Information Technology - Truck.Com

May 1, 1999
Work-truck trackerSystem offers "smart tracking" of construction vehicles and other local fleetsAt the recent ConExpo/ConAgg show, FMS Mobile Networking and Alkon Corp. showed a new vehicle/job-status reporting and tracking system that uses GPS tracking, digital wireless communications, and the Internet to automatically collect status-of-event data from trucks in the field."The challenge with many

Work-truck tracker

System offers "smart tracking" of construction vehicles and other local fleets

At the recent ConExpo/ConAgg show, FMS Mobile Networking and Alkon Corp. showed a new vehicle/job-status reporting and tracking system that uses GPS tracking, digital wireless communications, and the Internet to automatically collect status-of-event data from trucks in the field.

"The challenge with many existing systems is that they rely on driver input," said Gregory Miller, Alkon president & CEO. "This system reduces the need for drivers to push buttons and produces more accurate status data. This data provides Alkon Enterprises Series (AES) software with the ability to calculate efficiencies and pinpoint areas for improvement."

The system uses an onboard GPS chip set to tell dispatch where trucks are, how fast they are moving, and other critical information. In addition, rugged sensors fitted to the trucks measure speed and direction of drum rotation, and other key events on vocational units.

By linking to AES dispatch software, the system can automatically measure and report such status events as product ticketing, loading, leaving plant, job-site arrival, wait time, in pour, return, and wash-out. AES uses the data to create tighter delivery schedules and generate management reports.

The system uses either CDPD cellular service or FMS' TDMA-based wireless network to transmit data over large geographical areas.

Kenwood Communications has developed an automated vehicle location system that can handle up to 256 vehicles using a standard office PC.

The on-board portion of the system is the KGP-1A, an integrated GPS receiver and modem that connects to any Kenwood TK-760/860 series mobile radio.

The KGP-1B base station unit includes a built-in modem and microprocessor control, and is linked by serial cable to a PC equipped with mapping software. Locations can be viewed by single vehicle, by groups of vehicles, or by a specific area.

Combining Windows-based software and electronic tire-inspection tools, the Audit Snapshot Fleet Tire Survey System simplifies tire inspection and inflation checks while capturing tire information without manual data entry.

Audit Snapshot includes a hand-held controller, an auto-inflator, and a digital tread depth reader. The system can be used to inspect tire conditions and set inflation on 10 wheel positions in under 10 minutes, according to International Marketing Inc.

Audit software uses the collected information to create reports, graphs, and summaries detailing tire conditions and inspection status.

The Mobix Wireless Kit brings wireless data communications over the BellSouth Wireless Data network to Palm III handheld organizers and IBM WorkPad portable computers. Developed by Mobix Communications, the kit includes a Type II PC Card adapter, a Type II radio modem, and MobiCell/ Pilot drivers.

The Dearborn Protocol Adapter II Plus allows portable or shop PCs with RS-232 serial ports to be hooked up to vehicle SAE J1708 and J1939 databus connectors for use with PC-based diagnostic software. Versions are also available for serial port connections to CAN and GM URT databus links.

AirBoss Wireless Solutions from Bellcore can provide secure access to Lotus Domino via a two-way pager and the BellSouth Wireless Data network. The system uses a special "Microbrowser" loaded in a RIM Inter@ctive Pager 950 for remote real-time access to e-mail, calendar, and other Lotus Notes and Domino applications.

Vantage, GemTrac trailer systems combined by ORBCOMM

The operations of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s GemTrac trailer tracking system are being merged with those of Vantage Tracking Solutions. Both provide trailer management services for dry van truckload carriers.

The two systems will be operated by Vantage, which is a business unit of ORBCOMM Global, a provider of wireless data communications services over a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network. Orbital, in turn, owns a 50% stake in ORBCOMM.

The GemTrac system, which has already begun limited commercial operations, provides untethered trailer tracking over both the ORBCOMM satellite network and the ARDIS/American Mobile land-based data communications system. The Vantage system, which is now undergoing field trials, uses only ORBCOMM. Both rely on Internet browser-based applications for fleet access to their trailer management systems, although there are significant software differences between the two.

It is expected that the two combined systems will allow Vantage to expand its trailer management services into other markets, including LTL and refrigerated truckload operations.

The T5200 from Itronix Corp. provides field service workers with an integrated handheld unit that will allow them to collect, transmit, and manage account information in real time at a customer site. Only half the size and weight of a hardened notebook computer, the T5200 runs under the relatively new Microsoft Windows CE operating system for handheld computers. Powered by a lithium ion battery thatis said to provide all-day power on a single charge, the new handheld unit communicates over the BellSouth Wireless Data land-based network using a built-in wireless modem. Circle 251 on reply card

The ToughBook 27 ruggedized notebook computer from Panasonic Personal Computer Co. is now available with an integrated high-gain antenna and internal wireless modem for American Mobile DataTAC (formerly ARDIS), BellSouth Wireless Data (formerly RAM Mobile Data), and cellular digital packet data (CDPD) communications services.

