The fast track
In-cab scanning becoming more reliable, cost-effective
By Aaron Huff
Most fleet owners only could imagine invoicing a customer on the same day they delivered. Fleets that use scanning stations at company facilities and truckstops are closer to making that dream a reality. A growing number of fleets are using in-cab scanning technology to receive bills of lading and other proof-of-delivery documents within minutes of delivery.
The technology also can increase drive time and reduce mileage that otherwise would be lost by sending drivers to truckstops. Some fleets also are using it to increase driver satisfaction; by speeding up the billing process, some fleets are able to pay drivers faster – as much as three times a week.
FFE Transportation – a provider of temperature-controlled less-than-truckload, truckload and dry van services – currently pays drivers every Friday for the loads it has invoiced. Having recently implemented in-cab scanning, management is considering paying drivers three times per week. The technology has shortened FFE Transportation’s billing cycle between three and nine days, which will allow the company to pay drivers much faster, says Nick Cook, chief technology officer.
Open for business
PeopleNet, a provider of Internet-based and integrated onboard computing and communications systems, has a partnership with ACS to provide in-cab imaging for its BLU in-cab PC. The offering, In-Cab Scanning Powered by ACS, leverages ACS’ document management infrastructure with PeopleNet’s fleet dispatch systems and integrated Pacos geofencing and automated messaging.
When a vehicle equipped with the BLU in-cab PC arrives at a preplanned stop for delivery, the BLU display prompts the driver to enter certain details into a form message. Details such as the location, trip information, stop name and arrival time are input automatically into the form through Pacos, thus eliminating data entry by the driver and clerks in the office.
Fleets can set up forms in advance to notify drivers for loads that require a scanned image. To scan a document, a driver touches the TripPak button on the BLU display, hits the “scan” icon and feeds the paper through a scanner. The image is displayed on the screen for the driver to identify the document type by selecting from a list – bill of lading, weight receipt, etc.
Paying drivers more frequently can boost retention.
Mesilla Valley Transport, a Las Cruces, N.M.-based truckload carrier, is considering letting some drivers use smartphones to capture images remotely through an application called TripPak Mobile, which is offered by ACS for the Apple iPhone platform.
Using the phone’s camera, the application can capture and send high-quality images of paperwork through the ACS TripPak processing portal. MVT currently uses truckstop scanning to process an average of 50 documents per driver each month, says Mike Kelley, director of information technology.
ACS also offers a simple-to-use scanning application, TripPak In-Cab. Drivers download the application to their personal laptops and buy a scanner. After drivers scan and transmit documents, they can view them online by using the confirmation number they receive.
Pegasus TransTech offers Transflo Now, an in-cab scanning application that drivers or owner-operators can download on a personal laptop PC. Scanned images are sent directly to the fleet through an Internet connection, either through a cellular aircard or Wi-Fi network. Fleets that use the Pegasus TransTech software can choose to allow drivers to index their scanned documents remotely.
DriverTech offers an in-cab scanning system called DTScan that runs on the DriverTech DT4000 TruckPC, an onboard computer that uses an embedded Windows XP operating system. When a document is scanned by a driver, the images are sent to the office through a Wi-Fi network if one is available; otherwise, the TruckPC uses a cellular network.
Qualcomm Enterprise Services offers an in-cab scanning service for its Mobile Computing Platform (MCP) 100 and 200 series. The service is available for a per-document transaction fee or as part of a bundled pricing plan.
Intermec’s release of its latest Windows mobile computers, the CN50 and CN4, allows it to offer a truly mobile document imaging platform. The driver simply points the computer at the document he wishes to scan. The imager projects a laser guide onto the surface that helps the driver adjust the height of the scanner to fit the borders of the document type. The image then is routed to the office through high-speed communications along with other delivery details.
Although in-cab scanning has been talked about for several years, new developments in the past year have made the technology a more reliable and cost-effective solution.
Qualcomm debuts MCP110
Qualcomm Inc., a provider of integrated wireless systems and services, announced the Mobile Computing Platform 110 (MCP110), the next-generation onboard fleet management system in the MCP100 series.
MCP110, which will be available commercially this fall, supports all current MCP100 series applications and offers new capabilities, including a PDF viewer that allows drivers to view and, with an optional in-cab printer, print PDF documents, making it easier for fleet managers to send special instructions to drivers arriving at customer sites. Additionally, the MCP110’s Driver Interface Unit (DIU110) boasts a higher-resolution display with more vibrant colors.
MCP110 operates using terrestrial communication with the option to upgrade to terrestrial plus Wi-Fi communication. Customers also can utilize Qualcomm’s Content Delivery Service, which allows audio messages to be broadcast to the fleet.
PeopleNet to offer portable onboard computer
PeopleNet, a provider of integrated onboard computing and mobile communications systems, announced the launch of PeopleNet Tablet, an optionally portable onboard computer designed to eliminate the need for additional handheld devices in the cab. Tablet was developed in response to industry demand for faster workflow and a shorter accounting cycle, says Ron Konezny, chief executive officer.
The new onboard computing platform captures vehicle and driver management information that can integrate with the back office. Its rugged design and 7-inch touchscreen will combine traditional in-cab functionality with portable options – including a camera, barcode scanner, signature capture and Wi-Fi – to speed workflow, improve customer service and enable drivers to be more efficient, the company says.
Tablet uses a Windows 7 operating platform, which opens up the computer to a wide range of peripherals, document formats and advanced applications. The device’s Wi-Fi provides Internet browsing, faster data downloads and hotspot access to save communication costs. The new platform will be available early next year.
* Safety Vision (www.safetyvision.com), a provider of mobile video solutions; Advantage PressurePro, a provider of tire pressure monitoring systems; and Rice Lake Weighing Systems, a provider of vehicle weighing systems, integrated their individual technologies to provide an all-in-one fleet management system.
* PeopleNet (www.peoplenetonline.com) partnered with PAR Logistics Management Systems to combine its onboard computing and mobile communications systems with PAR’s suite of trailer management products to provide customers with a fully integrated user interface, both in the cab and back office.
* Teletrac (www.teletrac.net) announced an agreement with ProMiles whereby Teletrac will provide ProMiles’ Fuel Tax Automation services as an integrated component of its Fleet Director GPS and vehicle tracking solution.
* C.R. England, the nation’s largest refrigerated truckload carrier, announced the purchase of TMWSuite and TMT Fleet Maintenance from TMW Systems (www.tmwsystems.com) for use in its five asset-based operating divisions, which consist of national, dedicated, regional, intermodal and Mexico.
* Takata (www.safetrak.takata.com) announced that its SafeTrak 3 product has a new driver alertness feature that detects and monitors erratic driving or weaving within the lanes.
* Telogis (www.telogis.com) announced a new feature for its Telogis Fleet vehicle management application. The Field Management Co-Location Report breaks down the habits of field supervisors.