Visualizing growth

TMW Systems (www.tmwsystems.com) introduced four new products designed to improve and enhance the TruckMate product developed by Maddocks Systems, which TMW acquired in September. The new TruckMate modules are TMW Imaging; D2Link, a mobile communication solution; The Dawg, a real-time exception monitoring tool; and DriverSeat, a Web-based driver portal. “These modules will give current TruckMate customers an opportunity to further leverage their existing investment in TruckMate and recognize additional value quickly,” said TMW Systems President Dave Wangler.

PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent for its OTAP (Over-The-Air Programming) technology, which allows PeopleNet to update software on truck-cab computers remotely wherever the vehicle might be. PeopleNet says it was the first transportation technology provider to offer wireless software updates with the introduction of OTAP.

ALK Technologies (www.alk.com) released PC Miler FuelTax 12, a fuel tax reporting software for motor carriers and private fleets. New features in the latest version include 53-foot routing availability and a Tractor Odometer Report that allows the user to see the odometer readings for each tractor.

AirIQ Inc. (www.airiq.com) has entered the field service market with a digital (GSM) communications platform, an online fleet management interface called AirIQ Online and an AirIQ Onboard device.

Houston-based Select Carrier Group (SCG) is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy for the next few years, including significant capital investments and growth in certain areas of its business. Executing this plan will require SCG to adopt more technology, and doing so brings both solutions and risks, says Kathi Laughman, the company’s vice president of business systems and services. When you try to improve a business process by applying technology, you risk doing the wrong things faster – either by automating the wrong points in the process or by automating the right points in the wrong progression.

Consider order management, which is arguably the most important process in any business. Suppose you decide that moving to a paperless, customer self-service model is the best direction for your business. What does the concept of a paperless transaction or self-service model look like? What do you gain and lose? What does the customer gain? How do you stay on top of exception management? What does it cost to sustain that model?

“All of those things become important factors,” Laughman says. Besides identifying and mapping out all the points of strategic business processes such as order management, SCG – a publicly traded company – has “a great many points” it would like to automate for nonstrategic regulatory processes, including Sarbanes-Oxley and Department of Transportation regulations. And managing change in a growing organization requires implementation of technology and projects in rapid succession. So in 2005, Laughman began working toward a visual “blueprint” of SCG’s business processes – a “living instrument of what we do and how we do it.”

Laughman considered various software applications such as Lotus Notes, Viseo and various quality assurance programs. She chose ProVision, a software application from Proforma Corp. (www.proformacorp.com) that “allowed us to take a Viseo-type process drawing and put intelligence with it.” ProVision allows SCG to simulate change, perform impact analysis and generally model the outcome of its decisions. By using the software, “we could not fall into the ‘ready-fire-aim trap’ when we need to make a change in a critical process,” Laughman says.

SCG implemented ProVision in late 2005. One way it uses the tool is to “map out” the typical customer setup process – the first phase in an order’s lifecycle. By modeling this process, Laughman then can quickly see how a new customer’s service requirements fit into this model, and how unique requirements from this customer might impact the order management cycle. If so, how should these requirements be communicated? How can they be integrated into the basic order flow of management? And how many different touch points are there?

“This has allowed us to take accounts we set up, and see in advance how they will actually impact DSO (days sales outstanding),” Laughman says. “Every company focuses on DSO, but not everybody takes it all the way back to how an account is set up.” ProVision also helps determine if SCG needs to reconsider its pricing of an order if it has extra touch points or unique service requirements.

The need for a tool like ProVision depends on the complexity of your operations, Laughman says. Companies with one central office probably can map out their business processes with Viseo – or even a pen and paper. SCG maintains complex operations with more than 70 locations, all of which are actively engaged in “touching” freight. The company has three main product “groups” of truckload and scheduled ground operations – LTL, truckload and dedicated fleets. Together, these groups currently operate 418 tractors (owner-operators), 1,100 trailers, 60 dedicated fleets and another 652 carriers through its brokerage division.

Another consideration is that ProVision requires extensive configuration and implementation, and it is difficult to define a return on investment because the tool is so dynamic, she says.

For SCG, ProVision plays an essential role in staying on the leading edge of technology by helping Laughman carefully plan for change, implement change and speed the return on investment from technology.


GeoLogic offers new in-cab display
GeoLogic Solutions (www.gogeologic.com) unveiled its Color Display Unit – a Windows CE-based touchscreen display that features a high-resolution graphical interface for users of its MobileMax wireless fleet management system. The driver-friendly device offers a range of enhanced applications, including electronic driver logs, text to speech, mapping and onboard navigation with turn-by-turn directions, says GeoLogic President John Lewis. The open Windows CE architecture allows GeoLogic to add future functionality and integrate with a broad range of third-party hardware and Windows-based software applications, the company said.

“We strongly believe our new CDU will make drivers happy and enable trucking operations to improve their productivity, efficiency and safety performance,” Lewis says.

The GeoLogic CDU is totally compatible with existing MobileMax systems currently deployed. It is equipped with USB ports located both in the front and rear of the device that could be used, for example, to access training programs, move logs from truck to truck or provide employee communications, such as settlement and compensation statements and fuel efficiency incentive program updates.

The CDU will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of this year. Electronic driver logs will be available at that time, and onboard navigation and text-to-speech capability will be available in early 2007.


TMTsoftware, Qualcomm now integrate
Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com) and TMTsoftware (www.tmtsoftware.com) announced that the GlobalTracs and OmniTracs systems from Qualcomm and the Transman system from TMTsoftware now fully integrate, providing a complete automatic maintenance management solution that helps to manage the entire fleet maintenance process. The Transman system now can receive hours and location details from the GlobalTracs system and miles and location details from the OmniTracs system on a scheduled basis. This information helps improve maintenance efficiency because maintenance can be scheduled in a timely manner and only when needed, the companies said.