Power2Ship (www.power2ship.com), an application service provider for freight transportation, announced the P2S Carrier Quick Start program with TruckersB2B (www.truckersb2b.com), which provides prenegotiated discounts to trucking companies. The program lets TruckersB2B members access Power2Ship’s MobileMarket to generate capacity for its shipper members.
Data Burst Technologies (www.databurst.com) said its iTRAK Internet vehicle-tracking system has been certified for use with the nationwide AT&T Wireless GSM/GPRS wireless data network. The iTRAK system transmits real-time position data to the NavView server, where vehicle positions can be tracked on maps with speed and other information.
Prophesy Transportation Solutions, Inc. (www.mile.com), announced a record 26 sales of its DispatchSeries software in June 2004. The company recently introduced an integrated mobile communications interface, SQL database capabilities, a visual mapping interface and enhanced reporting capabilities.
Melton Technologies Inc. (www.mtihorizon.com), provider of the Horizon fleet management solution for small- to medium-sized fleet operators, said it would incorporate the KonaWare Mobility Platform to enable Horizon customers to send and receive delivery data wirelessly while en route. The end-user application will run on Pocket PC devices equipped with wide-area wireless connectivity.
Noregon Systems (www.noregon.com) introduced a USB-enabled Data Link Adapter (DLA) kit that adds both a USB-Serial adapter and a serial cable to the existing kit. By providing a link between vehicle components and Windows-based PCs, the DLA allows truck technicians to perform extensive vehicle analysis and diagnostics, the company says.
Cube Route (www.cuberoute.com), a provider of on-demand logistics services, is expanding into the U.S. market with the opening of new offices in Chicago and Boston. Cube Route’s solution allows organizations with private or dedicated fleets to gain visibility into last-mile delivery operations.
When you decide to implement a new technology, you might have in mind ideal performance standards that your suppliers currently can’t meet. In such cases, you could ask your suppliers to tailor their products or services to meet your specific requirements. But customization typically adds costs, both upfront and over the long run. A product that meets the standards of an entire industry – as opposed to a single customer – will cost less to produce.
One solution to this problem is to become involved in an industry organization that works to establish standards and best practices. In the trucking industry, for example, many fleet executives rely on the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council to establish recommended practices, or “RPs,” for equipment and maintenance products from their suppliers. At least one RP is now available for information technology from TMC. The organization added an IT/Logistics group in 2001.
The first RP developed by the IT/Logistics group came by way of UPS. The parcel carrier wanted to establish an industry standard for “linerless” thermal packing labels. The labels, used by UPS and others, are produced in small rolls and placed in barcode printers for linear or 2-D barcodes. The labels then are affixed to individual packages. The advantage of linerless labels is that they do not contain backing paper, thus reducing the waste and labor from removing backing paper.
UPS has been using linerless labels since 1995, but scanners sometimes misread the barcodes printed on the existing labels due to the glare from the glossy surfaces, says Mike Thomas, customer information management manager of UPS. As a result, linerless labels were used only in a few locations. To roll out linerless packing labels companywide, the company required the barcodes to be readable by its scanners 99.8 percent of the time in a test environment. When the company first told its suppliers of this 99.8 percent requirement, they all said it couldn’t be done, Thomas says.
Before approaching TMC to help develop an RP for linerless labels, UPS first worked with its suppliers to meet its standards. The company divided suppliers into two subcommittees – one for printers and one for the paper media, Thomas says. In monthly conference calls and quarterly meetings, UPS and its suppliers discussed test results and the progress being made. After several suppliers were able to meet the performance standard, UPS turned to TMC.
“We wanted to find a group that impacted the transportation industry and was established,” Thomas says. “[TMC’s] model fit what we’re trying to do.”
As a result of having an industry-recognized RP from TMC for linerless labels, the company now can hand prospective suppliers of printers or linerless labels a bid document that contains the RP, as opposed to only a UPS standard, Thomas says.
By going through TMC, an organization specifically dedicated to the transportation industry, UPS has set the stage for linerless labels to have a better “take rate” among other carriers, Thomas says. As a result, other carriers and businesses are more likely to buy a product that is widely accepted in the industry, as opposed to built only to meet a UPS standard, which will lower the cost of the product for UPS.
The process of establishing industry standards can be long and tedious at times. In fact, waiting for standards to be agreed on while technology projects are under way and changing frequently does not always work within your timeframe. But even if you ultimately move forward ahead of a standard, you will do so with your eyes wide open, understanding that you have availed yourself of the industry’s best practices.