Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Planning · Environment · Real Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Glossary Awards Contacts

Talking Freight

Freight Technology Assessment Tool

July 18, 2007 Talking Freight Transcript

Jennifer Symoun:
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is the Freight Technology Assessment Tool. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Today we'll have three presenters. Randy Butler of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations, Nathan Rychlik of Productivity Apex, and Paul Belella of Delcan.

Randy Butler is a Transportation Specialist in the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management Operation and Technology Team. Randy joined the FHWA in November of 2003. Randy's transportation experience includes thirty years experience at a class one railroad holding many positions including Superintendent of Transportation Operations and General Director of Intermodal Planning. As the Technology Team Program Manager, Randy's responsibilities in the FHWA's Office of Freight Management include the ITS major initiative Electronic Freight Management, Cost Benefit Methodology for freight technologies, Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group, Freight Information Highway, and the proposed Cross Town Improvement Project. Randy has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology, a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in information systems, a Masters of Arts in Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics from George Mason University, and he has recently begun work on a PhD in Information Technology at George Mason University.

Nathan Rychlik is an Industrial Engineer with Productivity Apex Inc. in Orlando Florida. Nathan was a member of the FTAT development team and was heavily involved during all phases of the development life cycle as well as the initial application of the tool on the Cross Town Improvement Project and BNSF Logistics Park studies. Nathan is currently leading the PAI team in working with Delcan and other partners on applying FTAT for the Motor Carrier Efficiency Study for FMCSA. In his three and half years with Productivity Apex, Nathan has acted as lead on numerous benefit-cost, activity-based costing, discrete event simulation, and process improvement efforts for both public and private sector clients including FHWA, NASA, Lockheed Martin, United Space Alliance, and Orlando International Airport among others. Nathan holds a bachelor's degree in business and a master's degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida.

Mr. Paul Belella has 22 years of professional experience in project management, technical research, business process reengineering, special studies, and technical and operational testing and evaluation. His experience spans the areas of intermodal and truck-borne freight transportation, to include international borders and trade transportation. Specific expertise includes vehicle-based, roadside, and remote operations and administrative technology systems, freight security technology, decision support systems, and web-based communications and transaction media. He has significant experience in experimental design, evaluation, systems requirements development, and institutional coordination and consensus building. Mr. Belella is currently a Principal with Delcan Corporation, where he leads the Intermodal Facilities and Freight Practice. Current and recent significant assignments include managing the FMCSA Motor Carrier Efficiency Study, managing the delivery of program management and technical support to the FHWA Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group, and leading the development of a concept of operations for the Cross-Town Improvement Project for a partnership that includes Federal and State government agencies, Class I railroads, and intermodal motor carriers. Mr. Belella holds a Masters Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

I'd now like to go over a few logistical details prior to starting the seminar. Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the smaller text box underneath the chat area on the lower right side of your screen. Please make sure you are typing in the thin text box and not the large white area. Please also make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. Once we get through all of the questions that have been typed in, the Operator will give you instructions on how to ask a question over the phone. If you think of a question after the seminar, you can send it to the presenters directly, or I encourage you to use the Freight Planning LISTSERV. The LISTSERV is an email list and is a great forum for the distribution of information and a place where you can post questions to find out what other subscribers have learned in the area of Freight Planning. If you have not already joined the LISTSERV, the web address at which you can register is provided on the slide on your screen.

Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. We encourage you to direct others in your office that may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.

The PowerPoint presentation used during the seminar will also be available within the next week. I will notify all attendees of the availability of the PowerPoint, the recording, and a transcript of this seminar.

We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is the Freight Technology Assessment Tool. Randy, Nathan, and Paul will be sharing one presentation, so we'll go ahead and get started with Randy as the first presenter. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar.

Randy Butler:
Thank you, a Jennifer. I would like to thank all of the participants for joining us today. The presentation we are going to give is a good representation of a state of the art technology assessment tool. I think it will be beneficial. At the end of the presentation I have a useful guide and CD available if any of the participants would like a copy of the software, we will be able to furnish it to you. To begin with I will quickly go over the background of how we decided to develop the technology assessment tool. Nathan will give us a good overview of the tool and how it functions and the methodology used to develop it. We will walk you through, basically, how the cost and benefits are in the output. We are currently using the tool in the Motor Carrier Efficiency study and Paul Belella will give us exactly how he is using the tool and how he expects to benefit.

