Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com) and Con-way Truckload announced plans to convert Con-way Truckload’s entire fleet of tractors to Qualcomm’s next-generation OmniVision mobile computing platform. Con-way Truckload said it selected the system for its flexibility and variety of value-added services.

Xata Corp. (www.xata.com) said that Sysco Corp., North America’s largest foodservice marketer and distributor, selected Xata for onboard computer technology. Xata will provide Sysco with Xatanet, its flagship fleet operations solution, along with implementation and training services.

J.J. Keller and Associates (www.jjkeller.com) introduced Fuel Tax Master Online, a Web-based application designed to produce IFTA-required reports based on fuel information and receipts that are data-entered or imported in a standard file format. The application can interface with the company’s Vehicle Management Online.

SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com) will supply its Global Locating System asset-tracking technology to Coastal Pacific Xpress Inc. (CPx), a Canadian truckload carrier with a fleet of more than 700 trailers. Surrey, B.C.-based CPx specializes in temperature-controlled and just-in-time delivery across North America.

Cadec Global (www.cadec.com) said that its 2007 revenue grew 41 percent over 2006 levels, and that fourth-quarter revenue more than doubled over the previous year.

In the age of e-commerce, people have become more comfortable buying things they can’t take home with them. Most online retailers at least provide an estimate for when orders will be shipped, followed by shipment tracking information through carriers such as UPS and FedEx.

Although shopping from home is a major convenience of online commerce, there are many items that buyers want to see and touch before purchasing. Such is the case for many home improvement products, such as kitchen cabinets and windows; items must look and feel “just right” to buyers before they can decide.

Most buyers have been comfortable ordering items from retailers that stock only showroom merchandise – but their patience has grown thinner with time. Today’s online buyers have come to expect fast delivery and visibility of their order status from purchase to home delivery.

When shopping for home improvement products, why should the visibility provided by the best e-commerce sites be any different than the experience of ordering directly from a retailer with a physical showroom?

When a key customer approached Cardinal Logistics with this question, the company turned the challenge into a big opportunity for new business. The Concord, N.C.-based company developed a dedicated delivery system for its retailer customers to provide buyers total visibility of their order status, regardless of where the order originates – through the Internet or in person at a showroom.

Cardinal Logistics first put the idea into practice in 2004 when KraftMaid Cabinets asked it to track its orders all the way from point of sale to home delivery, says Clay Holmes, director of information systems for Cardinal Logistics. Traditionally, KraftMaid received orders from distributors of its products, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Neither KraftMaid nor its big-box retailers managed the home delivery.

After the successful launch of a dedicated fleet and order tracking system for KraftMaid, Cardinal Logistics began to market to other manufacturer customers its ability to provide complete supply chain visibility and delivery. In 2006, the company announced the Signature Delivery Network.

Today, when a buyer visits a Lowe’s or Home Depot and purchases a custom window that the store does not carry in inventory, the order flows through Cardinal Logistics’ information systems. To enable this flow of information, the company developed a platform agnostic system that uses data-mapping technology to translate data feeds from any source – e-mail, Excel files, EDI, XML, etc. – into a standard format.

“Regardless of what the customer sends us, we get one data transformation,” Holmes says.

To view the order status, the buyer goes to a website that is maintained by Cardinal Logistics but designed to look like the manufacturer’s site. Cardinal Logistics places the buyer’s order directly with the manufacturer, such as a window company. When the order is ready to ship, an advance shipping notice (ASN) comes to Cardinal Logistics, which shows when the items were shipped and in transit, received at distribution center, put away and waiting to be scheduled.

The next step is to call the buyer in person or by computer to schedule an appointment for delivery. The order is picked and ready to load on a truck, and once an order is out for delivery, the buyer can see the real-time delivery status – i.e., the time or distance remaining. At delivery, the driver captures a signature, notes any abnormalities and transmits the completed order to the retailer. The retailer can immediately note any exceptions with the order and call the buyer, Holmes says.

“It expands visibility from the time the buyer creates an activity with our customer until that buyer’s needs have been satisfied,” Holmes says. “That’s pretty powerful.”

With most home delivery systems, buyers do not find out about the status of their orders until they are ready to be delivered, Holmes says. This is because the majority of private fleets or contract carriers can’t schedule delivery until the product arrives in their warehouse or is loaded onto their trucks.

Because Cardinal Logistics’ Signature Delivery Network is an entire order management system, the company can pick up a five- to six-day advance on scheduling delivery. As soon as the order is picked up from the manufacturer, an ASN is sent to the warehouse that says what day the order will arrive, and fleet dispatchers then can schedule a delivery appointment with the buyer.

Fleets that specialize in dedicated contract carriage know that by improving the satisfaction of their customers’ buyers, they always end up the biggest winners of all.

ALK launches CoPilot Truck 11
ALK Technologies (www.alk.com) announced the launch of CoPilot Truck 11, a GPS navigation and trip planning solution that runs on Windows-based laptop computers. The software is completely redesigned with step-by-step address entry and 2-D and 3-D map views, the company says.

The application uses truck-specific, spoken dock-to-dock directions and routing options from PC Miler for the United States and Canada. As an added premium service, fleets can take advantage of a seamless connection to CoPilot Live FleetCenter, which provides multivehicle tracking, two-way messaging plus fleet management, mobile dispatch and historical reports.

EBE Technologies develops Internet Data Interchange
EBE Technologies (www.ebeships.com) has developed the Internet Data Interchange (IDI), an application that uses the data contained in fleets’ accounting and dispatch systems to populate related fields in shippers’ websites. Likewise, IDI can gather data from shippers’ websites to update carriers’ dispatch and/or accounting systems.

C.R. England implements McLeod’s HirePower
McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) said that Salt Lake City-based C.R. England has purchased and implemented HirePower, a new module designed to reduce driver hiring time. HirePower streamlines driver recruiting through remote, paperless data entry of applications and a controlled, consistent application process, McLeod says.

“As one of the largest and fastest-growing U.S. motor carriers, we always need to recruit more drivers,” says Chad England, vice president for recruiting, training and safe driving. “After we worked with McLeod Software to develop and test HirePower, we felt this new solution was the best option to help us process new drivers faster and make it easier for them to work with us.”

The latest capability of McLeod’s Document Imaging system, HirePower allows driver candidates to input an application to a secure, remote website. The application then is made available automatically to all members of a recruiting team, assigning tasks to minimize work while verifying and storing all qualifying documents.