BECAUSE an inefficient fleet maintenance operation can quickly gobble up profits, competent managers are always on the lookout for ways to improve the department. A growing number of suppliers are providing maintenance-related services.
Among the services offered are parts ordering, maintenance management programs, and oil and other fluids analysis.
The advantage of many of these services is the speed with which they can be utilized, particularly in parts ordering and fluids analysis. Ordering parts on the Internet may enable a company to reduce inventory if service is prompt.
At the same time, customers will find that long-time suppliers are likely to be on line, which means they can continue an established relationship. If the supplier isn't yet on line, it's very likely the service will be coming in the near future as more companies realize the potential of the Internet.
Another advantage of the site is the opportunity to conduct comparison shopping without having to make a telephone call. In addition, many web sites today have links to related industry sites that managers can use. Following are just a few maintenance-related sites that service personnel will find useful.
Global Technovations Inc, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, has launched its MotorCheck On-Site Analyzer service for Internet use. Customers can purchase a mail-in oil analysis kit. The results will be e-mailed or posted on the site within 24 hours.
The analysis kit contains a syringe and tube to extract the sample via the vehicle dip stick, a storage bottle, instructions for obtaining the sample, a questionnaire for information about the vehicle, and a prepaid mailer to return the sample to Global Technovations for processing.
Oil samples typically contain information about contaminants, engine wear, coolant leaks, and transmission faults, according to the site information.
Arsenault Associates, Atco, New Jersey, and Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, Houston, Texas, have combined forces to offer a program that allows fleet software to run over the Internet. Information about the program can be found on the above web sites.
Managers can use the program to organize preventive maintenance scheduling, warranty tracking, and automated parts inventory.
Pennzoil began placing Arsenault-developed software with qualifying fleets in July 1999. The new online version was announced in December 2000 and can be run from any computer with Internet access. A Web browser and a dial-up account through an Internet service provider are all that is required, according to Pennzoil information.
With this service, a fleet maintenance manager can be up and running in a matter of days. Since there is no internal technology to install or support, no technical staffing is required.
Polaris Laboratories LLC, Greenwood, Indiana, has added a new online service to provide oil analysis data in real time as samples are completed by the laboratory.
Polaris Laboratories provides analysis programs to industries using lubricants, coolants, fuels, and water-based fluids.
Customers can elect to receive notification via electronic paging around the clock if any fluid samples indicate a need for immediate maintenance. The e-mail provides specific maintenance recommendations with additional information available on the site.
Reports can be viewed on line in a standard data format or in several different graphic modes. Reports in either standard data format or color graphs can be downloaded to a customer's printer without special software.
Online purchase of namebrand truck parts is available from PartsSystems of Vancouver, Washington. Among the site's pages are about 40 truck part categories, ranging from clamps and adhesives to LED (light-emitting diode) lights. Buyers can shop by parts manufacturer, rather than by category.
As parts are ordered, they are packaged and shipped the same day, according to PartsSystems information.
Transactions are made with the use of a credit card, cash on delivery, or a fleet's credit account.
Although it is not necessary to register with PartsSystems, it is beneficial. When a fleet is registered, purchase and shipping preferences are stored so that parts reordering can be simplified.
The web site also provides links to OEM (original equipment manufacturers) web sites.
Safe Shop Tools, Missoula, Montana, features information on the company's line of heavy-duty tools. For ordering via the Internet, the site links to the Myers Tire Supply web site, www.myerstiresupply.com.
Among Safe Shop Tool products are portable stud changers, tire and wheel caddies, hub and drum tools, and tire steps.
Linking to the Myers site allows customers to make online purchases, which are shipped from the nearest of 43 Myers locations nationwide. Purchases can be made with a credit card, and established Myers customers can simply complete an online purchase order.
ShipChem Furnishes Logistics Programs For Three Dotcom Chemical Exchanges ShipChem Inc of Atlanta, Georgia, a provider of logistics management solutions for chemical and plastics companies, has announced it will furnish services to eGlobalChem.com, Chemlocator.com, and ChemDeals.com.
