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10/18/2011 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

iTECH: Fleets Boost Spending on Technology Upgrades

By Greg Johnson, Staff Reporter

This article appears in the October/November 2011 issue of iTECH, published in the Oct. 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

With freight and revenue rebounding, some motor carrier executives are dusting off their checkbooks and making significant information technology purchases, fleet and technology company officials have said.

“Since the economic downturn in 2008, I have not spent much money, but I am definitely doing some spending on technology this year,” said Robert Ragan, senior vice president of finance at Tulsa, Okla., flatbed carrier Melton Truck Lines Inc.

Ragan said his company is buying several new T660 tractors from Kenworth Truck Co. and is spending $600,000 to outfit them with MCP200 in-cab computers made by San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc.

While during the recent recession smaller fleets put off making technology purchases, now they are making the investments they need, said Brian McLaughlin, chief operating officer for PeopleNet Communications Corp., the Minnetonka, Minn., provider of motor carrier onboard computing and mobile communications systems.

 “I think what we’re seeing is more freight moving and revenue starting to come back,” McLaughlin said.

Adam Kahn, product marketing director of Qualcomm’s Enterprise Services division, said he believes that increased access to data, high fuel prices and hedging against the questionable economy are all factors that have compelled an uptick in business for his company.

“Over the past 24 months, Qualcomm has seen tremendous IT spending from both our existing customers and traditional late-adopters within the trucking industry,” Kahn said.

Monica Truelsch, a spokeswoman for software maker TMW Systems, Beachwood, Ohio, agreed.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in user and asset-based licenses from our existing customer base that indicates they are growing and adding trucks, activating drivers,” she said. “There is definitely expansion in capacity going on in our existing customer base.”

That growth has produced a corresponding increase in demand for trailer tracking, said Craig Montgomery, senior vice president of marketing for SkyBitz Inc., a Sterling, Va., supplier of devices to track truck trailers, intermodal containers and railcars.

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