Sink or swim at the border

ALK Technologies ( announced that its ALK|FleetSuite Tolls module has been integrated with the Fuel&Route component of the Carrier Management solution from Manhattan Associates. The integration enables Fuel&Route to fold accurate toll costs into its route calculations.

Prophesy Transportation Solutions ( announced the release of LogPlus version 7.5. The new release of its driver log audit software includes the new hours-of-service rules that took effect on Oct. 1.

Navtrak ( released the latest version of its GPS monitoring, mapping and reporting software called Street Suite. New features include tools to accurately report arrival, departure and detention times; a preventative maintenance module; and quarterly fuel tax reporting.

SkyBitz announced that Quality Distribution, which operates the largest tanker fleet in the United States, will install the SkyBitz GLS system within its fleet to improve trailer utilization, monitor trailer idle time and increase security.

Cadec Corp. ( and Atlantis Data Systems (ADS) signed a letter of intent to merge their businesses. The merger will allow Cadec to offer a comprehensive suite of wireless fleet management products – from Internet-based satellite tracking and communications to electronic DOT logs and handheld applications, says Tom Lemke, executive vice president of Cadec.

For carriers that haul freight across U.S. borders, keeping up with changes in customs programs, rules and regulations are constant challenges. One major blip on their radar screens is the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) program, which now is being implemented at major border crossing points into the United States.

Before long, compliance with ACE will become mandatory at all border-crossing points. Once that happens, fleets will have 90 days to comply. Dale Wilson, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP), declined to nail down a specific date when compliance would be made mandatory, but he certainly did not rule out 2006.

Wilson and two other spokespeople for U.S. Customs’ ACE program were on hand at Maddocks Systems’ annual software users’ conference, held Oct. 4 in Tucson, Ariz. Unlike many government mandates – such as paying your income taxes – waiting until the last minute to comply with ACE will not pay off for motor carriers, they said.

Over the past few years, CBP has created many new programs designed to increase security and speed the flow of commercial traffic into the United States. Its ACE program was designed to bring all modes of commercial transportation into compliance with the Trade Act of 2002 – a law Congress passed to mandate electronic presentation of cargo information in advance of border crossing.

Over the past few years, CBP has rolled out its ACE program in several phases. To date, the air, ocean and rail industries are ACE compliant, which means they are sending electronic cargo manifests to CBP in advance of crossing the border or approaching U.S. boundaries.

For trucking, the final phase of the ACE rollout, Release 4, is available now at several crossing points for U.S.-Canadian traffic, including Detroit and Blaine, Wash. A few motor carriers already are complying voluntarily by submitting required electronic manifests at least one hour before their trucks arrive at the border, says Steven Graham, a consultant with Sandler and Travis Trade Advisory Services, one of the contractors working with IBM to develop ACE for CBP.

To comply with ACE, carriers submit manifests to the customs agency in one of two ways: a secure ACE Web portal or with electronic data interchange (EDI) directly from their software systems.

By submitting electronic manifests, carriers no longer have to rely solely on customs brokers to file the appropriate information at least one hour in advance of their trucks reaching the border. The onus now is on the carrier to submit its manifest one hour in advance – 30 minutes, in some cases. The customs broker can file its manifest in a matter of minutes before the truck arrives. As long as the information from both parties match up, the truck is cleared without stopping, Graham says.

One benefit of ACE for carriers is that the fully electronic clearance process will give carriers visibility on the status of each cross-border shipment, either through the Web portal or EDI, Graham says. However, fleet attendees at the Maddocks conference expressed concern about the amount of information they will be required to send in advance, and what it will cost them to meet this requirement.

Carriers must electronically submit their trip information (conveyance, crew, equipment, etc.) and shipment details (PRO bill number, piece counts, etc.). This information must be submitted in a standard form – for each trip.

Maddocks Systems, a provider of trucking management software, recently developed a module for its TruckMate software package called e-Manifest that can automate some of a carrier’s data entry required to meet the ACE mandates. The module sends manifests to the ACE system directly through EDI.

“e-Manifest was designed to allow a quick, easy-to-use and accurate interface,” says Darryl Bloomer, EDI solutions specialist for Maddocks Systems. But he added that ACE is still a learning process for everybody – Maddocks Systems included.

Fleet attendees said that even if they used Maddocks’ e-Manifest to send load manifests to customs through EDI, complying with ACE still would increase their administrative costs significantly.

Drumbo Transport, an 18-truck less-than-truckload carrier based in Ontario, Canada, will have to enter up to 20 shipment manifests for each trailer that crosses the border, says office manager Terri Poll. To enter this information in advance of its trucks arriving at the border will require 1.5 or possibly two full-time positions, she says. “This is a big burden, especially for smaller carriers.”

Complying with ACE may increase administrative costs, but waiting until the last minute to test your systems and get certified by CBP might prove even more costly. In the air transportation industry, everyone waited until the weekend before it became mandatory to register, says Lori Kwiatkowski, a client representative for the office of information and technology for CBP. The agency couldn’t handle the workload.

CBP has 50 client representatives in the country to handle the training and testing requirements for carriers to meet ACE compliance, but these representatives handle all modes of commercial transportation. Kwiatkowski says she hopes the trucking industry will avoid the same mistake when ACE is mandated.

