New system enables real-time e-commerce logistics
Eden Prairie, Minn., March 31, 2000 - FieldWorks Inc. (NASDAQ: FWRX), a leading mobile solutions provider for demanding field applications, recently demonstrated the capabilities of its FW-2000 Mobile Server as the first implementation of a fully Web-enabled, multi-tasking, on-board server for the trucking and transportation markets.
The demonstration took place at the annual TMC show and conference in Nashville, Tenn. TMC, the Maintenance Council, is a technical council of the American Trucking Associations and a professional technical society for fleet equipment managers.
"The recent explosion in e-commerce driven shipping logistics is causing a fundamental shift in the way fleets run their businesses," explained Dave Mell, president and CEO, FieldWorks. "Consumers now want overnight delivery, and this new paradigm is driving a need for the truck to become a real-time, rolling Internet site."
"To compete effectively in this rapidly changing market, fleets need information on the driver, the truck, and the cargo available at all times," said Roberta Herron, managing director of FieldWorks Transportation Group. "This high-performance, fully ruggedized server, already popular with the police and military/government customers, meets the needs regarding on-board computing functions as determined by TMC´s OBC study group."
About the FieldWorks FW-2000 and Trucking
The FieldWorks FW-2000 is the first on-board system to support full-screen graphic displays. In addition, two independent, full-color, graphical displays can be utilized, one for the driver, and one for the "co-pilot." The first display is optimized for driver-related functions and is designed, for safety, to limit driver distraction. Functions include dispatching, GPS routing and mapping (both graphically and turn-by-turn), with voice command and speech feedback. In addition, vehicle service and maintenance functions, service locations, weather maps, and traffic reports are displayed. Other driver, vehicle, and safety sub-system information, such as collision-avoidance, also can be supported by the system.
The second display offers full Internet PC functionality such as that typically found on a desktop PC, including full-featured Web browsing and e-mail. This display can be mounted on the passenger side of the dash, in the sleeper compartment, or in both locations. In applications under development, FieldWorks plans to implement a fully DOT-compliant automated driver log, full fault and service history of the vehicle, and distance to the nearest service centers based upon a truck´s current location.
This capability allows the passenger to complete driver logs, fuel tax reports, billing and other fleet and regulatory paperwork while the truck is rolling down the road, saving time and money for the fleet, and allowing the driver to focus on delivering the cargo efficiently.
"Dash space is at a premium in any vehicle, and this system provides the virtual equivalent of the mechanical truck dash," said Rick Evans, director of advanced technologies for FieldWorks Transportation Group. "Since the system is connected to the vehicle´s data bus, it can display, under driver control, a full complement of gauges and status messages. In the future, these can be a pre-selected group and appear on the occurrence of pre-set thresholds, events, limits, even by spoken driver requests. This capability can, using wireless communications, extend remotely to the truck´s home office as well.
"Imagine a clean, uncluttered digital dashboard with the ability to ask the truck to display, or speak, any information in any format - and in real time," Evans continued. "The ability to electronically reorganize the dashboard displays in any configuration based on end-user preferences can also be a real cost saver to truck manufacturers."
At the TMC show, Web browsing of weather and traffic sites and e-mail were performed using AT&T´s wireless Cellula
r Digital Packet Data (CDPD) service.
"Our association as a developer with AT&T has been instrumental in proving that what many regard as features of the "Future Truck" are in reality possible today," said Evans. "FieldWorks also has partnered with satellite service providers, and our customers have asked us to look at mobile least-cost routing using any combination of wireless services."
Optional applications include office applications, games and entertainment, and the full suite of trucking applications from ALK Associates including PC Miler and PC Fuel Tax.
FieldWorks also manufactures the SBT (Service Bay Tool), a shop-rugged platform containing a complete suite of electronic diagnostics for the embedded computers in today´s trucks.
"There is nothing precluding the on-board server from containing all of the electronic documentation and diagnostics required for the truck," said Evans. "With that capability on-vehicle, and with real time updates available through the Web, the truck will be able to perform self-diagnosis prior to a major breakdown, saving the fleet down-time and expense."
FieldWorks has previously demonstrated two such scenarios. The first involved a remotely located technician, using wireless communications, performing detailed and complex vehicle diagnostics. The second involved a driver who, with expert coaching over a cell phone, ran diagnostics and relayed the results to a shop. In these cases, the truck could be fixed well enough to "limp home" or, at the very least, enable the dispatching of a service truck and the correct parts necessary to repair the problem on the road.
FieldWorks also is working with partners to develop safety-related features such as "situational awareness" to give the driver a clear image of the space around the truck.
"Since we´re tied into the truck and many of its sub-systems, we could easily provide a "black-box" functionality like those in aircraft," Evans added. "This could be used for driver training issues as well as accident reconstruction. Taken to the extreme, leveraging our involvement with remote bio-measurements with climbers on Mount Everest, we might provide real-time health indications of the driver, including drowsiness."
"The bottom line is that the fleets are now being forced to become Information Technology companies rather than just shippers," Herron added. "Once all the pieces are in place, we see each and every truck on the highway becoming a rolling secure Web site, with information about the truck, the driver and the payload available to the carrier, the business and the customer, in essentially real time. FieldWorks intends to be at the forefront of this industry shift."
FieldWorks Inc., founded in 1992, designs, manufactures and sells solutions incorporating rugged computers for transportation, public service, military/government and heavy equipment industries worldwide. FieldWorks provides a complete solution to customers that includes product customization, integration and support services. FieldWorks products are designed and produced in compliance with its formal quality system, which is certified to the international ISO9001 quality standard.
FieldWorks headquarters are at:
7631 Anagram Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Internet Address: www.field-works.com;
Telephone: (612) 974-7000
Fax: (612) 974-7199
Forward-looking statements in this news release, if any, are made under the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Certain important factors could cause results to differ materially from those anticipated by the statements, including the impact of changing economic or business conditions, the impact of competition, the availability of financing, the success of products in the marketplace, other risk factors inherent in the computer industry and other factors discussed from time to time in rep
orts filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.