Off The Wire

June 1, 1998
Eaton expands wireless options An integrated transceiver/antenna for land-based wireless communications and service agreements for both land- and satellite-based packet data service have been introduced by Eaton Corp.'s Trucking Information Services Div. (TISD).The wireless service options are part of Eaton's FleetCom communications service, which can be integrated with the company's Fleet Advisor

Eaton expands wireless options An integrated transceiver/antenna for land-based wireless communications and service agreements for both land- and satellite-based packet data service have been introduced by Eaton Corp.'s Trucking Information Services Div. (TISD).

The wireless service options are part of Eaton's FleetCom communications service, which can be integrated with the company's Fleet Advisor on-board computer and logistics management system or used with the new integrated radio transceiver and an existing satellite transceiver package.

The Eaton Radio Communications Module (RCM) R200 incorporates an RF transceiver and antenna in a single, weatherproof assembly. A second model, the R200L adds an integrated GPS receiver and antenna to the package. Both models are currently compatible with the national Mobitex packet data network operated by BellSouth Wireless Data (formerly RAM Mobile Data). According to Eaton, interfaces for other WAN and wireless LAN networks will be available in the near future.

Eaton TISD has also announced a marketing agreement with BellSouth to offer their Mobitex wireless data service as part of the company's FleetCom communications package. The packet-data service can be used as the wireless link for either Eaton's Fleet Advisor system or for data communications over its new RCMs.

At the same time, the Eaton group has signed a similar marketing agreement with NORCOM Networks Corp., adding NORCOM's packet data satellite system to its FleetCom offerings. The satellite data service combines "high data throughput, quick response time, and cost-effective messaging" with complete, or ubiquitous coverage, according to a company spokesperson.

Like the land-based Mobitex service, the new satellite service can be used as the wireless link for Eaton's Fleet Advisor or with its separate Satellite Communications Module.

A new agreement with Aeris Communications will allow Qualcomm to begin offering untethered trailer tracking based on Aeris' cellular telephone technology sometime later this year. An announcement on a similar trailer-tracking service using satellite communications is expected soon.

The Aeris technology uses the existing analog cellular telephone network to send and receive short packet data messages over unused portions of the cellular bandwidth. Qualcomm's untethered trailer-tracking devices will include a GPS receiver for determining location and can be fitted with optional sensors for detecting door openings, unscheduled movements, and available load capacity. A rechargeable battery should power the units for up to 30 days when unhooked from a tractor or other power supply. All messages will be handled by Qualcomm's Network Management Center, which currently processes OmniTRACS tractor communications.

Estimated cost for the land-based trailer unit should be under $300 and service cost is projected at less than $10 a month for one message a day.

Managing shipping is no longer the exclusive function of the shipper, carrier, broker, or distribution center. It has become a team endeavor -- the work of the entire supply chain.

IBM's TransConnect for Shipment Management, introduced last year, is designed to address the whole process, including rating and routing, carrier selection, consolidation and aggregation, complex load planning, dynamic route optimization, dedicated and scheduled run design and utilization, continuous move and backhaul planning, and network design optimization. It is an integrated suite of network application modules for sharing information quickly with all participants in the chain.

Now IBM is working to reach an agreement with Manugistics, a leading supplier of software and services for supply chain management, to market TransConnect. It is envisioned that Manugistics5 will be utilized for the load planning and decision support module of TransConnect, which optimizes a company's transportation environment on an enterprise-wide scale.

How does it all work? IBM illustrates the process like this: Suppose a manufacturer responds to a retail chain's distribution order for multiple goods at multiple locations. After accepting the order, the manufacturer uses TransConnect to create a shipping order. TransConnect automatically manages the supply chain process to get those goods to market, including scheduling distribution carriers and notifying them when and where the goods will be ready; tracking and tracing the product as it's being transported; providing all documentation, invoices, and manifests along the chain; and notifying the retailer of arrival dates so it can plan accordingly.

IBM has chosen to work with Manugistics because of its leadership position in shipment management support, coupled with the successful implementation of the Manugistics5 product at IBM's Poughkeepsie, N.Y., mainframe manufacturing facility.

TransConnect itself has been in operation at the same facility for four years, as well as at a service parts distribution center in Pennsylvania, handling more than 50,000 shipments each week.

"The marketplace today is powered by high-velocity technology and evolving e-business strategies, all attempting to extend the enterprise supply chain," explains Joe Broderick, executive vp of Manugistics. "Our planned agreement will provide companies with solutions that insulate them from these many pressures and, at the same time, will arm them to take full advantage of new business opportunities and realize rapid results."

