It’s an amazing tool that gives us the insight needed to better provide our team with training that is specific to their needs,” Dutcher says.

While the simulator will remain at Oakley Transport’s headquarters in Lake Wales, drivers will have the opportunity to regularly test their skills during formal performance evaluations as well as employee competitions and driving skill challenges and contests, all with the goal of creating and encouraging employee engagement. Once mobile, the trailer will serve Oakley’s 485 bulk tank professionals in the east coast region and can travel to terminal locations including Chicago, Illinois; Savannah, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and Memphis, Tennessee; among others.

For more information on Oakley Transport and its training program, visit    ♦