Learning to share

Terion (www.terion.com) launched two product line extensions for its FleetView 3 trailer management system: FleetView 3T, specifically designed for managing tanker trailers; and FleetView 3C, for managing domestic intermodal containers. Terion also added self-sustaining solar charging capabilities, allowing the new FleetView device to operate on a container without an external power source.

Arsenault Associates (www.arsenault.biz) says the release of its Dossier Maintenance Software, Version 4.3, adds new features that minimize manual data entry, such as Repair Order Templates that save up to 65 percent of typical data entry time. The new version also includes forecasting to project the need for PM and inspection services, automated budget versus expense reporting, and equipment downtime tracking features.

@Road Inc. (www.road-inc.com) said that BellSouth has selected @Road MRM solutions to manage up to 17,000 of its field technicians operating within its nine-state service area.

SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com), a satellite-based trailer tracking and information management service, announced that five new trucking companies are deploying the patented SkyBitz Global Locating System (GLS) platform. The company now has more than 240 trucking fleets using SkyBitz solutions for long-term fleet management.

Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) introduced three new business-rugged Panasonic Toughbook notebook computers: The CF-W5, tablet alternative CF-T5, and the thin-and-light desktop replacement CF-Y5. The new series of notebooks include magnesium alloy cases, flexible internal connectors and shock-mounted and removable hard drives.

Intermec Inc. (www.intermec.com) introduced the CN3, a small pocket-sized rugged mobile computer that features voice and high-speed data with 3G WAN and Cisco Compatible WiFi connectivity, and integrated GPS and Bluetooth capabilities. The CN3 also includes a choice of an area imager or 1.3 megapixel camera to scan and decode any kind of barcode or capture still images, such as signatures or video images. Used with mapping software, the CN3 also enables onscreen, hands-free turn-by-turn voice navigation, the company says.

One annoying consequence of high driver turnover is having driver files that are constantly late, missing, incomplete and out of date. Keeping current with permits, licenses, required forms and safety records – to name only a few items – is an endless project that only gets more complex as companies add more locations.

“There is a lot of information that we have to have,” says Conda Jones, general manager of Truck Transfer Service, located in Charlotte, N.C. “With all paper, it is very difficult.”

But the job of managing driver files became much easier for Jones once the paper was gone. Truck Transfer Service today manages its driver files electronically with Driver Management Online (DMO) from J.J. Keller and Associates. Important deadlines and expirations show up 60 days in advance, helping Jones work with drivers in an orderly, proactive manner to ensure that licenses, medical exams and all other tasks are completed before they are due. Before using DMO, “we were counting on drivers to help, but most of the time it failed,” she says.

Multiple locations can spark poor communication and often contribute to compliance problems. DMO can centralize the management of driver files through all stages, from recruiting to termination, says Tom Reader, services market development and planning manager for J.J. Keller. Driver applicants can visit any fleet office or terminal, pertinent data can be entered on the spot, and any paper documents can be scanned and attached immediately to electronic driver files, Reader says.

Centralizing driver management is one of the key benefits of any system in the market. The American Red Cross manages about 600 biomedical service drivers regionally from offices located across the United States. The company uses SafetyFirst Systems’ E-Driver File, an online driver management system formerly known as the OSCER system.

“At headquarters, we can’t be in all those regions,” says Lora Case, associate corporate safety officer for the American Red Cross. “We can go once a year and audit, but on a day-to-day basis, this is how we keep track of how current they are on maintaining proper documents.” The organization also is beginning to use E-Driver File to electronically scan and maintain driver documents such as drug and alcohol tests.

Another option for managing driver files is to outsource the process completely. Rair Technologies offers a driver qualification and log auditing management program. Its clients either mail the documents to Rair or scan them in at their office. Rair provides an online electronic filing system, automation of compliance reporting, and monitoring.

“(The customer) literally has nothing to do,” says Dr. Henry Goldberg, president of Rair Technologies. “That’s our business philosophy.”

One of the biggest frustrations with electronic driver file management is that some of the information needed for compliance comes from external sources and, thus, may not lend itself to seamless integration. As more fleets use driver management systems, the prospect of gathering information from other carriers for new job applicants also should become easier.

