Virtual decisions

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) announced a new interface with SkyBitz trailer tracking software, adding to the list of trailer tracking interface options for McLeod’s LoadMaster enterprise transportation management solutions.

FuelAdvice.com (www.fueladvice.com), owned by Integrated Decision Support Corp., announced an enhanced fuel query that allows users to save any fuel query by city, highway or intersection, and receive daily fuel prices via e-mail to any mobile device.

GeoLogic Solutions (www.gogeologic.com) announced that Joplin, Mo.-based Sitton Motor Lines has upgraded to its newest GPRS-equipped MobileMax mobile communications and fleet management system. In October, GeoLogic added Cingular Wireless’ GPRS digital wireless data network as an additional communications option.

Cassens Transport Co., an auto transporter, announced that it will team with Apacheta Corp. (www.apacheta.com) to improve its delivery operations and cut costs associated with paper through the use of Apacheta’s TransportACE mobile software and wireless handheld devices.

Tripmaster Corp. (www.tripmaster.com), a supplier of onboard electronic recorders and support software, announced a marketing partnership with FreshLoc Technologies, a specialist in technology solutions for protecting refrigerated foods in the supply chain. Complete trip temperature history can be downloaded automatically into Tripmaster’s proprietary Office software for viewing or printing.

Vendors of fleet information systems of all types continue to improve how their systems monitor and report exceptions in real time, such as a driver speeding, out of route or detained at a shipper’s location. The moment such an event occurs, a fleet manager may receive an instant e-mail alert, or see an icon or number change.

But is lots of information always a good thing? The danger is that information overload due to real-time alerts may cause decisionmakers to lose sight of “the big picture” – how their overall operations look at the macro-level. As a result, an exception may be taken out of context – for example, a dispatcher who may have to increase his deadhead miles to keep time and capacity commitments with a core customer.

Recent software advancements offer fleet managers more visual and intuitive looks at their operations, and enable macro-level views while monitoring for exceptions that can occur any minute. “It all comes down to the fact that people are looking for newer and easier ways to see what is going on at a glance,” says Kevin Crothers, transportation business development for ObjectFX.

ObjectFX is a Java/J2EE-based software solution for visually monitoring transportation operations. Its FleetFX solution provides a dynamic and customizable map display and console that shows the location and up-to-the-minute status of items of interest, such as trucks, trailers, fuel stops and drop yards. Typical analytic views include visually highlighting regions with high or low revenue potential, and showing areas with excess or unused capacity, Crothers says.

Some online freight matching services are following this trend of software development to offer their members a global view of the freight market before fleets narrow their search for a load or to post available equipment or capacity to a specific location. Such “business intelligence” tools can help fleet managers determine the present status – and predict the future – of demand in each state to help in rate negotiations and strategic planning.

Internet Truckstop has a tool called Visiload that its members can use to map the loads going out of an area. Instead of pulling up a static, spreadsheet view of the loads and trucks leaving a state, Visiload provides macro-level insight of outgoing loads; users then can click on a load to pull up more detailed information. The company also has a tool called Pintac that charts the supply and demand in each state; and another called Load Densities that charts inbound versus outbound ratios, says Scott Moscrip, president of Internet Truckstop.

“As we watch the trends in the number of loads vs. number of trucks, we can make long-term decisions on rates and lanes we want to develop,” says Jason Johnson, president of D&H Logistics, a brokerage and small carrier based in Orem, Utah.

Getloaded.com recently launched a live planning tool called the Load Availability Map that subscribers see when they login. Using ObjectFX technology, each state is illustrated by one of three colors – red, light blue or dark blue – to represent low, medium and high availability of loads. The colors are determined by the current ratio of incoming to outgoing loads, as well as the ratio of loads to truck postings, says Cynthia Hayes, marketing manager of Getloaded.com. To the right of this macro-level view of the freight market, users can click on a list of states to begin a load search.

In early 2006, Getloaded.com plans to add more functions for users to customize their load searches, such as the ability to sort by distance and credit score. The company also plans to release a new interface that will allow members to customize their login page, Hayes says.


Mobitrac’s new optimizer
Mobitrac Inc. (www.mobitrac.com), a provider of next-generation Transportation Execution Systems, announced the general release of its Dynamic Area Planner. The new tool empowers shippers and carriers to rapidly create and dynamically adjust balanced work areas while meeting multiple service level requirements. The Dynamic Area Planner was designed for carriers with dense freight networks to reduce area planning optimization time from weeks – or even months – to as little as a day by using historical data to pre-plan work areas for drivers.