PeopleNet touts ‘a whole new way of doing business’

At a seaside resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C., nearly 500 fleet attendees at the 2007 PeopleNet User Conference were told Tuesday, Aug. 14, that the sky is the limit for new innovations in onboard computing and wireless communications.

Ron Konezny, PeopleNet’s chief executive officer, said the company grew significantly in the past year by more than 150 new customers with more than 70,000 in-cab units installed in trucks.

The major announcement at the conference was that an enhanced display, the PeopleNet BLU Driver Center, will be launched commercially in November 2007. The new color display operates on Windows Mobile and XP and features touchscreen and multilingual functionality. With three USB ports, a 1.5 GHZ processor and rugged design, the BLU Driver Center is designed to enable applications such as in-cab navigation, training videos, scanning and faxing – all of which will be offered starting in the fourth quarter, Konezny said.

“We are radically redesigning the way we interact with drivers, and the way drivers can work in terms of training, load discussions, routing and driving,” said Brian McLaughlin, PeopleNet’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “This is a whole new way of doing business from a technology perspective.”

The new BLU Driver Center initially will be offered at more than triple the cost of its current LCD display and keyboard. Over the long run, Konezny said the company plans to offer its g3 in-cab system and BLU Driver Center at the same overall price as today.

The company also announced several new applications and software enhancements. The company’s goal is to release 15 to 20 new applications a year, delivered through the Web and through wireless networks to onboard computers, Konezny said.

One of the new applications is a Report Engine for the Web-based interface, PeopleNet Fleet Manager (PFM), set for release in the fourth quarter. The Report Engine will provide more options for more condensed and customized “push” reports, Konezny said.

In early 2008, PeopleNet will offer a satellite modem to customers who want expanded coverage beyond digital and analog cellular, such as northern Canada and Mexico. The company also will release e-Driver Logs 3.0 in early 2008, as well as enhance its vehicle and driver performance system, PerformX 3.0, with more frequent and additional types of data reporting.

PeopleNet also announced the availability of new applications through its g3 Services connectivity platform. Through a partnership with True Context, present and future in-cab software applications from PeopleNet can be deployed in a Windows Mobile environment with handheld devices. A three-phase integration plan with the Eaton Vorad system will allow data to be transmitted in real time to back-office software for analysis.

PeopleNet now offers in-cab scanning and faxing through Microdea, and remote vehicle disablement through Magtec. It also offers a host of connectivity options with various truck and trailer sensors and monitors through a product called Wi-VAN.