Running on anything

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) announced an exclusive joint business venture with TruCost Systems to incorporate TruCost’s activity-based profitability system into McLeod’s LoadMaster software package, allowing users to determine profitability by lane, customer or business segment.

Terion (www.terion.com) launched FleetView 3F, a trailer management system designed for flatbed trailers. FleetView 3F combines digital wireless and GPS technologies with a web-based application designed specifically for operation on flatbeds.

Affiliated Computer Services (www.acs-inc.com), a provider of business process and information technology outsourcing solutions, signed exclusive placement contracts with Wilcohess and Ranger Enterprises. The convenience stores and truck stop chains will offer TripPak Scanning transportation document imaging services to fleets.

GeoLogic Solutions (www.gogeologic.com) announced that it will add a solar-powered option to its TrailerMax asset monitoring system. The new system will use solar power to recharge batteries when the trailer is not tethered to the tractor.

@Road (www.atroad.com), a provider of mobile resource management (MRM) services, launched the @Road Solution Suite for Transportation and Distribution, a set of bundled services and features that combines GPS tracking, route compliance, electronic driver logs, vehicle diagnostics and more.

When searching for a new software application for a desktop, hardware and operating systems typically are non-issues. Windows is practically universal, and software will be compatible with any PC operating on it. This is not the case, however, when you want to implement a new wireless application.

Vendors of wireless fleet management applications often combine software, hardware and a wireless network to deliver a set of applications that meet the needs of one segment of the trucking industry – for example, truckload or LTL. But for carriers that run multiple types of operations, incompatibility among wireless applications and devices could require separate IT systems, which can increase overhead and inefficiency. To solve this challenge, an increasing number of carriers are using platform-independent software applications.

Los Angeles-based Dependable Logistics, for example, provides trucking, air, ocean freight, warehousing and logistics services. Its Dependable Highway Express division consists of local, regional and national carrier operations in truckload, LTL and drayage. DHE recently implemented a Java-based software application from KonaWare in its 300-truck LTL operation that integrates with its enterprise-wide freight management software. One advantage of the KonaWare Mobility Platform is the flexibility to use a variety of mobile devices, such as any Java-enabled handset, Pocket PC or Microsoft Windows Mobile computer, and virtually any local or wide area network.

For its LTL division, DHE chose the HP 6315 computer with “all you can eat” data service from T-Mobile for $25 a month, says Michael Dougan, Dependable Logistics’ chief financial officer. Previously, DHE used Nextel phones for two-way voice communications between driver and dispatch. At $50 a month for a voice plan, switching to a text-based dispatch system cut DHE’s cellular costs in half.

DHE also plans to save between 10 and 15 percent in overall labor costs by tracking driver activity closely. Drivers use a touchpad screen to capture the time of each pickup and delivery, and signed proof of delivery, in the application. Dispatchers then can monitor each driver’s day for detention events and other inefficiency to drive down labor costs.

“An electronic capture forms a basis for dialogue with the driver and customer,” Dougan says. “We also calculate stem time and delivery time for all accounts. We accumulate all of those expenditures and match against revenues. That gives us the basis for going back to the customer and pushing for increases, or, correspondingly, letting go of business that is not profitable.”

Like most carriers, DHE’s labor costs amount to 50 percent of its total expenses. Dougan says a reduction in labor costs of 10 to 15 percent will translate to a 5 to 7 percent reduction in operating ratio for the LTL division. Administrative costs also will be reduced by eliminating paperwork and customer calls through immediate posting of shipment tracking information through the web.

DHE plans to roll out a different version of the KonaWare solution in its 125-truck regional truckload division and its 80-truck drayage division. Drivers in each operation will continue to use Nextel’s push-to-talk feature, but DHE plans to capture location data, via GPS handsets, into its freight management system, Dougan says.

Since a significant portion of much of the distance between California and the East Coast and Southeast is not reachable by cell phone, DHE’s 125-truck nationwide truckload group currently uses Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS, Dougan says, because the satellite-based system gives positive verification of truck locations. The company is considering adapting its Java-based software for this division as well.

The bottom line: Platform-independent software applications enable companies to consolidate their costs of using wireless technology – and expand their options at the same time.


Comtech subsidiary acquires Tolt
Comtech Telecommunications announced that a subsidiary, Comtech Tolt Technologies, will acquire certain assets and assume certain liabilities of Tolt Technologies, a mobile technology company that provides turnkey employee mobility solutions to customers that have fleets, such as Praxair and Golden State Overnight. The transaction is part of Comtech Mobile Datacom Corp.’s entry into the commercial mobile data communications market.