Windows for LTL dispatching

Aug. 1, 2000
New version part of wireless P&D management systemSynergistic Systems of Neptune, Fla., has released a Windows version of its LTL dispatch software.Part of a wireless P&D management system, the program builds dynamic routes based on real-time vehicle tracking combined with status reports from drivers.Report functions drawing on historical data can also be used to analyze route productivity in a variety

New version part of wireless P&D management system

Synergistic Systems of Neptune, Fla., has released a Windows version of its LTL dispatch software.

Part of a wireless P&D management system, the program builds dynamic routes based on real-time vehicle tracking combined with status reports from drivers.

Report functions drawing on historical data can also be used to analyze route productivity in a variety of ways.

The new version of Synergistic's routing system is compatible with Windows NT/SQL Server and includes maps with actual street miles and truck speed limits.

In addition to its updated dispatch package, Synergistics has also released a new Windows-based freight billing entry system for LTL carriers.

The system features interfaces for imaging and accounting systems, fast customer lookups, and shortcuts to copy information from previous bills. For more information, visit

Lawrence Kinder, CIO for rental car giant Avis, which also owns the fleet management services company PHH Corp., says that in two years, 91% of companies in the U.S. will be doing electronic business via the Internet.

"In the next four years, electronic commerce is predicted to total $8 trillion. Of the 6-million Web sites now in existence, some 2 million were created in the last two months," Kinder said at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference in Williamsburg, Va.

Kinder noted that more and more Internet fleet services are being developed to make their operations more efficient. Real-time vehicle location and routing information are already available.

One technology that is gaining ground quickly is something called Bluetooth. Named after a 10th Century Danish king who united Norway and Denmark, Bluetooth is a microchip embedded with a radio module that can send out 780,000 bits of data per second. It will allow machines within a certain radius to communicate automatically with one another.

Bluetooth will enable vehicles to shuttle diagnostic information automatically to a shop computer, for instance, telling the maintenance system that its fan belt is showing wear and needs replacement - all without any driver or technician involvement.

Kinder said such technology will allow for more efficient maintenance management of vehicles - and, as vehicles are typically the third largest cost to fleets, that will help them save money.

"There is still much that has to be developed where vehicle 'connectivity' to the Internet is concerned," said Kinder. "However, it will become the fleet manager's job to enable vehicles with the Internet so they can become true 'mobile offices.'"

RoadRelay 4 is an onboard computer for Dodge Ram pickups equipped with Cummins 24-valve turbo diesel engine. Like heavy-duty versions of the OBC, it provides instant information on engine load, fuel economy, coolant temperature, vehicle speed, rpm and other operation parameters, as well as monitors and records maintenance logs. A GPS option is also available, providing data on distance traveled, latitude and longitude, and ETA. Go to

@Road Inc. has upgraded and expanded FleetASAP, a wireless communications system offering vehicle tracking, monitoring, messaging, reporting and scheduling capabilities for businesses with fleet vehicles. The company's new LocationSmart technology platform XML capability has been added to its Internet features, as well as new, more accurate GPS location information. has selected Lante to provide the technology integration that will allow independent parts buyers and sellers access to large database of truck, auto and industrial parts in a real-time, digitally secure exchange. Liante is an Internet services company.

System graphically shows current fleet conditions

Building on its work with the popular PC*Miler highway mapping and routing software, ALK Associates, Princeton, N.J., has launched a new fleet optimization system. Called FleetCommander, the system combines data from a variety of fleet management and mobile communications systems with ALK's own PC*Miler, to provide a graphical view of trucks.

According to ALK, the graphic interfaces are tightly integrated with management systems and with location reports from providers such as Qualcomm, Motient, @Track Communications, Terion and others, to produce graphics showing current fleet conditions. Information displayed on the FleetCommander system includes truck locations; when they are estimated to arrive; and if they're late, early, out-of-route or available for a new load. Fuel and repair facility data can also be integrated.

Trucks are represented as icons moving across a map of the North American highway network. ALK says icons can be color-coded based on a number of query options, and clicking on an icon opens a menu of shipment details.

"The system has only been out there for three months, but it's been like a magnet to fleets," says Elizabeth Romanaux, manager of corporate communications for ALK. "People were just having to work with too many different databases at once."

