Optimization for everyone

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) will unveil LoadMaster Brokerage/Logistics at the Transportation Intermediaries Association’s annual meeting next month in Tucson, Ariz. LoadMaster Brokerage/Logistics combines some features of McLeod’s existing brokerage solution with more than 50 new features and functions to make it more effective for non-asset-based operations. Among the new modules are Agent Access, which allows brokering agents browser-based access to the system based on individual logins; and Private Notification Network, which automatically informs the user’s agents and carrier partners of available loads.

Maddocks Systems (www.maddockssystems.com), developer of TruckMate for Windows (TM4Win) enterprise software, has become a certified solution provider for the ACE e-Manifest Program. Maddocks said it worked closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to test the system, which will allow Maddocks clients to send the required e-Manifest data directly from TruckMate.

Terion (www.terion.com) said it has exceeded 100,000 installed FleetView trailer monitoring units, following significant sales growth in 2005 with new installations increasing by more than 60 percent. Terion says sales of its FleetView 3 system have been a factor.

Arsenault Associates (www.arsenault.biz) – provider of Dossier fleet maintenance management solutions – announced record growth in 2005. The company acquired 80 new fleet clients and grew revenues by 18 percent over the previous year.

Minimizing your daily cost of fuel purchases for each truck requires the ability to see pump prices instantaneously across state lines – even across the street. You also must know each truck’s planned route, current fuel level, tank capacity and fuel economy. And don’t forget to factor in fuel taxes and volume discounts. It’s a daunting mathematical challenge for one truck, let alone an entire fleet.

Fortunately, fuel optimization software reduces these decisions to a fraction of a second. Even better, by integrating this software with mobile communications and dispatch systems, planning and executing optimized fuel purchases can become an automated process.

For example, Salt Lake City-based Central Refrigerated Service uses a fuel optimization system called Expert Fuel from Integrated Decision Support Corp. (IDSC). When a load is assigned to a driver in the company’s dispatch software, the driver receives a message in his Qualcomm unit that asks him for his fuel level in fractions of eighths.

The fuel level and the vehicle’s location is sent back to a server and combined with the current route and load assignment from the fleet’s dispatch software. After an algorithm calculates an optimal fuel purchase plan, the driver receives a message that instructs him to purchase a fixed number of gallons at specific locations along the route.

On a weekly basis, driver managers at Central Refrigerated receive a report that calculates a compliance percentage by comparing the cost and number of gallons purchased by drivers – information gathered by use of fleet cards – to the optimal recommendations. On a quarterly basis, managers review reports with each driver individually, says Allen Lowry, director of cost analysis for the 1,200-truck carrier.

Fuel optimization software helps improve driver compliance with a fleet’s fuel plan because every dispatch is accompanied by a route as well as the designated fuel stop and volume purchase information, says Murray Fitzer, president of Florilli Transportation. “It has taken that decision out of the equation for the driver.”

Together with its other fuel reports, such as driver fuel economy, driver managers at Florilli – a 225-truck refrigerated truckload carrier based in West Liberty, Iowa – use a weekly report that shows each driver’s compliance with the carrier’s fuel plans, Fitzer says. “It is the responsibility of each fleet manager to recognize 100 percent compliance as well as look at unacceptable level of compliance, and to counsel drivers on the important of adherence,” he says.

In addition to tracking drivers’ compliance with fuel plans, some fleets also are using their fleet card systems to pre-authorize fuel purchases by the specific dollar amount and location recommended by fuel optimization software. This solves the problem of counseling drivers about adherence – after the fact.

But even without a fully automated fuel optimization system in place, fleets of all sizes are taking advantage of convenient services to get optimized fuel plans at minimal cost and effort.

VolvoLink, a satellite-based tracking and mobile communications system, offers ProMiles XF – a mileage and routing system that includes fuel purchase optimization – for its Web-based user interface, says Don Philyaw, director of sales and marketing support for Volvo Trucks.

Through the integration, VolvoLink users can see the lowest fuel prices along a route, as well as their trucks’ location, on a digital map. As part of the VolvoLink service, users also receive the fuel economy of their vehicles through the Web. And with minimal input, the driver can enter his truck’s fuel level in the VolvoLink message center, and managers can send drivers their fuel purchase instructions to the cab from the website.

Fleet One, a provider of fleet cards and financial services, offers ProMiles XF for $19.99 a month, regardless of how many trucks a fleet has. When logged into Fleet One’s Web portal to manage fuel transactions, fleet managers also can plan routes and fuel purchases, says David Rewers, vice president of sales for Fleet One. If they choose, fleet managers can set daily limits on each driver’s fuel cards and limit fueling to specific locations.

Without using some or all of these technologies – the costs of which have become minimal compared to the potential for fuel savings – drivers are free to make their own fuel purchase decisions. And you can bet those decisions will be anything but optimal.

International wins award for Aware
Frost & Sullivan awarded International Truck and Engine Corp. the 2006 Industry Innovation and Advancement of the Year Award in the medium-heavy truck original equipment market. International is the first truck and bus manufacturer to offer a comprehensive telematics solution for buses and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The award recognizes International’s development of the International Aware Vehicle Intelligence solution. The system incorporates GPS technology to track the exact position of vehicles and uses in-vehicle monitors to relay key operating data such as vehicle functions and conditions back to fleet managers, owners and service teams through secure wireless networks.

“This innovative product signifies the end-user-focused product planning of International and showcases the company’s focus on offering maximum value for money to its customers,” says Sandeep Kar, analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “The company does so by offering commercial vehicle systems that can result in significant improvements in the productivity and performance of vehicles, the key considerations for any commercial vehicle buyer.”

Innovative’s software used with 112,000 loads in one month
Innovative Computing Corporation announced that the ASP versions of its Innovative Enterprise Software (IES Access and IES Access Plus) now have combined to successfully dispatch more than 5,000 trucks and 112,000 loads in one month. The trucks and loads are spread across its Internet customer systems, but the total amounts to the capacity and loads of a top 10 truckload carrier being dispatched via the Internet, the company says.