Reporting on technology for the Canadian construction
By Will Koroluk
October 27, 2002
The wayward truck
Steal dirt? It happens.
On jobs where there is a lot of trucking, the occasional load goes astray, delivered to someone willing to pay for it. Paid by a contractor to haul from Point A to Point B, the trucker can sometimes, for a consideration, deliver the load to Point C instead. After all, load tracking is a surprisingly hit-and-miss process.
Some people say such theft is a common practice, yet you hardly ever hear anything about it. I guess you could call it one of the industry’s dirty little secrets.
Now, though, a civil engineer in Tampa, Florida has developed a system to not only prevent theft, but to speed accounting, and, thus, payments to truckers.
Frank Nicotera, who formed DTSystems, Inc. after a career as a project manager, told me during a phone chat recently of an airport runway job in Florida that involved a lot of trucking but which also involved a lot of theft. In fact, he said that surveys after the job was completed showed a loss fill worth US$300,000.
The traditional system for load tracking involves three-copy load tickets. These are collected from drivers dropping fill, and then matched manually against invoices from quarries and haulers. A lot of work.
To replace that, Nicotera has developed a system that uses a single, bar-coded slip and a chip mounted on each truck’s rearview mirror.
The system uses hand-held scanners at the quarry to read the truck’s chip data and ticket bar code. Then it records a time-stamped description of the load.
At the jobsite, another hand-held device swipes the ticket bar code and reads the chip on the truck. That puts the data into a software system that processes it for invoicing. The data are stored on a Web site maintained by DTSystems.
Profits come early
It’s a simple system, and the industry in the American southeast seems to like it. The firm has been in business three years and has turned a profit in each. When that happens, it usually means the company has hit upon an idea whose time has come.
Growth has been slow and steady, Nicotera says, in keeping with his business philosophy. He has no wish to make a gazillion dollars by the end of the month.
So far, he’s in full operation in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. From that base he’s slowly expanding to areas like West Virginia, Texas and Nevada. And because he has received inquiries from "around the world," he’s also willing to operate internationally.
That means that a company in Ontario, for example, can obtain the system, probably working with the North Carolina office. More Ontario customers would likely mean an Ontario office.
Nicotera doesn’t move into an area then try to create demand. But "if the demand is demonstrated, we’re prepared to go and service it."
So what happens if someone is interested in the system?
After an initial telephone consultation, DTSystems would send an account exec to the customer’s jobsite or office for a detailed demonstration of the system.
"We would start the process by setting him up with the proper hardware and software to get started almost immediately. Then, after about a week of getting all the paperwork done and the scanners programmed and everything set up, we’d come back for a half-day training session.
"The client would be completely up and running probably a week to 10 days after the first time we meet."
If you want more information, you can go to the DTSystems Web site at http://www.keepontracking.com/
You can also call toll-free to (877) 287-3874.
(Copyright © 2002, William D. Koroluk. All rights reserved.)
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