Onboard computers evolving with broader applications
Dec 1, 2008 12:00 PM
Onboard Computers are proven solutions to maintaining transportation costs and reducing routing headaches. New advances in technology are bringing about added capabilities. To get a peek into the future, the conference included a panel discussion on The Next Generation of Onboard Computers.
Panelists were Tom Flies, senior vice president-product strategy, XATA Corporation; Steve Katz, director-strategic accounts, Cadec Global; and Mark Kessler, vice president of sales and business development, PeopleNet. All three were in agreement that the world of wireless communications is unquestionably going to continue to change, and at a quicker rate.
Upcoming changes to onboard computers are being driven by the application, said Flies, and there is a movement to expand capabilities to beyond the cab to automate more functions at the point of delivery.
Katz of Cadec Global said work is being done to combine terrestrial and satellite communications for high throughput and ubiquitous coverage. He noted that companies are developing satellite telephones no bigger than a Blackberry, as well as compact, wireless data modems for non-intrusive installation in vehicles.
“The systems that are out there now are going to change,” predicted Katz, “and there will be acquisitions and mergers.”
PeopleNet's Kessler foresees all types of sensors being developed on trucks and trailers that interface with back office software.
The evolution of onboard computers is all about logistical intelligence and predictive analysis, he said. The more information that can be gotten from a truck and its load, the faster companies will move to a more paperless business environment.
When looking at acquiring new onboard computers, XATA Corporation's Flies advised companies to take into consideration two key elements. Can computers evolve beyond the life of a truck or a specific function, and do devices have the ability to change functionality?
Suppose a fleet may have a basic onboard computer system with a standard display in the cab, he said. It later decides to add navigation. Will it be able to change out the display to add this capability? Is it possible to add out-of-the-cab capability?
Kessler of PeopleNet added: “There will be a lot more offerings coming to help fleets become more efficient. Whatever you choose to do in your operation, whether with onboard computers or software, keep the flexibility open for new applications and capabilities.”
Systems will be able to handle any data that is inputted, he continued. But in order to get the most benefit out of any system, drivers and operation managers need to be well trained on how to correctly use the devices and systems.
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