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Technology – April 2004

Maptuit Corp., a provider of road and location Web services, has expanded coverage of Mexico to help customers combat cargo theft. Maptuit Server, used by several providers of wireless asset-tracking systems, gives fleet managers the ability to track cargo on 3 million roads within Mexico, the company says.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories said that U.S. Xpress Enterprises installed its Genesys call center software to improve service and reduce operating costs. U.S. Xpress decreased driver hold time by 85 percent, reduced costs with shorter, more efficient calls and reduced its toll-free numbers from 400 to 20, Genesys says.

Ryder System, Inc. released an enhanced version of its RyderTrac Web-based visibility solution. The solution provides shipment-tracking information for Ryder customers and employees. Customers and carriers can access more specific shipment details regarding loads and stops on carrier routes, the company says.

Penske Truck Leasing introduced its Precision Plus product, a fleet management system accessed through Penske’s proprietary extranet “My Fleet @ Penske.” Penske lease customers can now access performance data including vehicle start/stop records, mpg, fuel tax reporting, driver logs and driver communications. Precision Plus is available for new and existing lease customers. Monthly lease rates start at $55 per month.

Going beyond transportation
As trucking companies look to diversify their revenue base and improve their service offerings to customers, warehousing often seems to be a good fit. But many carriers that make the leap soon find that a significant challenge in becoming a one-stop transportation and warehousing service is coordinating the communications between the two divisions that serve the same customers but in different ways. At the root of this problem are transportation and warehouse software systems that do not communicate with each other.

Personnel in the transportation division may be skilled with using their transportation management system (TMS) to dispatch and manage hundreds of different customer requirements. When combined with another set of complex customer requirements for the warehousing side, such as preferences in receiving, storing, and transferring goods, information flow between divisions can get crossed and inefficiencies seep in.

One of the main pieces of information exchanged between a warehouse management system (WMS) and a TMS, for example, is the bill of lading (BOL). The BOL is generated in a WMS when a customer calls the warehouse and orders a movement. Personnel pull inventory from the shelves and enter information into a BOL, which in effect creates a load ready to be shipped.

Instead of the BOL information flowing directly into the transportation system as a load to be dispatched, some companies have personnel from the warehouse call the transportation department and request a pickup. Such is the case at Warehouse Associates, a Lima, Ohio-based company that provides warehousing and transportation services, says Ray Hughes, vice president of transportation. Hughes says the company is currently working to make its Maves e-Z Ware software system capable of pushing the BOL directly to the transportation department.

One way to automate the communications between two systems is through electronic data interchange (EDI). At Oxford, Ala.-based B.R. Williams Trucking, for example, the warehouse sends load tenders (204s) from its Provia WMS to its McLeod Loadmaster system, says company President Greg Brown.

The only downside to using EDI, Brown says, is the expense. B.R. Williams uses a third party value-added network (VAN) to transmit EDI messages between the two systems. But for B.R. Williams, the EDI expense is minimal, Brown says, due to a low volume of transactions.
Biagi Bros., a 320-truck carrier and warehouse provider based in Napa, Calif., shares information from its WMS with its Maddocks Systems TruckMate for Windows enterprise system without using EDI, says Nick Biagi, manager of Biagi Bros.’ Benecia, Calif., facility. The company’s WMS generates a flat-file transfer of a completed BOL to its trucking software. Integrating the two systems, however, was a “major pain in the butt” due to its “archaic” warehouse software, Biagi says.

To make the integration between a TMS and WMS seamless and effortless for carriers, Maddocks Systems recently announced a partnership and software integration agreement with Veltion Inc., a WMS provider. The integrated solution will provide Maddocks TruckMate for Windows software users with information flow between transportation and warehousing systems to be able to better manage the complexities of both business operations, the company says.

Being able to share information seamlessly between systems does not require the purchase of a new set of software, as carriers can develop a custom interface between two systems. The effort of Maddocks Systems to develop an integration partnership at least demonstrates the need in the industry for transportation and warehousing divisions to operate as one company, not as silos.


AirIQ adds GSM
AirIQ Inc., a provider of telematics and location-based services, announced that it has selected GSM (Global System for Mobile) as its first terrestrial digital RF (radio frequency) transport medium. GSM is the fourth wireless technology AirIQ utilizes in its delivery of location-based services, the company says. GSM communications is the most dominant and accepted cellular technology, which now has in excess of 71 percent of the terrestrial wireless world market.

AirIQ created its services to operate in a “wireless agnostic” manner, knowing that multiple wireless mediums are required to meet varied client needs and applications, the company says. Its satellite RF transport provides ubiquitous global coverage, whereas terrestrial GSM is more urban, but with expanded bandwidth capabilities. AirIQ’s services include vehicle locating, boundary notification, automated inventory, maintenance reminders, security alerts, vehicle disabling, and unauthorized movement alerts.

Kenworth offers new maintenance software
Kenworth is offering new versions of its Kenworth PremierCare Connect maintenance management system designed to enable fleets and repair shops to manage their parts inventory and maintenance operation.

The new Kenworth PremierCare Connect Professional is for small to medium-size fleets that require more features for their daily operations than the original Connect system offered. This version offers features including inventory control, preventive maintenance scheduling, work orders, repair order invoicing and counter sales invoicing.

Customers will also be able to purchase a handheld wireless bar code scanner from Kenworth to manage parts and work orders and download the information to their database, the company says. For larger fleets, Kenworth is offering Connect Enterprise. This version includes all of the features available with Connect Professional plus advanced functions such as multi-currency, support for multiple business units and integration with other business software systems, the company says.

Customers can also keep track of parts and technicians’ time spent on each work order by using a bar code scanner connected to the computer workstation. An optional mobile bar code scanner is also available.


What is it? Firmware
Memory in a computer that retains information when the power is off. The memory may be read-only (ROM), programmable read-only (PROM), erasable programmable read-only (EPROM), or electrically erasable read-only (EEPROM).

Source: “Glossary of Supply Chain Terminology for Logistics, Manufacturing, Warehousing and Technology” (www.idii.com).


TransCore buys Vistar assets
TransCore has purchased the satellite tracking, monitoring and global positioning system assets of Vistar Telecommunications, a subsidiary of NSI Global Inc. The transaction gives TransCore a suite of fleet management and supply chain products based on both radio frequency identification and GPS technologies, the company said. Vistair’s technical team will remain based in Ottawa and will form the core of TransCore’s Satcom Development Center. Vistar markets the satellite-based GlobalWave system, which allows users to monitor, manage, track and communicate with remove and mobile assets from a Web-based interface.

TransCore said the combination of RFID and satellite technologies will allow the company to offer fleet, rail/intermodal and shipper customers complete supply chain visibility and provide a chain-of-custody solution to the homeland security market. TransCore’s trucking customers will have new services, including automated fuel tax reporting and remote equipment monitoring with two-way communications through Linktrak.

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Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.