System offers integrated real-time fleet management tool

Cadec Systems Inc. has combined a removable on-board computer (OBC) and flexible wireless communications options with dispatch and management software tools in a new real-time fleet management tool called FreightQuest. The Cummins Engine Co. subsidiary says the new system is intended for truckload and LTL pickup-and-delivery operations.

Hardware for the system includes a touchscreen portable data entry terminal that can be preprogrammed with routes, forms, and other information for drivers, as well as capture signatures and delivery data. It fits into an intelligent vehicle cradle that houses GPS tracking hardware, as well as a voice synthesizer for prerecorded messages and connections to the vehicle data bus and wireless communications links.

The OBC also manages multiple wireless communications options, choosing the most cost-effective channel based on service availability, message size, and the time sensitivity of the data. Wireless options will include satellite and land-based packet data, as well as cellular analog and digital service, and short-range RF transmission.

Data that does not need to be handled in real-time can be downloaded back at the fleet terminal by placing the portable unit in a cradle, which can also upload the next day's work information.

FreightQuest's base station is designed to use an Oracle database operating in a Windows NT network environment. Workstations provide dispatchers with a simple graphic interface, providing vehicle locations overlayed on maps and windows with drop-and-drag features for assigning loads, contacting drivers, and performing other functions without any data entry by hand.

Additional features include generation of exception reports for managers and software tools for building interfaces with other management software.

Designed to manage large, geographically disbursed equipment maintenance operations, the upgraded Maximo 4.0 from PSDI includes Java components that allow access from any Java-enabled Web browser.

Other new features for the system include integrated workflow controls that automatically route work orders, purchase requisitions and other documents to the appropriate individuals, and better interfaces for Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP enterprise resource planning systems. The newest Maximo upgrade also supports seven languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Japanese.

The FM100 fleet management system from VDO North America combines an on-board computer (OBC) with PC-based software and a "code key" for transferring data between vehicles and the base station.

The OBC can collect and store detailed vehicle and trip information for up to 650 trips, according to VDO. The system's Windows-based software produces a wide range of reports by individual driver and by fleet groups. A maintenance module for tracking PM schedules and fuel use is also available.

Geotek Communications has developed a wireless fleet management system specifically customized for ready-mix concrete operations. Combining GPS vehicle tracking with real-time voice and data communications, the new Geotek system includes dispatch software modified to handle time-sensitive ready-mix deliveries.

The company says it is currently installing the system in 290 mixer trucks operated by Florida Rock Industries and has contracts for over 600 mixers operated by other concrete companies.

Geotek provides regional wireless communications and fleet management systems in Central and Southern Florida, Orlando, Dallas, Phoenix, New York/New Jersey, Houston, Galveston, San Antonio, Boston, Philadelphia, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Northern Virginia. The communications system provides voice and data service over a proprietary digital network.

Seamless coverage for the ORBCOMM LEO (low-Earth orbit) satellite communications service will extend from Canada south to Belize under an agreement with a newly formed Mexican company.

Using ORBCOMM's U.S.-based control center, ORBCOMM de Mexico says it will begin offering wireless data service in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Belize by the middle of the year.

Resellers are currently offering U.S. and Canadian fleets a variety of self-powered tracking and communications systems based on the ORBCOMM satellite network. The expanded coverage should be of particular interest to those fleets since it will allow them to track and monitor trailers moving into and out of Mexico.

ORBCOMM de Mexico was formed by PROEZA S.A. de C.V., a diversified manufacturing and industrial group headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico. Its subsidiary Servidata is a major supplier of computer application services in Mexico and Latin America.

Small enough to be held in one hand, the Dolphin RF PC and bar-code scanner includes a spread-spectrum radio transmitter for transmitting collected data over a wireless local area network. The unit, which is available from Hand Held Products, adheres to the common WLAN standards and uses automatic frequency hopping to eliminate interference.

The PC-compatible Dolphin RF weighs 14 oz. and can be used in either the left or right hand. It can operate up to 10 hours with 16,000 scans without recharging, according to the company. Options include a long range scanner that can read bar codes at distances up to five meters and a variety of charging cradles.

An option for Teletrac's vehicle location system automatically monitors maintenance cycles and alerts dispatchers when a truck is due for scheduled service. Intended for heavy construction and off-road equipment serviced in the field, the new Maintenance Monitor Unit (MMU) does not include two-way messaging but will help dispatchers locate other nearby vehicles close to the end of their PM cycles.

The company has also introduced a new vehicle communications terminal for its two-way service that lets drivers send up to eight different status messages simply by pushing a button.

In addition, the Status Message Terminal II (SMT II) has an acknowledgement button so drivers can notify dispatchers when they receive a message.

Teletrac's wireless fleet tracking system is currently operating in eight U.S. metropolitan areas, with three more planned to be up and running sometime later this year.

An 800-number telephone service from Digital Promotions Inc. automatically announces name and calling location when drivers call in to dispatchers. RoadCall also provides individual voice-mail and fax boxes for each driver, as well as full control over the number and length of all driver calls. The company says it will also fax fleets driver tracking and telephone usage reports on demand.

