Off The Wire

Aug. 1, 1998
Qualcomm investing in software again After selling off a number of its fleet-management software products last year, Qualcomm Inc. has recently purchased a software development company that specializes in wireless fleet management systems. In addition, the company has acquired intellectual property rights to a paperless log system developed by truckload carrier Werner Enterprises.The acquired company,

Qualcomm investing in software again After selling off a number of its fleet-management software products last year, Qualcomm Inc. has recently purchased a software development company that specializes in wireless fleet management systems. In addition, the company has acquired intellectual property rights to a paperless log system developed by truckload carrier Werner Enterprises.

The acquired company, NAVTEK Corp., had been one of the original suppliers of fleet management software for Qualcomm competitor American Mobile Satellite Corp., which through its own recent acquisitions has now moved most of that development work in-house. It has also developed a sophisticated mapping engine for the Windows 95/NT platform.

NAVTEK 's new role will be development of advanced software products for the OmniTRACS system, according to a Qualcomm spokesperson. Integrating its mapping engine with current OmniTRACS software is expected to be one of its first projects. The former NAVTEK operation will remain in its Washington, D.C., offices, and its founder, Tony Ioannidis, will serve as director of product development for OmniTRACS.

Earlier this summer, Werner received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to use its homegrown paperless log system as part of a two-year pilot project. The system uses data collected and transmitted over OmniTRACS to automatically record driver hours-of-service information.

The log program is designed to work with Werner's proprietary dispatch system and cannot be used by other carriers in its present form. However, Qualcomm has purchased the rights to the log system for possible development as a commercial product. Werner has retained the right to continue developing the system for internal use.

Weighing in at just over 8 oz., Fujitsu's new TeamPad 7100 is the smallest and lightest computer in its class, according to the company. It may be pocket-sized, but the new computer features an integrated bar-code scanner and a large, high-resolution, monochrome touchscreen display that supports signature capture, all packaged in a ruggedized housing. The unit also offers radio frequency communications and an IrDA interface.

Scanner buttons and keypad are at the top of the 7100 to make one-handed operation easier for both right- and left-handed users.

"Whether a company is looking for dynamic routing, instant freight information, or automating the back end of the supply chain, the TeamPad 7100 cost-effectively puts information in the hands of the people who need it most," observes Ron Omohundro, senior vp of Fujitsu-ICL Global Products.

Available this month at a list price of $1,895 for a single unit, the 7100 has a 32 MHz processor capable of running MS-DOS along with industry-standard pen-based operating environments such as PenRight. A full range of peripherals are also available, including a communications interface, docking station, vehicle mount and vehicle charger.

Roadnet Beverage Suite includes strategic planning, daily delivery management, and load planning modules customized for beverage distribution fleets. Roadnet Technologies says that over 40% of its customers are beverage distributors.

Carriers and shippers can trade shipment status information over the World Wide Web using AlaMode Track-n-Trace from Analysis Inc. Accessed through a fleet's Web site, the program is said to help small- and medium-sized carriers automate shipment notification and location services. It supports shipper searches by pro number, shipper bill of lading or order number, date, customer, and status.

Qualcomm Inc. will begin field testing its OmniTRACS two-way mobile satellite communications system in China later this year. Under an agreement with Guangdong South Satellite Telecommunications Service Co., Qualcomm will begin commercial deployment of the wireless system for transportation once the trial is completed.

Remote Asset Visibility (RAV) is a mobile asset management system combining wireless vehicle tracking with Internet access to fleet information and reports. Developed by Raytheon TI Systems Inc., it is designed for fleets of 500 or more vehicles in construction, utility, and other vocational applications, as well as over-the-road operations.

RAV's vehicle hardware combines a GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver with a cellular modem for wireless communications over standard analog cellular telephone systems. The unit features a rechargeable battery backup for untethered trailer operations and has eight inputs for remote sensors and links to other vehicle systems such as engine-hour monitors.

