A new version of a transportation software system designed to record a legal signature for proof of delivery, transmit GPS-based tracking information, and obtain real-time driving directions via hand-held devices is hitting the market today.

Developed by Gearworks, etrace 2.0 improves on the 1.0 version introduced last October. The software is based on open standards that operate via off-the-shelf devices, such as wirelessly enabled Palm-powered hand-held devices, web-enabled phones and Blackberry pagers.

J&B Wholesale, a regional refrigerated foods wholesaler with a fleet of 65 vehicles operating in an 11-state area, began using the new etrace version in January. According to Kurt Anderson, J&B’s director of operations, the company is already anticipating a 100% reduction in annual cell phone charges and a 15% reduction in driver overtime, on top of a 40% annual reduction in overall administrative costs. Those improvements have been linked to an improved ability to communicate with and manage drivers and vehicles through the etrace system, he said.

“With etrace as our mobile communication solution, we see significant improvements in fleet utilization, better driver communication and satisfaction, and faster resolution of load discrepancies,” Anderson said.