Technology to create the mobile warehouse

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George Tosh, sales and marketing director for Truckcom Systems, says: “The key for any prospective purchaser is understanding how such technology fits into their business process. The tracking genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and low cost tracking-only systems abound. The point is this, knowing where your vehicle is provides only one part of the jigsaw puzzle. Any system, to be fully effective, and hence achieve bottom line cost savings, has to cover the full panoply of related activities.”

“In the logistics and supply chain environment, particularly road haulage, the challenge of maximising return is simply measured by the revenue generated for each asset (in this case a vehicle), and the distance covered. The tradition of using pen, paper, charts & whiteboards for planning is alive and well within a proportion of haulage companies. As is the mobile phone for the ‘where are you, when are you going to get there’ call.”

MetaSystem, the European provider of vehicle technology, says that it believes that vehicle management is the key to meeting the diverse responsibilities of the supply chain director and that the solution lies in technologically advanced telematics systems like the MetaSAT TVM.

Manufactured by MetaSystem, the MetaSAT TVM uses a web-based data analysis service combined with advanced GPS and GPRS technology to put fleet managers firmly in the driving seat. Fleet managers are able to monitor distance travelled; time spent driving, time of breaks and speed – even when they are out of the office.

Exact vehicle locations can be pinpointed at the touch of a button, as the MetaSAT TVM gives the option of viewing either real time positioning of a single vehicle or a group of selected vehicles or maintaining continuous live tracking of a vehicle via detailed street level maps.

Vehicle telematics systems generate activity reports, which can be integrated into popular desktop software packages such as Excel. In this way, vehicle data can be interpreted for timesheets and reports to show inactivity time, over-speed journeys, daily travelling time and vehicle/asset use on a daily and weekly basis. The system also generates information on individual travelling time, which serves as evidence of compliance with legislation like the Working Time Directive.

MetaSystem UK managing director Mike Hemmings says: “Companies can use telematics information to develop and support a corporate health and safety policy that does not put drivers under pressure to break speed limits, exceed their working hours or travel disproportionately long distances, thereby proving they are committed to best practice in employee health and safety.”

“Meanwhile, using the data to allocate jobs, enhance response times and improve route and schedule planning, enables fleet managers to eliminate excessive overtime claims and so effect important cost savings.”

Available as a fleet management package and fleet management premium package, the MetaSAT TVM provides access to historical data along with crash event communication and downloadable data that illustrates start and stop times, exact journey routes and vehicle speed.

An accident alert and reporting feature collates data which can be used to illustrate an ‘event’ reconstruction, showing the speed of impact and a pre-crash blue print. This information can be used to recreate an accident, which may be necessary to disprove liability.

In the event of theft and unauthorised vehicle usage, the MetaSAT TVM’s emergency remote immobilisation feature enables an authorised user to immobilise the vehicle in a safe and pre-determined manner, via a remote, secure protocol. Disruption to delivery schedules is minimised, because managers are able to locate and then recover the vehicle.

“A telematics vehicle management system is a versatile solution for logistics managers who are under pressure to reduce operating costs and boost productivity to compete in a challenging marketplace, while also demonstrating that they are taking steps to protect drivers and so safeguard the company’s reputation as a responsible employer.”

TruTac, has released a digital technology module for TruControl, its application software, which it says is a standard for effective real-time driver and vehicle compliance management and performance reporting. The challenge is to combine effective analysis and reporting within 48 hours of driver duty, in a completely merged and consolidated exception reporting solution. TruControl offers just that solution and is being adopted by a growing number of existing and new customers.”

TruControl, now 100 per cent digitally compliant, is a flexible, modular application. Once the user has downloaded the data from the driver’s card, this analysis can be reviewed instantly; when merged with analogue chart information TruControl provides detailed analysis within 48 hours – reducing time to debrief from 27 days.

With double entry verification, data validation and assessment; TruControl provides advanced reporting of hours law and working time directive, thus helping hauliers to avoid major offences and reduce the risk of ministry penalties.

“A key attribute of TruControl is that it enables architectural integration of driver and vehicle movement information into middleware applications. It also uses exception reporting methods and tells you when you need to act.” TruControl’s exception reporting capability does away with hundreds of paper reports – by allowing a haulier to establish and monitor key performance indicators set for their business.

The Scania Interactor 300 on-board computer, offers services that enable optimised job order processing, while minimising the administration of driver working hours and introduces other measures that help drivers, fleet managers and transport planners reduce costs and increase productivity.

Driver communication takes place via messaging services, and drivers have access to navigation support and many business features. The Scania user interface supports both a touch screen and a regular keyboard. Vehicle information can be accessed over the Internet through the Scania Fleet Management portal on an office PC. Scania Interactor 300 is a robust on-board computer that is designed to fit into a DIN 1 compartment and has been specially developed for use in heavy vehicles.

The Scania Interactor 500 and 600 on-board computers include a rugged PC with a large colour screen. They use Windows software, GSM/GPRS telecommunications and GPS capabilities to support all Scania fleet management services. They can also host customer-specific third-party PC applications. Scania Interactor 500 and 600 both enable you to do better business with vehicles.

Driver communication is via messaging services and a hands-free phone, and drivers have access to navigation support and many business features. The Scania user interface supports both a touch screen and a regular keyboard and can also add other computer accessories, such as a printer, or Windows software. Vehicle information can be accessed over the Internet from an office PC. This gives improved control over the fleet and simplifies administration by giving a clearer picture of vehicle information such as location, routeing, status, fuel consumption and so on.