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” she says. “If you wait, we’ll leave you to sink or swim.”
For more information on U.S. Customs’ ACE program, visit

PeopleNet to offer three new applications
At the 2005 American Trucking Associations management and exhibition in Boston, PeopleNet Communications announced three new product upgrades that will be available early next year for its more than 1,200 fleet customers:

  • Decision Tree Forms uses PeopleNet’s new g3 onboard platform to allow companies to simplify complex driver-to-dispatcher interaction through branches and loops within a form message. Branches can be based on a driver’s answer to a multiple-choice question and offer the ability to use far more questions (defined by the customer) without adding driver complexity, the company says.
  • PeopleNet’s Bar Code Scanner offering will include a tethered in-cab option in addition to an untethered option using Bluetooth technology to provide fleets with portable capabilities. The scanning option is ideal for fleets that need to scan in bar codes for inventory management, billing and other routine paperwork, including proof of deliveries, the company says. The scanner can be plugged into the g3 onboard computer using the USB port.
  • Pacos 2.6, the next generation of PeopleNet’s geofencing and automated messaging platform, will provide onboard trip management for drivers, the ability to sequence stops across a trip, and late time alarms for detention time situations.
  • All three features will update existing g3 PeopleNet platforms automatically using the company’s proprietary Over-the-Air-Programming (OTAP) feature early next year, the company says.

    Fontaine, LaneScan team up against driver blind spots
    Fifth-wheel manufacturer Fontaine International and LaneScan, an “intelligent mirror” technology company, have announced a working agreement they say will enhance safety and reduce accidents by virtually eliminating driver blind spots on the sides of trucks.

    Lanescan’s AutoView technology uses sensors mounted to a Fontaine fifth wheel to rotate the right mirror automatically so that it continuously keeps the right rear corner of the trailer in the driver’s view – even on wide turns of 75 degrees or more – regardless of the trailer length. It also makes “blind side” backing maneuvers safer and easier by eliminating the driver’s blind spot, according to the company.

    In addition, this advanced mirror technology is designed to assist drivers in heavy traffic. With the push of a button, the driver can scan the “blind spot” before merging, turning or changing lanes; when the button is released, the mirrors return to their normal preset position.

    The fifth wheel-actuated AutoView is available exclusively on Fontaine fifth wheels.

    Qualcomm, Tele Atlas partner for in-cab navigation
    Qualcomm Incorporated and Tele Atlas, a global geographic content provider, announced that Tele Atlas will provide digital mapping and other geographic information for use in Qualcomm’s upcoming OmniVision mobile computing platform, which currently is slated for release in the second half of 2006.

    OmniVision is a next-generation platform for wireless fleet management solutions, the successor to Qualcomm’s OmniTracs mobile communications solution. Under this agreement, Qualcomm will deploy Tele Atlas’ Dynamap/Transportation and Logistics databases to create an in-cab navigation application specifically for Class 7 and 8 vehicles, says Norm Ellis, general manager and vice president of transportation and logistics for Qualcomm.

    Tele Atlas plans to enhance its line of platforms, applications and services to provide more extensive information for fleet operators, says Dana Fenner, director of fleets and logistics for Tele Atlas. Its Logistics database currently provides bridge, height and weight limits, as well as hazardous materials and road restriction information. In cooperation with Qualcomm, the company plans to enhance its turn-by-turn navigation database with commercial points of interest, such as the location of truck stops, customers’ loading docks and weigh stations.

    TransCore launches new technology for trailer tracking
    Following a multimillion-dollar research and development (R&D) effort, TransCore has introduced a smaller, faster and more power-efficient modem for use in its GlobalWave satellite-based asset-tracking applications.

    The new modem reduces the size of the terminals and extends battery life from the usual three years up to seven years – essentially doubling battery life of current trailer-tracking products on the market, says Dr. David Roscoe, vice president of hardware engineering and R&D for TransCore.

    With the advancement, TransCore has introduced two new GlobalWave satellite data communication terminals: one for basic tracking applications and another that enables both tracking and monitoring with a full suite of sensors. Both enable two-way, all-satellite, nationwide communication between fleet operators and assets.

    The new modem offers response times under a minute, compared to competitive satellite-based trailer-tracking systems that take as long as 90 minutes. It also has efficient power management for less battery drain and integrated GPS.

    With the lowest height profile of any unit on the market, TransCore was able to reduce the height of its GlobalWave trailer-tracking terminal to just above three quarters of an inch, making it less visually obvious and reducing the potential for theft or dismantling, the company says. The terminal can be installed in under 10 minutes on loaded or unloaded trailers and interfaces with leading transportation management software (TMS) providers.

    ALK releases CoPilot Live
    ALK Technologies announced the worldwide availability of its latest generation of navigation software for a wide range of phones or PDAs. CoPilot Live 6 provides drivers with portable satellite navigation that includes turn-by-turn voice guidance, address entry choice, ZIP code and point-of-interest search, detailed street maps and a new finger-touch User Interface with larger, user-friendly buttons. The new version is customizable to avoid or favor certain road types and set average road speeds. CoPilot Live 6 incorporates ALK’s live tracking functionality, which can display driver locations in real time on a secure website.