J.B. Hunt Keeps on Trucking with Mobile Device Management Solution

About J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest transportation logistics suppliers in North America. It provides trucking and logistics services to customers throughout the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to conventional truck transport, the company offers a wide of range highly customized supply chain solutions, such as intermodal, brokerage assistance, final mile and dedicated contract services. The diversity of their operations offers full integration of a customer’s transportation needs.


As J.B. Hunt transitioned from older wireless phone technology to more advanced smartphones for its mobile workforce, the Information Services organization needed an efficient way to manage and administer the devices. It was particularly concerned with controlling access to company applications and data, as well as increasing security of and managing the devices.


J.B. Hunt uses MobileIron VSP from AT&T, a mobile device management, platform which allows staff to administer and have visibility into more than 1,400 smartphones deployed throughout the company. Information Services has control over every aspect – the initial turn-up and authorization of devices, troubleshooting, user support and security and tracking lost or stolen phones.

A Sophisticated Business on Wheels

The business of truck transport is not merely picking up freight at point A and driving it to point B; a successful logistics partner crafts customized solutions around the unique logistics needs of its varied customers. For example, much of J.B. Hunt’s operations are based on intermodal transportation of goods, which involves moving cargo containers via both rail and truck. This offers customers the optimum combination of the long-haul efficiency of rail with the unlimited flexibility of truck transport.

“Our relationship with rail is one of the things that sets J.B. Hunt apart,” said Brandon Stanley, Director of Information Services. “We feel this helps us provide a better variety of customer solutions.”

For many customers, J.B. Hunt effectively serves as their in-house logistics department, managing the incoming delivery of parts and supplies and the outgoing shipping and distribution of finished goods. For other companies, J.B. Hunt has developed a highly popular ‘Final Mile’ service, where the company handles delivery service to homes and offices. This can include installation and set-up of everything from patio furniture to home appliances and exercise equipment.

“We even pickup medical supplies in need of sterilization. They are sterilized, repackaged, and delivered back to hospitals and medical centers,” added Joey Jones, Information Services Manager, Telecommunications. “Our drivers know how to handle these supplies and maintain the necessary standards.”

Mobile Communications Matter

In a business that involves sending equipment and people back and forth across the continent, J.B. Hunt has long had an interest in wireless-based technologies. These include various evolutions of in-cab devices, such as hand-held devices used to handle dispatch duties, as well as signature capture for deliveries and other logistic details. For a few customers, J.B. Hunt also uses a push-to-talk capability to match the unique needs of their business.

Virtually all J.B. Hunt drivers rely on their personal cell phones while on the road, both to stay in touch with family and to save time by calling ahead to customers for directions and arrival instructions. Even J.B. Hunt’s contract drivers can use applications for searching and accepting available loads.

Moving up to Smartphones

Spending their days in the field with customers, J.B. Hunt’s remote sales executives and account representatives utilize wireless devices for voice communications, data access, and voice mail. But as touch-enabled devices appeared, J.B. Hunt saw the potential in equipping staff with what were essentially hand-held computers.

“Our end users wanted these new devices,” said Stanley. “We saw they could increase productivity by gaining access to much more than email, such as company applications and data resources. The question was, of course, how do you maintain security and manage these devices?”

In the past, most users had BlackBerry devices, which J.B. Hunt managed on the proprietary BlackBerry platform. These new devices would necessitate a different management solution. Information Services crafted a detailed technical assessment of requirements and then looked to Gartner for recommendations on the most capable mobile management systems.

“After reviewing a number of providers, we leaned toward the top-rated MobileIron solution and chose AT&T as its implementation and technical support provider,” said Jones. “Besides being well recommended, the integrated solution fit our requirements closely.”

As Jones noted, the most critical need was to be able to set policies for the devices and control which applications and data employees were allowed to access. Also of high priority was making it easy for end users to register and authenticate their devices and for administrators to manage them going forward. “The MobileIron interface proved to be the most intuitive and easiest to use,” said Jones. “New devices can be registered into the platform in a matter of minutes.”