Scania has extended its range of fleet management services and products. A new GPRS-based communication concept offers secure and reliable communication at a fixed price all over Europe. The open system architecture enables integration with the customer’s existing office systems, third-party software to be installed and the same equipment to be fitted throughout a fleet of mixed brands. All on-board computers have large touch screens and are based on a common robust platform.

Carl Boccock, DHL director of fleet express for the UK and Ireland, says DHL predominately use the Trakker system for its fleet management. “We tend to use it on specific applications for high security loads and also in our container division, we’ve got the best part of 90 vehicles on the Trakker system. It’s a prerequisite that we know where the vehicle is at any given time.”

DHL doesn’t use Trakker on all of its vehicles because it is not always cost effective. Boccock says: “We have had difficulty cost-justifying GPS on our trailer network fleet. We review our situation regularly and we’ve never found one product that suits all our applications and needs.”

“If you’ve got a network operation that is multi-loading, then you can justify tracking. If you’ve got the proverbial milk round that goes and does its deliveries and comes back, you would question whether you could cost-justify it.”

Telematics service provider Cybit has won its first order for Fleetstar-Online with an integrated Driver ID module. Site Electrical, a mechanical and electrical services provider, has installed the system into its fleet of some 40 engineering vans, enabling Site Electrical to verify driver locations and driving times, as well as help enhance the company’s duty of care provision to its fleet of mobile and lone workers.

John Wisdom, Cybit’s group sales and marketing director says: “FleetStar is a scaleable internet based platform that enables secure access for customers to access the platform from something as simple as a laptop from a home.”

The system gets real-time information from Traffic Master. The information is then overlayed to FleetStar Online so that back in the office, a fleet manager can get up to date information of where trucks are and the condition of the roads.

The Driver ID solution forms a key part of Cybit’s new duty of care module, which helps fleet managers manage the risks associated with all staff on work journeys. Cybit says the duty of care module, has powerful reporting capabilities to give fleet managers all the information they need to implement work related road safety policies.

Roger Marks, managing director of telematics equipment manufacturer Aeromark, recently said that Britain’s haulage industry is largely ignoring new technology. However, Wisdom disagrees: “I think that telematics is very much on the agenda of businesses both large and small in the UK. It’s a young industry sector. Since Cybit floated back in 2001 as a concept, we now have in excess of 700 business to business customers from small businesses through to some of the UK’s largest enterprises.

T&R Phillips picks TruckcomT&R Phillips Transport has moved over to a new fleet management system from Truckcom System. Phillips provides express, full load and pallet network services, regular operations throughout Europe. Operating 45 vehicles out of two depots in South Wales, it had previously invested in technology for its business. This comprised a legacy back office system including an accounts package, and a separate vehicle tracking system. While both systems worked, the combined cost of ownership was relatively high, thus prompting an evaluation of current systems and technology. The need to integrate vehicle tracking, in-cab technology, communications and traffic planning was a major priority, as was cost. Phillips selected Truckcom after comparing a number of alternatives.

“Truckcom stood out as the only solution able to meet our requirements, it was clear it was developed by a transport company” says managing director Ian Phillips.

Minor tailoring of the system interface was required to communicate with the UK Pallets hub system, which provides direct import of pallet manifests into the traffic planning environment.

The ability to give customers visibility of delivery status is part of this service offering, as is the track and trace functionality provided through the integrated barcode system.

“Change in any business poses challenges,” says Hugh Wightwick, managing director of Truckcom. “We proposed a phased deployment approach for this client which enabled a planned system roll out, training and familiarisation period before the system went live. This approach helps manage the tailoring of the business process to the new system, mitigating any risk associated with a big bang approach. The benefits of this approach are tangible. We provide comprehensive technical and process support to every client during the early phase of deployment to ensure a successful hand over.”

Keyfuels creates online clubKeyfuels, which is part of the CH Jones group, has launched an online service called Driver’s Club.

This is an extension of the existing Keyfuels web site and enables drivers using Keyfuels or Diesel Direct cards to access interactive information.

Once registered, drivers can use the service to plan the most efficient route and upload the information onto their satellite navigation systems from their PC.

The system is designed to save both time and fuel by reducing the chances of getting lost.

Driver Club allows drivers to search for sites online, by name or postcode.

A list of Keyfuels sites can be uploaded onto the satellite navigation system.

Should drivers need more localised information while out on the road, they can request a list of the nearest sites by text message. It’s crunch time With the spring of this year being crunch time for the digital tachograph, Siemens VDO Automotive recently held a training day, giving a hands-on demonstration introducing the practical workings of its DTCO 1381 Digital Tachograph.

Siemens’ TIS-WEB tachograph data information service allows evaluation of tachograph charts via the internet. The service can be accessed anytime, anywhere and provides an overview of all relevant driver and vehicle information and data can be evaluated according to a range of different criteria. Users pay a monthly fee.

Figures released from the DVLA show that only 10,640 smartcards have been issued to drivers in the UK so far. The FTA says that drivers need to obtain driver smartcards sooner rather than later. Deputy chief executive James Hookham says: “Drivers should get smart and get a smartcard. A recent FTA survey showed that 55 per cent of UK lorry fleets would be acquiring new vehicles fitted with digital tachographs in the first twelve months of the new arrangements, and that 78 per cent of companies hire drivers and vehicles.”

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