Keeping track of beer and liquor

March 1, 2004
Founded in 1933 as the shadow of Prohibition receded, Western Distribution Company, a liquor wholesaler in Denver, Colorado, began hauling high value

Founded in 1933 as the shadow of Prohibition receded, Western Distribution Company, a liquor wholesaler in Denver, Colorado, began hauling high value loads from the start. Today, Western not only hauls liquor inbound for its own distributing business, it hauls beer outbound for Coors Brewery in nearby Golden, Colorado. The fleet of 178 tractors and 271 trailers operates as Western Distributing Transportation Corporation, founded in 1977 as a division of the parent beer, wine, and liquor distributor.

Western Distributing runs from terminals in Denver and in Grand Island, Nebraska, to 48 states as a carrier of refrigerated truckload freight for a wide range of shippers and receivers. Although beer and liquor now make up only a small percentage of company freight, those products must be monitored carefully, because they carry such a high value. To accomplish this task, Western Distributing has equipped the entire fleet with MobileMax multi-mode wireless communication and tracking capability from Aether Systems Inc in Owings Mills, Maryland.

MobileMax operates with land-based or satellite communication, depending on which is the most effective at the time. The system switches between communication modes to ensure constant, cost-efficient coverage without any action by the driver or by headquarters administrative personnel. In addition to providing communication between drivers and dispatchers, MobileMax provides GPS location reports and provides data on state line crossings. The system can also provide remote monitoring of vehicle fault codes and driver performance.

Western Distributing made the MobileMax choice after a review of several communication systems and picked it because of the multi-mode capability, says Dino Guadagni, vice-president. The company had previously been using a system with only satellite capability and found that tall buildings with reflective glass walls sometimes blocked the communication signal. The land-based communication mode eliminates this potential problem, while the satellite system provides thorough coverage across remote portions of Utah and Nevada, he says. The use of multi-mode communication is projected to cut total remote communication costs by almost one-half while increasing company awareness of fleet location and utilization.

In addition to dispatch communication and vehicle tracking, Western Distributing makes use of other advanced monitoring capability, including Aether's ADV Monitor that provides real-time information on vehicle and driver performance. This system also transmits vehicle fault codes in the event of a malfunction and it records state line crossings. Another Aether product known as Proximity Alert automatically notifies the company of critical load arrival and departure information.

For more information on productivity tools from Aether, visit For a history and overview of Western Distributing, take a look at

About the Author

Gary Macklin

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