There are plenty of software packages on the market today to help carriers settle delivery disputes or allow for the tracking of their drivers and vehicles. But for fleets or even owner-operators looking for a low-cost solution, the options are more limited.

But a new offering from TechnoCom and being made available through AT&T is looking to corner that market. The solution is designed to provide the information needed to accurately identify where a particular truck is located. And that includes avoiding disputes with customers over whether or not an effort is being made to complete a delivery, according to AT&T.

TechnoCom’s LocationSmart is aimed at both owner-operators as well as carriers that deploy owner-operators or contract employees to fill occasional loads but still need to track a shipment. It is also ideal for anyone providing roadside service, said John Moscatelli, director of industry solutions practice for AT&T.

“It allows these fleets to utilize [non-employees] and get location information from them without the expense of adding any hardware,” Moscatelli told Fleet Owner.

AT&T only began selling the product last week, but Moscatelli is excited about its potential in the marketplace. The first client to purchase the product runs with nearly 2,000 owner-operators, he noted.

There are no upfront installation costs or monthly fees, Moscatelli said. A customer only needs to set up an AT&T billing account so that charges can be applied when the service is used.

A big advantage of the product, Moscatelli added, is that there are no hardware or software costs involved. The customer only pays on a per-use basis, making it ideal for one-time use or for fleets that do not want to install expensive hardware in trucks or purchase new cell phones or smart phones for drivers.

Another advantage is that the product is not carrier-specific. While AT&T is selling the product, it works through phones serviced by most major wireless carriers.

Incorporated into AT&T’s Location Information Services offerings, the solution allows for driver location identification and two-way communications.

Users can optimize time on the road and improve driver productivity through the benefits it offers, AT&T said. For example, time and money can be saved by ensuring that the closest driver to a pickup is the one making that pickup.

The way the unit works, Moscatelli said, is that a driver calls in to the office and selects the option to allow a computer to access either GPS phone data or cell ID number. That information is then transmitted through TechnoCom’s server to the carrier’s office, identifying where the driver is at that point in time. Using actual GPS data from equipped phones can pinpoint the driver pretty closely. Using the cell ID number is a little less exact, giving a location of no more than 500 meters.

For fleets that may use a particular driver on a regular basis, the system can also be set up so that when that driver calls in, tracking will immediately begin, negating the need to select that option.

There is also another transportation-related use for the technology-- for roadside service providers. Moscatelli, who worked for Ryder for 19 years, knows first-hand that oftentimes a driver would call in requiring roadside assistance, but be unable to identify the exact location of his or her vehicle.

To install tracking devices simply for this purpose would be expensive and fleets might not see the return on investment. Using LocationSmart, the fleet would only pay for that single use and also get accurate location data to provide service to the vehicle in a timely manner.

LocationSmart will also provide tracking history by recording each contact the driver has with the system. This is helpful in providing delivery confirmation. And with its short message service (SMS) capabilities, the solution provides real-time two-way communications.

According to TechnoCom, the system is also useful in creating reports and monitoring starts/stops, and can also alert managers to exceptions in real-time. Additional capabilities include mapping, geo-coding, reverse geo-coding and directions; and points of interest, TechnoCom noted.