By Nick Carey
DETROIT (Reuters) - Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc and U.S. truck fleet services company Omnitracs said on Tuesday they are rolling out software for large less-than-truckload (LTL) firms to comply with a looming federal regulation for drivers to log hours electronically and manage trucker workflow.
The new system, available on a handheld Honeywell device around the size of a smartphone that uses Android-based software, is being deployed by the Holland and Reddaway units of YRC Worldwide Inc, the second-largest U.S. LTL firm.
It is also aimed at other large operators, Taylor Smith, president of Honeywell's Workflow Solutions business, said.
LTL firms consolidate smaller loads into a single truck, requiring more complexity than regular long-haul "truckload" services.
The software product comes ahead of a December mandate that trucking firms switch to electronic logs from paper logs to meet federal hours of service rules.
The mandate is widely seen as the biggest change to hit the trucking sector since deregulation in 1980. Industry experts believe many "mom-and-pop" trucking outfits are reliant on paper logs to fudge the books, inflating driver productivity in a low-margin industry.
Because of its complexity, the Honeywell-Omnitracs software is designed for larger firms that generally already have electronic logging systems in place. But Honeywell's Smith said many of those larger firms are legacy platforms developed in-house that need to be upgraded.
The new system combines Omnitracs telematics data that automatically logs hours with Honeywell's pickup and delivery software on a single device instead of multiple applications.
"The older legacy platforms really tethered drivers to their trucks so they and their company could miss out on money," Smith said. "Now they can accept loads away from their truck, which frees up drivers to be a lot more responsive."
Earlier this month, Dallas-based Omnitracs announced it was rolling out a tablet-software package with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to help smaller truck carriers comply with the electronic log mandate.
In February, Omnitracs teamed up with startup Peloton to bring to market technology that allows large trucks to save fuel by coordinating speed and braking so that the vehicles can drive closely together on the highway.
Omnitracs chief sales officer David Vice said the company is talking to Honeywell and other firms about further possible collaboration based on a strategy of "one plus one equals three."
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Leslie Adler)