Terion (www.terion.com) announced a solar charging option to its FleetView 3 trailer fleet management system. Solar Power Assist integrates solar cell technology into Terion’s proprietary marker light antenna to increase battery life by an average of three times between charges.

Link Logistics (www.linklogi.com), a division of TransCore, announced the launch of Link OpsCenter Broker, a web-based application for freight brokers that combines freight-matching and dispatch management services. Shipments entered into the system can be posted automatically to both the LoadLink and DAT freight-matching systems, the largest freight-matching network in both the United States and Canada.

ABF Freight System said it was the first major carrier to complete U.S.-Canadian border crossings successfully via an electronic manifest program developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The first crossing under the Automated Commercial Environment program occurred March 11 at Blaine, Wash., where CBP is conducting a pilot of the new commercial trade processing system.

Networkcar (www.networkcar.com) announced a satellite option for its remote vehicle performance and location monitoring system. By providing the option of two networks, Networkcar customers can select the more affordable terrestrial coverage for the majority of their fleet and equip the remaining remotely located vehicles with satellite coverage, the company says.

New customers
Qualcomm announced that Swift Transportation signed an agreement to equip its entire fleet of trailers with Qualcomm’s T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS asset management solution. T2 will greatly expand Swift’s ability to optimize the productivity of its fleet of trailers and further improve its 98.9 percent on-time rate, said Jerry Moyes, Swift’s chief executive officer. Swift also extended its contract for Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS fleet management solution.

SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com) said that 10 new companies recently selected the company’s Global Locating System (GLS) Platform for trailer tracking, bringing its current customer base to more than 90 companies. The new customers include Atlanta-based Uniglobe Courier Service Inc. and Indiana-based National Distributors, a carrier that specializes in international transportation.

GeoLogic Solutions (www.gogeologic.com) announced that Quincy, Ill.-based Sharkey Transportation Inc. (STI) will equip its entire fleet with the company’s MobileMax Multi-Mode communications system after an evaluation that involved the integration of three different mobile communications and tracking providers into STI’s in-house software system.

Today, many carriers use wireless fleet management systems to identify risky driver behavior before it shows up in the form of a ticket or, worse, as an accident claim. Speeding, tailgating and unauthorized stops all are events that fleet managers can monitor from their computer, the moment they occur.

However, the information from telematics – a term used for technology that monitors and tracks vehicles and drivers – is merely a fraction of the data that fleets must dig through to evaluate and manage risk properly. Other sources include background checks, logbook violations, personality and physical profiling, collision avoidance systems and past claims. Keeping track of all of this information can easily become a job in itself, leaving little time and energy to analyze areas where a fleet may be vulnerable and plan ahead to take corrective action. In addition, a fleet’s safety information often is kept on separate paper forms and in different electronic formats, making it difficult to combine this information for a systematic analysis.

To address these shortcomings, FleetRisk Advisors – a company that provides technology-based risk management and loss control services – recently developed a system that enables companies to have a central data repository for all risk-related information on drivers, vehicles and routes. This platform – called the Transportation Risk Analytics Center (TRAC) – combines data from multiple sources, such as demographic information on each driver from a fleet’s paper files, as well as real-time data from its telematics systems.

Having a standard platform for data enables fleets to run various types of analytical reports, says Sam Wilkes, CEO of FleetRisk Advisors. One type of report calculates unique “risk signatures” for each driver. These signatures can include fatigue, loss of attention, theft, fraud and security breaches, Wilkes says.

To run these and other types of “predictive” analysis reports, TRAC uses a modeling tool that was developed by Valen Technologies for the insurance industry, and now has been adapted specifically for commercial fleets, Wilkes says. The tool looks at thousands of variables to determine risk signatures and produces reports resembling a histogram, which correlates the risk factors in a company with their frequency and severity. It also can correlate those factors with information that may otherwise be transparent, such as the effect a driver’s weight or medication may have on his driving behavior.

TRAC provides fleet owners with alerts and exception-type reporting, and FleetRisk Advisors also offers consulting services to help create countermeasures to risk. Typically, consultants follow up with clients via monthly conference calls, Wilkes says.

One of the first carriers to begin implementing TRAC is Dupre Transport, a 350-truck carrier based in Lafayette, La., comprised of tank, van and dedicated logistics services. Over the past few years, Dupre Transport has implemented a variety of high-tech risk management programs, which include psychological profiling; AIM, a behavior-based loss prevention system; Circadian Technologies’ fatigue management system; Eaton’s Vorad collision avoidance system; and Qualcomm OmniTracs.

Implementation of Circadian’s fatigue management system began four years ago, says Al LaCombe, Dupre Transport’s director of safety. The system led Dupre to make changes in driver schedules, such as days off, length and start/stop time of shifts, and the frequency of breaks – all to improve employee alertness. The company uses its Circadian system to give each driver a fatigue score, which is updated daily through data from its Qualcomm system as drivers clock in and out.

Two years ago, Dupre Transport started outfitting its vehicles with the Vorad collision avoidance system, which trains drivers to maintain adequate following distances and detect objects in their passenger-side blind spot. Dupre routinely downloads data from its Vorad units to look at following distances and hard braking events, LaCombe says.

