PST Vans to outsource information services

Truckload carrier signs on as first customer for new SABRE serviceIn a move some suppliers hope will be the start of a major trend, the large truckload carrier PST Vans says it intends to outsource its entire information services (IS) operation. Although at presstime details were still being worked out, the carrier has signed a letter of intent with The SABRE Group that will give it access to new

Truckload carrier signs on as first customer for new SABRE service

In a move some suppliers hope will be the start of a major trend, the large truckload carrier PST Vans says it intends to outsource its entire information services (IS) operation. Although at presstime details were still being worked out, the carrier has signed a letter of intent with The SABRE Group that will give it access to new fleet management systems for fixed monthly fees and no capital investment.

SABRE, which operates the world's largest electronic airline reservation and travel service, has recently begun acquiring information technology for the trucking industry, including the former PTCG, a developer of load optimization packages, and the QTOPS fleet management package from Qualcomm Inc., which it has renamed TRUCOM.

Faced with an aging management system developed in-house, PST Vans was planning to purchase new hardware and software to help it integrate Qualcomm satellite communications and to meet customer demands for better access to information, according to Jim Franck, vp-operations. However, the new SABRE arrangement will deliver the functionality of a new system at lower cost, he says.

"And just as important as the economics, it lets us concentrate on our core business while giving us a competitive advantage by allowing us to stay on the leading edge of rapidly changing technology," Franck says.

Initially, SABRE will provide the 1,200-tractor fleet with TRUCOM and the fuel optimization routing package OPTISTOP. In addition, the IS supplier will take over management of PST Van's standalone PCs, local area networks, wide area networks, and other information technology, as well as provide help-desk services for the fleet's various PC users. The new arrangement also includes telecommunications services obtained by SABRE at volume discounts.

Although a final contract has not yet been signed, the two expect to have the new system in place before the end of March.

A contract to equip 2,700 linehaul tractors with mobile communications systems marks the anticipated move by HighwayMaster Corp. into wireless service for less-than-truckload carriers.

The contract with regional LTL carrier American Freightways Corp., calls for modified cellular service that includes voice and limited data communications for linehaul equipment. Tracking services geared towards irregular-route truckload operations will not be part of the package.

As part of HighwayMaster's efforts to expand the market for its wireless service beyond truckload carriers, the company is expected to introduce a stripped down version of its on-board communications/information system early in 1998. The new system, which will be called the Series 3000 and 3500, would allow fleets with scheduled operations to talk to drivers and to monitor engine operating data, but would eliminate unnecessary features such as automated ETA monitoring.

The American Freightways contract calls for 2,000 cellular-based systems to be installed by the end of 1997. Those initial systems will be HighwayMaster's full-featured Series 5000 models, which will be swapped out later this year as the new units become available. The remaining 700 systems will be added during 1998 as the fleet adds new equipment to its linehaul operation.

The Lightstone Group, developer of RiMMS routing and scheduling software, has purchased Comdata's RoTec logistics software division. Under terms of the sale, Lightstone will continue to provide technical support for current RoTec customers, which are largely home delivery and distribution fleets.

Arsenault Assoc., developers of Maintenance Dossier fleet management software, has put up a new Web site for their users. The site (truckfleet.com) features working demos, e-mail directories, and access to the program's user group.

Five trucks stolen by one person from Crescent Truck Lines in Hayward, Calif., were recovered within 10 hours using the Teletrac wireless tracking system. The first truck was recovered by the California Highway Patrol 30 minutes after the fleet notified Teletrac that it was gone. Crescent estimated that the stolen cargo, which was all returned, was worth $100,000, while it put the five trucks' value at $120,000.

Truck Down is a free Internet service that can help fleets find emergency road service and suppliers throughout North America. The site (www.truckdown.com) can be searched for the closest supplier by entering the down truck's location and selecting the type of service required.

PC*MILER/Europe for Windows is now available in version 2, offering highway routing between 42 European countries. The new version adds 37,000 towns, cities, highway junctions, and border crossings to its database, as well as 162,000 additional kilometers of roads.

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