RoadCall works over a fleet's existing telephone lines and equipment, according to Digital Promotions.

Under an exclusive agreement with BellSouth Corp., HighwayMaster Corp. is developing a trailer tracking system based on a cellular technology called cellemetry. That technology uses the existing cellular telephone network to pack limited amounts of data in between voice transmissions.

HighwayMaster, which currently provides high-volume data and voice communications over the cellular network, says cellemetry will allow it to add a low-cost tracking service for untethered trailers. The technology is currently being used to wirelessly monitor security systems, railroad crossing signals, school buses, and other remote devices.

An updated version of the Motor Carrier MIS Directory, with listings for over 1,000 industry software packages and computer services, is available from the Information Technology Council of the American Trucking Assns. Copies can be obtained by calling ITC at 703-838-1721.

TMW Systems Inc. has announced that its TL2000 dispatch software for the IBM AS/400 platform is now Year 2000 compliant. The company says that it has also added new functions and improved interfaces for the midrange computer package it purchased last year.

The KSG-4500 from Kenwood Systems Group is a continuous duty UHF repeater that can be used as a conventional station or as part of an integrated trunking system. Features for the rack-mounted repeater include an integrated 100-watt RF amplifier and power supply, low-profile design, and built-in forced air cooling.

The Coca-Cola Co. has named Descartes Systems Group the preferred worldwide vendor for automated vehicle route planning and dispatching software. Descartes recently purchased the Roadshow routing system, which is currently installed in over 100 bottler distribution networks.

Jim Rohde has been named director of AS/400 development for TMTsoftware Co. Formerly a project manager for the Leprino Foods fleet, he will be responsible for TMT's Transman AS/400 system.

Information on available loads and road services are posted at www.loadnetsvs.com, a new trucking Web site developed by Load Net Service. For a monthly fee, fleets can also post available equipment and brokers can offer loads.

AGE/CON 3.0, from Oliver Interactive Inc., is designed to help fleets calculate optimum replacement cycles for over-the-road and other vehicles. The Windows-based program can also be used to make repair/ replace or lease-to-buy decisions.

The load builder and route planning software formerly called GeoRoute has been renamed Direct Route. Kositzky & Assocs., the company that developed the program, has also taken a new name. It's now called Appian Logistics Software Inc.

John Davis, general manager of Virginia Overland Transportation, has been elected chairman of the Maintenance Dossier's Fleet Management Users Group. The independent group is a non-profit corporation formed to offer training and user input.

Air-Weigh, a maker of on-board electronic scales, has opened a Web site (www.air-weigh.com). The site not only provides product information, but also includes a calculator for determining the potential savings offered by an on-board scale in specific applications.

The Norand PEN.KEY 6550 is a hand-held PC with a high-resolution touchscreen and support for full multi-media PC applications. The 7-lb. unit can be connected to a client/server network through wireless or hardwired connections and is Windows and DOS compatible. It has one parallel and two serial ports.

Arsenault Assocs. has released a Windows 95/NT version of its Dossier fleet management program that is both ODBC and Year 2000 compliant and uses TCP/IP protocols. The standard database for Dossier 32 is Access, but it also supports SLQ service for larger fleet applications.

Division of GE Capital Services enters the fleet management market

An untethered trailer tracking system and an integrated dispatch/wireless communications package have been developed by GE LogistiCom, a division of GE Capital Services. Announced at the annual meeting of the Truckload Carriers Assn., both are currently undergoing fleet tests, according to the company.

GlobalWave, the trailer-tracking system, features a self-powered terminal that integrates satellite transceiver, GPS receiver, antennas, and battery in a single package slim enough to fit between roof bows under a trailer roof.

A variety of sensors can be connected to the terminal via an RS232 serial port or four digital input/output ports for measuring trailer loads, monitoring cargo temperature, and other functions.

Position and other collected information are relayed over a packet-data satellite system. The terminal can be programmed to send data on a scheduled basis, when it senses an "event," or when it is polled by a fleet.

The unit's replaceable lithium battery is expected to last for at least a year, depending on transmission activity. A rechargeable alkaline battery will also be available.

Terminal costs are estimated at less than $500 and sensors should be about $100 each. Communications costs for the packet-data satellite system should run $10 to $20 a month, according to GE LogistiCom.

The dispatch/communications system, called FleetTracker, was initially announced last year but is now nearing commercial release. Software is Windows-based and provides automated dynamic dispatching with two wireless communications options. The satellite messaging service is provided by American Mobile Satellite Corp. and incorporates GPS vehicle tracking.

The terrestrial service is provided by Ram Mobile Data via a hand-held RIMMS two-way pager that handles both free-form and pre-programmed messages. It provides general location information based on the transmitter receiving a unit's signal.

In addition to dispatch, FleetTracker software can handle a variety of operational recordkeeping chores and can be used with a range of standard data bases for integration with existing fleet information systems, according to GE LogistiCom. EDI and Internet modules are also currently under development.