It’s all in the cab

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) released Version 8 of both its LoadMaster enterprise software solution for private and for-hire trucking fleets and its PowerBroker enterprise solution for non-asset-based brokerage and logistics providers. Several enhancements specifically address the refrigerated carrier segment, including expanded visibility of order billing and payment detail; new screens for enhanced tracking of over, short and damaged (OS&D) reports and appointment confirmations; and automation of garnishment, claims processing and a wider variety of fuel surcharges.

AirClic (www.airclic.com) unveiled AirClic MP 5, a platform for automating and tracking mobile business processes. AirClic MP 5 is designed to provide cell phone users two-way data exchange.

Prophesy Transportation Solutions (www.mile.com) announced a low-cost, cab-mounted AVL tracking solution for trucking companies and other mobile fleets. Prophesy offers optional integration with its other software solutions for dispatch operations, fuel management and hours-of-service tracking.

Xora (www.xora.com) and Garmin International announced that Garmin’s navigation technology is now available in Xora’s GPS TimeTrack solutions for handsets such as cell phones.

Rand McNally (www.intelliroute.com) released an application programming interface (API) designed to allow carriers to integrate their transportation management systems with Rand McNally’s IntelliRoute Fuel, Lane Rates and Streets software modules.

U.S. Xpress has a reputation for being a pacesetter with new technology. The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based fleet was an early adopter of automated transmissions and anti-collision and anti-rollover systems. Once again, U.S. Xpress is setting a new technology trend – this time for driver satisfaction.

In October 2006, U.S. Xpress announced that it will deploy ALK’s CoPilot Truck GPS navigation system across its entire fleet of more than 5,000 power units. The system resides on the truck’s onboard devices and provides drivers with spoken, truck-specific, turn-by-turn directions.

A big part of the decision for adding GPS navigation to its cabs was to retain and attract drivers, says Jeff Seibenhener, vice president of information technology for U.S. Xpress. Overall operational efficiency was another factor, he says, as the fleet anticipates that drivers no longer will waste time and fuel searching for addresses.

“We interviewed drivers, ex-drivers and driver liaisons and found that directions were among the top three issues they had,” Seibenhener says. CoPilot Truck will run on the DriverTech DT4000 Truck-PC, an in-cab system that runs on WindowsXP. U.S. Xpress announced in October that it will roll out DriverTech across a significant part of its fleet to replace existing onboard systems.

The carrier has designed a driver portal that will allow drivers to see real-time information, communicate with one another, receive training content remotely, and enable in-cab education in the DriverTech Truck-PC through Transmarket’s In-Cab University. U.S. Xpress also will utilize Tread-1 computer-based driver training modules enabled by In-Cab U.

“We’re particularly excited about expanding services to our drivers and making their jobs easier to perform,” Seibenhener says. “The more connected our drivers are in the cab, the better our fleet performs.”

Technology vendors also are trumpeting their latest features as a must-have to improve driver satisfaction. Some of the latest developments were announced at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition in Dallas in late October.

Maptuit – a provider of truck routing, vehicle tracking and traffic services – announced that mobile communication and onboard computing providers Cadec, DriverTech, GeoLogic and PeopleNet all will offer its NaviGo touchscreen-operated navigation system on their latest generation displays. NaviGo offers audible truck-specific, real-time, turn-by-turn directions.

Also at ATA, Qualcomm announced the commercial availability of the new OmniVision System for Transportation, its next-generation wireless enterprise system for the transportation and logistics industry. One of the main features of OmniVision is advanced text-to-speech capability, which allows drivers to listen to and replay messages, eliminating the need to stop the vehicle and pull over to read a text message. The platform also features an integrated, color touchscreen and a remote control device, providing drivers quick access to messages read by the text-to-speech feature.

Meanwhile, PeopleNet announced development of new driver-friendly displays for its g3 onboard communications and fleet management solution; the new displays will be available starting in 2007. A tethered, 7-inch Enhanced Driver Display will run on the Windows CE .Net platform and is part of PeopleNet’s continued drive toward “open platform” standards embraced by the g3 platform, says Brian McLaughlin, vice president of product planning. The new platform will allow for third-party applications – including in-cab navigation as well as audio and video programs – to be developed and run in conjunction with the core PeopleNet applications.

The latest technology in onboard computers would appear to make a driver’s job easier. But improving driver satisfaction actually may depend on whether or not they can use these modern tools to earn more money by becoming more efficient. Ultimately, more money is likely the only tangible benefit that will keep drivers in the seat.


TransCore spins new 360 suite
TransCore introduced its 3sixty product suite (www.360.net), which merges six separate logistics capabilities into a single platform for third-party logistics providers, shippers and carriers. The launch of 3sixty, which was developed in Microsoft’s .NET framework, also marks major upgrades to TransCore’s DAT freight matching service.

TransCore says the redesign process included experts in human computer interaction sitting alongside dispatchers and brokers across the country to gain a thorough, firsthand understanding of their goals and workflow. Consistent patterns of behavior were observed during each phase of the freight lifecycle, and these findings are reflected in the new freight matching product, the company says.

3sixty’s overall design simplifies access across services, minimizing time-consuming steps switching between multiple applications. 3sixty’s segments include:

  • Operations Management, formerly Keypoint transportation management software;
  • Freight Match, powered by DAT (U.S.-based) and LoadLink (Canadian-based), together forming North America’s largest freight matching network;
  • Fleet Management, powered by GlobalWave satellite asset tracking and communications;
  • Rail-Intermodal, powered by IntelliTrans, for rail-oriented shippers and carriers; and
  • Compliance and financial services.

Eaton expands Fleet Resource Manager
Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp. announced plans to significantly expand the capabilities and product offerings of the company’s Vehicle Solutions Business Unit (VSBU) throughout 2007.

The expansion will include the introduction of a new suite of “functional packages” for Fleet Resource Manager, a Web-based fleet management tool Eaton developed through an alliance with @Road Inc. Fleet Resource Manager will include a new Fleet Health package and Driver Behavior package.

The Fleet Health package will be available with a Diagnostics or Advanced Diagnostics package. Both programs include a host of services that will allow fleets to streamline daily activities for drivers and dispatchers, the company says.

The new Driver Behavior Performance package will be available with or without a safety package featuring Eaton’s Vorad Collision Warning System. The Driver Behavior package includes most of the Fleet Health functions, plus RPM and MPH details and summaries, and information on sudden acceleration events and coasting exceptions.