Microsoft Dynamics sponsors Logistics & Fleet Management Systems conference

Microsoft Dynamics sponsors Logistics & Fleet Management Systems conference

The 2008 edition of the LFMS event is set to break new ground as on-board computers, TMS logistics providers, ERPs and technology providers meet to discuss solutions to the logistics and transportation crisis.

High fuel prices and continuing consolidation in the US transportation market have made it even more difficult for carriers to invest in the future. Solutions to help them reduce fuel costs are now out of reach unless short-term return on investment is guaranteed.

Jim Rodi, senior director of business development at Qualcomm, who will participate in the event, sums it up: "As the carrier goes, so do we."

Carriers that invest in better systems and better processes are the ones who will survive the crisis and grow. Perhaps now is the time to invest, so that when the economy turns around you'll be first on the starting block.

The most critical application today is fuel management, as fuel cost has become the number one operating cost, pushing driver turnover costs into second place, followed by asset management and risk management (safety) – with increasing numbers of transporters investing in collision avoidance systems, stability control and lane departure warning systems. These systems must be integrated into the existing TMS, thus the need for all those companies to co-operate and collaborate.

Dan Jester, director of transportation & distribution at Trimble, agrees: "With today's dynamic business climate, real-time monitoring of driver, fuel and assets performance has never been more important. Delivering effectivefeedback and real time instructions based on the all the relevantinformation available and in context with business is the challenge we all face."

ERPs are now entering the fray. For instance, Young&Partners can set up a complete logistics solution for transportation, forwarding and warehousing based directly on the Microsoft Dynamics ERP system. Stefan Dedrie, managing partner at Young&Partners explains: "The two integrate completely to make a logistics-specific ERP solution that covers everything from POD to CRM to banking."

But the question remains: How does this system integrate with the truck-based information to send the time, location and driver data back up the supply chain? Each of the OBU systems has a different communication protocol, so Dedrie needs to deal with each of them separately and then integrate the content in the enterprise management software.

Fleet data is not alone here. There is a need to integrate data related to safety, maintenance, compliance and finance. All this adds up to very complex services that need to run on an exception basis. Therefore the service providers have to become reporting architecture suppliers, adapting the reports to suit the customer and being able to use API to easily integrate with different ERP solutions.

Gary Holderby, president of MobileData, says: "Everyone has a small piece of the solution. Big players that would be interested in using solutions like RFID tagging, local area trailer tracking, GPS on-board units or accident recording cameras would need to not only purchase the solution but also spend time and effort integrating it into their system."

Logistics & Fleet Management Systems USA 2008 is the annual rendezvous for the TMS, on-board computers, tracking systems and logistics technology players to meet and forge partnerships with other technology and service providers.

With fuel prices putting even more pressure on US carriers, it has never been more critical to ensure that fleet management products are simple, useful and ROI-ready.

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