The company expects to also offer FleetCommander as an ASP within the next few months. For more information and a brief demonstration, see

Burlington, Mass.-based is merging with ocean and air transaction site, creating what it says is a multi-modal, multifaceted transaction site where shippers can bid on ocean, air, trucking and intermodal services, for both domestic and international needs. CEO Yossi Sheffi says the combined company will operate under the name and will handle some $6-billion worth of transportation transactions annually across all modes.

Greg Borgeson, president of, will become president of under the deal, with Sheffi remaining the company's CEO. John Lannigan, former president of truckload carrier Schneider National, remains as COO of

Speaking at a press conference last month, Sheffi and Borgeson said the new, expanded will not become a "commodity exchange," where transportation deals are settled based on the lowest price.

"Most transportation exchanges today work on price-drive models," Sheffi said. "They seek to 'commoditize' transportation services."

By contrast, Sheffi said will not support price-only online bidding mechanisms.

"Bidding on carrier-provided services, whether ocean, air, rail or trucking, will be decided based on a combination of attributes for a particular lane," he said. "That includes price, level of service, equipment availability, and other 'quality' factors."

Such a so-called "balanced" bidding system is not being done "for balance's sake," added Borgeson. "This is what shippers tell us they want. Price will not be a core value that will drive Internet-based transaction services in the future." has gone live with its Internet-based freight exchange and transportation marketplace. Among its other services, shippers can create bills of lading online and view instant rate comparisons, while carriers can post available resources and shop for used equipment in online auctions. Both shippers and carriers also have access to credit reports, and the company says it will continue adding features in the coming months.

The Associates, a provider of truck and trailer financing, discussed the company's new e-business strategy at the recent International Trucking Show in Las Vegas. According to Peter Piccolo, vice president of e-business, the new distribution model addresses The Associates' relationships with manufacturers, dealers and truckers.

Customers will now have online access to financial services in addition to the existing Branch Network and Call Center support, Piccolo noted. Small fleets and owner-operators will have a dedicated financial services Web site,, offering online credit applications, as well as other financial services, including a loan calculator, equipment for sale and access to Associates' business library.

Dealers will also have a Web site "office" of their own, called, which is designed to offer tools of specific use to dealerships, such as credit applications, quoting tools, management reports, invoicing and sales contact management systems, in a secure e-commerce environment. Associates' Internet users can also call a toll-free number to talk with an Associates team member.

The addition of online services is intended to offer customers greater choice and convenience, more channel options and easy access to financial services. More features and functionality are already in the works for the Internet sites, including

Business customers can now send, receive and respond to Internet e-mail and other text messages with Nextel Communications' "Plus" series wireless telephones, according to the company. Service plans for Nextel Online Two-Way Messaging, as well as voice, paging and Internet services, include unlimited access for a flat monthly fee.

The new messaging service includes use of Nextel's Internet Message Center, which allows subscribers to check the status of all sent messages, create and store preset messages, build e-mail address groups, and schedule message transmission for a future time and date.

DRIVERNet went live with its new load-matching capability at each of the company's more than 418 multi-media workstations in truckstops and travel plazas nationwide on July 12. The new functionality is designed to allow fleet drivers and owner operators to link up to DAT Service's load-matching database using DRIVERNet's secure Intranet system.

Drivers enter information, including their current location, destination and truck type, to receive a printed list of up to six available loads along with a toll-free number to call concerning each load. According to the company, a load search costs $5 for users with DRIVERNet accounts and $7.50 for users without an account.

Load-matching is the latest addition to the company's suite of workstation-accessible business services, which also include telephones, credit card swiping systems, job postings, weather and routing information, e-mail, printing, faxing and other computer services such as document scanning and sending. "With the addition of DAT's superior load-matching capabilities, we are able to offer drivers a complete suite of tools to help them operate more efficiently," noted Tad DeOrio, vice president and CFO of DRIVERNet.

DRIVERNet also reported receiving "a significant equity investment" from GE Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric Co.

Roadnet Technologies, a UPS Logistics Group Co., has joined the Symbol Technologies Partner Program, adapting its Mobilecast software for use with Symbol's handheld computers. The company says that integration of Symbol's hardware with its software will generate wireless e-fulfillment solutions and give service fleets real-time visibility into their field operations.

Mobilecast, a wireless dispatch and tracking solution, includes real-time stop information, bar code scanning, electronic signature capture, GPS tracking, J1708 engine monitoring, DOT logging, and fuel tax reporting.

Under the partnership arrangement, Mobilecast will support multiple Symbol mobile devices such as the PPT 2700 running the Windows CE platform, as well as the Symbol Mobile Gateway Plus (MG+).

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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