A dashboard-mounted message display center covers over 100 engine and component information functions. Ready for production in September, Peterbilt's Digital Message Center provides real-time operating and log information to drivers, stores and displays maintenance and diagnostic data, and provides access to vehicle operating histories. Features for the new integrated Pete display include a 40-character fluorescent screen and simplified input keys for drivers.

Calling it "the first step in integrating vehicle electronics," chief engineer Bob Morrison says the optional display is compatible with all electronically controlled engines. Introduced at the Mid-America Trucking Show, the display on exhibit included a screen for an as-yet-unannounced brake wear sensor from Eaton.

Cat engines get wireless links Using a vehicle's J1708 data bus, fleets with either Qualcomm's OmniTRACS satellite communications system or HighwayMaster's cellular system will be able to remotely poll vehicles for operating information with a new version of Caterpillar's Fleet Information System software. The remote engine monitoring system can transmit information automatically based on mileage or as needed by fleet management request.

Available later this spring, FIS Version 3.0 will initially let fleets change non-operating engine parameters on the fly, with remote control over operating parameters such as top road speed following later. Other changes for the updated software include a Windows 95 interface and easy pulldown menus for generating management reports.

Qualcomm releases fuel-tax program Qualcomm has introduced an automated, satellite-based software program to help simplify fuel-tax reporting. State Mileage, the latest member of the OnTRACS family, is an automated system that determines miles driven by state, by truck, and by fleet.

Using OmniTRACS' satellite positioning feature, the new system compares the vehicle odometer reading with the mileage from ALK's PC-Miler routing database. If significant differences occur, the segment of the route is adjusted or flagged for further review. Summary-report formats comply with the International Fuel Tax Agreement.

Available for all OmniTRACS AS400 users, State Mileage and other OnTRACS modules require no additional vehicle hardware. As an option, vehicle mileage information can be transmitted automatically as part of other messages through Qualcomm's electronic odometer application or through its SensorTRACS driver performance module.

HighwayMaster makes mobile communications portable A portable version of HighwayMaster's 5000 Series mobile communications system will begin shipping in July. Like the original 5000 Series, the portable version combines cellular telephone service with data communications and GPS vehicle tracking packaged in a self-contained carrying case.

Applications for the portable version include rental fleets, short-term contracts, and emergency communications. The portable's case is designed to fasten securely to the base of the driver's seat, and both the cellular antenna and GPS receiver attach easily to a mirror bracket or door window. The message display screen is fitted with suction cups for mounting on the windshield or dashboard.

Used trucks listed at new Web site Fleets and dealers can use a new Internet site to offer used trucks for sale. The Internet Truck Sales site (www.truck-sales.com) charges a minimum of $100 a month for a listing account with no limits on the number of trucks that can be listed. Potential buyers can search the listings by truck type, size, use, location, or even color.

A more expensive full account includes an individual Web page for basic information about the fleet or dealer, a display-advertising page, pictures to accompany truck listings, and a fax-inquiry service. The provider also offers fleets a free digital camera with a one-year, prepaid full account.

Interactive paging launched Last month, RAM Mobile Data began rolling out an interactive-paging service in New York called "RAMfirst." RAM says it is the first service of its kind to use the Inter@ctive pager, which was developed by Research in Motion (RIM) and Intel Corp.

According to RAM, interactive paging is a "brand-new service category" that is more sophisticated than "elementary, two-way paging." The new service lets users receive and respond to page messages, as well as create customized messages, access databases, and send or receive from the Internet or intranets.

The RIM Inter@active pager used by the system is a lightweight communications device featuring a full "QWERTY" keyboard and text display, yet can fit into the palm of the hand. The paging service also comes bundled with RAMgateway software and RAMpowertool application-development tool, as well as access to RAM's nationwide wireless-data network.

Driver log, logistics packages for Windows LogPlus, an automated log auditing system from Information Software Inc. (ISI), can be used by itself or as an add-on to the company's Prophesy mileage and routing system to check driver logs for violations of DOT regulations and company procedures. As log information is entered, the Windows-based software checks for 10-hr., 15-hr., speeding, cumulative, and other company or federal violations. Used with Prophesy, the log-auditing systems can also compare reported log miles to an industry standard database of actual driving miles.

ShipperPlus Version 6 for Windows is a complete logistics package that handles loadbuilding, shipment consolidation, rating, and transportation analysis, according to ISI. Designed for Windows 95 and NT operating systems, the new package includes an integrated mapping database and advanced loadbuilding algorithms for devising efficient and economical loads.

Wireless handheld reads RFID, bar codes Capable of reading both bar codes and Amtech radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, the 3000 Portable Terminal from WaveNet Inc. also provides two-way wireless data communications over the company's local spread spectrum system.

The multimode capability means, for example, that the handheld terminal could be used to read a trailer's tag, communicate that identification to a host system, and receive clearance to open the seal. Once the trailer is opened, the terminal can scan shipment bar codes and transfer that information to a database.

The handheld terminal can also be used for tracking trailers and other asset-management chores.