“We would love to see some standard or minimum requirements for a driver file,” says Tom Pace, project manager for SafetyFirst Systems.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires carriers to divulge certain information about a driver’s past employment record. Yet the quality of that information depends on the quality of the previous employer’s files and what information it decides to withhold – for example, if a driver tested positive for drugs.

Instead of a carrier trying to piece together a prospective driver’s past employment records through the phone and fax machine, complete driver files could be e-mailed directly from E-Driver File, Pace says. SafetyFirst Systems has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create a voluntary compliance program that would encourage companies to adopt a standard for sharing driver files. Under SafetyFirst’s proposal, those carriers would be far less likely to be audited. Such a program would be similar to the IRS’ treatment of tax returns prepared by a Certified Public Accountant, Pace says.

In addition to simplifying compliance, software systems can be risk management tools, says Paul Farrell, chief executive officer for SafetyFirst Systems. “You can see which drivers are costing more and do driver risk profiling based on the history of tickets, crashes, absenteeism, age, tenure and other factors.”

TMW Systems acquires Maddocks
TMW Systems, the largest provider of enterprise management software in the United States, has acquired Maddocks Systems, Canada’s largest provider of trucking software. With the merger, TMW Systems now has more than 1,000 customers, 250 employees and revenues in excess of $40 million, the company says.

Bob Maddocks, president of Maddocks Systems, told industry press during a conference call that he and other executives of the two former competitors had been discussing an acquisition since early this year.

When news of the acquisition reached Nick Biagi, a Maddocks Systems’ TruckMate software user, he didn’t know what to think.

“We are just waiting to see what they do,” says Biagi, a manager at Napa, Calif.-based Biagi Bros., which operates more than 300 trucks. “The worst case would be if (TMW) starts laying Maddocks people off and then we can’t get any support. As long as they continue to support TruckMate and keep improving and developing the product, we will be happy.”

TMW Systems’ Chief Executive Officer David Wangler says he sees no need to reduce staff. And unlike some acquisitions in software industries, Wangler says, the company will continue to support and evolve all of its products, which now includes Maddocks TruckMate for Windows.

TMW Systems’ other current product offerings include the TMWSuite Windows-based solution and TL2000 for the IBM iSeries. TMW has extended its Lifetime Support Policy to Maddocks users that subscribe continuously to its software support and maintenance.

One of the key objectives for acquiring Maddocks Systems is to expand the geography for implementation and support of both companies’ products, Wangler says.

“Over the long term, we will figure out the best way to cross-train and provide support across different time zones,” he says. “Nothing changes from an implementation perspective.”

The two companies now have full-time development and support for both Eastern and Pacific time zones. TMW Systems’ corporate office is in Beachwood, Ohio; Maddocks Systems (now TMW Systems Canada) is based in Langley, British Columbia.

Another key objective is to expand “wider and taller” in the trucking software market, Wangler says. TMW Systems will continue to service more segments in the trucking market and develop more add-on products to compete for a larger portion of its customers’ spending on information technology. Wangler says the company’s added scale will enable it to develop new products for the top 30 fleets, as well as small fleets with between 20 and 50 trucks.

Current customers soon will be able to leverage a broad set of existing complementary products developed for users of both TMW Systems and Maddocks TruckMate products.

“With our combined resources and technology, new features and modules will be available to both product suites in a very short time,” Maddocks says. In his new leadership role at TMW Systems – as senior vice president for business development – Maddocks says he will concentrate primarily on opening new doors to service the nation’s largest fleets.

Over time, Wangler says, TMW Systems will integrate its development staffs to work on a “next generation” product using Microsoft’s .NET framework.

TMW Systems
Founded: 1983
Headquarters: Beachwood, Ohio
Products: TMWSuite for Windows and TL2000 for the IBM iSeries platform
Customers: 575 managing about 125,000 power units
Revenues (year ended June 30): $28.7 million (U.S.)

Maddocks Systems
Founded: 1981
Headquarters: Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Products: TruckMate for Windows
Customers: 440 managing about 50,000 power units
Revenues (year ended June 30): $12.6 million (Canadian)