Tech in Focus: Document imaging

No technology vendor can satisfy all the individual requirements of all fleets to improve a specific business process, such as turning paper billing documents into a paid receivable. To remain technologically and financially competitive, vendors of document scanning and workflow technology must be willing to share resources with some of their biggest competitors or risk losing market share.

Take truck stop scanning. This service is offered at all major truck stop locations by three competitors: Pegasus TransTech, Flying J and ACS TripPak Services. Today, when a driver scans his paperwork at a Pilot Travel Center, the clerk at the fuel desk uses the TransFlo system by Pegasus TransTech, which has an exclusive arrangement with Pilot for truck stop scanning.

But what if the driver’s company chooses to outsource its document indexing and workflow processes to Pegasus’ competitor, ACS TripPak Services? Not a problem. Using the same hardware, the scanned document is routed automatically to TripPak’s data center – as with any document that is scanned into a competitor’s system or dropped into a TripPak Express drop box at any truck stop.

“Speed to presentment is something that everyone wants to take advantage of,” says Mitch Hixon, director of sales for ACS TripPak Services. “Every imaging provider out there has had to work through interfaces for what we would call ‘distributed capture solutions.’ ”

For document scanning and workflow vendors, interfacing with competitors is a competitive necessity. But vendors still develop value-added services to seek out market share. Pegasus TransTech recently announced a venture with Makin Imaging Systems to offer carriers an outsourced indexing solution to complement its TransFlo product line.

Scanned documents from any TransFlo software now can be sent to Makin, which indexes them directly into a fleet’s transportation management system. As part of the indexing process, Makin identifies the documents by type – such as bills of lading, fuel receipts, logbooks, etc. – for entry into a fleet’s workflow system. A scanned document sent to Makin is indexed and available for use within 15 minutes.

“Our goal is to accommodate fleet needs with a full menu,” says Frank Adelman, senior vice president for Pegasus TransTech.

The strategy at ACS TripPak Services is to offer a range of outsourcing options for managing documents that usually start out as paper, such as bills of lading and driver logbooks, Hixon says. For example, carriers can use truck stop scanning, TripPak Express drop boxes for delivery of paper documents to TripPak for scanning, or a combination of the two depending on their needs and driver preferences.

“We continue to diversify and provide solutions that people want,” Hixon says. “The bottom line is that we do whatever a company wants us to do.”

The blurring of competition occurs not only in the area of sharing hardware resources in truck stops. As technology companies grow, they often get into areas where they sometimes must work closely with competitors. A case in point is McLeod Software. For the past 13 years, McLeod has provided a document imaging solution to clients of its LoadMaster dispatch and accounting transportation management software. From the beginning, one of the advantages of being the developer of both types of software solutions is depth of integration, says Mike Nalepka, national sales manager for McLeod Imaging.

“We have somewhere in the range of 200 different types of departmental imaging applications” for literally hundreds of different screens in LoadMaster, Nalepka says.

Since McLeod now has competitive products in both LoadMaster and McLeod Imaging, it must work with competitors in both markets to ensure the integration customers demand. McLeod has integrated its imaging product with dispatch and accounting software competitors Innovative, TMW, Keypoint and SAP, Nalepka says. And LoadMaster customers may have other preferred imaging vendors, of course. In truckstop scanning, McLeod Imaging interfaces with the hardware used by the three leading truck stop scanning vendors – TripPak, Flying J and Pegasus TransTech.

“We have a number of carriers that use more than one,” Nalepka says. “Some use all three vendors.”