The agreements with the chemical exchanges strengthen ShipChem's position in providing shipping and logistics solutions designed to optimize the supply chain, according to information from ShipChem.
ShipChem's e-logistics solution includes fulfillment tracking and tracing. It will enable the three companies' customers to keep up with orders from the time products are shipped through final delivery.
"ShipChem is pleased to be selected as the exclusive logistics provider for eGlobalChem.com, Chemlocator.com, and ChemDeals.com," said Mark Kaiser, chief executive officer of ShipChem. "As ShipChem builds its manufacturing base, the exchanges become important vehicles for expanding our network and enabling us to reach a wider range of global customers with an e-logistics solution that saves time and money throughout the supply chain."
eGlobalChem, Marlborough, Massachusetts, will launch a Web portal next month that will provide B2B e-commerce solutions for the specialty chemicals industry. The information online will be available in five languages, including English, Japanese, German, Spanish, and Chinese, according to the information.
ChemDeals.com, Falmouth, Massachusetts, is an online trading system for the chemical industry that allows buyers and sellers to trade excess chemical inventories anonymously.
Chemlocator.com, Elizabeth, New Jersey, is a worldwide electronic trade center that provides small-to-medium-sized chemical manufacturers with access to their counterparts in the global economy.
Spill Center Introduces New Web Site SPILL Center, Hudson, Massachusetts, has introduced an Internet-based support service to help companies manage unintentional releases of hazardous materials and comply with government reporting regulations. The web site, www.spillcenter.com, has been integrated with traditional services to provide Spill Center subscribers with improved efficiency and ready online access to the company's resources.
Spill Center is an environmental claims management company serving the transportation, chemical, and insurance industries. The company's site provides detailed information, including spill contingency planning, hazmat incident reporting, and other support available for transporters involved in spills.
New features on the site include: - Spill Reporting - Subscribers with password-protected access are able to report spill information 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the Spill Center staff of legal, environmental, and technical specialists. Staff members handle all required local, state, and federal regulatory reporting to help spill generators avoid fines for noncompliance with reporting requirements.
- Request Help - Visitors to the web site can request assistance or information online. Spill Center staff attend to the request, providing services required by subscribers.
- Find Contractors - Acting on requests, staff can access a database of more than 3,000 cleanup contractors throughout North America, and provide names of firms qualified to provide emergency response. A future enhancement to the site will enable subscribers to access the database themselves.
- Contingency Planning - Subscribers can submit detailed spill response and reporting instructions online to be used by Spill Center staff in creating contingency plans. These plans, custom tailored for each subscriber, are activated when spills occur. A future enhancement will enable subscribers to access their contingency plans online to review or modify them at their convenience.
- Spill Center Advisor - Subscription to an electronic newsletter, providing news, features, surveys, and other information of interest to professionals in the transportation, chemical, and insurance industries is available at the site.
- Expert Answers - "Ask The Expert" is featured at the site. Questions from web site visitors are directed to Tom Moses, Spill Center president, an environmental attorney and former toxicologist with the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Chemical and hazmat spills happen every day, everywhere," says Moses. "Being prepared to handle them quickly and properly is a spill generator's best defense to minimize or prevent personal injuries, environmental damage, and regulatory-based fines. Reporting requirements vary widely from state to state and locality to locality. We help our subscribers comply with all applicable regulations without having to wade through the regulatory maze."
Spill Center has developed proprietary automated systems to track incidents, produce standard and customized reports, and generate root cause analysis data for subscribers. The information helps managers identify conditions and trends that can be addressed within their organizations to improve safety, Moses says.
Spill Center specializes in helping spill generators control costs and limit liability arising from accidental releases of hazmat, diesel fuel, and other regulated materials. The company's expertise includes environmental/safety regulatory compliance, emergency spill response management, claims resolution, negotiation, and settlement.
