In a move anticipated for some time, Qualcomm Inc. has refocused its energies on satellite communications services and sold three of its fleet management software products to industry software specialists. The three software companies -- TMW Systems, Sabre Decision Technologies, and ITS -- will continue providing support and further development for current Qualcomm customers under the communications company's new Software Certification Program (SCP). The company is also expected to announce the sale of its remaining fleet software package before the end of the summer.

TMW Systems has purchased Qualcomm's TL2000 software operation, an AS/400-based dispatch program originally developed by McCormick & Assoc. and acquired by Qualcomm in 1995. TMW, one of trucking's leading developers and integrators of PC-based dispatch, operations, and administration software, will now have an AS/400 platform product used by approximately 100 fleets. The TL2000 operations will remain in Indianapolis, according to TMW, which is headquartered just outside of Cleveland.

Sabre has acquired the suite of optimization products called Qualcomm Decision Support Software (QDSS). The software, which includes load assignment and swapping programs, complements current Sabre load management offerings in the truck industry, including its Micromap and Drop & Swap products. Late last year, Sabre also bought PTCG, a developer of load optimization software for truckload carriers.

The LAN fleet business software, called Qualcomm Trucking Operations System (QTOPS LAN), has been sold back to its original developer, ITS of Winston-Salem, N.C. The company's founder, Chuck Melton, sold the DOS-based software package to Qualcomm in 1994 and subsequently founded Melton Technologies Inc. to develop Internet-based Windows products for the trucking industry. Melton says that the reacquisition of QTOPS will give current fleet users a migration path from DOS to Windows platforms.

A similar business system for AS/400 platforms -- QTOPS 400 -- is the only remaining Qualcomm fleet software product. Developed in-house, QTOPS 400 is expected to be sold to another SCP partner in the near future.

Automated yard management Drawing on its radio frequency identification (RFID) products, Savi Technology has developed the Yard Management System (YMS) for retail distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. Designed for private fleet operations with at least 40 loading docks, the system automatically checks trailers in and out of yards, assigns parking slots and dock doors, and tracks trailer movements within yards.

Software for YMS is Windows-based and can be integrated into existing fleet applications, according to Savi. Designed for client/server computing environments, the system's software includes separate modules for gate, dock, and yard management.

The system's hardware includes RFID tags for trailers, fixed RF readers for gates, and wireless data and RF terminals for yard jockeys.

Price for the Savi YMS ranges from $100,000 to $400,000 depending on the size of the distribution yard, the number of software modules used, and the level of integration with existing fleet information systems.

IBM looking to work with fleets large and small Although IBM has long been associated with the very largest trucking fleets, the giant computer company says it has a lot to offer small- and medium-sized fleets as well. Calling herself "an advocate for truckers at IBM," Travel/Transportation Segment Executive JoAnn Washam says IBM has services and solutions for fleets of all sizes.

"We have everything from PCs to midsized servers like the AS/400 to mainframe computers," she says. "IBM can be a source for everything from software to business and technology consulting and research services. Information technology has become a major component of trucking, and we want to help fleets of all sizes make sense out of this technology."

As part of its refocused attention on trucking, IBM has recently announced a number of marketing agreements with transportation software developers. For small fleets, the company has joined with Surfside Software Systems to offer PC-based software for taxi, courier, construction, and bus dispatching, as well as billing and fleet maintenance management.

Under another new marketing agreement with Creative Systems Corp., IBM is offering for-hire fleets of 15 vehicles or more Freight-Link, a PC-based operations and accounting software system. Consisting of 50 modules, the fleet software package can be closely tailored for a wide variety of specific fleet applications, according to Washam.

Moving up in hardware power to IBM's RS/6000 platform, the company has begun marketing a complete document imaging and management system designed specifically for trucking by Bluebird Systems. The software, called Transdocs, can be integrated with the existing AS/400 or RS/6000-based accounting and invoicing systems found at many medium and large fleets.

Not forgetting its large fleet customers, IBM has also entered into a marketing agreement with TMT Software to offer a shop and fleet cost management system. Intended for both AS/400 and PC platforms, Transman tracks vehicle cost information, manages parts inventories and warranties, and provides a wide range of shop management tools. Windows 95 and NT versions are expected to be available later this year.

Cadec moving to wireless links for new OBC system The next generation of on-board computers from Cadec Systems, a Cummins Engine Co. subsidiary, will use wireless communications to provide real-time data to a client/server base station running Windows NT.

Intended for most fleet management applications, including LTL and truckload, the new system is being licensed from Canadian Marconi Corp. for exclusive development and marketing by Cadec.

With commercial introduction expected before the end of the year, the new system will initially use circuit-switched cellular service or RAM Mobile Data's packet radio network to update the host system, although it can also be adapted for satellite, and PCS communications. A true multi-mode system, it will automatically choose the best communications service based on cost, availability, and other factors, according to Cadec.

The on-board portion of the system will use an Apple Newton as the driver interface. The system will also include GPS vehicle positioning, and Oracle-based dispatch and freight management software.

Future enhancements could include new hand-held mobile units, interfaces for third-party routing software, and advanced logistics features.

LoadExpress Plus, an automated load planning and rating system from Information Software Inc., can handle multiple distribution centers and set up linehauls, as well as cross-dock operations. Designed for midsize and large fleets with varied routing patterns, the new program is Windows-based.

The FW7000 is a ruggedized laptop well-suited for in-vehicle testing, according to manufacturer FieldWorks Inc. It offers both PCI and ISA slots for proprietary cards required for some component testing. Other features include 166 MHz Pentium processor, 16 MB RAM, an 810 MB internal hard drive, and a 10.4-in. active matrix display.

This year's SAE International Truck and Bus Meeting will examine "Intelligent Transportation for the 21st Century." The meeting and technology show will be held Nov. 17 to 19 at the Cleveland Convention Center. Alexander M. Cutler, president and COO of Eaton Corp., will serve as general chairman.

Geotek Communications has launched its ninth U.S. digital wireless network in Tampa, Fla. It currently offers service in two other Florida locations, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas/Ft.Worth, and Washington, D.C. The company provides voice dispatch, vehicle tracking, wireless telephone connections, and two-way messaging service over a proprietary communications system.

DAT Connect for Windows offers real-time access to DAT Services' freight-matching database. Features for the Windows-based software package include simplified data entry and customized load sorting.

Qualcomm Inc. has acquired a 49% equity stake in Corporacion Nacional de Radiodeterminacion (CNR), the exclusive operator of the company's OmniTRACS satellite communications system in Mexico. The new investment will help development of seamless communications for cross-border trucking operations, according to a spokesperson for Qualcomm.

A business alliance between RAM Mobile Data and Wireless Links Inc. now offers a range of packaged wireless data systems for LTL, courier, and field service fleets. The bundled packages include WLI's Acknowledger mobile data terminal, fleet software applications, and wireless data service over RAM's national packet data network. The mobile terminal features data-to-speech conversion, QWERTY keyboard, signature capture, GPS capability, and optional bar code reader.

The E-Z Newsletter Customizer -- Driver & Family Edition from J.J. Keller & Assocs. is a software program that helps fleets develop driver safety publications. The Windows-based program provides template pages and stock safety articles, as well as health information, truckstop reviews, and industry news. Monthly updates for one year are included in the package price of $199.