Launched nationally by BellSouth Wireless Data, the Interactive Paging Service allows users to initiate and respond to messages sent by Internet e-mail, other pagers, fax machines, and telephones anywhere in the country at any time.

"Interactive Paging is a brand-new service category that goes beyond traditional paging," says William Lenahan, president & CEO of BellSouth Wireless Data. "It addresses the key end-user requirement - the need to respond.

According to Lenahan, Interactive Paging will receive and deliver messages nationwide in around 10 seconds.

The service became commercially available last month. Subscribers in metropolitan Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington/Baltimore will have coverage "comparable" to one-way local paging. And 93% of the urban business population will have coverage "similar" to nationwide one-way paging.

Interactive Paging uses the RIM Inter@active Pager 950, produced by Research In Motion Ltd. It is a palm-sized wearable device powered by an Intel 386 processor.

Pager features include a full keyboard and a "roll-and-click" thumb wheel that functions like a PC mouse. The unit measures just 3.5-in. long by 2.5-in. wide by 0.93-in. thick and weighs less than 5 oz.

Due to enhancements made to the BellSouth wireless network, the pager can operate up to 500 hours on a single AA-size alkaline battery. will also receive a long e-mail message (up to 16,000 characters or 2,700 words) or a "message header preview." The preview indicates the size and subject of a message before it's sent to the pager, giving users the choice of downloading or forwarding to another e-mail address or fax machine for later viewing.

TMW Systems Inc. of Cleveland has introduced new versions of its AS/400 and Windows-based client/server fleet management software packages.

PowerSuite Version 5.0, the client/server package, features an entirely new dispatch application that allows dispatchers to set up their own individual screen views showing only the information fields they want in the order they want. Called Visual Dispatch, the new feature also lets users see all load listings and available equipment at a glance, and allows them to try out a variety of multiple-trip assignments before making changes to the database.

Other significant changes for the new version of PowerSuite include Year 2000 compliance, easier order entry, and new reporting tools.

Responding to suggestions from the software's user group, TL2000 Version 5.1 offers a new dispatch screen that only lists a dispatcher's assigned tractors. The revised screen also uses color coding to give load and driver status at a glance, and has an enhanced assignment screen that includes all of the information normally required to dispatch a load. Additional enhancements for the AS/400 package include Year 2000 compliance, multiple mileage interfaces, and a variety of data-entry shortcuts. The package's optional modules for managing brokers and load reviews have also been revised to streamline fleet management.

UltraYARD, the yard and dock management software system from Randtec Inc., has been certified by IBM for AS/400, NetFinity Servers, System 390 servers, and nine other client/desktop computer platforms. The program is "one of the firstindustrial strength Java applications," and its independent certification demonstrates the technology's "capabilities in a multi-platform environment," according to Neil Daniels, Randtec director of software engineering.

Frito-Lay Co., the snack food division of PepsiCo Inc., will install a fleet-wide maintenance management system that will automate warranty processing, eliminate manual data entry on work orders, and provide fleet managers with real-time access to maintenance information. The system, MAXIMO from PDSI of Bedford, Mass., will be used at multiple company locations through out the U.S., including distribution and traffic centers.

Robert L. Rohrer has been named national sales manager for common carriers by Eaton Corp.'s Trucking Information Services. His responsibilities include helping for-hire fleets implement supply chain management strategies using the company's Fleet Advisor.

Cimarron Technologies has added CDPD (cellular digital packet data) wireless communications to its Skymark III GPS AVL fleet management system. Under a joint marketing agreement with Bell Atlantic Mobile, the fleet tracking and messaging system will be offered with CDPD service throughout Bell Atlantic's network operating area.

A system that uses gamma rays to inspect sealed trucks and cargo containers for contraband was given the 1998 Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for Transportation. The Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) was developed by Science Applications International Corp. and has been used by the U.S. Customs Service to inspect nearly 50,000 vehicles.

RegioNet Wireless, of Newport Beach, Calif., has increased coverage for its voice and data services by 30% in Southern California. The regional fleet dispatch company plans to add service in San Diego later this year, giving users continuous coverage from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara. Service for the San Francisco Bay area is also planned before the end of the year.

An activity-based costing system for less-than-truckload applications and a data warehouse extension for that system have been revised and expanded by Transportation Consulting Group Inc. of Bethesda, Md. LTL/CIS Version 3.1 analyzes traffic and operating cost components of shipments; Traffic/CIS Version 3.1 handles driver manifests and customer profiles.

Gary C. Thomas has been appointed chief financial officer of XATA Corp. Thomas joined the onboard computer and software company in 1996 when it acquired Payne & Assocs., and most recently served as vp-finance.

