NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Omnitracs announced plans to launch a unified software platform for its mobile communications systems, a move designed to provide fleets with greater flexibility during a time of rapid change for the trucking industry.
The new fleet-management platform, Omnitracs One, will unite the software capabilities of the company’s various product lines into a single, comprehensive offering for fleets of all sizes and types while supporting a variety of hardware options.
This added flexibility will allow fleets to quickly adapt to transformational changes coming to the industry in the next five to 10 years, said Omnitracs’ new CEO, Ray Greer, who cited trends such as carrier consolidation, autonomous trucking, the “Uberization” of freight, e-commerce and omnichannel strategies, as well as big data giving rise to artificial intelligence and machine learning in trucking.
“It’s my belief this industry is undergoing its greatest transformation since deregulation,” Greer said here Feb. 26 at the company’s Outlook 2018 user conference.
That change will be driven by “the rapid advancement of technology, and the fact that every cab will have a computer in it,” he said, referencing the federal mandate of electronic logging devices, which went into effect Dec. 18.
The conference served as Greer’s introduction to many of the company’s fleet customers.
Greer, who joined Omnitracs in early February, brings more than 25 years of transportation industry experience to his new role, including time in leadership roles at FedEx Corp., Ryder Logistics, Newgistics, Greatwide Logistics Services and BNSF Logistics.
He succeeded John Graham, who had led Omnitracs since its spinoff from Qualcomm Inc. in 2013.
Kevin Haugh, Omnitracs’ chief strategy and product officer, described Omnitracs One as a combination of the best features from across the company’s product lines.
The unified software platform will incorporate capabilities from Omnitracs’ core systems — its Intelligent Vehicle Gateway and Mobile Computing Platforms — as well as from products the company has added through acquisitions in recent years, including its XRS platform for smartphones and tablets and its Roadnet routing and scheduling software.
Fleets of all types will be able to tailor the unified software platform to their own operations, from irregular-route, longhaul truckload to multi-stop pickup and delivery, Greer said.
“Omnitracs One is designed to allow the convergence of the first, the middle and the last mile,” he said.
Greer said the platform also addresses the industry’s move toward greater integration of connected devices on the truck, including a growing array of sensors and onboard cameras.
Moving forward, the united software approach will enable the technology vendor to streamline product updates for all customers, rather than separately developing updates for each of the company’s individual product lines. That will enable Omnitracs to accelerate the development and deployment of new features, Greer said.
Omnitracs One also will be hardware agnostic, affording fleets greater flexibility to choose the right devices based on their needs, the company said.
Fleets will be able to use a range of hardware options, including traditional fixed-mount displays, smartphones and tablets, as well as truck manufacturers’ factory-installed telematics hardware.
“There is no one device that can rule them all,” Haugh said.
The technology vendor said it will offer Omnitracs One to fleets beginning this year. Availability and timing will depend on fleets’ individual needs.
Also at this year’s user conference, the company marked the 30th anniversary of its original satellite-based OmniTRACS tracking and mobile communications system, which pioneered the use of telematics in the trucking industry when it was introduced in 1988.
The system provided the foundation for the company, then known as Qualcomm, to expand its wireless technology and grow into a global telecommunications giant.
In 2013, Qualcomm sold its trucking technology business — which now bears the name of that original OmniTRACS system — to Vista Equity Partners for $800 million.
Greer marveled at how far the state of technology has advanced in the 30 years since Omnitracs installed its first tracking device. At that time, only 60,000 computers were connected to the internet.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “What’s interesting to me is to imagine what’s ahead in the next five or 10 [years]. The pace of acceleration is phenomenal.”
Pat Krah, vice president for technology services and information security at Schneider, also commented on the advance of technology in trucking. Schneider was the first fleet to adopt the original OmniTRACS system 30 years ago. From there, the fleet (which ranks No. 6 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America) added trailer tracking and expanded into data analytics.
“We used to just store data in our systems,” Krah said. “Now we take that data and really use it to drive insights into our business.”