Capable of withstanding a 3-ft. drop, the ToughBook27 houses a 266MHZ Pentium processor in a full magnesium alloy cabinet, while its 4GB hard disk drive is shock-mounted in a removable stainless steel case. The keyboard and touchpad are water-resistant, and the 12.1-in active matrix color LCD is treated with anti-reflective material for better viewing under outdoor light conditions.

The CDC9000 Serial PCMCIA Card Reader from Cadec Corp. can be located up to 3,000 ft. from a host computer, allowing drivers to download trip information from Cadec on-board computers at fuel islands, terminal gates, and other remote locations. The hardened card reader is designed for high usage and easy PC card insertion.

The PC/Rover computer from Kinetic Computer Corp. features a touchscreen flat panel display, solid-state memory, and wireless connectivity to wide-area or local-area networks. The ruggedized unit can be installed in a vehicle for mobile use or on a wall with a fixed mount for cross-dock applications.

Roadway Services Inc. now provides customer access to its freezables protection service over its Web site. Shippers can fill out an online questionnaire to qualify for the special protective service, which is designed to handle temperature-sensitive freight in freezing weather.

The basic version of IntelliRoute from Rand McNally can perform lowest-cost routing calculations using its comprehensive, GPS-accurate database of U.S. highways and other geographic data, as well as increase the accuracy of fuel-tax reporting and reduce driving times.

A deluxe version of the program adds haz-mat and truck-type routing that takes into account restrictions on vehicle length, width, height, and configuration, as well as permissible routes for 10 different hazardous-material types. It also provides Internet access to construction information updates at Rand McNally's Web site.

A third version can be seamlessly integrated with most wireless communications systems to provide a full range of accurate vehicle tracking and reporting tools.

All three versions of IntelliRoute run under Microsoft Windows 95/98/NT on standalone PCs or LANs, as well as in Unix, Windows NT, and AS/400 client server environments. Circle 260 on reply card

Designed to operate with inexpensive handheld devices such as the PalmPilot or those running Microsoft Windows CE, a wireless version of the MAXIMO maintenance system will be released next month by PSDI. The new version links handheld devices and other wireless systems to a fleet's intranet, Internet, wide area network, or local area network, providing field personnel and fleet managers with real-time maintenance information.

The first application available for MAXIMO Wireless will allow users to create, view, and report on work orders using Palm or Windows CE handheld devices. A second application will add access to parts information. Circle 261 on reply card

Robert Transport, Inc. a full service trucking company based in Boucherville, Quebec, recently joined with Symbol Technologies in a business development, marketing and services partnership, according to Symbol. The partnership adds Robert's Yard Smart yard management software to the Symbol Logistics Management Solution (LOMAS) collaborative architecture for unified supply chain management.

Yard Smart is designed to improve efficiency in high-volume yard management, especially for private fleet, LTL, third-party logistics, or package delivery operations, using the Symbol Spectrum 240 wireless local area network for voice and data along with Symbol's truck-mounted mobile computers. According to Symbol, Robert's Windows NT-based system offers comprehensive asset tracking, scheduling, and reporting capabilities.

As part of Symbol's LOMAS data collaboration environment, Yard Smart is intended to work together with other Symbol partner solutions to increase the benefits for sharing data among applications that have traditionally been standalone. "Tying into LOMAS allows fleets to share data between systems," explains Stuart Dyer, marketing manager for Symbol Technologies' Logistics Systems Group. "Freight tracking information, for example, could be integrated with warehouse data, with trailer location information, and with dispatch."

Other partners offering solutions under the LOMAS umbrella include Systems Application Engineering with its Dispatch Management System/Driver Assistance System, XATA Corp. with its OpCenter fleet management solution, and Manhattan Associates with its PkMS warehouse management system. Symbol brings its own cross-dock management system for truck terminals or hubs, called Xdock, to the LOMAS suite of logistics solutions.

"Companies can begin with a single LOMAS system and then grow one step at a time, if they choose," says Dyer, "or they can implement the whole Logistics Management Solution at once. The environment is specifically designed to enable users to grow from standalone execution systems to full supply chain linkages."

Sterling Commerce is offering its e-commerce customers some very practical Year 2000 support. The Year 2000 Test Zone is designed to help companies ensure that critical electronic commerce-related business processes will continue into the next millennium.

According to Sterling, the Test Zone simulates the exchange of business electronic documents, such as purchase orders, invoices, and advanced ship notices under conditions similar to those that will exist during the last three days of 1999 and the first four days of 2000. The virtual electronic commerce processing environment is intended to help commerce partners safely test information flow, identifying and correcting transaction processing problems ahead of year end.

For more information, contact the company at 1-800-299-4031, option 2, ext. 572.

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