TRENDS AND CHANGES

Rolf Lockwood

January 2, 2008 Vol. 4, No. 1

I consider this a successful year so far. Young as it is, it’s at least being properly referred to here in this newsletter, as 2008 instead of ’07. An accomplishment, I’d say, given the carrying-on of two nights ago.

It’s also a moment to wish all of you well in what promises, for some, to be a challenging time. There will be changes in the way you go about your business, of course, changes in the products you hold dear. Some of those changes may even represent improvement.

Truth is, if you look back over the last 25 years or so, and I realize that some of you were mere toddlers that far back, you’ll see we’ve gone through truly enormous changes on the hardware front. And that long ago, for all intents and purposes, the software front didn’t even exist!

I’m reminded of that nearly incomprehensible fact because in this issue of Lockwood’s Product Watch I’ve written a short piece about a new and useful wrinkle on software emanating from Carrier Logistics in Tarrytown, N.Y. (www.carrierlogistics.com). I’ve known CLI, and vice
president Ken Weinberg in particular, for a very long time. It was more than 20 years ago — 1983 to be exact — that I headed down to Montreal to do a story on CLI’s installation of its Routronic automated dispatch system at GTL, a long-lost LTL carrier that was once a major player on the trucking scene in central Canada. I believe it was the first such system in the country, and I thought it was so cool – indeed, it was revolutionary – that I made it my cover
story that month. In fact, CLI has been around for more than 35 years, and now offers its consulting services and freight management software systems in Australia and the UK. as well
as North America.

To call the latest CLI product a ‘wrinkle’ is to understate things a little. Its new ‘FACTS-ondemand’ is a web-based subscription version of the company’s FACTS freight
management system. That means these capabilities: P&D routing and dispatching, interactive web tools, freight billing, integrated accounting, claims, dispatch and equipment control, auto-rating of bills, interline payables, and management reporting.

The idea is to make such capability easily accessible to smaller carriers that need the computing power but can’t afford or can’t justify the significant upfront cost of purchasing an IT system, nor the cost of running an IT department. Essentially, you get an IT department that’s
always at work and always ‘staffed’ by reliable pros, but you don’t get the HR headaches, and you have a system that you don’t need to remember to back up!

Weinberg tells me that while small carriers were the original target, larger fleets are now wondering about using this web-based service as a means of ‘outsourcing’ their IT function the same way many have outsourced maintenance. It may be a bigger leap, because you wouldn’t be containing all your critical information in your own house, but it may also make sense for many operations. British outfits lead the way in seeing this opportunity, Weinberg says.

THAT MAY SOON CONSTITUTE A SOFTWARE TREND, but there’s also a big out-and-out change on the nuts-and-bolts horizon. After eight months of discussions, General Motors has
agreed to sell its medium-duty truck division to Navistar International, which maintains North American market leadership in class 5 to 7 trucks.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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