Let’s get together

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Fleet management has historically encompassed a number of tools control vehicle operations from managing vehicle and driver availability to routeing and scheduling, and tracking. But these have generally been stand-alone systems unable to talk to each other.

But there is now a clear trend to bring together these technologies to provide enhanced functionality. Evidence of such thinking comes from Paragon and Isotrak, which have partnered to launch the Total Transport System (TTS) – an integrated, real-time transport planning, optimisation, execution and management tool.

TTS is a fusion of Paragon’s routeing, scheduling and resource optimisation software, with Isotrak’s real-time transport execution and management systems.

Will Salter, managing director of Paragon points out that this can enable users to replan delivery schedules in real time to meet changing conditions out on the road.

For example, at the start of the day, vehicles start out on their deliveries using a schedule produced in Paragon. Progress is monitored through Isotrak and if a major problem arises, then all the information can be fed back into Paragon to produce a new schedule. This can then be transmitted to the vehicles using Isotrak.

Salter says TTS is a complete, end-to-end solution aimed at medium and large logistics operations. “It succeeds where previous similar attempts by other providers have failed, thanks to an extraordinarily tight degree of integration between optimisation and execution components. This is achieved by providing TTS as a tightly managed hosted service, with Paragon and Isotrak software running in parallel on high-end server hardware.

The system is currently being trialled with a couple of large fleets, one of which is now moving from trial to full-time operation. Salter says the system is aimed at distribution centre based fleets of 100 vehicles or more, where there are multiple trips per driver per day, and multi-shifted vehicles. Customers are likely to include large retail-store delivery fleets plus related 3PLs and inbound goods suppliers. TTS is also suitable for other DC based fleets of similar scale, where a single hosted solution is needed. TTS handles both operational (new routes every day) and fixed-route scheduling.

In another collaboration, vehicle tracking technology has been combined with fleet management software to provide a seamless information system. Vehicle tracking specialist Navman Wireless and IT developer HaulTech have joined forces to optimise fleet efficiencies.

The HT Traffic System allows companies to book and manage jobs electronically, plan and consolidate loads, allocate resources, and analyse real time tracking data within one single interface through integration with Navman Wireless technology.

And BT and NetDespatch have got together to launch a mobile application for use by delivery drivers, couriers and other mobile workers. It provides a wireless data communication link between remote workers and those in the office, offering live access to the full range of NetDespatch hosted applications.

The advent of digital tachographs in May last year opened the way to giving fleet managers detailed tachograph information which could then be used in the fleet management system. One of the most successful systems for downloading data has been developed by Road Tech Computer Systems. Tachomaster is low cost, and makes digital tachographs easy to read. The driver’s card is placed in a reader and the software takes care of the rest. Vehicle data can also be uploaded to the system too. Once tachograph information has been loaded, Tachomaster analyses the data and produces reports including driver and vehicle utilisation and infringement reporting.

Chevin Fleet Solutions has extended its browser-based fleet management software, FleetWave, to enable vehicle drivers to access their organisations’ fleet management system in real time, using smart-phones or PDAs running Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. This now supports the ability for a driver to carry out daily driver inspection checks using the PDA, with real-time visibility for the transport manager showing which vehicles have or have not been inspected.

TallyGenicom has introduced its MIP480 mobile printer, providing a flexible solution to serve such industries as delivery and emergency services. The printer can also integrate with the technology already available in the truck’s cabin through the IEEE 802.11 wireless connectivity. It points out that producing a delivery note at point of delivery speeds processes, facilitates correct invoicing and eliminates errors. A wide format multi-copy printer produces the correct delivery note after a PDA or lap top device has updated the system automatically via GPS. Signature of the amended document is then accepted as a proof of delivery.

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