Qualcomm Offers New TrailerTRACS Hosting Options
March 15, 2005 Alex Woodie
Trucking companies looking to implement Qualcomm‘s wireless trailer-tracking system can let Qualcomm do the heavy lifting through a new hosting solution it announced last week. Since the new T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS system became generally available last fall, customers have been able to integrate it with their OS/400-based dispatch systems. Now Qualcomm is offering to run it on its own iSeries servers, and provide access to it over the Web.
While Qualcomm is best known for the chips and technology it develops for cellular phones, it’s also been a major player in the market for software for the trucking industry since 1989. That was the year it debuted what would become its OmniTRACS system, which allows carriers to communicate with drivers and track shipments using a cellular network. Because the biggest trucking companies use OS/400-based dispatch systems from ISVs like Innovative Computing, McLeod Software, and TMW Systems, the OS/400 server has been the target of Qualcomm Business Solutions’ development and integration efforts.
The new T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS system works with cellular and satellite GPS networks to continuously track and monitor the whereabouts and condition of trailers, regardless of whether they’re connected to a tractor. In terms of hardware, the system includes a transponder component sealed in a hardened “bubble” that mounts inconspicuously to the front of a trailer, and various monitoring devices. In terms of software, Qualcomm offers ways to integrate the system with OS/400-based dispatch management systems; other platforms are not supported with Qualcomm’s APIs, which tells you how strong the iSeries is in the trucking industry.
The untethered-trailer tracking system builds off the capabilities of Qualcomm’s first generation TrailerTRACS system, which provides trailer ID, drop-and-hook notification, location, and status information, but only when connected to an OmniTRACS system installed in the cab of a tractor. The new T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS offers these same capabilities, plus a variety of other options, including door and cargo sensor, “geofencing,” over-the-air updates, and visibility of assets and loads, whether or not a trailer is connected to a tractor.
Users can access the information via their OS/400-based dispatch management system, or via the Web, if they choose to let Qualcomm host the application on its iSeries servers located in data centers in San Diego and Las Vegas. When Qualcomm hosts the system and the customer accesses it over the Web, the customer gains capabilities such as mapping of positions, geofences, and event locations. Otherwise, the capabilities are the same.
Qualcomm started development of its T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS system more than six years ago. At that time, the big driver for the development of the system was the problem of theft and the multi-billion-dollar losses affecting carriers, shippers, and their insurance companies every year.
Since 9/11, security has become an even bigger concern, and Qualcomm and its partner, San Diego-based defense contractor SAIC, have accelerated testing and deployment. About 18 months ago, the federal government authorized field-testing of the T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS system. The testing was completed early last fall and the system became commercially available in October.
One of the first carriers to sign up for the T2 system was Cargo Transporters, a national truckload carrier specializing in dry van freight. Last week, Qualcomm announced that the Claremont, North Carolina, company signed an agreement to install T2 systems on 1,000 of its trailers. “By installing the T2 solution on our fleet of trailers, we are now able to detect when cargo is loaded or unloaded, which helps us to minimize trailer idle time,” said John Pope, CEO of Cargo Transporters.
The biggest current T2 roll-out may be with Schneider National. Last fall, Qualcomm announced that the Green Bay, Wisconsin, trucking outfit planed to install the Untethered TrailerTRACS system on its entire fleet of 48,000 trailers. In its 16-year history, Qualcomm’s Wireless Business Solutions unit has shipped more than half a million tracking systems.
While carriers stand to benefit the most with untethered-trailer tracking, third-party shippers and drivers also benefit, as well. In addition to providing better security, trailer tracking provides shippers increased visibility to freight at each point along the supply chain, helping them improve planning and forecasting, the company says. And drivers benefit because it virtually eliminates the need for them to manually search trailers.
Wireless coverage for the T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS system is available for the NAFTA region, which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For more information on the system, click here.