Giving them a choice

GE TIP announced availability of its GE VeriWise asset tracking technology for refrigerated trailers, effective this summer.

Navteq, a provider of digital map data, plans to launch its Navteq Traffic solution in the third quarter this year. Navteq Traffic allows on-board navigation systems to provide personalized, real-time traffic information for a driver’s chosen route.

Arcline 2000 Inc., a provider of transportation software systems for truckload, LTL, and brokers, announced the release of Version 2. The new version adds faxing and e-mailing functions directly from the system and allows users to attach photos, letters and documents in several formats using a separate data table.

Qualcomm said Ace Relocation Systems, Inc., an agent of Atlas World Group, signed a contract to use the mobile phone-based OmniOne mobile communications system as its wireless workforce solution. San Diego-based Ace Relocation is the first household goods carrier to deploy the OmniOne system.

Nextel and Qualcomm ( are working together on the QChat solution, designed to operate on CDMA2000 1X Release A wireless networks internationally. Nextel plans to make QChat compatible with its walkie-talkie service, offered on the iDEN platform, so Nextel customers in the United States can reach customers of CDMA networks abroad.

TMW Systems Inc. released the Detention Tracking feature for the TMWSuite enterprise software system. The new feature can be used to automatically notify dispatchers and customers whenever a detention situation exists, to automatically bill for detention time, and to create reports to track and compare detention charges and costs from various customers.

PeopleNet Communications signed 45 customers during the first quarter of this year and recently announced the signing of Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone as its 1,000th customer.

Aether Systems Inc. said its Transportation and Logistics Division has been awarded certification to the ISO 9001:2000 standard. The registration addresses the design, development, manufacture, installation and service of wireless data and location tracking systems and covers processes performed at four locations that manage the MobileMax, GeoLogic, 20/20V, and TrailerMax products.

Some fleet operations choose to accept driver turnover as inevitable. They have tried every tactic they could conjure up, and they refuse to participate in bidding wars based on pay. If this describes your operation now or, perhaps, in the near future, consider appealing to something fundamental within the trucker’s mentality – a sense of control and independence.

Crete Carrier Corp., one of the nation’s largest privately held trucking companies, boasts one of the truckload segment’s lowest turnover rates at 35 percent. Yes, the company pays well, but that’s hardly unusual. One factor that does set Crete apart from many of its competitors is the fact that it offers drivers a choice of loads. This benefit is “definitely a reason why drivers stick around,” Lee Hoffman, Crete’s vice president of operations, told a group of trucking company executives at a recent Innovative Computing Corp. (ICC) user’s conference in Las Vegas.

To offer drivers a choice of loads, the company uses a feature called LoadOffer in its Innovative Enterprise Software (IES), an AS/400-based system from ICC. The Brentwood, Tenn.-based software company developed LoadOffer in response to a desire by Crete to offer a choice. The trucking company uses LoadOffer to move more than 11,000 loads per week while offering drivers a choice of three loads per dispatch. (For more on Crete’s driver-friendly approach to dispatch, see “Do choosy drivers choose you?”, Operations, March 2003.)
LoadOffer is available to all IES users. As is typical for application providers, ICC leveraged development driven by a single customer into technology it can offer to others.

Liberty, Mo.-based American Central Transport (ACT), an IES user since 1997, implemented LoadOffer early this year to provide its mixed fleet of owner-operators and company drivers an automated system for choosing loads, says Bob Kretsinger, senior vice president of operations.

Drivers are instructed to enter macros into their mobile communications system, such as “arrived at destination” or “empty final destination,” throughout the day. This status information is transferred along with a position to the ACT’s load planning screen. From the load planning screen, dispatchers can see the driver status and pre-plan loads to send drivers when drivers issue an empty call. At that point, the dispatcher can send up to three loads to drivers to view in their in-cab communications system, Kretsinger says.

ACT offers owner-operators a minimum of two loads each time and three when available.
Company drivers receive a choice of loads when more than one is available.

ACT pays its owner-operators and company drivers on a per-mile basis. The information it sends to drivers about each load includes: deadhead, loaded miles, origin, destination, the number of pickups, time of delivery, and the customer. Drivers select the corresponding number on their keypad for the load of their choice. They also have the option of selecting none of them by pressing “X,” Kretsinger says. Once drivers select a load within a 10-minute time frame, LoadOffer automatically commits the load to them in the system.

One immediate benefit ACT has noticed from LoadOffer, Kretsinger says, is that the company has an electronic record of the loads offered and loads accepted and rejected by each driver. Having this information has come in handy on several occasions to quickly resolve complaints from drivers about not being offered loads.

“We’ve always told owner-operators that we’re not forced dispatch. For them it was hard to believe,” Kretsinger says. “It was a lot less timely, and we always did it over the phone. Now we can record everything. If drivers say, ‘We were not offered any loads,’ we can say, ‘yes you were.'”

Another benefit Kretsinger has noticed in the few months ACT has used LoadOffer is an improvement in the quality of communications between drivers and their managers. Rather than discussing the details of loads over the phone when drivers call, fleet managers can spend some time to get to know drivers better, Kretsinger says.

With its limited experience at using LoadOffer, ACT has not noticed an improvement in driver retention – at least not yet. But the signs look promising. “Drivers are getting used to it,” he says. “It’s definitely not a reason they would quit.”

PeopleNet releases new features
PeopleNet Communications announced the release of new system features to private and for-hire fleets. The new features include event reporting for power takeoff (PTO), idle and off-road; activity standards; and eDriver Logs smart mode.

PeopleNet’s new event reporting feature automatically captures the location and the amount of fuel consumed during PTO, idle and off-road events for fuel cost recovery allowed in specific states and by the federal government. The feature is available as a stand-alone service or as an enhancement to the PeopleNet Online Fuel Tax service.

Activity Standards is a reporting tool that uses learned data to track and measure the efficiency of recurring and/or dedicated routes and activities. Using this tool, fleet managers can quickly become aware of exceptions to normal or standard processes, the company says. Activities that are compared to learned standards include: travel times, stop times, average miles per hour, planned vs. unplanned stops and total trip times. This information is displayed in the form of comparative reports that highlight the exceptions across events.

eDriver Logs provides a paperless process for managing the driver hours of service process. In addition to today’s standard mode, eDriver Logs is now available in ‘smart mode,’ which automates the recording of a driver’s duty statuses based on vehicle movement. Using vehicle ECM data, the smart mode option detects vehicle stops and starts to automatically switch drivers between on-duty and driving statuses.

Other upgrades delivered to vehicles in May through PeopleNet’s over-the-air-programming (OTAP) capability include in-cab mute options, an in-cab driver scorecard, enhanced fields for driver forms, state-line crossing reporting and PerformX in metric units.

Qualcomm creates payroll solution for Mattingly
Qualcomm collaborated with Mattingly Foods Inc. to create an automated activity-based payroll solution that integrates with Qualcomm’s FleetAdvisor fleet management system. The Zanesville, Ohio-based food service logistics company worked with the Qualcomm Professional Services team, a group within Qualcomm Wireless Business Solutions division that provides tailored application installation, systems integration, testing, phased implementation training and complete project management of value-added solutions.

The automated activity-based payroll solution provides an integrated set of business rules for customer-defined operations activities and determines driver pay based on those activities. This system allows Mattingly Foods to pay or reward drivers based on achieving objectives related to idling, overspeeds and over-revs. The payroll module includes automated drivers’ reimbursements for approved cash-based transactions.

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