July 15, 2016 3:29 PM, EDT

ALK Aims to Enhance Precision of Truck Routing

Popkin, Kornhauser
PHILADELPHIA — ALK Technologies is working to enhance its truck routing and navigation software to enable increasingly precise trip planning, company executives said here during the firm’s annual ALK Transportation Technology Summit.

By synthesizing in-cab navigation with planning software that “considers just about every aspect of a trip,” ALK will be able to provide more accurate travel-time forecasts and proactive notification of delivery risks, said Dan Popkin, senior vice president of enterprise solutions.

That information will help fleets respond to disruptions as they occur in real time rather than after the fact, he said.

At the same time, the Princeton, New Jersey-based firm is prioritizing tools that help carriers achieve regulatory compliance, such as the hours-of-service route-planning functionality launched last year in PC Miler 29.

That feature indicates where along the route a driver must stop for a break based on available driving hours.

ALK plans to expand that functionality to support more rules, said Popkin, who noted that HOS topped the American Transportation Research Institute’s survey of trucking’s most critical issues in 2015 for a third straight year.

Meanwhile, ALK is also working on new ways to manage yard moves within its software.

Popkin said the firm is developing capabilities that would enable customers to define yards as polygons on maps for visualization, define entry and exit points for routing and navigation, as well as create text notes to automatically display key information to drivers upon entry or exit.

The company is also looking to add capabilities that would enable its routing software to consider the side of the street when arriving at a destination or sequencing multiple stops. Popkin said this addition would be an obvious fit for sectors such as waste collection, but could also apply to some less-than-truckload and multi-drop operations.

In addition, ALK continues to update its truck-specific map data, which Popkin described as “the foundation of every product we bring to market.”

Initiatives are underway to update the company’s map data county by county, add truck restrictions and update its database on truck speed limits and toll costs.

Michael Kornhauser, ALK’s executive vice president and general manager, said the company has been able to accelerate the growth of its workforce and product development efforts since the firm’s acquisition by Trimble Navigation on the final day of 2012.

He said the company has expanded to about 250 employees, from about 150 before the acquisition.

Kornhauser also pointed to the upcoming federal electronic logging mandate as an opportunity for the industry to expand its use of truck-specific navigation. Many electronic logging devices are capable of running turn-by-turn navigation software such as ALK CoPilot in addition to hours-of-service software.

Under the federal ELD rule, nearly all drivers currently required to keep paper logs will need to transition to e-logs by December 2017.

While some new adopters of ELDs will opt for more basic products, others will go “from zero to 60” quite quickly and adopt additional software, Kornhauser predicted.