Due diligence

user-gravatar Headshot
Updated Jan 14, 2010

Penske Truck Leasing teamed with PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) for onboard commercial truck technology solutions. Penske says the move marks a shift from offering a single private-labeled Fleet I.Q. product to a suite of products and services.

GreenRoad Technologies (www.greenroad.com) announced that Ryder has installed its GreenRoad Safety Center at select company locations to help improve safety performance by reducing collisions and injuries through a positive driver-friendly approach.

StarTrak Systems (www.startrak.com) introduced the ReeferTrak RT6000 wireless monitoring and control system with dual mode communications, available for all Carrier Transicold and Thermo King transport refrigeration unit models.

Tele Atlas (www.teleatlas.com), a provider of digital maps and dynamic content, announced the availability of Speed Profiles, which provides speed data to allow end users of fleet navigation systems to more accurately estimate travel time.

McLeod Software (www.mcleodsoftware.com) announced the integration of PC Miler 22 – the latest version of ALK Technologies’ routing, mileage and mapping software – into its LoadMaster IX and PowerBroker II transportation management systems.

ALK Technologies (www.alk.com) announced PC Miler Navigator 430, a portable navigation device designed for owner-operators, leased operators and company drivers. The lightweight standalone device, powered by ALK’s CoPilot Truck GPS navigation technology, provides spoken truck-specific directions and can be attached to a windshield.

No carrier relishes the role of lender, but customers have come to expect easy credit. Operating on razor-thin margins, carriers pay cash upfront for fuel, drivers and other expenses, while customers pay 46 days later on average.

In this environment, carriers have no room for error. As fuel prices rose dramatically between May and July last year, the activity in TransCore’s 3sixty Freight Match service included a notable increase in the number of complaints of loads being held hostage by carriers. These events most likely were caused by carriers not having enough cash to pay for fuel.

“These complaints have subsided significantly since the price of fuel has dropped so precipitously,” says David Schrader, TransCore’s senior vice president of freight business services.

Still, the poor economy likely is behind a rise in the number of nonpayment complaints from carriers. Out of several million loads posted each month to TransCore’s 3sixty Freight Match service, nonpayment complaints range from 20 to 30 per month. This number is extremely small on a percentage basis, but in October 2008, TransCore noted a sudden increase to 63 complaints. The number has returned back to normal, Schrader says, but it proves how quickly credit conditions of customers can change.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in nonpayment complaints,” says Greg Conklin, executive director of sales and business development for First Advantage Corp., which offers the CompuNet Credit Report to carriers. In the first half of 2008, Conklin says the number of nonpayment complaints reported by CompuNet increased by about 100 percent compared to last year.

Many corporations pay their invoices and freight bills on different accounting schedules. So to find the true “days to pay” information for a particular customer, carriers have to use credit monitoring services that monitor payment activity in the transportation industry, Conklin says.

Besides reporting nonpayment complaints to carriers, the CompuNet report notes any changes in a broker’s or shipper’s average days to pay; this information is obtained directly from carriers themselves. When purchasing a CompuNet report on one customer (about $7.95 each), if the customer’s days to pay slides down later or another carrier issues a nonpayment complaint, the carrier that requested the CompuNet report receives an instant e-mail alert, Conklin says.

The Internet Truckstop has more than 11,000 subscribers to its credit reporting service, says Leigh Foxall, director of marketing. Subscribers receive a daily news update of all nonpayment complaints, as well as automatic e-mails reporting any changes to days to pay for customers placed on a “watch list.” The company calculates a letter grade for each shipper or broker based on its average days to pay and credit score.

When performing a load search on Internet Truckstop, subscribers see the credit information of the company included in the load posting. TransCore also includes credit score and average days to pay information with each load posting on its 3sixty Freight Match, Schrader says; the information is updated weekly.

Another key credit indicator that carriers like to see is a certification from the Transportation Intermediaries Association. When performing a load search, freight matching services include an icon next to brokers that participate in TIA’s Performance Certified Program. Membership in the program is an indicator of a broker’s ability to pay even if a shipper defaults on payment.

To qualify for the first level of TIA certification, brokers must have at least a 90 percent credit rating and undergo an examination of their financial records and tax returns by TIA. Brokers can obtain a higher level of certification depending on the size of their surety bond – $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000, says Nancy O’Liddy, director of TIA services.

Credit monitoring services can help fleets choose their customers more carefully to avoid unnecessary risks and better manage their cash flow.

AT&T offers TeleNav Vehicle Tracker
TeleNav announced that AT&T Inc. added TeleNav Vehicle Tracker to its portfolio of enterprise mobility services. TeleNav Vehicle Tracker – a GPS-enabled device that is hardwired or embedded onto a vehicle – is accompanied by TeleNav’s secure password-protected and Web-based management console. Managers can log onto the site and view the location of each vehicle in the fleet. The Web console also provides historical mileage and breadcrumb reports; notifications when employees violate a company policy for vehicle speed, stop time or mileage; and detailed information about vehicle activity, including whether the engine is turned on or doors are open.

TeleNav Vehicle Tracker is available on AT&T’s wireless network.