Vehicle location information is collected by Raytheon's operational data center. Using a dial-up Internet connection and a standard Web browser, fleets can track vehicle movements, generate management reports, and choose from a menu of other asset management functions. Access to the data, or portions of it, can be controlled by the fleet through use of passwords. No software other than the browser need be loaded on the fleet's computer system, which Raytheon says allows easy installation of the RAV system and simplifies system software upgrades.

Price for the vehicle hardware will be around $550 per unit, depending on quantities, the company says. The basic service charge, including cellular service, will be about $10/mo. with one positioning report a day. Commercial availability is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

A Web browser interface and the ability to run on most computer platforms are among the major new features for UltraYARD Version 2.0, an integrated yard and dock management system from Randtec Inc.

The software package provides a full range of tools for managing a distribution center, including trailer and freight tracking throughout the loading and unloading stages, automated trailer inventory records, inbound and outbound shipment scheduling, and management of all trailer moves within the center. It also includes interfaces for RFID tag readers, handheld terminals, and a variety of wireless communications options.

Version 2.0 is written entirely in Java, enabling it to run on Windows, Unix, AS/400, and other computer platforms without modification. By using a standard Web browser interface, the system can provide easy access for widely distributed users over a corporate intranet or other TCP/IP network. The new version is also fully ODBC compliant for use with standard database management systems such as Microsoft Access, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and others.

Intermec Technologies Corp.'s parent company, UNOVA Inc., recently announced the acquisition of Amtech Corp.'s Transportation Systems Group (TSG). The Amtech unit is responsible for the company's radio frequency identification (RFID) business, which generated about $52 million in 1997.

Amtech will remain in Dallas and operate as a division of UNOVA's Intermec Technologies operation, according to UNOVA. All TSG employees are expected to continue with the new owner.

The SABRE Group has agreed to make IBM's AS/400 the computer platform of choice for Trucom, its truckload fleet management system. Under an agreement announced at the Information Technology Council Exhibition, SABRE will also act as a reseller for the IBM server.

Microsoft has awarded TMW Systems' PowerSuite its Retail Application Developer (RAD) Award for the route scheduling category. The award recognizes companies that create innovative applications demonstrating tangible business benefits, ease of adoption, and best use of Internet/ intranet capabilities. PowerSuite is a client/ server product designed for managing mid- to large-size fleets.

Summary Systems Inc. has released its new generation of on-board computers. The Fleet Commander II features a touchscreen, GPS receiver, cellular modem, and a printer.

A patent that covers low-cost data transmission over the standard cellular telephone system has been granted to HighwayMaster Communications Inc. The patent involves sending data over the control channel instead of the separate voice channel used in analog cellular service.

The company also jointly holds patents on a similar data-transmission technology called Cellemetry. Together, the patents represent the "only two practical ways data transmission can occur from an ordinary analog cellular pone without opening a voice channel," according to Ken Westerlage, senior vp-engineering and development.

However, a second company, Aeris Communications Inc., has a patent pending with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office that also covers data transmission over that control channel. Aeris is currently working with Qualcomm Inc. on an untethered trailer tracking system that would be based on that technology. At presstime, it was unclear how the Qualcomm system would be affected by the HighwayMaster patent.

The first mobile communications interface for the Prophesy fuel management and mileage software systems is now available for PeopleNet Communication's Intouch Fleet Management system.

Intouch provides two-way data messaging, voice communications, and GPS vehicle tracking using cellular service and an Internet connection to its data center.

The new interface will allow Prophesy users to send fuel stop and purchase information directly to their trucks where it can called up on the Intouch Message Display.

PeopleNet has also announced that Tektronix Inc. has invested $2 million in the company to help fund full-scale production of Intouch. Tektronix encompasses a number of color printing, video, measurement, and networking businesses with combined annual revenues of just under $2 billion.

