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iTECH: Fleets Expect More from Asset-Tracking Systems

Technology Vendors Say Carrier Demands Drive Innovation

By Dan Calabrese, Contributing Writer

This story appears in the August/September issue of iTECH, published in the Aug. 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Trucking companies once were happy if an asset-tracking system could simply identify a truck’s location on a map. Today, carriers expect much more from their systems — and they expect the data the systems collect to integrate seamlessly with the carrier’s existing management systems, technology developers and fleet executives said.

Henry Popplewell, Skybitz’s senior vice president of sales, said he’s seen that shift since the Herndon, Va., company began marketing its asset-tracking services in 2002.

“For the first five or six years of Skybitz’s life, the fact that we could show [clients] location and fundamental tracking of GPS data on their trailers was perfectly fine. Now they want more data,” he said.

“They say, ‘I’ve got this GPS tracking hardware on my trailer. What else can it do for me?’ “ Popplewell said. “There’s a need and a demand for more and more sophisticated data.”

But integrating all of that data isn’t easy, said Newth Morris, president of Telogis Geobase and Telogis Route, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

“You’ve got their road management package, their transportation management package, their asset-management package, their work-order management package,”

he said, noting that, while making the various systems work together can present challenges, developers realize the importance fleets place on the data they contain. “All of this relates to the activity in the field.” he said.

“Some customers have their information integrated already into their logistics systems or fleet-management systems,” said Joe Cretella, vice president of manufacturing for reefer manufacturer ThermoKing, Minneapolis, which markets its own monitoring service, called TracKing, to fleets. “They have information that says I’m going to deliver at this time and arrive at that time, and all the information about what is going to be loaded into the truck is loaded into the system, so we have to get system integration right.”

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