Walker Updates Web Site Walker Stainless Equipment Company, New Lisbon, Wisconsin, has introduced a new web site at www.walkertransport.com. The new site is replacing the company's previous address at www.walkerstainless.com, according to Stacey Rogers, marketing coordinator.
At the new location are lists of new and used tank trailers. The pages include photographs of vehicles for sale, as well as extensive specification lists.
A service and parts section has e-mail links to service and parts sales personnel. An online ordering service will be available by the end of the first quarter 2001, Rogers says.
Links lead to Walker distributors, industry associations, trade magazines (including Modern Bulk Transporter at www.bulktransporter), vendors, and Walker company partners.
International Truck and Engine Corp has selected SPX Service Solutions to develop and supply an upgraded version of EZ-Tech, International's PC-based truck diagnostic system. The new EZ-Tech incorporates diagnostic software from International and all applicable original equipment manufacturers into one platform on a laptop computer. New features include:
- Service manuals and service procedures stored on the hard disk for ready access.
- Hot links from fault codes to take technicians directly to appropriate diagnostic procedures.
- Faster processing: 300-MHz, 6-GB removable disk drive.
EZ-Tech will feature a new wireless interface connection, eliminating the need for multiple cables.
SPX Service Solutions will distribute the new EZ-Tech hardware, roll out and integrate new OEM software as it is developed, and provide technical support to dealers.
CADEC UNVEILS CCP PROGRAM Cadec Corp has announced the Cadec Certified Providers (CCP) program for the transportation industry, which integrates third-party products with Cadec's newest Mobile Logistics Management System, Mobius TTS. The CCP program is designed to deliver complete, technically demonstrated, integrated turnkey solutions to joint customers with reduced implementation times and costs.
To be commercially released in the next few months, the Mobius TTS system was designed with an open and flexible architecture that operates on industry-standard platforms and allows the user to choose its preferred method of communication. With 18 input/outputs, four serial I/O ports, and an expandable memory to 320 MB, the system integrates with a range of hardware devices and is upgradeable.
PARTS REFERENCING ON INTERNET Peterbilt's SmartSearch, a proprietary cross-reference application previously available only to Peterbilt dealership personnel, is now accessible to everyone via the Internet. The application allows trucking professionals to identify replacement parts for trucks and trailers.
SmartSearch contains more than 1.3 million part numbers and more than 100 guides to find parts by application. SmartSearch identifies parts by application or can function as an all-makes cross-reference file. Part number information can be researched by supplier in the Supplier Index, by product in the Product Index, or by part number in the X-Ref (cross-reference for all makes of trucks). All information is updated regularly.
Once inside SmartSearch, users can access the Peterbilt dealer locator to find the nearest dealership and phone number to secure needed parts.
SAFETY COURSES ONLINE AdvanceOnline Inc has collaborated with J J Keller & Associates to develop 12 new safety courses. Each course is one to two hours in length and will be available at www.advanceonline.com. Aimed at corporate employees, these courses address safety issues such as ergonomics in the office, hazard communications, and respiratory protection.
Under terms of this partnership, J J Keller custom-developed course content for AdvanceOnline, which adapted it for online delivery. These additions complement and expand AdvanceOnline's existing catalog of online courses in occupational safety and health.
The first six courses available include: - Asbestos Awareness. - Confined Spaces. - Ergonomics in the Office. - Hazard Communications. - Hearing Conservation. - Respiratory Protection.
Courses to be released later include: - Defensive Driving. - Electrical Safety. - Fall Protection. - First Aid. - Ladder Safety. - Personal Protective Equipment.
KENWORTH OFFERS REAL-TIME REPAIR UPDATES To support Kenworth's PremierCare roadside assistance customer center, the company has introduced a new vehicle breakdown tracking service available via a password-protected web site. "This new service allows customers to view - in real-time - the status of any breakdown managed by our customer center," said Dick Von Lehman, customer center program manager.
