Adds multi-mode system to digital dispatch and message services.

In a move that makes it the second largest provider of wireless communications in the trucking industry, American Mobile Satellite Corp. (AMSC) has acquired Rockwell International Corp.'s Multi-Modal Communications System. That system combines satellite communications, which was being provided by AMSC, with land-based wireless service from ARDIS.

Rockwell's DataTrax and InfoTrax on-board computers and related software are not affected by the sale and will remain as part of the company's Land Transportation Electronics Business, according to a Rockwell spokesperson.

Currently, 50 fleets are using the Rockwell mobile messaging and positioning system in approximately 8,400 vehicles. Customer support personnel for the multi-modal system have been transferred to AMSC, but will remain at the communications hub established by Rockwell in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Operations for AMSC's satellite-only Mobile Messaging Service (MMS) and its SKYCELL Plus digital voice dispatch will remain at the company's headquarters in Reston, Va. Those two systems are currently installed in approximately 10,000 vehicles, according to an AMSC spokesperson, who added that plans call for all three mobile communications services to continue being marketed as separate products.

Both Rockwell and AMSC established two-way mobile services for the trucking industry in 1992 using a dedicated communications satellite system operated by AMSC. Rockwell subsequently added land-based communications capability to its system, combining the national coverage of the satellite system with the better urban and in-building coverage of the ARDIS packet-radio service.

Gallup gets PrePass weigh station The third weigh station in New Mexico able to remotely check credentials and clear trucks has been opened on eastbound I-40 in Gallup. Like similar stations in San Jon and Anthony, N.M., the Gallup facility uses the PrePass system from HELP Inc., a private and public partnership.

One of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) programs, PrePass allows trucks enrolled in the program to be electronically weighed at highway speeds and checked for state-required credentials as they bypass designated weigh stations and port-of-entry facilities. Currently, more than 16,000 commercial vehicles are enrolled in PrePass and carry the required in-cab transponder for communicating with the system. There is no charge for the transponder, but there is a $0.99 fee for each electronically approved bypass.

In addition to the three facilities in New Mexico, California has eight PrePass stations along I-5 and I-10 equipped with the new bypass technology. They are Dunsmuir Grade at Mount Shasta; Santa Nella northbound and southbound in Merced County; Grapevine southbound near Wheeler Ridge; Castaic northbound in Santa Clarita County; Cottonwood northbound near Redding; San Onofre southbound near the San Diego County line; and Desert Hills eastbound near Banning. Three more sites in California and four on I-10 and I-40 in Arizona were scheduled for completion by the end of last month. For enrollment information, call 800-PrePass.

Briefs A seminar focusing on technological innovations in logistics and distribution management will be held by the Northwestern University Transportation Center and the Council for Logistics Management on Feb. 24 to 28. The five-day course, which will be held at Northwestern's campus in Evanston, Ill., is designed for fleet, third-party provider, and shipper mid- to upper-level managers. For more information, contact the center at 847-491-3226.

The on-board computer developer XATA Corp. has acquired Key Logistics Inc., a producer of map-based route optimization software. Key is the designer of RouteView, a PC-based Windows program that automatically sequences and optimizes delivery routes on a daily basis.

As part of a field automation project, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is equipping 200 service vehicles with two-way satellite communications and tracking systems. Qualcomm will provide the communications hardware and service, while Mobile Data Solutions Inc. will serve as the integrator and software provider. The project also uses pen-based mobile computers that allow field personnel to send and receive real-time customer information.

ARCO Global Tracking Systems Inc. of Miami, Fla., has signed a reseller agreement with Orbcomm, the operator of a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications system. The agreement allows ARCO to provide national coverage for fleet security monitoring and asset recovery services for both vehicles and remote fixed facilities. Fleet management services are also under development.