The Information Technology & Logistics Council (ITLC) of the American Trucking Associations (http://itlc.truckline.com) named Braxton Vick and Vicki Schluter to serve as the council’s first chair and vice chair in 2008. Vick is senior vice president of corporate planning and development for Southeastern Freight Lines. Schluter is vice president of information solutions for YRC Worldwide.

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) said it ended its fiscal year in September with record sales – a 44 percent increase over the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2006. During the year, McLeod introduced nine new modules and 90 new product features. According to President Tom McLeod, a soft freight market is encouraging fleets to buy technology. “Because freight is tight, the successful fleets are focused on reducing costs and running more efficiently,” he said.

ALK Technologies (www.alk.com) and the U.S. Department of Defense released the PC Miler-based Defense Table of Official Distances, Version 21.1, marking the eighth year that ALK has provided the standard distance calculation data and software used by the U.S. military, Defense Department contractors and the U.S. General Services Administration worldwide.

SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com) announced that MHF Inc., a Zelienople, Pa.-based truckload carrier, selected the SkyBitz Global Locating System (GLS) trailer-tracking technology for
its 250-trailer fleet.

Intermec Technologies (www.intermec.com) will hold its i-comm 2008 conference Jan. 29-31
at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. Intermec customers will present case studies, and attendees also will learn about mobile computing systems, RFID and other data collection technologies.

IAS-Trinium (www.triniumtech.com) launched a new subscription-based service, DispatchManager, that supplants the manual process of dispatching work orders via fax, e-mail and telephone from originators (ocean carriers/BCOs/3PLs) to intermodal trucking companies.

DriveCam (www.drivecam.com) released RiskPredict, a new analytical process that the company says eliminates irrelevant data and optimizes the duration and length of captured events from its in-cab video recording device.

TireStamp (www.tirestamp.com), a tire monitoring and management systems supplier, announced TireVigil Pro 2.8. As a fully integrated and interactive tire alerting and monitoring solution, the application is designed to give full tire maintenance through a cell phone or the Internet.

Registration for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) has begun at the Port of Tacoma, Wash., and the Port of Seattle. TWIC is a credentialing program managed by the Transportation Security Administration and enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thomas Edison may have invented the light bulb, but that innovation – among his many others – wasn’t what made him stand out among his contemporaries. Rather, it was his appreciation and understanding of the value of a system: Edison built the nation’s first electrical distribution network through General Electric, thereby opening a new economy for electric-powered devices.

Joseph Salvo, Ph.D., also appreciates the value of a system. Salvo is manager of the Pervasive Decisioning Laboratory at GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. Salvo’s team researches and develops what are known as “pervasive decisioning systems.”

To describe pervasive decisioning systems to the average person, Salvo compares it to the natural phenomenon of swarm intelligence. An ant is barely a “conscious” creature, but swarming ants can respond to their environment in very sophisticated ways: They can cross streams, deforest huge areas and organize large, underground colonies. “The system of ants is very powerful,” Salvo says. Evolution did not favor ants with the biggest brains or the most memory, but it did equip them for survival.

So what do ant swarms have in common with making complex decisions in transportation and logistics? Plenty, Salvo says. Today, we are leaving the Information Age and entering the Systems Age. In the Systems Age, everyone is drowning in data. Digital content is so pervasive and so inexpensive, and storage is cheap. Instead of throwing content away, we often become paralyzed by its volume and magnitude, Salvo says.

In this new age, the concept of the physical object is gone, and so is the value of content and data alone. We operate in a “knowledge economy,” where value is gained by what you can create in the virtual space. Several years ago, the value of a cell phone was equal to its value as an object – a phone. Today, its value has grown to include a calculator, calendar, media entertainment center, translator and much more. “People are spending thousands a month on a device that used to be a phone, and they can justify it. It went from being a box to a brain.”

GE’s Asset Intelligence solutions, which include the VeriWise Trucking system for trailers, are following a similar evolution, Salvo says. The trailer is no longer just a box: VeriWise, the “brain” of the trailer, gives the object a form of artificial consciousness. The device knows where it is through GPS. It becomes aware of its environment – its friends and its foes – by using sensors that detect the status of tire pressure, doors, cargo, temperature, etc.

“You have to have data processing at the edge of the network, not just throwing data back to a central box,” Salvo says.

In the near future, VeriWise will have system “consciousness,” Salvo says: Trailers will form a community by interacting with loading docks or communicating with other trailers via cellular and Bluetooth communications. The trailer will recognize itself and the objects on its team, as well as recognize the competition. The trailer only shares information with objects it trusts.

Moving up to the next level of system hierarchy, trailers are connected to the VeriWise information platform through wide-area cellular and satellite networks. The VeriWise information platform is connected to a fleet’s various information and real-time decision systems.

“The bottom line is that we will allow individuals to make very quick decisions that lead to value, which are normally left on the table or on the road,” Salvo says. The key is to lessen fleets’ dependence on manual tools – such as spreadsheets – for making decisions such as how to position and route their assets. “If everything goes well, the objects themselves will figure it out,” he says.

Today, the total number of assets (trailers and rail cars) in the GE VeriWise network or “swarm” is about 200,000. As the network continues to grow, its momentum will help customers find opportunities in new markets to create “value pools” that no one has imagined yet, Salvo says.

“One of the critical features of getting systems to have value is that you’ve got to have critical mass,” he says. With critical mass, GE is finding more unique and novel ways to analyze the information from its large network by using advanced statistics, data mining and simulation techniques.

Its customers – both fleets and shippers – can tap into its team of Ph.D. researchers to build their own systems and reports to make optimal decisions on pricing, trailer pools, freight inventories, etc.

The VeriWise network of trailers and rail cars is just one of several pervasive decisioning systems that Salvo’s team is developing.

“We are monitoring airplanes, trains and just about everything we make,” he says. “It is natural for us to embrace this space. We are a systems company. This globalization, this traffic, this data stream is just getting started.”


McLeod Software adds AgentAccess For Truckload
McLeod Software has added Agent Access For Truckload to its PowerBroker and LoadMaster enterprise management systems. The Agent Access module allows brokers, logistics providers and carriers that dispatch their own trucks to manage those assets from a remote location. The Web-based tool provides agents with full capability to manage vehicles without the need to install a full-scale enterprise management system at each location.

“We designed the Agent Access For Truckload module in response to the growing popularity of the ‘agent-centric’ business model found in fleets and brokerages alike,” says Tom McLeod, president and founder of McLeod Software.

Agent Access For Truckload provides the ability for single or multiple agents and terminal operations to manage trucks from any computer with a Web browser. Users can perform all essential functions required to manage assigned assets, including filtering loads and trucks assigned to an agent, preassigning, unassigning, dispatching, canceling dispatches, Y-splitting, issuing driver advances and entering/updating call-ins.


AirIQ to use Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping software
AirIQ Inc., a provider of wireless location-based services, specializing in telematics and security, has signed an agreement with Microsoft Canada Co. to advance AirIQ’s mapping capabilities with Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping software. AirIQ also added functionality that enables clients to easily customize name locations and utilize map refreshing capabilities.

“Microsoft Virtual Earth will help clients to view both streetmap and aerial views to identify the whereabouts of their vehicles,” says Anne Taylor, AirIQ vice president of commercial fleets. “With these enhancements, our clients will be able to quickly determine relevant location information, ensuring fleet security, productivity and operational savings.”