IBM Global Services has agreed to become a value-added-reseller (VAR) of Kinetic Computer Corp.'s wireless vehicle computers, according to Kinetic. The company's wireless LAN-based products are Pentium-powered, ruggedized, vehicle-mount units with flat panel displays, including the PC/Rover Wireless Vehicle Computers and PC/Piranha Windows CE Integrated Vehicle Computer.

The PC/Rover products have been tested and WLI Forum-certified (Wireless LAN Inoperability Forum) by the XXCal labs. The certification means that products are interoperable within the same wireless networks. More than 30 multi-vendor products utilize the WLI Forum OpenAir 2.4 wireless LAN specification.

"The WLI Forum-certified marking is the only way for customers to be sure that they are not being locked into proprietary wireless products," according to Vinit Nijhawan, president.

Kinetic customers include Pepsi Food Services, GE Fanuc, and most recently American Freightways.

Sidekick from Savannah River Technologies Inc. combines GPS vehicle tracking with a data recorder and event monitor. It uses a PC Card to store and transfer collected information and can monitor up to eight sensors.

Teletrac Inc., a provider of regional vehicle tracking and fleet management services, has expanded its Bay Area services from San Francisco to Sacramento. It has also opened a new Sacramento office at 2386 Fairoaks Blvd.

SealScan from E.J. Brooks Co. includes a Windows-based software program designed to track the use of bar-coded vehicle seals. The system also provides a bar-code label printer and a hand-held scanner. Seals with bar codes are also available.

Roadway Express has begun a new proof-of-deliver (POD) service that allows shippers to retrieve and download copies of the documents through the company's Web site ( Accessible 24 hours a day, Roadway's POD Online will provide images of the documents for up to 30 days after delivery. The fleet says it is the first national LTL carrier to offer Internet access to shipping document images.

Rand McNally is rolling out a series of enhancements and additions to their popular MileMaker computerized routing and dispatch systems. The new releases are all scheduled to debut this summer, including:

* Dispatch Assistant: Designed to provide additional dispatch information with the 32-bit processing power of MileMaker 32, this new application features a rate calculator, an air distance calculator for point-to-point distance calculations, and an import-and-plot feature, which permits users to add their own data, such as warehouses, as points on MileMaker's maps. Dispatch Assistant will also give users the ability to do proximity searches to find maintenance facilities, backhauls, or trucks within a certain range of a given location, according to Rand McNally. Construction updates plus an electronic fuel book listing over 5,000 truckstops and their services are also part of the program.

* HazMat: A companion to MileMaker Dispatch, HazMat is designed to give users the option to choose either the new HHG (Household Goods Carriers' Bureau) industry standard haz-mat rating mileages or the HazMat practical route.

* Street Edition: Another companion to the MileMaker system, Street Edition was developed to provide detailed, street-level coverage for the 48 contiguous states, plus Hawaii.

The program features easy-to-use search tools, and also enables users to plot longitude/latitude coordinates from satellite positions. (GPS functions require a GPS receiver and cable.)

* AS/400 Performance Package: Taking advantage of the newer AS/400 RISC processors, process queuing and private memory pools, this new package is designed to create fast, on-demand processing of practical routes with route avoidance, toll bias and other data attributes.

* TCP/IP Client Server Architecture: Developed to allow users to deploy mileage functions and features in local and wide-area networks, this new capability enables the creation of applications to provide access to the MileMaker system located on TCP/IP compatible UNIX, AS/400, or NT servers.

The FW5000 Series II from FieldWorks Inc. is a ruggedized "field workstation" powered by a 200MHz Pentium processor. Features include a magnesium frame, a high-performance S3 video chip set,, a 1.3GB hard drive, an optional 3.2GB removable hard drive, 16 MB RAM, and either Windows 95 or Windows NT operating systems.

The company has also upgraded its FW7000 Series with the faster 200MHz processor and a larger cache, while lowering the price and expanding available memory options.