TransConnect operates on the IBM S/390* PC Server. Using the IBM Global Services Network, TransConnect customers will eventually be able to reach applications through an electronic data interchange (EDI), or directly through customized structured data messages from more than 860 cities in 50 countries. Internet connection through a Lotus Domino server will allow broad access to the specific TransConnect applications and data.

On+Site Dispatch from Lavelle Engineering Technologies Inc. lets fleets post dispatch assignments and related information on a Web site where it can be retrieved by drivers using wireless CDPD (cellular digital packet data) service. In addition, the system can support digital voice communications.

Lavelle has also signed an agreement with AT&T Wireless Services to jointly market On+Site and AT&T's CDPD service.

Two new suites of software, a routing and scheduling package and a supply chain modeling and optimization product, were introduced by CAPS Logistics Inc. on April 29. Both suites bundle new programs with the latest versions of existing CAPS Logistics software into integrated solution sets.

Three new products, plus version 6.0 of RoutePro Dispatcher, comprise the integrated routing and scheduling software suite. The new programs are RoutePro Designer, for strategic route optimization and analysis; RoutePro Residential, for residential route optimization; and RoutePro VMI , for vendor-managed inventory replenishment.

The Designer product is intended to let companies with private or dedicated fleets optimize fixed or master routes, align customer territories, size fleets, and balance customer demand over a period of days, according to the company. Users can then test the effects of strategy changes on dispatch operations before actual implementation.

"Now companies can develop service-day plans for their customers in RoutePro Designer, and with one click, pass these plans to RoutePro Dispatcher for dispatching on a daily or weekly basis," explains Mike Micco, product leader for the Routing Suite. "These routes can then be monitored in Dispatcher and changed throughout the day."

For routes that have a large number of customers in a concentrated area, such as meter reading or waste collection, the Residential module organizes customers into logical and manageable territories, helps to minimize the number of routes needed, and optimizes the route sequence. Animation and step-through capabilities also aid users in visualizing residential route sequences. Another plus: users can incorporate important "small" details into the route plan, like one-way streets and turn restrictions.

Interactive map-based graphics, provided through a Windows 95/NT interface, are incorporated into each of the RoutePro products, along with extensive drag-and-drop capabilities.

A new tactical supply chain-planning product, Supply Chain Coordinator, is paired with Version 6.0 of Supply Chain Designer to form the integrated supply-chain modeling and optimization suite. The Coordinator simultaneously considers manufacturing costs, production line setup costs/times, inventory costs, raw material costs and availability, transportation costs and lead times, production and storage capacity, and other costs and constraints to develop an optimal supply chain plan.

Like the routing and scheduling suite, the supply chain suite is built on the CAPS Logistics Toolkit technology. It also incorporates lots of user-friendly interfaces such as visual icons, extensive wizards, and drag-and-drop editing.

American Mobile Satellite Corp. (AMSC), which provides two-way voice and data communications over its own satellite network, has completed its acquisition of ARDIS, a land-based wireless data communications service. It paid Motorola approximately $100 million in cash and stocks.

The merged land/satellite service has over 80,000 subscribers and its annual revenue from wireless service should exceed $60 million, according to AMSC. The company now offers fleets satellite service with complete U.S. coverage, land-based packet data service communications in metropolitan areas, or a multi-mode service that combines both networks.

UPS has agreed to integrate its shipping and logistics software with PeopleSoft Inc.'s enterprise planning system for supply chain management. The new software link will combine UPS's shipping, tracking, and distribution management applications with PeopleSoft's order management software.

Contract Freighters Inc. will provide its 1,800 drivers with Park N' View telephone and cable television service. Park N' View offers in-cab access to telephone and cable TV through plug-in outlets at truckstop parking lots.

SAE has launched a new online ordering system at its Web site ( for papers, standards, books, CD-ROMs, and other technical material. The new secure system accepts credit-card orders and offers a fax option for same-day delivery of documents.

Easy Router is an Internet-based routing service using the RiMMS routing engine from the Lightstone Group. It lets users submit delivery information via the Internet as frequently as needed and within an hour returns optimized routes and schedules with maps and driving instructions. Currently, Easy Router service is available for the Raleigh-Durham area in N.C. and Minneapolis.

DAT Services has formed a new group to provide private fleets with specially tailored freight matching and customer networking services. The company says it maintains the largest real-time database of available loads and trucks in North America.

