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In-cab technologies discussed at AMTA convention

BANFF, Alta. - A traditional logbook is a labour-intensive, inefficient, paper-based system, that has outlived its usefulness to the trucking industry, according to Robin Doherty, the president of Ver...


BANFF, Alta. – A traditional logbook is a labour-intensive, inefficient, paper-based system, that has outlived its usefulness to the trucking industry, according to Robin Doherty, the president of Verigo Wireless Logbooks.

Doherty was one of four panel members at the Alberta Motor Transport Association convention, speaking about the latest advancements in in-cab technology.

According to Doherty, the electronic logbook has a number of advantages: it has a touch screen for easy data entry, which records changes of duty status and calculates the driving hours (taking into account all the applicable rules).

It also provides the driver with real-time results, and the system is not considered to be complex.

“It’s a real simple system for the drivers to follow,” said Doherty, who spoke about the efficiency benefits of wireless communication systems, in contrast to manual administrative methods that require a driver to: “collect, sort, file, transfer, re-enter data and scrutinize the results.”

Wireless log sheets can be scrutinized for errors and violations on each submission, and detailed audit reports are e-mailed back to the office much faster than the paper process, added Doherty. “Detailed audits are much more efficient; much more effective, and you can do it online. It can all be done online; stored online and e-mailed to the supervisor.”

Another electronic feature discussed at the AMTA in-cab seminar was electronic field ticketing. Field tickets are used for service contracts, safety forms, certification, or any other operational or financial data documented in the field or office. According to Lawrence Gordey of Betach Solutions, paper-based documents are outdated, offer a greater potential for errors and document loss, and look unprofessional when there are multiple corrections. It’s a process that inevitably suffers from multi-data storage locations, which are difficult to access and utilize, he adds.

In contrast, wireless field ticketing offer many advantages, such as: digital documentation, electronic price books, enhanced reporting features, easy access and transmission of information, secure wireless connectivity and more, said Gordey.

“It reduces cost,” he says. “It maximizes utilitization of assets. It works to retain staff. It captures proof that the job is done, and the data captured provides for realtime and historical data.”

Wireless ticketing offers reduced administration and another financial benefit, since electronic costs and revenues can be tracked and invoices can be generated much quicker, because data is collected more efficiently. “That’s going to improve cash flow,” said Gordey.

GeoTrac also had a representative on the panel, with CEO Timothy Hodge promoting the merits of satellite technology, which has the ability to track truck units in the field, whether it’s the transportation, freight forwarding, mining, or the oil and gas industry. The system offers a highspeed modem, a tracking system that is never out of coverage from the satellite modem, and instant messaging.

“E-mails are sent back to the office, with no need to key-in,” said Hodge.

GeoTrac’s system is considered to be cost-effective, because it reduces the need for satellite phones; reduces communication costs; and monitors reckless driving. According to GeoTrac, satellite tracking also increases potential for theft recovery; offers proven fleet productivity improvements; and gives dispatchers knowledge about local conditions, as well as other electronic documentation benefits.

Motorola was represented on the panel as well, and introduced “complete process improvement coverage,” an electronic integrated method of fleet management, which was presented by representative Ralph Lieberthal.

The Motorola electronic integrated method is a process of monitoring and recording all administrative activities in the vehicle, starting at the outbound depot (the system reviews manifest, records vehicle inspection details, tracks hours, and miles), according to Lieberthal.

The next step is delivery and/or pick-up at the customer site (system records OS&D, collects/records COD, obtains POD signature, communicates status, and receives next route assignment from dispatch).

The final destination is the inbound depot, and the integrated system can monitor the dock/door assignment; update trip data; update data for warehouse or distribution centre; or update any back office systems, according to Lieberthal.

In addition, the integrated system also monitors driver performance and truck maintenance requirements, and the location of fleet vehicles and trailers, he added.

The Motorola hardware is based on an on-board computer which can be complimented by a handheld device. Two-way communication is achieved though satellite, terrestrial and or Wi-fitechnology.

“The marriage of handheld devices and on-board computers is an exciting new development in our industry,” he said.


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