Each of these risk management programs plays an integral part in Dupre’s safety efforts, but the company lacked a centralized database to correlate all of the information from the systems, LaCombe says. Dupre’s implementation of the FleetRisk Advisors system is planned to be complete in mid-April, and LaCombe believes the system should help identify exposure that otherwise may have gone undetected because of having separate risk management systems.

Malone offers monitor for retrofit
Malone Specialty Inc., a developer of commercial vehicle subsystems, announced that its Commercial Vehicle Management and Reporting Center (CV-MARC) now is available for retrofit to all commercial vehicles. CV-MARC – with more than 17,500 OEM-installed units in service – is an engine protection system that monitors a range of engine and vehicle functions, including idle time, oil pressure, engine temperature, coolant level and battery voltage.

The system alerts drivers to problems and shuts the engine down if the condition persists. Before shutdown, drivers are alerted with audio and visual signals up to 30 seconds before the engine turns off, the company says.

Through downloading data from CV-MARC, management also can be alerted to driver behavior problems using a variety of collection devices and processors that transmit information to a central data center. Fleet managers then can access various vehicle and driver reports through a secure website.

Qualcomm expands T2, lowers OmniExpress cost
Qualcomm reduced the price for its current OmniExpress mobile communications to $990 per unit, effective immediately. With the introduction of the third-generation (3G) version of OmniExpress planned for June 2005, the monthly service plans for messaging also will be reduced from the current low of $19.95 per unit, the company said.

Qualcomm’s OmniExpress system is a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)-based digital wireless fleet management system that provides near real-time, two-way communications and vehicle position reporting.

Qualcomm also announced the commercial availability of new hosting solutions for its T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS asset management solution. Customers now can either integrate directly with the T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS solution using AS/400 dispatch systems, or they can operate the system through a Qualcomm-hosted web-based version.

Finally, Qualcomm announced the launch of In-Cab Fuel Services, a joint development with Integrated Decision Support Corporation (IDSC), a developer of decision support software. These new services leverage Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS and OmniExpress fleet management solutions and IDSC’s fuel optimization tools to deliver fuel purchase recommendations directly to drivers.

The Fuel Query service offers general fuel pricing information at fuel stops in the vicinity of a driver’s current location, while the Trip Planning service provides a complete fuel optimization plan including high-level routing, recommended fuel stops and purchase quantities, the company says.

XTRA Lease rentals go paperless
XTRA Lease, a provider of trailer renting and leasing, announced the availability of XTRA Xpress, a mobile technology solution that provides fleets instant electronic notification of rental activity and real-time access to rental information.

XTRA Xpress is powered by mobile handheld computers, Wi-Fi network technology and a redesigned network architecture. The new system currently is available at more than half of XTRA Lease’s 80 U.S. and Canada locations and will be at all remaining locations by mid-summer.

Previously, when drivers took trailers out on rent, carriers would have to get the documents via fax or from driver settlements. With Xpress, XTRA Lease now completes all customer transactions – trailer pickups and returns – electronically via a handheld computer. The device produces an e-mail notification to any customer immediately after a transaction. Customers also receive a digital copy of the rental agreement linked to each e-mail so they can process transactions more efficiently, reduce paperwork and make faster decisions, the company says.

GE VeriWise offers factory installation
GE’s Trailer Fleet Services (www.trailerservices.com) signed agreements with Great Dane Trailers and Hyundai Translead to begin performing factory installations of VeriWise Asset Intelligence systems. The units will be installed on current model year trailers GE has ordered at the request of its lease customers. Once the new trailers are installed with VeriWise, they can be activated remotely to transmit a wide variety of information using the optional sensor array also available from GE, including cargo and door sensors.

GE’s Trailer Fleet Services also announced the completion of a major expansion of its online tools to help customers monitor and analyze the condition of their trailer assets. Customers can transact business on the site and access condition and billing reports on their trailers. The newest features for VeriWise customers include the ability to configure polling reports remotely, on the hour if needed; turn on emergency tracking for special situations; use landmarking and proximity searches; and define and grant access rights to view trailer data to others in their organization, the company says.

PeopleNet launches two new features
PeopleNet announced that two new features will be delivered to customers wirelessly through its web-based interface and over-the-air programming as part of the company’s first-quarter product update. The first new feature, Detention Time Standards, builds on the PeopleNet Activity Standards platform and allows accurate measurement and easy reporting of detention times, the company says. The second new feature, Onboard Event Recording, gives fleets second-by-second recorded data to help reconstruct accidents and review driver performance.

Detention Time Standards includes reporting features that calculate average detention times at each location and allow users to configure reports across multiple customer locations, specific legs of a trip and/or specific groups of vehicles within a fleet. It also has exception reporting for viewing only data that is over or under company-defined thresholds, according to PeopleNet.

With Onboard Event Recording, fleets determine what events are recorded and how they are recorded. They then can be transferred in real time, delivering details such as time of event, odometer at time of event, vehicle speed, engine speed (RPM), GPS location and direction.

Maddocks takes command
Maddocks Systems (www.maddockssystems.com), the developer of TruckMate for Windows enterprise software, announced the release of the Command Center, a management tool that provides fleet executives access to real-time performance information from every area of a trucking organization in one central location.

The Command Center launches directly from the user’s desktop, pulling data from daily and historical information entered by operational staff, including dispatching, billing, customer service and accounting. Managers easily can design customized screens of information, displayed in expandable cells that monitor the company’s unique key performance indicators (KPIs).