J.D. Edwards and The Descartes Systems Group have agreed to jointly develop a complete supply chain execution system for the consumer packaged goods industry. The two will integrate J.D. Edwards' enterprise planning software with Descartes' direct store delivery applications.

TOPS Engineering has released V2.06 of MaxLoad Pro, a Windows-based load planning software package that optimizes placement of mixed cargo loads for trailers and intermodal containers. New features include integration with Microsoft Access and the ability to calculate axle weights.

Bell & Howell's 500 FB flatbed scanner is designed for small offices that need a high-quality, flexible document imager. It has a 30-page automatic document feeder and can scan up to 24 pages a minute in resolutions ranging from 60 to 800 dpi. It ships with both TWAIN and ISIS drivers, and uses a standard SCSI-2 interface.

RouteXpert is a PC-based vehicle routing program from ESRI. It features a high-quality map database, adheres to ODBC standards for easy use with major databases, and has a direct interface for SAP R/3. It builds routes on actual drive times, vehicle characteristics, and customer order requirements.

Melton Technologies Inc. has agreed to integrate the TRANSFLO document imaging and management system from Pegasus Imaging Corp. with its own ITS fleet management software. The agreement will allow fleets to view, fax, print, and e-mail images directly from ITS applications.

The Descartes Systems Group's Energy Roadshow Version 1.3 is designed to streamline the entire order-to-delivery process by providing a suite of integrated software components to handle dynamic routing and scheduling; distributed inventory and equipment management; vending service management; vehicle loading; settlement processing; and mobile computing. New features include enhanced route editing capabilities, increased route accuracy, separate routing constraints for large vehicles, and an improved menu and interface design.

The Avstar Navigator from IVS Inc. is a self-contained navigation device that responds to voice requests for directions with spoken, turn-by-turn instructions. The 5-lb. unit plugs into a 12V cigarette lighter or dash power connection and uses CD-ROM maps to help drivers find their way through 24 major metropolitan areas in the U.S.

A base model, which is expected to sell for approximately $750 when it becomes commercially available later this month, is essentially a static routing system that uses interactive voice technology for hands-free operation. A second model, priced at about $1,100, adds dynamic GPS positioning for real-time voice directions. The systems will come with one active map and an annual update. Additional area maps will be priced at $60 to $90 apiece.

Yard Express from XATA Corp. bundles on-board computers, dispatch software, and short-range wireless communications in an integrated dispatching and fleet management system.

The system automatically notifies dispatch when a driver pulls into a local or remote terminal equipped with Yard Express' spread-spectrum radio communications hardware. The radio network then captures trip information stored by XATA's on-board computer and sends new dispatches to the driver. The dispatches can be prepared ahead of time in batches and stored on a PC-based fleet management server until drivers establish contact over the radio network.

Existing XATA on-board computers can be upgraded for Yard Express by plugging in the company's new Mobile Application Server.

Drivers can scan and electronically transmit trip bills at touch-screen terminals located in over 300 truckstops. The new Transporter system, developed by Pegasus Imaging Corp., digitizes and indexes the documents before they get to the fleet and automatically matches trip bills with invoices for rendition printing. It also provides drivers with an immediate printed confirmation that the document has been received.

The new scanning service is part of the DRIVER Net system developed by TIMM Communications Inc. Currently, terminals have been installed at Ambest, Pilot, TravelCenters of America, and Travel Ports of America truckstops.

Orbital Communications Corp., the satellite operating partner in ORBCOMM Global L.P., has received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to add 12 more satellites to its LEO (low-Earth orbiting) network. Already offering limited service, the network provides two-way wireless data communications.

The additional satellites, which will expand the network to 48 satellites, will give the company more communications capacity, as well as provide better coverage in Alaska, Northern Canada, and other northern latitudes.

FuelLogic for Windows, a new fuel-purchase optimization software package from Prophesy Transportation Software Inc., is intended to reduce the cost of fuel purchased by at least 5 cents/gal. and reduce out-of-route miles by about 2%, according to Edward J. Forman, president and CEO.

Interfacing with Prophesy Mileage and Routing software, the new system is designed to generate the optimum route for a trip, with a detailed itinerary pinpointing all possible fuel stops.

The company also introduced ShipperPlus and ShipperTPL software with Internet capability to provide real-time information on shipment status to users and their customers. Communication software modules within the system enable the customer to go to the shipper's Web site to access shipment status information without having to go through the distribution center. An on-line query process also lets customers send shipment questions via e-mail.

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