Avoiding the jams

Prophesy Transportation Solutions (www.mile.com) released WebMiler, an online mileage, routing and mapping solution that provides practical or industry-standard rating miles, mileage summaries by state for fuel tax reporting, routes, driving directions, driving times and detailed street-level maps.

AirIQ Inc. (www.airiq.com) announced record subscriber growth in the first quarter in the company’s five markets, with its commercial vehicles market seeing significant subscriber additions of AirIQ’s refrigerated trailer tracking product and services.

Rosum (www.rosum.com) has been awarded two more patents for its systems that combine Global Positioning System and television technologies to track mobile devices in challenging situations, such as indoor and urban locations. The company is working with Trimble to make a hybrid TV-GPS device available this fall.

GeoLogic Solutions (www.gogeologic.com) announced that its MobileMax fleet management system is $999 per truck until Oct. 31. This offer includes a satellite and terrestrial dual-mode transceiver, keyboard display and installation hardware.

Teydo BV (www.teydo.com) announced the availability of its FleetOnline tracking solution in North America. New customers can register at www.fleetonline.net and order Trimble’s TrimTrac locator GPS units ($249 each), and choose a subscription level to FleetOnline’s wireless network. Wireless costs, per unit, include a $99 access fee and a monthly bundle starting at $7.

Every moment a driver is on the road, the clock is ticking – especially when he is stranded in a sea of traffic. Roadway congestion costs carriers millions annually in lost productivity, fuel and customer service failures. And as freight volumes double by 2020, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the costs only will grow worse.

Traffic conditions may seem beyond your control, but what is within your reach is the ability to harness information about traffic, allowing you to make better decisions. Using speed sensors and other monitoring equipment, many state DOT agencies and private enterprises gather traffic data. Highway users have access to the traffic information through various media, including the Internet and telephone.

The problem, therefore, isn’t lack of information but rather the ability to integrate this information effectively to systems and applications for planning delivery routes, estimating arrival times and calculating rates. So rather than change routes based on actual conditions, carriers typically select them based on industry standard “shortest” or “practical” miles.

In the just-in-time mindset, the key elements of a route are distribution and estimated travel time, says Dr. Alain Kornhauser, professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University. But an inherent problem with the fixed just-in-time process is that other things do change over time – especially traffic.

At the recent ALK Technology Summit in Princeton, N.J., Kornhauser presented his vision of a new mindset that recognizes not only that time is important, but also that things may “vary, evolve and change drastically” over time. Kornhauser, co-founder and chairman of ALK Technologies, calls this new paradigm “real-time management of mobile assets.”

The concepts of time and change, Kornhauser says, are reflected in ALK Technologies’ latest version of PC*Miler (version 19), a back-office mileage and routing software application for carriers and shippers. After a lengthy process of gathering traffic data nationwide from multiple sources, ALK built an extensive database into PC*Miler’s version 19 that contains time-of-day minimums for estimated time of arrival for routes based on real observed speeds.

PC*Miler isn’t the only system that allows adjustments for changing traffic conditions. For example, UPS Logistics Technologies’ latest version of Roadnet – a tactical daily route planning tool – gives users the option to change the posted road speeds to reflect actual conditions, says Cyndi Brandt, Roadnet product manager.

With a mouse, Roadnet users can draw polygons on a map to highlight congestion points, such as a 1,000-foot section of a road, and set the speed of that segment according to the time of day. Roadnet then can be used to re-optimize fleet routes based on more accurate travel times.

But to have a truly accurate ETA and the ability to re-route drivers as traffic conditions change requires information on the traffic speeds on the current route and on alternate routes in real time. ALK Technologies currently is testing such a concept in the northeast with 250 CoPilot Live users, Kornhauser says. CoPilot Live is a turn-by-turn routing and GPS navigation system that runs on mobile computers and handsets with wireless communications.

“Some people have tried to do this for some time,” Kornhauser says. “I think we are on verge of being able to do it.”

CoPilot Live can use a large community of its users as a source of traffic speeds and ETAs. The CoPilot Live application running on each device spawns a short data message several times a minute to a server. The message includes the vehicle’s ID, current location, destination and ETA.

Using each vehicle in the community as a “probe,” CoPilot Live plugs the data into a complex set of algorithms to calculate ETAs for routes. If an ETA for an alternate route differs from the one a driver is using, the system would give the user the option to change routes.

“We’ve been able to identify people that are stuck in an accident,” Kornhauser says. “People behind them got that information and routed around it.”

Users can choose to keep this information within their own CoPilot fleet or broadcast it so other CoPilot users can benefit. Expanding this type of system nationwide will be difficult because of concerns over data privacy, which Kornhauser admits will take time. “You have to make sure you ensure people’s privacy. We are extremely careful about that.”

An ADvantage for driver hiring
MultiMedia Advertising (www.trippak.com/multimedia) announced a new automated hiring tool for carriers called HR MultiMedia ADvantage, which gives transportation companies the ability to automatically track advertising and recruiting dollars expended for each new hire. The system, powered by HR Logix, allows trucking companies to capture an interested applicant’s information via an automated phone system and/or website. The most-qualified drivers are screened through first, enabling recruiters to concentrate their time with the highest-quality pool of candidates. The system also allows recruiters to link instantly with DAC Services to confirm driver information, and it generates reference letters automatically.

PeopleNet to integrate with TMT Software
PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) and TMT Software (www.tmtsoftware.com) announced a phased effort to integrate their products to automate data collection and tracking of maintenance information. Currently, TMT Software customers obtain vehicle information – such as odometer readings and engine time – while vehicles are off the road and transfer the data into the company’s Transman fleet maintenance management sytem. Through integration with PeopleNet’s PerformX, which delivers real-time engine data wirelessly, data collection and transmission to the Transman system will occur automatically while the vehicle stays on the road.

Innovative offers online training
Innovative Computing Corporation, whose enterprise software provides operational and administrative solutions to more than 500 trucking fleets, introduced Innovative University, a web-based, on-demand training program. `Course content includes trucking and logistics industry background and technical courses tailored to meet the unique training needs and time constraints of ICC’s customers.

With Innovative University, students can work at their own pace, pause and return to lessons as needed, and take tests before proceeding to the next level. Administrators can plan assignments and monitor student progress, even proctor the tests if they wish, the company says.

Some early course offerings include: Trucking 101 – 107 industry core courses; a Master Files 201 technical course on setting up Innovative Enterprise Software (IES); Operations 201 – 205 technical courses on dispatch fundamentals; and Mobile communications nuts-and-bolts. Innovative also has plans for 300-level Operations courses, as well as basic and advanced Maintenance and Administration offerings.