The Iowa Dept. of Transportation will begin tracking its road maintenance vehicles with a satellite communications system developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. Over the next five years, the state DOT plans to equip all 1,000 trucks in its fleet with the ORBTRAC-100 two-way messaging and tracking system. It will be used to monitor the progress of snowplows and other emergency service vehicles.

The Panasonic PC Phone allows users to place telephone calls over any digital business system directly from a desktop computer. Essentially a telephone without a handset, keypad, or housing, the PC Phone fits into a 16-bit ISA expansion slot. The card then can be connected to the digital phone system with a standard line cord, and to a multimedia card with microphone or headset.

A graphical interface allows users to navigate through the PC Card's functions with both the computer mouse and keyboard.

The system's software identifies a new incoming telephone number and asks whether it should be added to the caller ID database. The PC Card can also be integrated with Panasonic and other voice mail systems, and it is compatible with most TAPI software applications.

Gary C. Thomas has been appointed chief financial officer of XATA Corp. Thomas joined the onboard computer and software company in 1996 when it acquired Payne & Assoc., and most recently served as vp-finance.

RegioNet Wireless, of Newport Beach, Calif., has increased coverage for its voice and data services by 30% in southern California, giving users continuous coverage from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara.

XATA Corp. has announced that all of its hardware and software products have been tested for Year 2000 compliance. For more information about XATA Y2K compliance, call 612-894-3680.

Mobile-Trak from NeoTech Products of Naperville, Ill., monitors speed, idling, driving habits, and other vehicle operating characteristics without any driver input. The small on-board unit can record up to 340 events and comes with Windows-based reporting software.

A license-leasing plan for OptiYield Version 3.0 allows fleets to spread the cost of the software over five years without any up-front payments. Developed by The SABRE Group of Burlington, Mass., the software has also been upgraded to provide faster reports as it analyzes a carrier's historic data to help managers determine load profitability or overcome operational problems.

The system provides managers with detailed activity-based costing, taking into account the dynamics of the fleet's freight and equipment balance. The new version also includes a library of reports that help TL carriers price new bids, plan rate increases, and solicit or refuse new freight. New screens for AS/400 systems also provide better real-time data to help customer service reps increase load profitability and operational efficiency.

The NotePort mobile docking station from Gamber-Johnson of Stevens Point, Wis., is available in three models that fit popular notebook computers including the Panasonic CF-25, Fujitsu 1000 and 2000, and IBM ThinkPad models 360, 370, 750, 755, 760, and 765. Designed for easy and flexible mounting in trucks and other vehicles, the NotePort docking station features an internal power supply with surge protection and internal port replication.

LoadXpress from Innovative Computing Corp. allows fleets using Innovative Transportation System fleet management software to provide customers with automated shipment tracking over the Internet.

Load-status information compiled by the management system is sent to LoadXpress where it can be accessed at any time by shippers using pre-assigned passwords. The load-tracking application is the first of what will be an entire suite of Internet-based products.

FieldWorks Inc., a manufacturer of hardened portable computers for shop and other demanding environments, says it will also offer diagnostic software for heavy trucks.

Under a joint marketing agreement with Cosworth Engineering Inc., the company says it will develop both shop and onboard diagnostic applications for on- and off-highway vehicles. The move will allow FieldWorks to offer fleets integrated hardware/software packages specifically designed for heavy-truck applications.

Fleets that need to exchange electronic documents with large shippers can use a new fax-to-EDI (electronic data interchange) service from Sterling Commerce.

The new Media Conversion Program allows paper-based fleets to send EDI purchase orders, invoices, and other documents to trading partners for a monthly fee. An EDI-to-fax service allows fleets to receive hard, paper documents from EDI transmissions.

Sterling has also introduced a PC-based EDI system for fleets and others providing service to the Big Three automobile makers. GENTRAN: Director Pro includes software for EDI message management and translation, as well as preformatted EDI documents that meet the trading requirements of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

Using the same mileage database as Dept. of Transportation auditors, LogSCAN Point to Point lets fleets quickly check the accuracy of driver logs. The program works with digitized images of the logbook remarks section and does not rely on error-prone OCR (optical character recognition) or other automated data entry technologies that require drivers to use special codes.

Instead, the user calls up a scanned logbook "remarks" section and begins to type in the location. After the first few characters, LogSCAN Point to Point suggests the most logical choices using its database. Using the PC*MILER mileage database, the program can then automatically compare calculated mileage to the miles recorded in the driver's log and flag potential problems.