IBM, Geotek strengthen ties Geotek Communications, a provider of equipment, software, and service for integrated wireless voice and data, has contracted with IBM for a new switching center that will upgrade the company's current mobile network and services. Under a separate agreement, IBM will market integrated information systems combining Geotek's enhanced wireless services with IBM hardware and software.

Using its patented FHMA frequency-hopping technology, Geotek offers digital wireless communications over trunked mobile radio frequencies. It currently has U.S. service in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Dallas. It also has radio spectrum licenses for over 40 other major metropolitan markets.

The new switching station will allow customers to roam between markets, as well as provide interfaces for a number of network standards for closer integration of mobile and office information systems. Plans call for the center to be completed by the second quarter of 1998.

Under the joint marketing agreement, 300 current IBM customers with distribution operations in the Northeast have been identified as potential users for what IBM is calling "mobile business solutions." The first applications will look to link distribution fleet operations with LAN office systems, according to Geotek.

Spending for fleet management systems continues Fleet use of technology-based management systems will continue to grow by an average of 36% a year through 2000, according to a report on U.S. Intelligent Transportation Systems by Allied Business Intelligence Inc. of Oyster Bay, N.Y. Among the commercial fleet technologies examined by the report are automatic vehicle location (AVL), automatic vehicle identification (AVI), and weigh-in-motion (WIM).

Roadshow charts European route A joint venture between Roadshow International Inc., a developer of route management software, and ITF Intertraffic, a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG, will provide fleet management hardware, software, and wireless data services for shorthaul carriers in Europe.

The turnkey package will include Roadshow P&D, a routing program that uses wireless communications for real-time management of pickup, delivery, and field service operations.

Mirroring its North American counterpart, "the European logistics community is experiencing unprecedented need to control costs, improve customer service levels, and apply fleet management technology via real-time communications systems and dynamic dispatch systems," says Daimler-Benz senior vp Rolf Scharwaechter.

Ryder selling trucks over the Internet Interested fleets can kick the virtual tires on some 3,000 used trucks offered by Ryder System Inc. at a new Web site (www.ryder. com). Called the Ryder Used Vehicle Sales Center, the site allows users to search for light- through heavy-duty trucks by type, year, make, and location. It also provides individual vehicle details such as transmission model and make, gear ratio, and color.

Ryder says it is the country's largest retailer of used commercial vehicles, offering about 25,000 trucks a year from its leasing, rental, and logistics fleets. In addition to 30-day warranties, Ryder offers complete service histories for all of its used trucks, as well as financing for qualified customers.

Cadec offers upgrade path Fleets using CMS 3000/2000 on-board computers from Cadec Systems Inc. can trade in the older hardware and software for the new 4000Plus system under a recently announced economic incentive program.

The upgrade will allow fleets to move from the CMS text-based DOS operating system to a graphical interface running under Windows 3.1 or 95. It also offers access to new data storage and transfer options including wireless data communications, as well as route scheduling and enhanced reporting software with links to third-party logistics and distribution information systems. GPS vehicle tracking will also be available soon for the 4000Plus system, according to Cadec officials.

Fleet package will have LEO tracking at core Early this fall, LoadLink Inc. says it will release a fleet management system that will integrate messaging and vehicle tracking over the Orbcomm low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite network. The bundled system, which will be called Medallion, will run on a stand-alone PC or client/server environment under Windows 95/NT and should include load optimization, EDI capability, and other fleet management tools.

The system's wireless data communications will be based on an upgraded version of LoadLink's current TransWatch service. It will feature self-powered communications units from Scientific America for tracking and monitoring untethered trailers and containers. Since Orbcomm offers two-way communications over its network of satellites, the new Medallion system can also be expanded to provide remote control of refrigeration units, door locks, and other trailer functions.

Starting next year, LoadLink will expand communications coverage into Canada under a reseller agreement signed with Orbcomm last winter. Orbcomm's current two-satellite constellation can provide communications about eight times a day to mobile units in North America.

Truckload carrier Maverick Transportation has become the first Qualcomm user to offer all of its drivers wireless access to private Internet e-mail. Under the CabCARD program, drivers get a pre-paid "phone card" that also includes an option for sending and receiving Internet e-mail over the company's satellite mobile communications system.

Wyoming is scheduled to open Pre-Pass weigh-station bypass service this summer at three locations -- northbound on I-25 in Cheyenne, westbound on I-80 in Cheyenne, and eastbound on I-80 in Evanston. The system, designed and operated by Lockheed Martin for HELP Inc., allows participating trucks to be weighed and to pass credential checks without stopping.

Virginia has become the first state to establish an umbrella organization to prepare and market intelligent transportation systems (ITS) services. Called Smart Travel, the state group will work with local public and private agencies to provide integrated ITS systems for services such as electronic commercial vehicle screening and credentialing, electronic toll collection, and smart traffic control centers.

As part of a major restructuring of its fleet information systems, the retail giant Wal-Mart will outfit 3,350 trucks in its private fleet with mobile communications systems from HighwayMaster Corp. According to the fleet, concerns about driver quality-of-life issues tipped the scales in favor of that system, which offers cellular voice communications, as well as wireless data capability.

Chemical Leaman Tank Lines is now using its Web site to provide fleet customers with direct access to real-time load status information. Linked to the fleet's OmniTRACS satellite communications system, the site lets customers locate shipments within a half-mile radius just by keying in customer and job numbers.

The truckload carrier Celadon Trucking Services is offering information at a new Web site (www.celadontrucking.com) on fleet services, facilities, drivers, and financial performance. The fleet, which operates 1,200 tractors throughout North America, plans to add a Spanish-language version to its site in the near future.