A credit-worthy interface

Integrated Decision Support Corp. acquired TransSoft Corp., a fleet management software company specializing in AS/400 software for the truckload industry. The TransSoft Suite offers real-time load- event monitoring and management of hours of service.

Xata Corp. said Penske Truck Leasing will offer the XATANET Web-based fleet management solution to its lease customers in North America. The application includes fuel tax reporting, driver logs, vehicle location, routing, diagnostics and messaging.

Rand McNally released a new version of its IntelliRoute software that includes over 200,000 updates to the National Highway Network, and updates to the industry-standard household goods miles. The new version also adds 800,000 Canadian Post codes for cross-border routing.

Qualcomm added Maddocks Systems and TMW Systems to its Advisory Council on development of untethered trailer tracking. The software providers will offer back-office integration for Qualcomm customers.

Maptuit Corp. said Swift Transportation will deploy its FleetNav Directions throughout its entire fleet of 17,000 trucks.

ALK Technologies, Inc. said that its CoPilot Live navigation solutions now deliver real-time traffic and incident information rerouting options to travelers in Minnesota.

Like thousands of carriers, Gordon Sevig Trucking uses a third-party service to monitor the credit of prospective and existing customers. As part of its arrangement, the 115-truck Walford, Iowa-based carrier also provides its vendor, CompuNet Credit Services, with credit information about its own customers.

Unlike most CompuNet customers, however, Gordon Sevig Trucking does not update the customers’ credit history quarterly by telephone. Instead, the carrier sends that information monthly through the Internet directly from its accounts receivables and receives a discount from CompuNet in return for the convenience. Through an interface with its McLeod LoadMaster enterprise software called Data Exchange, Gordon Sevig Trucking reports the average days to pay, account balance, high credit, first and last business, terms and any past due amounts of each customer.

McLeod Software customized CompuNet’s Data Exchange to extract and send Gordon Sevig Trucking’s accounts receivable data to a password-protected FTP website from which CompuNet retrieves the file. Currently, more than 20 McLeod Software users are using Data Exchange with CompuNet, says Mark Stephens, director of marketing for McLeod Software. CompuNet is working with other major enterprise software and accounting providers to develop the interface, says Greg Conklin, subscription services manager for CompuNet.

Gordon Sevig Trucking subscribes only to CompuNet, but in the interest of sharing data, the carrier e-mails the same file each month to TransCredit, another credit monitoring service. TransCredit offers an electronic file submission option called AR Exchange. Customers that use AR Exchange receive a discount or rebate check, says Winston Ashton, chief executive officer.

Electronically submitting your entire accounts receivable files eliminates the manual process of updating customers’ credit. In addition to improving efficiency, the credit information on brokers and shippers becomes more accurate for carriers. But regardless of the method of updating credit information, some customers undoubtedly will disagree with the results.

Several customers of Gordon Sevig Trucking Co., for example, have disputed credit reports during the year that the company has used Data Exchange, says Mike Harrington, the carrier’s operations manager. A broker may pay an invoice 25 days after receipt, but “in that situation, my average may report somebody at 32 days, but if I gave time for mailing, I would report it under 30 days,” Harrington says. “With Data Exchange, there are no if, ands, or buts.” When pulled directly from its accounts receivables, the average number of days to pay is calculated from the time an invoice is prepared to the date a payment is registered in the system.

“I spend more time substantiating data to other brokers who want me to represent them properly,” Harrington says. “When I get into that situation, I have to tell them that I am aware of what the computer system does.” But Harrington says he doesn’t offer any apologies. “The way the data gives information is acceptable. The brokers need a little bit of information, and I try to educate them,” he says. “The future is going to be different. The more accurate the data, the more it will level out.”

From a carrier’s perspective, the “average time to pay” begins when it extends credit to a customer – the day a bill is printed – and not when a broker or shipper receives its invoice. Carriers that use Data Exchange, therefore, provide more accurate information to their peers on how long they can expect to wait to get paid for an invoice from a certain shipper or broker.

The CompuNet interface allows users to exclude customers from the data downloads due to special circumstances. For example, Harrington excludes from each download a broker that the computer shows as having an outstanding balance. Rather than continue to report the past-due amount and further harm the broker’s credit, Harrington removed him from the monthly download because the broker’s customer – the shipper – went out of business and never paid up.

Sharing your credit data directly from your accounts receivables saves you time, money, and provides credit services like CompuNet and TransCredit with more data – and more accurate data – on brokers and shippers. Sharing and receiving better credit data is in everyone’s best interest.


TERION ADDS HOS MODULE
Terion announced new functionality to its FleetView trailer management system designed to increase productivity in the face of the new hours-of-service regulations. Using Terion’s cargo sensor, the HOS module tracks the time a trailer is at a location or, in the case of a live load, the time the during which a trailer a being loaded. Exceptions to user-defined time periods will be reported, allowing for follow-up or detention charges.


WESTERN PORTS TO ID TRUCKS
Marine Terminal Operators, a division of the Federal Maritime Commission, announced the development of a wireless truck identification system to increase the safety and efficiency of containerized cargo handling at ports along the West Coast. Radio frequency identification and other technologies will transmit critical information as trucks pull up to marine terminals. Electronic truck identification will allow terminal operators to verify truck information more quickly and to track truck traffic within the terminal boundaries.

Terminal operators have agreed to purchase and pay for installation of any equipment required on trucks, and estimate that the 30,000 trucks operating on the West Coast will be fitted with the new devices by March 2004.


XORA ENHANCES TIMETRACK
Xora Inc. released a new version of its TimeTrack software, an employee time, job and location tracking solution for GPS-enabled phones. With the new version, managers can find the mobile worker who is nearest to a customer site and transmit driving directions to the mobile worker’s phone.

In addition, mobile workers can record on their mobile phones specific customer and project information, such as “air conditioning installation.” This feature helps improve the accuracy of activity reports and customer invoices, the company says. Managers can tailor the Xora service to download reports on mobile worker activities at pre-set intervals to various back-end technology systems, including payroll and inventory.

The new version also includes geo-fencing to alert managers if a mobile worker travels outside a designated area and route monitoring.


WHAT IS IT?

Host system
A “host system” refers to the current enterprise software residing on one or more computers. When planning for additional software, one must interface to the host system. When planning for new enterprise wide software, one must convert data from the current host system into the new software.

Source: “Glossary of Supply Chain Terminology – For Logistics, Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Technology” (www.idii.com).