Once on-line, customers receive a full status report on vehicles currently receiving service through the customer center. The report also provides historical information so fleet managers can review breakdown histories.
"By clicking on an `open' job, customers can see details of all the conversations logged by our customer support agents, including estimated time of completion," said Von Lehman.
Drivers who experience a breakdown on the road can dial 800-KW-ASSIST to receive personal assistance to get them back up and running. The customer center is staffed by trained professionals available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Kenworth PremierCare program registration is free. Truck owners may register their vehicles at their local Kenworth dealer or by calling 800-KW-ASSIST. Electronic registration is also available by going to www.kenworth.com.
The customer center database also can track the owner's preferences for everything from repair payment to tires. Plus, maintenance can be scheduled anywhere in North America by phoning the toll-free number.
PNV FILES FOR CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY PNV Inc, which provides communications services to truckers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bob May, president and chief executive officer of PNV, said the filing was organized to allow normal operations of the firm's communications, entertainment, and Internet services until a decision has been reached about its sale.
Casey Gunnell recently was named chief operating officer, a job he will hold in conjunction with his chief financial officer position. At that time, the company stated in a quarterly report that it would not meet its capital needs beyond February 2001 without additional financing. NASDAQ announced recently that trading of PNV stock has been halted.
TMW INTERFACES WITH TERION TMW Systems Inc has made available an integrated interface to the affordable new mobile communications system of Terion Inc. The interface works through the TMW TotalMail complete communications package for its PowerSuite and TL200O dispatch systems and through a conventional interface with its DOS-based system.
The Terion product uses a new type of technology called digital HF (high frequency). With this technology, transmissions from the truck are bounced off the iono-sphere and returned to Earth to be received by one of Terion's eight sites across the United States. Messages are automatically routed to Terion's network operations center, then downloaded directly into the trucking company's TMW dispatch system, where the dispatcher is notified immediately.
PROPHESY LINKS FUNCTIONS Prophesy Transportation Solutions has integrated two of its software solutions: Dispatch and Accounting, and FuelLogic. Integration of the products allows users to harness the power of Dispatch and Accounting in conjunction with all the capabilities of FuelLogic fuel optimization software. FuelLogic can save trucking companies up to $8,000 per truck per year on fuel purchases.
The solution is scalable, so that companies of all sizes can be accommodated.
Fuel management is the latest component to be added to the already-integrated functions of Prophesy's Enterprise Dispatch System, which includes dispatch, accounting, mileage and routing, and fuel tax solutions.
ARCLOGISTICS ROUTE 2 SHIPPING ESRI has announced that ArcLogistics Route 2, a new release of its desktop routing and scheduling solution, is now shipping. ArcLogistics Route 2 includes expanded solver functionality, multiple street data extractions, improved geocoding tools, and higher-quality street data.
ArcLogistics Route 2 accommodates more routing routines by allowing users to specify route renewal points for reloading or unloading. Drivers that need to make a stop during a route benefit from this new feature because it lets them account for that stop on their original route. ArcLogistics Route 2 also allows users to decide exactly how long a route lasts, schedule lunch time within a time window, and give orders and vehicles as many specialties as they want.
ArcLogistics Route 2 includes Dynamap/Transportation, the latest street data from Geographic Data Technology Inc. Shipped in NAD83 format, Dynamap/Transportation includes node elevations and features one-way streets, physical turn restrictions, improved ramp structures, calculated speed information, and a geocodable database. ESRI has also introduced a new street data purchasing model to accommodate users' need for a larger street database.
GE CAPITAL UNVEILS PORTAL GE Capital launched a new web site, www.GETrucking.com, featuring financial and service solutions for companies' transportation needs. The new GE Trucking Solutions portal will make it faster and easier for fleet owners, managers, and operators to find the financing and services they need for their trucks, trailers, and automotive fleets.