A Cost-Effective Approach

By working with AT&T, the MobileIron fee is billed directly through J.B. Hunt’s AT&T contract. This contributes to the company’s overall spend with AT&T and leads to more discounts. “It’s nice having it all on one invoice,” said Jones.

“Even better,” said Jones, “the MobileIron solution works very well with our rather unique wireless device policy.” At J.B. Hunt, the end users purchase their own smartphone device while the company pays for the voice and data plans. To take full advantage of the company’s volume discounts, J.B. Hunt gives employees a generous allotment of minutes and bandwidth for their business use. Employees are also allowed to purchase extra minutes above their business allotment, if needed. By implementing and managing this unique policy through MobileIron, J.B. Hunt has gained greater control over its mobile expenses.

Initially, the company opted for a monthly per device licensing fee. Most recently, it has moved to a more attractive perpetual license model where J.B. Hunt pays a one-time flat fee along with an ongoing maintenance charge.

Rather than carrying two devices—one for personal use and one for business use, employees purchase one smartphone and can access company email and business applications as needed. And the access is highly secured, thanks to the MobileIron platform.

Tighter Control and Tracking

At J.B. Hunt, most of the company applications are web-enabled, meaning users can access them through standard browsers. When a user launches an app, such as the J.B. Hunt purchase approval system, the MobileIron functionality automatically authenticates the user by utilizing the company’s VPN; it’s a very simple and highly secure process.

Perhaps even more important, the MobileIron platform provides J.B. Hunt with real-time information and hands-on control for the devices managed on the platform. As an example, if an employee travels overseas and begins using their smartphone, they may incur steep international roaming charges. With MobileIron, J.B. Hunt is notified promptly, allowing staff to quickly apply an international rate plan to that account for the duration of the trip.

“In the past, we’ve seen employees rack up significant international roaming charges on a single device,” recalls Robert Auten, Senior Client Engineer. “With MobileIron, we’ve eliminated that risk because we can immediately get in touch with the employee and enroll them in a plan that will save us money.”

If an employee’s phone is lost or stolen, J.B. Hunt can use the MobileIron platform to locate the device and quickly delete sensitive company data. “Likewise, if an employee leaves the company, we can selectively remove company data without affecting their personal data such as contacts, apps, and photographs,” said Jones.

Turning Up New Locations Quickly

J.B. Hunt embraces the flexibility of the AT&T wireless network and MobileIron to enable the rapid setup of new operations.

“For a new customer, we often need to establish a local presence in a matter of weeks as part of our contract with them,” said Jones. “To get operational quickly, AT&T provides J.B. Hunt with wireless devices, which we turn up and manage via the MobileIron platform. This has eliminated the time it took to be up and running while waiting for landline installations.”

“Instead of talking about technology delays, we can quickly set up and go live before business opportunities slip away,” added Stanley.

A Shared Vision

“AT&T has always provided exceptional customer support,” said Jones. “It’s nice having a familiar face down the street to help us get the most out of our system and assist with alleviating any issues through the relationship AT&T has with MobileIron. We buy all of our MobileIron client access licenses, regardless of carrier, through AT&T.”

In addition to superior customer service, there is one other thing J.B. Hunt and AT&T share – a focus on safety. “We’ve had a safety culture for many years that is ingrained in everything we do,” said Jones. J.B. Hunt has ongoing training programs to teach drivers how to operate safely and comply with policies and regulations. Currently, J.B. Hunt is conducting a distracted driver technical assessment. “We are looking to partner with carriers who can help create a safe environment for everyone – drivers, employees, and everyone on our highways.” He sees education around the safe use of mobile devices as a key component to J.B. Hunt’s safety culture.

AT&T has been championing the “It Can Wait” (www.itcanwait.com) movement which focuses on educating the public on the dangers of texting and driving. Those sending text messages while driving are more likely to be in a crash. AT&T has established a national “No Text on Board – Pledge Campaign” to promote the commitment to never text and drive.

“It’s alarming how prevalent distracted driving is in our society today,” said Jones. “We want to make sure we are creating an environment that’s safe for everyone and to help educate our workforce on the dangers of using smartphones while driving”

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