PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) and tax outsource provider OTS will offer a paperless fuel tax reporting and recovery service, with a specialty on power takeoff (PTO) and idle fuel tax. This service is offered in addition to PeopleNet’s Fuel Tax Online.
Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com) launched versions 6.2 and 6.2.3 of its FleetAdvisor fleet management solution for private carriers. FleetAdvisor applications – including automated DOT logs, arrival and departure alerts, and state mileage and GIS mapping – run on the MVPc in-vehicle computer, which uses the Windows CE platform. Version 6.2.3 is designed for larger fleet operations.
AmeriQuest Transportation and Logistics Resources (www.ameriquestcorp.com) announced it will offer Richer Systems Group’s Internet-based enrich fleet maintenance management solution to its participants.
Xata Corporation (www.xata.com), a provider of onboard fleet management systems for private carriers, released the latest version of its hosted application Xatanet 3.0. One of the new features of Xatanet 3.0 is Smart Route, a tool for communicating and monitoring trip plans from initial dispatch to ultimate delivery.
First Advantage Transportation Services (www.fadv.com/transportation), formerly CompuNet Credit, has consolidated credit information from the major credit bureaus into its transportation-specific credit reports. The additional information will provide data on all of a shipper’s or broker’s trade lines.
When Dave Summitt took a hard look at his trailer fleet earlier this year, he saw a lot of “overtime,” and it’s not because his trailers were being overworked. On the contrary, his drivers were wasting valuable time searching for them.
Summitt, president of Louisville, Ky.-based Summitt Trucking, says managers had no way of knowing – other than sending over a driver to check – what trailers at a customer location were empty or loaded, and for how long. So Summitt recently decided to implement a trailer tracking system throughout his fleet.
In addition to being able to locate the carrier’s fleet of 1,000 trailers, Summitt’s managers also know when trailers are unloaded or loaded and ready for dispatch, thanks to cargo and door sensors. By integrating this sensor data with dispatch software, managers receive alerts when exceptions occur, such as a trailer being detained.
“Our ability to reduce overtime within the network is huge,” Summitt says. “When you figure out the man-hours of labor you save and the improved utilization, the technology becomes the free part.”
Summitt expects his company will grow by yearend from 450 to 538 company trucks while adding 50 owner-operators, but “we won’t have to go buy new trailers to add capacity.”
The term “trailer tracking” involves a variety of technologies used to increase trailer visibility. Some fleets can improve utilization just by knowing the location of trailers and the time each trailer spends at different locations. But the extra information from sensors can provide precise information about key events, helping fleets optimize their trailer assets day by day – even minute by minute.
Schneider National has integrated a variety of sensor data into its operations software, giving it real-time visibility to exceptions that occur, such as when a trailer’s status changes from loaded to empty, or hooked to unhooked (and vice versa), from company tractors, third-party tractors and rail cars. Schneider uses an ultrasonic cargo status monitor and a hook sensor – a magnetic switch located in the skid plate – with Qualcomm’s T2 untethered trailer tracking system.
“We have spent tens of thousands of hours to integrate this technology into the day-to-day management of our fleet,” says Paul Mueller, Schneider’s vice president of technology services. “It is very tightly integrated now into many of our dispatch functions.”
In addition to using sensors to optimize utilization, some fleets with special load requirements – such as refrigerated carriers – use sensors to capture critical information such as reefer temperature.
Recently, Terion added a reefer sensor to its line of tractor identification, door and cargo sensors. The reefer sensor provides operating information that includes temperature readings in up to three compartments for every event during transport: beginning/end of drive and hooked/unhooked to a tractor. These temperature logs are stored in Terion’s Web-based FleetView system for up to three months, the company says.
Refrigerated carrier D&D Sexton Inc. uses AirIQ’s trailer tracking system to trigger an automatic e-mail alert to management’s cell phones and pagers when a critical event occurs, such as a drop in reefer temperature or an engine failure.
“It has saved us on some reefer loads that we caught on our yard because the reefer failed to fire up,” says Rusty Heisten, information systems manager for the 100-truck, Springfield, Mo.-based carrier. If the AirIQ system detects a critical event while a trailer is tethered to a tractor, the driver receives a message on his Qualcomm in-cab device. This function is possible through integration of trailer information with the company’s dispatch software.
Trailer tracking needs vary by fleet, which is why vendors have designed their systems to be adaptable to many different types of sensors. For example, fleets that use GE’s VeriWise trailer tracking system with cargo and door sensors are using less than 40 percent of the capacity of the transceiver or base unit. The addition of sensors is based on customer input, says Patrick Brennan, a spokesperson for GE Trailer Fleet Services.
Thanks to growing demand and competition, the cost for various sensors is becoming marginal. TransCore recently announced the addition of an infrared cargo sensor to its satellite-based GlobalWave trailer tracking system. Using the same infrared technology as household remotes and appliances, the sensor is priced less than $100 for purchases in volume, the company says.
However, without the right processes and systems to manage the information, all the data from these sensors is about as useful as a remote without the proper appliance codes saved in it.
“It’s the business processes and supporting systems that really combine to create a solution,” Mueller says. “Technology without a system and process is marginal.”
Nextel’s group walkie-talkie
Nextel Communications Inc. and Motorola Inc. recently released the Motorola i355, a rugged, GPS-enabled phone that features five distinct ways to stay connected. The i355 is one of the first handsets to offer Nextel’s new Group Connect feature, which allows users to connect instantly with up to 20 other Nextel users nationwide with the push of a button. Motorola i355 users also can communicate through digital cellular phone service; Direct Connect, a nationwide and country-to-country instant walkie-talkie service; Direct Talk; and Multimedia Messaging.
Direct Talk allows users to stay connected even if they are outside of the Nextel network coverage area by allowing them to manually transform the phone into an off-network walkie-talkie with a range of up to six miles depending upon specific conditions, such as terrain. Multimedia Messaging service allows users to send text, images and audio together from several locations on the handset.
The i355 is available through Nextel distribution channels, including retail stores, for $99.99 with a two-year service agreement.
DPL goes to the road
The DPL Group, a manufacturer of wireless and GPS products for the construction industry, introduced the SkyHawk Vehicle Tracking System for mobile, over-the-road fleets. The covertly installed SkyHawk system – which allows users to track assets from an Internet-based software package – is governed by the same Internet software as DPL’s Titan Equipment Monitoring System, providing an integrated solution for real-time, side-by-side mapping and management of both on-road and off-road assets, the company says.