Cradle adds GPS to pager Simple messaging system can now provide vehicle tracking

An in-vehicle cradle from Comtrack adds vehicle tracking capability to the wireless RIM Inter@ctive Pager 950. Housing a GPS (global positioning system) receiver, the MC950 Mobile Cradle can send position reports over the BellSouth Wireless Data network via the pager and its integrated wireless modem.

Comtrack, headquartered in Toronto, also offers a choice of mapping and tracking software to provide fleets with integrated dispatch and management options. Fugawi Tracker is a PC-based program that overlays vehicle positions on maps, and it can be paired with iGeoNet Dispatch, a two-way messaging and dispatch program. The cradle and RIM pager can also be integrated with the Mobile Information Systems fleet management software.

The MC950 cradle also provides intelligent recharging if the Pager 950 is fitted with a nickel metal hydride battery. It mounts in vehicles using standard cellular brackets and can be hard-wired or connected to a standard DC power point.

ORBCOMM adds cellular data access to network In a move that will allow development of a new dual-mode wireless service for trucking and other mobile applications, ORBCOMM Global L.P. says it will integrate Aeris.net MicroBurst land-based service with its existing low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite service.

MicroBurst carries short data messages over the control channel of the cellular network without interfering with voice communications. A dual-mode messaging/tracking system would use the lower-cost MicroBurst service where cellular coverage is available and switch to ORBCOMM's satellite system when it is outside of cellular coverage.

ORBCOMM has also launched a new wireless Internet gateway to handle secure IP transactions over both satellite and cellular networks. The new Wireless Internet Transaction Service (WITS) will allow the use of applications using standard HTTP/XML Internet protocols, cutting both development time and costs.

FCC approves new wireless service Operating in Canada since 1996, TMI Communications has received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to begin offering wireless data and voice services in the U.S. over its satellite system.

TMI owns and operates a geostationary communications satellite, providing packet and circuit-switched data communications, as well as wireless voice, e-mail, broadcast dispatch, and tracking services. One of its first target markets in the U.S. will be longhaul trucking, and the company has already developed an integrated transceiver/antenna that mounts on a truck roof. Coverage includes all 50 states, Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean.

A report intended to help fleet managers identify automatic vehicle location systems suitable for fleet applications is available from AVL Advisors. For more information and prices, visit their Web site at www.ntplx.net/~pjlateip/AVL-Index.htm.

The NeoTech Mobile-Trak XL vehicle monitoring system, which plugs directly into the J1708 data bus, can now send diagnostic information wirelessly over the Aeris.net MicroBurst network. The wireless system provides coverage wherever there is cellular telephone service. Fleets can download the vehicle data from the Aeris communications hub over the Internet or through a dial-up or dedicated connection.

Prophesy Transportation Software has renamed its industry information Web site. Mile.com now offers links to 20 online load matching services, real-time updates on road and weather conditions, job posting, industry stock quotes, diesel prices, and industry news from Fleet Owner and other sources.

The NavTalk from Garmin International is an analog cell phone with an integrated GPS (global positioning system) receiver that can be used with third-party software and services to provide fleets with tracking and wireless communications. The unit itself also has a built-in database of Interstates, state highways, and local roads in the U.S. and Canada, and can be loaded with data for specific cities or areas.

For a monthly service charge of $12.50 per device, Main Course Technologies allows fleets to track and query NavTalk phones over the Internet. The service, which includes up to 25 position reports a month, lets fleets and customers view maps with vehicle locations from any standard browser without additional hardware or software.

Tracking software from Fugawi can locate NavTalk users on any PC equipped with a Diamond Supra Express external modem. There are no per-call or monthly charges for the tracking information, making it suitable for fleet users needing frequent position updates.

Five months after GE Capital Fleet Services launched its Web ordering system (www.gefleet.com), fleets using the site are averaging $3 million a day in online transactions. The company, which has over 1-million commercial vehicles under lease or service management contracts, says that one-third of its customers are now using the online ordering tool to price and configure vehicles, access updated vehicle information, and complete orders. It also expects the number of Web transactions to nearly triple within the next six months.

The online tool also checks fleet vehicle orders for potential errors and verifies that they meet manufacturer requirements, provides real-time access to recent spec changes, and submits orders directly to manufacturers.

The Boss fleet management system from FleetBoss of Orlando, Fla., combines vehicle operating data with position information based on GPS readings. System hardware includes an onboard data collection device, a memory card, and a GPS antenna.

The collected information, including start and stop times, vehicle speed, and routes traveled is downloaded from a unit's memory card when it returns to a fleet or terminal location. Supplied software organizes the data into charts comparing individual vehicle performance to fleet benchmarks.

Cancom Tracking Solutions will be the exclusive Canadian distributor for the Vantage Tracking Solutions untethered trailer tracking system. The Vantage system operates over the ORBCOMM low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network. Cancom is one of Canada's major providers of wireless communications services for the trucking industry.

Fleet software developer TMW Systems Inc. has been named the Cleveland Area Knowledge Industry Company of the Year by the Northeast Ohio Software Assn. and Craine's Cleveland Business.

The hand-held computerized tools used to track, inspect, inflate, and manage tires with the Audit System are now smaller, lighter, and capable of storing more information. The electronic inspection tools provide the data for the Snapshot Fleet Tire Survey System from International Marketing Inc. (IMI).

The Data-Audit, which serves as the hand-held controller for the system, features a contoured design for single-handed operation. It can be preloaded with up to 150 vehicle IDs with 27 wheel positions per vehicle.

The new Air-Audit component of the system can now read air pressure without being connected to an air line, as well as adjust pressure if it is connected. The system's digital tread-depth gauge, the Tread-Audit, has an entirely new shape that makes it more durable and easier to use.

The Dolphin 7400 from Hand Held Products Inc. is a new portable data collection device developed to run under Windows CE, a Microsoft operating system that combines low power and memory requirements with easy integration with common Windows applications (see "Windows To Go," p. 74). The ruggedized hand-held computer also features a modular design that can accommodate scanners, digital imagers, electronic tag readers, and other automated data collection technologies.

The new device uses the Intel StrongARM processor, has a full alphanumeric keypad, and a backlit VGA screen. Other features include RS232 and infrared ports, an internal type II PC-Card slot, and up to 64 MB of memory on an internal "compact flash slot." Like other Dolphin units, it is designed for single-handed operation.

XATA Corp., a developer of onboard computer systems, has released new software designed to minimize wireless communications costs and simplify fleet management. The suite of SmartCom applications monitors vehicle operations and only forwards exception events that meet criteria set by the fleet, minimizing message size and frequency.

SmartCom works with XATA's Driver Key memory card for downloading vehicle information at the beginning and end of trips, as well as with the company's Yard Express, a short-distance wireless communications system based on radio frequency tags that transfers data when vehicles enter a fleet's terminal or distribution center. In addition, XATA has developed interfaces for a variety of satellite- and land-based wireless communications systems.

A Web site established by the Truckload Carriers Assn. to register complaints and other information about fleet experiences at shippers' docks has already received reports from over 200 carriers. The site (www.dockreport.com) uses the reports to provide information on facilities, atmosphere, paperwork handling, and special charges encountered by drivers.

Terion Inc. has named Bruce Caven general manager and vp of its Canadian operation, which is headquartered in Toronto. Robert Sombach has also joined Terion Canada as director of operations and technical services.