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Information Technology News – December 2003

PeopleNet shows drivers the way
Through a new alliance with ALK Technologies (www.alk.com), PeopleNet Communications (www.peoplenetonline.com) can provide its customers with in-cab driving directions through the g2x onboard computer. The ALK|FleetSuite Condensed Driving Directions module will be integrated with PeopleNet’s g2x Wireless Fleet System. The integrated capability will allow drivers to obtain directions based on actual vehicle location. PeopleNet offers varying degrees of detail and different pricing plans depending on the number of times per month a driver will need to seek directions.

PeopleNet has upgraded several other existing services to assist drivers. Fleets using the PerformX engine and vehicle performance monitoring system, for example, now can add an in-cab display that provides drivers with average speed, idle and moving time and time spent beyond rpm and speed thresholds set by the fleet. Also, fleets using PeopleNet’s eDriver Logs program can now automatically record a driver’s duty statuses based on vehicle movement.

PeopleNet delivers new features to its fleet customers via over-the-air programming, which allows the onboard computer to be updated wirelessly without having to take the vehicle off of the road.


AirIQ links to vehicle data
Telematics provider AirIQ Inc. (www.airiq.com) announced a new suite of vehicle information services called AirIQ VehicleConnect to augment its existing location-based telematics services. AirIQ customers can now remotely obtain information carried by vehicle electronics (i.e., odometer and fuel level readings); report vehicle trouble codes; and send safety alarms initiated from the vehicle’s supplementary restraint system.

To deliver the AirIQ VehicleConnect service suite, the company is introducing a vehicle connectivity module (VCM) that plugs into the North American standard connector (ODBII) of year 2002 passenger vehicles and newer. The VCM also connects to AirIQ’s telematics’ devices, which deliver AirIQ’s suite of location-based services, and is designed to be backward compatible for AirIQ’s customers. Existing customers can add the service for an incremental fee, the company says.


Terion offers dual-mode service
Terion (www.terion.com) released FleetView 3.0, a digital dual-mode technology platform for trailer management. This new dual-mode device uses the digital cellular network and automatically switches to analog service in any area where digital service is not yet available. Digital cellular allows for less power consumption and the more efficient delivery of data at higher transmission speeds. FleetView 3.0 will be released in the first quarter of 2004, the company says.


SkyBitz offers ‘InSight’
SkyBitz (www.skybitz.com) has expanded its transportation asset tracking offerings under a product line called InSight, which provides customers with an improved Web interface and three new sensors options.

The core SkyBitz trailer locating product is InSight Tracking. InSight Security builds on the core product by alerting fleet managers of an unauthorized door opening or tampering of a trailer. An optional trailer tether sensor can determine whether the trailer is connected to a tractor. The system can alert managers to a change in sensor status via e-mail. InSight Cargo can determine whether a trailer is empty or loaded, and an optional door sensor monitors door activity.

In addition to the new sensors, SkyBitz now offers customers a redesigned Customer InSight Web application, which gives users an improved presentation. The Web interface lets customers view the exact address of a trailer, determine how long a trailer has been idle and customize alerts triggered by a sensor event.


Tracking trailers and distressed workers
Teletouch Communications (www.teletouch.com) introduced two products with application to carriers and vehicle operators. GeoTrax, a self-contained trailer-tracking device with a battery life up to seven years, can be configured to report an asset’s whereabouts on a customer-defined schedule and pinpoint the asset’s location on a map. The device also lets users monitor up to four customer-defined events at a time such as cargo temperature and open and closed doors.

In partnership with satellite communications provider EMS Technologies (www.ems-t.com), Teletouch also has introduced the LifeGuard System, which allows remote workers to communicate to their dispatch departments in a life-threatening emergency. The system, which also can work automatically if a worker is immobilized, pinpoints the worker’s location and automatically provides vital information on his medical history.


MobileMax learns to speak text-to-voice among aether’s new features
Aether Systems (www.aethersystems.com) announced several enhancements to its MobileMax wireless communications and tracking solution, including the ability for text messages sent to drivers by fleet managers and others to be converted to a human-sounding voice inside the cab. The feature, developed for a major customer and to be released early next year, lets drivers listen to messages while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. The application can be used for dispatch instructions or text messages and can be configured to read only certain messages or portions of a message. Even the driver’s personal e-mail can be read aloud in the cab. This option requires the purchase of a small Windows CE-based module, but there is no additional wireless or messaging cost, Aether says.

Other new MobileMax features include handheld access via a PDA, wireless driver e-mail and an entirely Web-based host. The handheld device option, like text-to-voice, was developed for a major customer and is expected to be available in early 2004. The device essentially replaces the standard keyboard, giving fleets greater flexibility, and the opportunity to integrate barcode scanning, signature capture, and other handheld applications.

To use the wireless driver e-mail, drivers obtain a prepaid card through an Aether partner that lets them send and receive personal e-mails without fleet management involvement. Messages require passwords, eliminating spam or unwanted e-mail, and personal driver e-mail is sent directly without passing through the fleet’s IT system.

The wireless driver e-mail and Web-hosting enhancements are available immediately, while the remaining two applications are in customer testing, and should be available early next year, the company says.


Qualcomm enhances FleetAdvisor
Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com) said the latest version of its FleetAdvisor system includes support for the new hours-of-service regulations that take effect Jan. 4, 2004. Another enhancement is integration of a visual display of vehicles and routes. Developer ObjectFX (www.objectfx.com) has integrated into the Qualcomm system its SpatialFX tool under the name TrackingAdvisor. In addition to a visual display, TrackingAdvisor includes details such as driver, vehicle or route status reports; on-demand location updates; and historical “bread crumb” trail identification to show the entire path of the vehicle. A “bread crumb” trail helps fleet managers identify possible routing efficiency improvements.

The FleetAdvisor system supports automated full-function on-board computing, vehicle tracking, integrated back-office software and real-time wireless communications. In addition to automated electronic driver logs, FleetAdvisor offers the ability to re-route drivers dynamically, track state mileage for fuel tax reporting and obtain exception-based alerts concerning late arrivals or departures, unscheduled stops, excessive delays or off-route miles.


InfoTech Briefs
Unicru (www.unicru.com) officially launched a hiring solution designed for motor carriers. The Field module can be used for hiring drivers, freight handlers and warehouse administrators and managers, while the Headquarter module is intended for filling corporate positions.

Nextel Communications (www.nextel.com) and Motorola (www.motorola.com) introduced the Motorola i205, a GPS-enabled mobile phone that allows coast-to-coast communications through Nextel’s Nationwide Direct Connect.

Gainey Corp. reported a 50 percent drop in the cost of processing accident claims with a Web-based system from Bridium (www.bridium.com) that consolidates police reports, claims files and other relevant accident information.

Business Management Software (www.bmsusa.com) released its newest version of Maintenance & Inventory that allows for multiple laborers and multiple laborer pay rates per work order. The system schedules preventive maintenance and tracks inventory costs, inventory aging, labor costs, warranty information and sales order processing.

Pegasus TransTech (www.transflo.com) announced that Roehl Transport and Groendyke Transport have selected its Transflo Express truck stop scanning service.

AT&T Wireless (www.attws.com) said UPS will use its next generation GSM/GPRS wireless network to give UPS drivers high-speed wireless access to information through UPS’s hand-held computer system or Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD).

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