This portal consolidates offerings of four GE Capital businesses - Penske Truck Leasing, Transport International Pool (TIP), GE Capital Commercial Equipment Financing, and GE Capital Fleet Services. This is achieved through the "Trucking Solutions Wizard," which poses a series of questions and, based on customer responses, recommends a solution and routes their request to the appropriate solution provider.
The site contains financing options with explanations that range from full-service leases, to loans or rentals. The site also offers a selection of services for trucks and trailers.
TRUCKMATE, @TRACK INTEGRATE @Track Communications Inc has completed integration of its HighwayMaster Series 5000 mobile communications system with TruckMate for Windows, a software solution designed for dispatch operations by Maddocks Systems Inc.
This new integration combines on-road capabilities of the Series 5000 with functionality of TruckMate dispatch software, enabling fleet operators to improve service, manage dispatch operations more effectively, and increase revenue miles per truck.
LOGISTICS SOFTWARE SURVEY The Council of Logistics Management has released the 2000 edition of its annual Logistics Software survey, which has been conducted for CLM by Andersen Consulting every year since 1980. This is the final year this survey will be produced by Andersen and CLM.
The survey is available on CD-ROM, which requires a Windows 95, 98, NT, or 2000 system to access detailed information on more than 1,500 software packages of interest to logistics personnel.
This survey references these four subsections: mainframe, minicomputer, microcomputer, and client/server.
The CD-ROM's search engines can be accessed by vendor, software, function, or keyword. The Software Selection Tool contains information for systems requirements, installation, and instructions for use. Cost of Logistics Software is $75 for members of CLM; $100 for nonmembers. To order, phone 630-574-0985.
VEHICLE ROUTING, MESSAGING SOFTWARE OFFERED GeoCom TMS now offers TMS Router vehicle routing software and GeoNav monitoring and messaging software in the United States. This package comes with a scalable n-tier client server architecture, mapping capabilities, and a constraint-based genetic algorithm optimization engine. The combination will remove 5% to 20% of delivery cost from a complex delivery process, says the firm.
The products offer both routing and tracking elements. GeoNav is a simple, efficient application for fleet monitoring and messaging. GeoNav users are tracking and communicating with fleets all over North and South America. TMS Router is a scalable multiple-stop constraint-based fleet scheduling, sequencing, and routing system. Users implementing TMS Router have documented up to 31% savings in delivery costs, including savings in diesel fuel, equipment, and driver costs.
FREIGHTDESK, VASTERA TEAM Vastera Inc, a provider of web-based solutions for Global Trade Management, and FreightDesk.com, a provider of Internet-based cargo management applications for international shipments, have announced an agreement designed to reduce operational costs and increase transaction management efficiencies for freight forwarders and their customers.
Under the agreement, FreightDesk will integrate Vastera's global trade management solutions with its own tracking, collaboration, and office automation capabilities, providing the international freight forwarding industry a solution to manage global shipments.
DRIVERNET JOINS PARTNERSHIP Owners of small- to mid-size fleets and professional drivers soon will have access to business information and streamlined communication capabilities, thanks to tools being developed through a partnership between DRIVERNet and PhoneOnline.com.
DRIVERNet, an e-commerce and services solution for the transportation industry, has announced a plan to deliver its current financial and technology-based services to fleets and drivers via a suite of wireless communications and messaging tools. Through a collaborative partnership with PhoneOnline.com, a wireless software development and services firm, DRIVERNet will bring wireless capabilities to transportation professionals across the United States.
PROGRAMS FOR PALM PILOT Software for the Palm Pilot handheld computer makes it easy for truck drivers to maintain complete records of on-the-road events as they occur. Two programs from Omni Communications Ltd, Sheboygan WI, now available for downloading into Palm Pilot computers, save time for truckers by simplifying paperwork and save money by accurately computing operating reports needed for success in the trucking business.
Profit Per Mile 2000 is an accounting program that compiles all information truckers need to improve operations. Fuel Manager 2000 keeps a running record of tax credits and taxes due by state and shows where to purchase fuel to minimize quarterly taxes.