Rand McNally Keeps Truckers On the Go and In the Know
January 6, 2009 Alex Woodie
Rand McNally is best known for the maps used by millions of Americans each year–you might even have a tattered old road atlas stashed in your car. But the Skokie, Illinois, company is also a software developer, and its digital products are used by some of the biggest trucking fleets in the country. Recently, Rand McNally issued new releases of its i OS-supported IntelliRoute and MileMarker suites that help truckers get to their locations using the fastest, most fuel-efficient routes.
Rand McNally’s Commercial Transportation division has been providing North American truckers with maps and other road information since 1936. Its Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas–which contains detailed information concerning mileages, low bridges, construction zones, and scales–is still considered the truckers’ bible among those who drive this continent’s highways and byways for a living.
But the biggest trucking fleets (and many of the mid size ones too) have long been computerized, relegating paper-based sources to more of a backup or quick reference role, rather than a primary routing source. In many trucking outfits, enterprise-level dispatching applications running on IBM System i servers from vendors like Ayers Rock Software, Innovative Computing, McLeod, and TMW Systems handle the grunt work of assigning loads, preparing paperwork, and communicating with truckers.
Many of these dispatching systems work with third-party routing products, such as Rand McNally’s IntelliRoute truck routing software, which runs on i OS in addition to Windows, Unix, and z/OS platforms. Rand McNally also sells an older product, MileMarker–which was first introduced way back in 1980–to calculate so-called household goods, or HHG, mileages between points. But the Java-based IntelliRoute is the more modern, feature-rich option that’s the best fit for most trucking outfits today.
In addition to the basic HHG functionality of MileMarker, IntelliRoute includes several other capabilities, including Dock2Dock, a new module released last September. The Dock2Dock database gives truckers specific road restrictions for nearly 7 million miles across the continent. It tells them where trucks can and can’t go, based on the height or weight of a truck, the number of trailers, truck-specific speed limits, and hazardous materials restrictions. It also includes various routing choices, such as by shortest distance or lowest cost.
The company also offers IntelliRoute Fuel, which gives truckers daily fuel pricing updates. This module includes tools that help trucking outfits plan their routes based on the price and location of fuel, which has the potential to save thousands of dollars per year for each truck. Some of the functionality of this module requires an account with www.fueladvice.com, which is now owned by TMW Systems.
Other IntelliRoute modules provide details on lane rates and tolls. The IntelliRoute Lane Rates database automatically calculates lane rates and surcharges for specific stretches of highway, and determines the most affordable lanes based on 12 million actual freight bills. IntelliRoute Tolls, meanwhile, calculates tolls for truckers, and also finds weigh stations and rest stops.
At the end of 2008, Rand McNally issued 918,000 updates to its IntelliRoute and MileMarker products, reflecting the latest changes to North American roads. One of the biggest changes concerns new routing information for loads that are 48 feet or less.
Previously, the software routed trucks based on the standard 53-foot trailer size. But 48-foot trailers have a smaller turning radius, enabling the vehicles to access more roads. Opening up these roads in the IntelliRoute software should have a big fuel-saving impact on companies with sizable investments in 48-foot trailers, such as tanker trucks.
“Because tank truck carriers are shorter than the truck-load carrier standard of 53 feet in length, we require a truck-legal route for a shorter length trailer,” says John Conley, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers association. “Rand McNally responded to our unique needs, allowing us to take advantage of additional roads in our routing. Providing for the 48-foot or less configuration option will contribute to more realistic route planning and billing.”
The other major announcement is support for street-level routing in Mexico. Rand McNally’s cartographers and GIS (geographical information system) experts worked with NAVTEQ, a provider of digital map data, to uncover detailed road information for cities and inter-neighborhood streets in Mexico, thereby enabling truckers to venture more places south of the border without fear of having to turn around and waste precious fuel or deal with fines for late delivery.
Rand McNally is the first routing software developer to support street-level routing in Mexico, says Donna Koppensteiner, vice president of the enterprise division for Rand McNally. “Being the first to supply carriers and shippers with Mexican street-level data is one more way for us to help them maximize fuel efficiency and reduce costs,” she says.
2008 updates for IntelliRoute and MileMarker are available now for Windows. Customers that use the i OS, Unix, or z/OS versions will have updates shipped to them this month.