Tom McLeod Software Corp. recently announced alliances with Transport Dynamics Inc. (TDI), the National Transportation Exchange (NTE), and North American Technology Corp. (NATC). "These partnerships strengthen our offerings to our customers," notes Tom McLeod, president. All three of the new partners will be exhibiting at Tom McLeod's Users Conference on September 24-26 in Birmingham, Ala. The conference will also feature presentations by a number of industry leaders, including a keynote address by Lana Batts, president of the Truckload Carriers Assn.

A new licensing program from The Sabre Group offers any or all of its truckload software applications for a fixed, monthly per-truck fee. The program, called SmartAccess, lets carriers choose from five Sabre truckload-management applications, including load, fuel, driver-assignment, and swap optimization packages.

The company says a SmartAccess license for a 500-truck fleet would cost less than $9/mo. per truck for access to software valued at more than $375,000. The per-month fee does not include hardware, implementation, or maintenance.

The JTRACS Pro Vehicle Data Gateway allows fleets to remotely pass data to and from an engine's electronic control module (ECU) over Qualcomm Inc.'s OmniTRACS satellite communications system. The new product can handle standard diagnostic and fault codes as well as free-form data transmitted over the J1708 databus, which means it can also communicate with any electronic vehicle system plugged into that bus.

Possible uses include real-time diagnostic reporting and the ability to reprogram the ECU on the fly. It has also been designed with an open architecture for easier integration with existing dispatch and maintenance programs, according to Qualcomm.

High-tech research and consulting firm Kinetic Information gave its Information Gold Award to U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. for its deployment of the Centralized Automated Billing System (CABS) from Lanier Worldwide Inc.

Kinetic Awards are given for outstanding technology system applications in several markets, including transportation. Finalists are judged on improvement in productivity, profit, positioning or competitive standing.

U.S. Xpress replaced a previous imaging system with Lanier's ONLINE document imaging system about a year ago.

"We wanted to work with a company that could offer a comprehensive solution to alleviate the pain of paper, with the localized support a solution of this size demands," notes Norman Thomas, vp-information technology for U.S. Xpress.

The TRAKIT Fleet Management System from IDA Corp. will provide wireless two-way communications and vehicle tracking over the ORBCOMM network of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The company says that the system's software will allow fleets to track and record vehicle positions, analyze routes, and fine-tune logistics, as well as communicate with drivers and remotely collect operating data.

TRAKIT offers fleets a turn-key, plug-and-play wide-area fleet management system, according to IDA.

The newest version of RiMMS routing and scheduling software from The Lightstone Group is able to calculate large routes up to 20 times faster than earlier versions, according to the company. Designed for fleets that require fast, reliable customer response, RiMMS 3.0 allows dispatchers to respond immediately to unexpected delays or last-minute route changes.

Other new features for version 3.0 include the ability to handle true appointment scheduling and an improved interface with enhanced maps.

BellSouth Wireless Data has signed an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to develop wireless services for devices using the Windows CE operating system and applications.

Windows CE was designed specifically for handheld and other small, low-cost intelligent devices. Products already on the market include "palm-top" computers and personal digital assistants. Future plans call for extending Windows CE to specialized devices that might be used in automotive and mobile office applications.

BellSouth Wireless (formerly RAM Mobile Data) says it will join with Microsoft to market, sell, and distribute a variety of wireless-enabled Windows CE products.

Randtec Inc.'s UltraYARD yard and dock management system will be offered with off-the-shelf interfaces for electronic data interchange (EDI) over TranSettlements' Value-added Network Services. Under an agreement signed by the two companies, distribution centers using UltraYARD will be able to send and receive advanced shipment notices, shipment status reports, and other standard EDI transaction sets through the TranSettlements network.

Developed by Show-Me Software, Operations Manager is designed to provide a full range of management applications for small and mid-size fleets. The Windows 95 program includes operations, equipment, mileage, settlements, receivables, payables, and ledger applications that can be run on a standalone PC or LAN. Options include a fuel-tax module as well as interfaces for HighwayMaster mobile communications and PCMiler mileage software.

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