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Case Studies

Trucking Fleet Management

1. J.B. Hunt Transport's Customized Tablet Computer Pays Off (early 1990s)
J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. in the USA has already installed a customized tablet computer built by IBM with a touch screen interface and satellite communication. The mobile tablets are connected to 13 PS/2 model 77 servers at regional sites, which in turn are connected to an IBM 9000 mainframe. Qualcomm Inc. and Rockwell Corp. were also involved in this project. Each computer contains a number of databases that include locations of fuel stops, safety information and other travel-related information. Engine information regarding idle time, overspeed, overwind and other features that require routine adjustments are also recorded. The project is already showing major returns. The company has achieved better customer service, more miles per day per truck, more satisfied drivers, and, most importantly, more efficient fleet managers and more efficiently managed fleets. In the past, fleet managers used to spend most of their time calling up truck drivers on the phone.

2. ASG system in Europe (early 1990s)
In Europe, ASG, a similar transport company, has installed mobile computers in over 600 vehicles operated by 20 different carriers. The ASG system, called Transport Information Planning System (TIPS), uses a Mobitex network to provide two-way communication between fleet vehicles and their home bases. The objective of the application is to keep their trucks fully loaded and still provide a high level of customer service. With Wireless network-based TIPS, missed pickups are greatly reduced: if the driver has not picked up an order within 30 minutes of an assignment being issued, an alarm signal is sent to the vehicle.

3. Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (1999-2000 circa)
Guaranteed Overnight Delivery, known as G.O.D., has deployed a system that integrates digital pagers and routing software, allowing drivers and dispatchers to communicate with one another in real-time.

Business Functionality 

  • Using a RIM pager, each driver logs on with his name, state, and odometer reading and then requests a route for pickups and delivers.
  • Once the driver receives information via his pager, he messages back to the dispatcher that he is enroute to his first stop.
  • When arriving at and departing from each stop, the driver will use the pager to alert the dispatcher of his whereabouts.
  • Workstations are updated with service and departures times and then cascaded through by updating the ETA.

Automated Systems versus Traditional Processes 
Previously, G.O.D. was using a paper-based system with wired phones to communicate with its drivers. This method proved to be tedious and inflexible. For instance, to rearrange a route or to reschedule deliveries, the dispatcher had to follow an extensive paper trial, which was very time-consuming. Where the paper-based method required one dispatcher for 20 drivers, the new automated system only requires one dispatcher for every 40 drivers.

Solution Components

  • RIM Pagers: RIM 850 with 2MB and RIM 950 with 2MB
  • 386 Intel processors
  • AA batteries
  • Screen displays brief messages
  • Curved alphanumeric keyboard used to send messages
  • A dial beside the screen allows users to navigate menu-driven system
  • Descarates Systems Group Inc.ís RoadShow routing software (one of the many routing solutions found in Descatesís Delivery.Net suite)
  • Wireless pickup and delivery functions that integrate mobile data technology with routing solutions, to enable constant two-way communication between dispatchers and drivers.
  • BellSouth Wireless Data Network


  • Flexibility and interactivity are big payoffs
  • Enhanced employee productivity meaning low labor costs
  • Dispatchers can now deal with problems, immediately, such as impending late delivers

Future Upgrades

  • For G.O.D., an Internet-ready pager would be the next step, because it would allow drivers to send emails to dispatchers and customers alike.
  • The signature capture feature would be added when the company moves from pages to portable computers.
  • Since trucking companies pay tax on every mile driven in each state, the mileage break-down feature would help G.O.D. keep accurate records for tax purposes.

Information for this case study (G.O.D.) was gathered from the following sources: www.rim.net; www.descartes.com and "Keep on Truckiní " article in Mobile Computing & Communications, April 2000.

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