The Value Of Information

On-demand GPS services give a breadcrumb trail without the high costs.


"Ours is a pure pay-as-you-go system. You pay for it by the drop, and it averages to about 40 cents or 50 cents per drop. It doesn't matter how many reports you do, and you can pick and choose how many routes you want to run," explains Alex Walker, Cube Route's CEO.

GeoLogic Solutions, Herndon, VA, has a similar payment plan with its on-demand GPS offering. Costs for the service range from $35 to $50 per truck each month. "Our service is exceptions-based so that you only get the information you need to react to immediately. If you need more data, you pay more, but the bottom line is that you're getting better information for less money," says John Lewis, president of GeoLogic.

For $68 a month, including all the necessary hardware and airtime costs, shippers can use Linktrak from TransCore, Beaverton, OR. That system uses GPS, satellite communications and a Web-based interface that allows customers to locate trucks and communicate with drivers anywhere that they can access the Internet.

Monthly subscription fees for the ADS service can range from $15 to $40, "depending on what you use and need," says Cadec's Lemke. "It really depends on the culture of the company—;how much data you want, what you want to do and how involved your IT department wants to be."

Upfront Costs Come Down
Some GPS service providers still charge up-front fees, but costs for the necessary software, hardware, licensing and access fees have come way down. Users of systems by Qualcomm Wireless Business Solutions, San Diego, can expect to pay anywhere from about $100 to $1,000 or more up front, according to Norman Ellis, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Wireless Business Solutions' Transportation and Logistics Group. Monthly fees for Qualcomm's most basic service package are only $17.95 a month, while users of the company's top-of-the-line plan might pay $65 a month. As with other on-demand GPS solutions, the benefit is that "you know what it will cost exactly per month, and that consistency is very important to many of our customers," Ellis says.

XATA, based in Minneapolis, also charges up-front fees with the on-demand offerings that it rolled out last year. Costs for XATANet hardware and software range from $1,000 to $2,000, according to Tom Flies, XATA's vice president of business development. Those fees are in addition to monthly fees associated with one of four service levels it now offers: XATANET Bronze, with basic asset tracking and engine reports; Silver, with an onboard display, two-way text messaging, state fuel tax reporting, engine diagnostics and black box capabilities; Gold, with DOT logs and trip/driver management; and Platinum, with integration into routing and dispatch programs. Monthly fees per truck range from $15 for bronze to $54 for platinum.

But even with a service like this, "there's not as high an upfront cost, a lower cost of entry and predictable costs for a fleet every month," Flies says.

Hot Stuff Foods, a branded foodservice concepts franchisor based in Sioux Falls, SD, is currently using XATANet Gold on its 36 trucks, and will be upgrading to Platinum soon. "We put in XATANet about a year and a half ago and the thing we like about it is that XATA lets us tailor the system to what we're looking for," says David Bader, vehicle transportation coordinator at Hot Stuff. "As we've been getting more and more into the system, we're expecting more out of it."

The desire for on-demand services has even brought companies that typically had not been involved in the GPS market into it. Trailer refrigeration unit manufacturer Carrier Transicold, for example, offers a DataTrack option that links GPS trailer and rail container tracking with other telematics programs. DataTrack can send out alarms for reefer malfunctions, temperature changes, unauthorized door openings and unauthorized movements.

Like many other on-demand tracking services, DataTrack uses exceptions-based reporting. "The system is set up so that the customer gets one or two status reports a day unless there is a problem," says Mark Fragnito, manager of electronics at Carrier Transicold, headquartered in Farmington, CT. "You can also ping the trailer, if you so desire, at any time."

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