Smart tags for yard control Building on the technology of its PrePass weigh station bypass service, Lockheed Martin has introduced an electronic freight yard control system. Known as GatePass, the system automatically clears trucks carrying PrePass transponders for entrance into company freight yards, while giving fleet managers access to a real-time electronic inventory of all tractors and trailers.

Currently, an estimated 40,000 commercial vehicles and 15 weigh stations in the southwestern U.S. use the automated bypass system, according to PrePass officials.

Truckstop Internet kiosk for load matching NetTrans, an Internet load matching service run by Insight Technology Inc., has developed a PC-based truckstop Internet kiosk that will let drivers monitor offered loads in the local area.

Five kiosks will be installed in Atlanta truckstops later this month, according to Darren Brewer, president of Insight.

NetTrans allows subscribers to post and search for loads and available equipment throughout the country 24 hours a day. The service costs $89/mo. for carriers and $49/mo. for owner-operators. Although the Internet kiosks won't allow drivers to search for loads, there will be no charge for use.

Service tests wireless coverage Fleets evaluating wireless communications providers can turn to a new testing and analysis service from Racotek Inc. for detailed reports on actual coverage areas for a variety of systems. The wireless coverage analysis (WCA) will identify pockets of service outages within covered areas, test mobile equipment configurations with various networks, and eliminate coverage guesswork by looking at specific fleet routes and applications before actual wireless systems are developed.

Once fleets choose a wireless communications network, the new service can also analyze actual system performance to help identify trouble spots and resolve reliability issues.

Racotek provides network software for multi-vendor mobile computing systems, as well as helps fleets and other users develop customized wireless data applications.

Driver pre-employment test on disk A screening test designed to identify longhaul truck drivers with "superior talents" is now available in a PC format for immediate scoring and interpretation by fleet managers. Paper forms of the pre-employment test from Scheig Assocs. Inc. must be faxed to the company for scoring.

Both forms of the test measure applicant job behavior, dividing prospects into marginal, below-average, average, and superior prospects. The disk version, which is Windows-based, not only speeds up test scoring, but also decreases cost by 40%, according to Scheig.

Cadec adding GPS to on-board computer Starting in June, Cadec Systems' 4000Plus on-board information system will be equipped with global positioning system (GPS) receivers for locating and tracking vehicles. The satellite location system will provide fleets using the 4000Plus with real-time vehicle tracking, as well as improved dispatch functions and P&D verification when combined with Cadec's two-way cellular communications option and fleet management tools.

Cadec says it expects to have complete integration of the GPS functions with its DataBridge communications gateway and OfficeEnabler fleet management system by the end of the year. Based in Londonderry, N.H., Cadec is a subsidiary of Cummins Engine Co.

UltraYARD, a terminal and yard management system, combines RFID tags from RandTEC with management software from Industrial Systems Inc. The system automatically identifies equipment entering and leaving terminals and dock doors, providing managers with real-time equipment status and location.

Fleet customers can track shipments with LoadTracker, a Windows-based software package from Payne & Assocs. that uses the Internet for online access. The system integrates with most dispatch programs, and also allows shippers to enter orders and obtain rate quotes using standard Internet Web browsers.

Yagi antenna series from Allen Telecom Group is available in 3- and 7-element configurations for spread spectrum, cellular, and trunked radio applications. Made of black anodized brass and aluminum with mounting bracket for either horizontal or vertical polarization.

FreitRater client/server software provides a fast, accurate rating system that can be easily integrated with most billing, rate analysis, rate publishing, and supply chain management systems, according to Commercial Transportation Services. Rate database development and maintenance services are also available.

Omnidata International Inc. has added signature capture to its rugged RDT 3200 portable DOS computer. The unit features a full screen display and keyboard, serial and parallel ports, two PC Card slots, and wireless option for satellite, cellular, and packet data services.

Rail routes and mileage for North America are offered by PC*RAIL, a new Windows-based software package from ALK Assocs. The database includes over 210,000 mi. of rail line, 53,000 freight stations, and 580 railroads, as well as detailed route and key city reports.

Client/server transportation management software TRACS*3.1 automates shipment planning, status tracking, routing, and other operational chores, according to developer Weseley Software. Five modules, available separately or as a package, cover route management, load building, shipment assignment, electronic load tendering, and status tracking.

Safety and Accident Management (SAM) software package compiles employee personnel records, tracks accident and personal injury reports, and manages random drug and alcohol testing. Windows-based package was developed by SAM Transportation Software.

Precision Mapping Streets 3.0 from Chicago Map Corp. provides detailed street-level maps for the entire Continental U.S. on a single CD-ROM. Program can search by state, crossroads, city, street name, zip code, county, area code, address, and latitude/longitude coordinates.

Double CD-ROM set from Solutions Software Corp. provides over 2,200 material safety data sheets (MSDS) for trade name and generic chemicals. Fully indexed, the database can be searched by name or partial term and can be printed or exported as ASCII or dBase files.

A program for developing strategic truckload and intermodal bids and lane assignments has been developed by Sabre Decision Technologies. Transportation Network Optimization allows shippers and carriers to electronically exchange information during the bidding process and supports conditional bids.