Driven by data

Arsenault Associates (www.arsenault.biz), provider of Dossier fleet maintenance software, announced that it has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in business with government fleets over the last three years, and expects the trend to continue.

ThoughtDrivers (www.thoughtdrivers.com), a provider of fleet management solutions, said that the Northeast PA Logistics & Transportation Industry Partnership will adopt its SafetyBox software and Cube-IT business intelligence solutions to track and measure the success of its training and career opportunities provided to fleet members.

G&C Foods said that it anticipates saving $300,000, or 5 percent, of its private fleet’s transportation costs in 2008 by using fleet management software from Cadec Global (www.cadec.com). Syracuse, N.Y.-based G&C Foods is a food service distributor with 2008 revenues approaching $350 million.

Transportation Costing Group (www.tcgcis.com), specialists in activity-based profitability and cost analysis for the transportation industry, said that Calhoun, Ga.-based All American Xpress (AAX) has adopted its Truckload Cost Information System (TL/CIS).

Xora Inc. (www.xora.com) and AT&T Inc. announced the availability of a solution for work force management. Xora’s GPS TimeTrack application – which uses GPS technology to provide timesheet data collection, job/work-order management, payroll integration and location tracking capabilities – is available on AT&T-powered smartphones.

In the cab, fleets can add a number of devices to warn drivers of unsafe behavior. Most of these devices are integrated with the vehicle’s electronics. Some even take control of a vehicle’s braking system to prevent rollovers and other accidents.

Besides communicating with the driver, these devices and systems capture and produce volumes of data that is critical for safety-conscious fleets. In the past, however, physically collecting data from vehicles to monitor and train drivers was a costly and sporadic process.

Today, companies that develop driver safety systems are working with the providers of onboard computing and mobile communications to transmit information to the office more efficiently for immediate review and analysis. With faster and more accessible information, fleet managers are able to target and remediate risky driving behaviors more effectively.

Lane departure warning (LDW) systems, for example, monitor the vehicle’s position relative to lane markings. These systems emit a rumble-strip sound in the cab from either the left or right speakers, depending on which side of the lane a vehicle veers toward. LDW systems are designed to prevent accidents caused by lane changes, which include sideswipes and run-off-road incidents.

The Iteris Autovue LDW system is designed to collect speed, mileage and other information from the vehicle through the J1939 data channel. It also collects its own set of data, says Bill Patrolia, director of North American truck sales for Iteris. The system records about 10 different data points, such as vehicle speed relative to road curvatures, hard braking incidents and the number of miles per lane-departure incident.

Today, fleets can download various safety metrics from the Iteris devices on the vehicle by using a laptop and cable. Soon, fleets will be able to retrieve this information on demand in the office, as the company finalizes its integration with the major providers of onboard computing platforms, Patrolia says. Today, Iteris is installed in more than 15,000 vehicles in the United States, he says.

Using the actual combined data from five of Iteris’ commercial fleet customers, Patrolia says the system can reduce preventable accidents by 84 percent. Without LDW, the number of LDW-preventable accidents among the five fleets combined was 0.19 per million miles out of 6.05 billion miles – the same as one accident every 5.2 million miles.

With LDW, the combined number of LDW-preventable accidents – as of February 2008 – was 0.03 per million miles out of 654.2 million miles; the five carriers reported 20 total preventable accidents involving trucks with LDW. At the rate of 1 accident per 5.2 million miles, this means that trucks without LDW would have 124 accidents at 654.2 million miles. Statistically, therefore, the LDW can prevent 104 (124 – 20) accidents over 654.2 million miles – an 84 percent reduction.

Forward- and side-looking collision warning systems also give immediate warnings to drivers and record a volume of information. Similar to LDW and other driver safety systems, wireless communications have made the extraction and analysis of information from collision warning systems highly efficient.

Eaton’s Fleet Resource Manager is one of several onboard computing platforms that can transmit information from the Vorad to the back office. The Fleet Resource Manager offers advanced safety reports that include driver trends for following distances summarized over the past 12 weeks. Fleets can format reports for each category of safety and performance by using data from their best driver as a baseline, says Jack Patterson, marketing analyst of the vehicle solutions business unit for Eaton Corp.

In addition to systems that monitor and collect data on driver behavior, DriveCam adds an audio/visual component. DriveCam uses an in-cab palm-sized recorder that is triggered by events such as hard braking, speeding and swerving. Video and audio snippets of the risky event are passed from the vehicle to DriveCam through a wireless network. DriveCam uses analysts to score each event, after which fleet managers can go to a website to view the clips and see coaching comments.

Presently, DriveCam is used by more than 98,000 commercial vehicles that represent 90 percent of its total customers. Its commercial vehicle customers include taxi, transit, concrete and construction, sanitation, energy, distribution and trucking.

Being able to tap into vehicle electronics and safety systems from afar is literally like having an extra set of eyes on the road.


ICC plans next-generation trucking software
In the past six to nine months, Innovative Computing Corp. (ICC) has worked extensively with a consulting group from IBM to design a new strategy for its next generation of enterprise software for truckload carriers, said Ernie Betancourt, president of ICC, speaking May 13 in San Antonio at the company’s annual user conference, ICE 2008.

ICC is developing new enterprise software based on the breakthrough functionality of IBM’s new operating system (version 6.1) for the iSeries midrange server – often referred to by its previous names such as System i and AS400. “There is no question in my mind that we will stay with the AS400,” Betancourt said, pointing to the security, reliability and other high-end capabilities of IBM’s most popular computing platform.

ICC plans to release version 9 (R9) of its Innovative Enterprise System (IES) by the first of next year. The new release will be written mostly with RPG IV and Free Form RPG, new versions of IBM’s RPG programming language for its iSeries, Betancourt said. These new easier-to-use programming languages will simplify new product development and enable ICC to build many application program interface (API) layers into its software, Betancourt said. APIs will make it easy for users and third-party software providers to add or change programs to meet their custom needs without changing the core database of IES, he said.

By next year, ICC plans to have several of its current software modules moved to the next generation as it continues to support its current and prior versions of IES. Upgrades will be transparent and will not affect any custom programming the customer already has done, Betancourt says.