One-stop screening

Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com) announced the first OmniVision Metro service offering – Service
Fleet Manager. The new offering includes in-vehicle GPS hardware and a Web-based dashboard display, and is designed to meet the unique needs of local service-based businesses in metropolitan areas with mobile resources, such as plumbing companies, pest control services, electrical contractors and landscaping firms.

SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com), in partnership with StarTrak Systems (www.startrak.com), launched the SkyBitz Reefer Control Solution, which allows fleet managers to monitor, manage and control all of their reefer assets from any desktop.

Innovative Computing Corp. (www.innovativecomputingcorp.com) added the IES Accu-Rate module to the lineup of administrative and trip-processing tools integrated into its Innovative Enterprise Software transportation management system. The module allows customers to create automated rates for round-trip and other specific routes.

GE Trailer Fleet Services announced two upgrades to its VeriWise product: Tractor ID and GPS Mileage. The first application, for GE’s satellite reporting system, identifies the tractor hooked to a trailer; GPS Mileage uses the GPS capabilities of the tracking unit as a “virtual hubometer.” The company also announced it will invest more than $1 million in 2008 to develop new reporting tools for customers to manage trailer rental fleets
at www.trailerservices.com.

Xata Corp. (www.xata.com) announced the availability of the Treq color display unit (CDU), a new in-cab touchscreen computer that drivers can use for easier logging and communication. Treq is compatible with Xata’s MobileMax and Xatanet systems.

To qualify driver applicants, carriers must obtain three years of employment history, a Motor Vehicle Record, and drug and alcohol tests. But is satisfying these minimal Department of Transportation requirements enough to really know what kind of drivers you are hiring?

In some instances, you may never really know. When verifying employment history, for example, employers can ask the previous employer(s) only to verify employment dates and if the applicant is eligible for rehire. Carriers can use other sources of information to screen drivers, from credit histories and Social Security card verifications to criminal records, work assessments and personality profiles.

The amount and quality of information you get depends on the amount you are willing to pay to get it; federal searches for criminal records are cheap and efficient, but not as robust as searches that use drivers’ addresses at the county level, says Robert Vale, chief executive officer of Clearstar.net, a company that provides strategic services and decision-making information for background screening firms. When budgets are tight, verification tasks that go beyond meeting compliance, such as in-depth criminal searches, usually are the first to be cut.

Companies also must consider the power that applicants have in the screening process. Credit reports, driving records and anything the applicant personally surrenders from his/her body – such as urine for drug and alcohol tests – are not public records. The applicant must sign a release form to grant permission for the one-time use of this information by the employer for the sole purpose of making a hiring decision, Vale says.

The applicant also has the right, upon request, to see any information that was obtained and used specifically to deny employment. The applicant may challenge any information you obtain, such as a criminal record. If he can prove the information incorrect, the employer no longer can use the information in the hiring decision, Vale says.

To meet and exceed DOT regulations for hiring drivers without crossing any legal boundaries, thousands of carriers use professional screening services. Vendors today have made it possible to retrieve driving records, criminal checks, medical reviews, employment verifications and other information by visiting one website.

In the transportation industry, information not only must be comprehensive and easily accessible, but it also must be fast. Many fleets want to make hiring decisions within a day, says Greg Conklin, executive director of sales for First Advantage. For fast access to employment background, the company has created its own proprietary Employment History Verification (EHV) database for the transportation industry. The database currently has more than 200,000 employment records and is growing quickly, Conklin says.

If First Advantage cannot verify employment history from its own database, it will call employers to verify the employment information on the driver application. The company keeps electronic records of all the calls it makes to verify information, Conklin says.

Besides using the EHV database to obtain employment records on drivers, fleet customers use the service to respond to verification requests from other carriers. Conklin says that by providing First Advantage with employment records, carriers can generate revenue from what previously was an expense – responding to phone calls and faxes.

USIS provides instant access to about 6 million driver records through its DAC Employment History File. The company has about 2,600 fleet customers that regularly provide data to the file, says Kristen Turley, director of market development and communications for USIS. Since the DAC employment database has a large number of contributors, companies find a lot of past employment records that drivers do not disclose on their application, Turley says.

Companies also can voluntarily contribute drug and alcohol information, accident details and reasons for termination – driver-initiated or company-initiated, she says. Currently, five states are implementing a drug and alcohol database at the state level; in Arkansas, anybody who hires a driver must hit a database to find out if the driver has failed any drug tests in the past, Turley says.

Twenty states still consider it a violation of personal privacy for employers to disclose the results of drug and alcohol tests on an employee, Conklin says. DOT has a federal mandate that allows the agency, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to trump state concerns for transportation. In the future, FMCSA likely could mandate carriers to enter information into a federal repository of drug and alcohol tests, he says.

No background check can be foolproof, but the ability to get quick information through the Web that meets all DOT requirements is essential to snag the good drivers – before someone else does.


Qualcomm announces new service for reefers
Qualcomm announced the availability of the Untethered Asset Management service for refrigerated trailers. As part of the OmniVision Transportation suite of services, the reefer service is designed to allow customers to remotely monitor load, temperature and health status of reefers; help reduce rejected loads; and save costs by eliminating the need to manually monitor and track fuel levels, the temperature and health of trailers and more.

In addition, the service helps to reduce cargo claims by providing better load recovery opportunities, the company says. Optional door sensors help prevent theft by sending alerts to dispatchers when a trailer or container’s doors are opened or closed. If a theft does occur, GPS tracking can pinpoint the location of the equipment, regardless of whether it is attached to a truck or parked in a yard. Door sensors also can be used to help prove reefer loads have not experienced tampering, the company says.


PeopleNet adds Tailored Solutions practice
PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) introduced its BLU In-Cab Application Platform and announced the launch of its new Tailored Solutions practice. The announcements follow the recent introduction of PeopleNet’s BLU Driver Center, a driver-oriented onboard platform open to virtually unlimited applications and USB devices.

PeopleNet’s new BLU In-Cab Application Platform, known as BLU ICAP, provides the tools software developers can use to enable PeopleNet’s BLU to perform whatever functions an individual fleet might require. Tailored Solutions is a new group within PeopleNet that will work with fleet customers to develop those solutions, whether they involve in-cab applications or back-office functions. PeopleNet’s Randy Boyles was named vice president of Tailored Solutions.


Motion Computing launches new rugged tablet PC
Motion Computing (www.motioncomputing.com) announced the new F5 tablet PC. The company describes the F5 as a balance between commercial-grade devices and fully-rugged PCs that have costly features required only in a small percentage of field applications. Motion also announced a new three-year “field-ready” warranty with the F5 that covers damage from short drops – about 30 inches or less – and ordinary exposure to rain and dust. Prices of the F5 start at $2,699.

Key features of the F5 include:

· IP54 rated and designed to withstand exposure to dust and moisture;
· 40 GB hard drive, 2 GB RAM and Windows XP;
· Field-ready slate design that includes a magnesium frame, View Anywhere outdoor display, built-in handle, protective covering and vehicle-mounting options;
· Shock-mounted hard drive;
· Up to four hours of battery usage; and
· Fully-integrated digital camera, WAN, Bluetooth, RFID and optional barcode scanner.