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An eye in the Prairie sky

REGINA, Sask. - Up until a few months ago, if Garett Teriann's major customers wanted to know where his drivers were, they would have to phone his trucking company, the company would have to contact i...


FEEDBACK: Global Positioning Systems find loads anywhere. (File photo)
FEEDBACK: Global Positioning Systems find loads anywhere. (File photo)

REGINA, Sask. – Up until a few months ago, if Garett Teriann’s major customers wanted to know where his drivers were, they would have to phone his trucking company, the company would have to contact its drivers, and then relay that information back to the customers.

Now they no longer have to go through that process. Customers simply dial up an Internet site, provide a user name and ID number, and they are able to locate their shipments immediately. They can even E-mail the driver if they wish.

It’s all thanks to a new device called LoadTrack, which uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and the Internet to track and communicate with vehicles.

“This device helps me build a good relationship with my customers,” says Teriann, co-owner of Rockport Carrier in Moose Jaw, Sask. “Come Monday morning and they are wondering where the trucks are, they simply have to log onto the Internet and find their trucks.” He now has LoadTrak installed in 25 units.

The LoadTrak system has its origins with a Montreal software developer called Geocom. It built the essentials of the service and then approached SaskTel to purchase the software rights.

LoadTrak is now available at dealerships in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton.

Although all of these dealerships are in Saskatchewan, these companies sell the product nation-wide.

Paul Gillard, LoadTrak marketing manager for SaskTel, says trucking companies that purchase the device receive hardware attachments to their vehicle and an interface that is similar to a laptop computer.

Trucking companies that have long-haul drivers purchase units that feature satellite communications devices, and these devices are installed in the truck and keep track of its movements through GPS. For companies that conduct most of their business in a smaller area, such as a courier company, technology similar to that used by cellular phones is installed.

Kevin McKay of I.COMM, a Moose Jaw company that distributes LoadTrack, says the installation usually takes about three hours. Sometimes the company performs the installation at the customer’s facility, while at other times the installation is made at I.COMM.

Many installations have been with dedicated “dumb terminals”, which basically look like laptop computers but are only used with this software. However, vehicles with existing laptops can use those computers.

“Once the software and hardware have been installed, it is very easy to use,” says McKay. “We usually spend about a half-hour with the driver and ensure that he knows and understands the system. While we are installing the system, we usually work with the dispatchers and train them during that period.”

Gillard says there are two main benefits for LoadTrak users. The first is that it allows dispatchers to keep better track of their vehicles.

LoadTrak monitors the vehicle’s location and relays that information to the dispatcher. The driver and dispatcher can then E-mail each other, which is less expensive than using cellular phones.

“Our strategy is not to sell to large companies since they can afford dedicated systems with their own computer staff. However, smaller companies don’t want that kind of equipment; they just want to buy the software and have it set up so they can use it,” says Gillard.

McKay says that so far the system has been popular with companies that have 70 or fewer vehicles in their fleet. n

An on-line demo of LoadTrak is available on www.load-trak.com.


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