Case study: Darling Ingredients - compliance, productivity and utilization with FleetLocate by Spireon

Case Study: Darling Ingredients and the Real World Challenges of Implementation

Case Study: Darling Ingredients is a global developer and producer of sustainable natural ingredients from edible and inedible bio-nutrients With operations in 18 countries on five continents, headquarters in Irving, Texas, and approximately 10,000 employees worldwide generating annual revenue around $3.7 million, Darling is extremely invested in fleets, transportation, and the logistics of moving its products.

The company’s transportation efforts focus on three main areas: compliance, productivity, and utilization.


Darling uses its onboard technology to track miles of any of its vehicles in motion, regardless if a driver has logged in. The company also tracks pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Its fleet management system pushes all onboard tracking information and maintenance records into the company’s main compliance documentation. Technology is key in this area.

“We have roughly 100 locations across North America,” says Vice President of Fleet Operations Patrick McNutt. “Good technology that keeps up with all that data is paramount.”


Darling uses some of its same compliance technology to collect route execution data and manage manpower. The shortage of qualified drivers in the industry underlines the need to optimize the productivity of the drivers it has.

“We use Spireon FleetLocate to track our trailers and fleet,” McNutt points out. “With over 4,500 trailers around North America, our ability to know where they are and that our drivers are staying compliant is important.”

For optimal productivity, all Darling Ingredients’ systems “speak” to each other. Data from onboard powered units and trailers feeds directly into fleet maintenance software, doing away with the need for manual readings checks. By automating this process, human error — such as data being fed into the system twice — is eliminated. Such accuracy amounts to a major return on investment both through maintenance tracking and prediction modeling, according to McNutt.

Route optimization is also key. It allows demand of service forecasting and predictive model, or “planned actual,” measurement, allowing Darling Ingredients to more accurately plan and measure performance. “We do a lot of stops and a lot of routing of our trucks, so the predictability and execution of those routes are extremely important to us,” explains McNutt.

By being able to track its trailers, Darling Ingredients knows when to expect a shipment to hit a customer and can work with those customers more productively. In some cases, Darling even shares its tracking data with its customers as an added layer of value. The more insight, the more predictability for everyone.

Productivity is also relevant at the mechanic level. By performing its own maintenance, Darling faces challenges in staying staffed with qualified mechanics. As such, it uses its shop-floor workstation to monitor and measure the activities of its mechanics and ensure optimal productivity. Equipment in the greatest need of maintenance gets it at the right time, heading off more severe problems down the road.


“When we think about our capacity and constraint challenges, we do everything we can to make sure we’re getting maximum utilization from our equipment — power units, trailers, even human resources,” says McNutt.

Darling once again draws on the power of the same family of onboard technology. Onboard computers measure miles and fuel, track trailer location, and report exactly how many miles have been driven in any period of time. “We can reach out and grab them when we need to.”

McNutt estimates most companies are operating with about a 10 percent shortage of drivers. To get the most out of the 90 percent they have, route optimization once again is crucial. “As the old adage goes, what gets measured gets done. If you can create effective routes and get your drivers to run efficiently, then you have the ability to pick up productivity.”

The Impact of ELD

McNutt has seen the greatest impact of ELD on its outsourced third-party haulers, in which capacity has dried up quite a bit. Driver training for new processes was another challenge. “It’s not something that you just plug in and switch on,” says McNutt.

Change management did not come easy at Darling, though driver reaction to systems implementation did soften over time. McNutt believes a company has gotten it right when, if the technology were taken away, there would be more complaints than when it was put in. He thinks Darling has reached that threshold.

“I used to describe it as swimming upstream with a fire hose in our face. Once they got used to the ELDs and not having to do paper logs and the accompanying administrative work, it all became very well-accepted.”

Ultimately, any technology implementation — whether for regulatory compliance or to ease the constraints of productivity and utilization — must pay for itself.

“It’s always important to look at technology in terms of practicality first. It has to provide something that your company can actually be successful in implementation,” McNutt advises. “There is a lot of good technology out there that costs a lot of money and under the right circumstances can be beneficial to implement, but if you are not prepared to analyze the practicality, you’re throwing money out the window because it won’t get you to the finish line.”

You can read the entire case study report here. And for more information on the ELD mandate and onboard technology that not only keeps your fleet compliant but also productive and efficient, visit our FleetLocate Compliance page or call one of our friendly experts at 800.557.1449.

Patrick McNutt was one of the featured guest speakers for “Capacity, Constraints and Hours of Service: What’s Here Now and What’s Coming Next,” a webinar hosted by Spireon.

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