Cincinnati, OH. Fleets adding compressed- or liquid natural gas- powered vehicles (CNG or LNG) to their operation now have a tool to help accurately measure driver and vehicle performance and forecast the impact of switching to natural gas thanks to a new offering from PeopleNet. The company chose the National Private Truck Council’s (NPTC) Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition being held here in Cincinnati to announce the availability of the new solution, which is designed to enable fleets running traditional diesel-powered vehicles and alternative fuel-powered vehicles to compare fuel use and efficiency.

 According to the company, PeopleNet is the first telematics provider to offer this capability. The new reporting system translates pounds of compressed or liquid natural gas to Diesel Equivalent Gallons. 

 “Rising fuel costs and the trucking industry’s commitment to ecology have prompted more fleets to consider purchasing trucks that use natural gas as a more cost-effective, greener and quieter alternative to traditional diesel,” said Ron Konezny, PeopleNet CEO. “By adding a vehicle management reporting capability that translates gas into comparable diesel consumption, we’ve given fleet managers a tool that easily compares performance and forecasts savings.”

 When Saddle Creek Corporation of Lakeland, FL decided to purchase 40 natural gas-powered trucks this year and dozens more next year, for example, it used PeopleNet’s Vehicle Management reporting feature to help get a true picture of what the purchase would mean, Konezny noted.

 According to president of Saddle Creek Transportation, Mike DelBovo, the new system helped make the evaluation process easier. “Without this conversion data, we’d be hard-pressed to handle these time-consuming calculations,” he said. “And moving forward, we’ll need to continue comparing drivers’ and vehicles’ MPG performance in our mixed-vehicle fleet.”

 In addition to the new tool for fleets deploying natural gas-powered vehicles, PeopleNet also announced that it has expanded options for helping customers accelerate custom application development and secure software maintenance on the Blu and Tablet platforms with the BluLink Software Development Kit (SDK).

 “These options give customers a choice for adapting our applications such as Automated Workflow to create a form or customize a workflow to meet their unique operational needs,” noted PeopleNet’s vice president of tailored solutions, Randy Boyles.In keeping with PeopleNet’s legacy of flexibility, our Software Development Kits give fleets the power and control to rapidly develop and securely manage their custom applications directly or have us help them,” he said.

According to Boyles, the PeopleNet SDKs give customers direct access to the PeopleNet network to do their own over-the-air-programming. By sending simple commands over PeopleNet's network, a customer can easily install new versions of their own code, perform a loop back test on data transfer, and request diagnostic logs from the system.

Under a run-time BluLink license, PeopleNet writes and maintains code for the customer. A developer BluLink license enables the customer to write and/or maintain code. BluLink supports full data exchange with back-end systems and the Blu and Tablet onboard computers. The developer BluLink license includes on-site developer training about the PeopleNet architecture.

The company noted that it will continue to update BluLink and provide remote developer support and optional code review. PeopleNet will offer two different BluLink training sessions at the company’s annual user conference in August. It will include an introduction to programming with PeopleNet’s SDKs. 

PeopleNet also introduced a new version of its NaviGo In-Cab Navigation (NaviGo 4.0). This latest version calculates "re-routes" locally on the onboard computer rather than on a remote server. According to the company, lost drivers tend to have a higher accident rate; the newest version of NaviGo In-Cab Navigation helps drivers safely return to their route with spoken turn-by-turn directions. 

 “Hybrid Onboard Routing” has also been added to NaviGo to enable drivers to search millions of points of interest (POIs) by name or category to quickly identify where they want to go and create routes, they noted. The hybrid routing method was developed to allow onboard route creation to occur in areas of poor cellular coverage. It can also merge customized onboard routes with off-board routes that include customized route modifiers. 

“Fuel efficiency probably provides the biggest portion of the ROI on navigation systems,” Konezny told Fleet Owner. “We are seeing [more fleets elect to incorporate navigation into their PeopleNet systems]”