Renting by wire

Iridium Satellite (www.iridium.com) announced that in late 2005 it will produce a new, cost-effective 9600 data transceiver, a move that will extend Iridium to markets such as asset tracking, remote monitoring and telemetry reporting.

Velocita Wireless (www.velocitawireless.com) said it has completed installation of a wireless base station at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton base in San Diego that will support Networkcar’s wireless fleet management system, Networkfleet. The systems currently are being utilized by the Marine Corps’ Southwest Region Fleet Transportation throughout Southern California.

Remote Dynamics Inc. (www.remotedynamics.com), which recently introduced its REDIview telematics-based management solutions, announced it has signed more than 20 customers, representing approximately 800 units, since launching the new product in January.

TMW Systems (www.tmwsystems.com) announced that Sherwin-Williams, the largest producer of paints and coatings in North America, has selected TMWSuite for its private fleet.

Transportation Costing Group (www.tcgcis.com), a provider of activity-based cost analysis and customer profitability management systems, announced that Elwood, Ind.-based RG Transport, a 130-truck carrier, has adopted the company’s Truckload Cost Information System.

A customer calls with a “hot load” to Phoenix that must leave today, but you don’t have an empty trailer available. Renting a trailer may be your solution, but that means more phone calls, faxes, paper rental agreements, pickups, drop-offs and potential damage claims. Multiply this scenario dozens of times a month, and you have a true administrative burden.

As we mentioned last month, XTRA Lease is rolling out its XTRA Xpress service to all its 87 branches by June. Two years in development, XTRA Xpress uses a combination of mobile computers, software and Wi-Fi and Internet communications to speed up inbound and outbound transactions and eliminate paperwork from the rental process, says Stephen Zaborowski, senior vice president of XTRA Lease.

A driver arriving to pick up or drop off a trailer at an XTRA Lease branch is greeted at the gate by an employee equipped with an Intermec 700 series mobile computer. If the driver is picking up a trailer, the employee loads the customer information onto the handheld via a wireless Wi-Fi connection to XTRA Lease’s enterprise system. The employee then hands the driver a receipt from his belt printer; the receipt gives the location of the leased trailer in the yard. On the driver’s way out, an employee conducts a walk-around inspection of the trailer and enters data into the handheld, and the driver then signs his name into the handheld. The inspection process is the same when the trailer is returned.

Meanwhile, back at the fleet office, a fleet manager receives an instant e-mail notifying him of what trailer was picked up or returned, accompanied by an electronic PDF rental agreement and inspection report. Should an inspection reveal any billable damages, the customer can go to XTRA Lease’s secure website to see the cost as well as an electronic photo of the damages, Zaborowski says.

Tina Hartung, senior fleet planner for St. Louis-based UniGroup – parent company of household movers United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit – says XTRA Xpress has drastically cut the amount of phone calls, faxes and paperwork in managing the company’s rental fleet. Hartung says the instant e-mails help her reconcile inbound and outbound transactions with her own leasing records. She now can track daily reports to see if UniGroup’s agents pick up and return trailers on time and also can follow up immediately on discrepancies, such as damage claims.

“[Xpress] has saved a lot of time tracking equipment, auditing statements and making sure the trailers are in the right accounts,” Hartung says.

XTRA Lease’s new trailer rental tool is just the latest effort by trailer renting and leasing providers to make better use of technology. They have developed electronic tools for reserving equipment, making purchase orders and accessing real-time inventory and tracking information.

GE Trailer Services, for example, uses a mobile application to process inbound and outbound equipment inspections. An employee performs an inspection using a Symbol handheld device, which then is returned to the office and placed in a cradle for downloading. The system generates a print version of the inspection report that the driver signs, says Patrick Brennan, a spokesman for GE Trailer Services. The company’s Premier Services online fleet management website now includes electronic photos of any damages and an application that gives customers the option to authorize a repair order online, Brennan says.

Several years ago, XTRA Lease partnered with Terion to make the FleetView untethered trailer tracking system available to trailer leasing customers. More recently, GE Trailer Services has marketed its own trailer tracking system called VeriWise and in March announced that Great Dane and Hyundai Translead will offer factory installation of VeriWise. Technology is helping fleet owners manage rented and leased trailers as effectively as equipment they own.


Comdata offers RAIR technology
Comdata Corp. announced an alliance with RAIR Technologies to offer an enhanced DOT-compliant driver log system through its Regulatory Compliance Services division. RAIR Technologies eliminates paper records and puts all driver log data on a fleet’s computer desktop. Payment for the service is transacted on the fleet’s Comdata card.

The system works by fleets submitting their driver logs – including fueling, roadside inspection and random drug test information – to RAIR Technologies. Within 48 hours, fleets can access any needed data via the Internet. All information is viewable, but only to authorized individuals. The system can organize log data into several key reports; the data can be downloaded and customized to fit a fleet’s log management conventions.

RAIR Technologies also offers routine audit trails on regulatory items important to a fleet, including the number and percentage of DOT critical log violations; summary reports of missing, duplicated and/or incomplete logs; and any necessary driver counseling.


Cadec introduces Mobius SP
Cadec Corporation released the newest addition to its suite of onboard computing products. The Mobius SP system provides an automated, paperless solution for regulatory compliance and helps manage operations efficiently and economically, the company says.

Mobius SP features paperless DOT logs, IFTA state fuel tax recording, accident reconstruction analysis – with real-time communications between the office and drivers – and real-time vehicle location information. Using a touch screen, drivers can display their DOT logs in graphical or text form for quicker roadside inspections.

“We’ve tailored this straightforward solution to customers who are looking for a low-cost basic system,” says Les Dole, president and CEO of Cadec Corporation. As customers’ needs grow and develop, they easily can upgrade to the company’s Mobius TTS, a platform that provides all the features of Mobius SP while adding dual-mode communications and software for point of delivery, routing and dispatching, Dole says.


Onboard consultant
PHH Arval announced its PHH Onboard fleet service would be available in the fall of 2005. The new service will combine telematics with fleet information and consultative expertise focused on three areas of fleet operations: productivity, risk management and vehicle performance.

The PHH Onboard service will offer Networkcar’s technology for remote monitoring of vehicle performance, location and security. The service will provide data analysis and policy recommendations based on PHH’s consultative expertise and more than 10 years of industry and vehicle data stored in PHH’s data warehouse. It also offers real-time reporting via the Internet that enables greater control of fleet drivers and expenses, and sets benchmarks for measuring productivity and performance, the company says.