We will begin with why are we and DOT involved in this type of work? We have been creating public and private partnerships. We see ourselves as a facilitator or convener of both private and public stakeholders. In order to do that, we want to increase the Transportation efficiency by providing research and development funding - seed money. We see ourselves as a neutral partner with interest in success in overall transportation networks, especially in efficiency. The government participation, why would we participate? The highway systems to date are basically at capacity. We forecast that freight will double by year 2020. The promotion of new technology we feel is a solution to increase the efficient flow of date.

Basically, I have a supply chain here that we have recently done some research on. We look at information flows and information exchange and we see that the information exchanges are a target of opportunity for using freight Technologies. Promoting these freight Technologies is important to help identify where these exchanges can take place. From that, we have developed specific goals. In reducing congestion we will want to promote the exchange of information between the public and private organizations. We want to improve efficiency and promote timely information exchange between supply chain partners and enhance safety and security. Projects that ensure critical information are captured and disseminated to the appropriate facilities and organizations.

We will refer to the freight technology tool as FTAT. We started work in 2004 and continued in 2005. The objective of the project was to provide a tool that would allow the users to evaluate the cost and benefits of deploying this technology without spending the first dollar of development. There are two approaches: qualitative and quantitative. These freight access assessment tools use a qualitative and quantitative approach. For the qualitative approach we rate the technology's effects against a set of pre-defined performance metric. For the quantitative approach we use a benefit cost analysis. Nathan will take us through the technology assessment tool, through the methodology, and the processes that are used to evaluate it.

J. Symoun:
Thank you Randy and thank you to those of you who posted questions. We'll address those questions at the end of the seminar. We'll now move onto our next presentation, given by Nathan Rychlik of Productivity Apex.

Nathan Rychlik:
I will jump right into the FTAT methodology. This is from a user perspective. From the input side, upon starting the tool that will define the supply chain, it defined performance metrics, cost drivers, technologies or Best practices, and then rated the technology effect on its performance and the benefit and cost of each of those. Once these have been input into the tool, the output provided its benefit/cost ratio plus some other financial measures.

On the qualitative side there will be technologies that are provided in the form of a quality deployment, which I will get into later. The next line is a graphical representation of this methodology. I will not go through this step-by-step. Basically, this presents graphically what we saw on the previous slide. Here is the FTAT methodology from the user perspective. Really, when we developed the tool we had them to a distinct user types in mind. We have the technology evaluator who would be doing the business process mapping and defining the processes, collecting data pertaining to those methods and drivers and an expert panel that would be evaluating the technology or potential effects of the technology on the supply chains. The technology evaluator will come in and do business process mapping and collect the data of information that is there for the qualitative and quantitative analysis. Once that has been taken to the point of defining the technology and which processes these technologies might affect it, the expert panel would step in and evaluate the potential, what numbers or values go to those effects. We will start with discussing the processes.

As I said the doorstep is defining and mapping the supply chain on a geographic map. The first option is for the user to define new processes. They also have the capability to be populated using a pre defined set of supply chain processes. This is based on the SCOR model which is the supply chain process Model. It is an industry standard used for defining and decomposing supply chains and evaluating those against Best practices that we use for benchmarking processes. They are defined on the geographical map and the processes are defined for each of those partners. The level one view is the partner view and describes the entities that participate in the supply chain. It can be a company or facility. For most of the work we have been this far, a good example of the partners could be a rail operator, an inter-modal terminal and a tracking operator. The processes are defined at two levels. We call them level two and level three. Level two represents activities and transactions that each partner performs and required to move goods throughout the supply chain. Level three is a decomposition of level two. We will define the as is cost for each of those processes and define the cost driver. I will get into a definition of cost driver in a couple of slides.

This represents how the supply chain is decomposed using the tool. We have a shipping company, a port, and a trucking company. We define the process to move the materials throughout the supply chain. For this a ship delivers the goods to the sea port and the truck would pick those up. The level three here represents the decomposition of one of these processes. I believe it is the containers being safe for pick up. Decomposing that process to Level three would have the sea port resources, the crane operators, chassis for staging and then having them designated at a pickup spot. That is to give you an idea of defining the supply chain and process is carried out.

This is a screen shot from the tool. This, essentially, is the form where we select the processes for each of the supply chain partners. We will define processes and each of the supply chain partners, select which processes are carried at or belong to that partner. As I said, within the prime process, this is the screen shot defining those process costs. For example for the railroad company, [ ] in this case there is an annual cost associated with that. Getting into the cost drivers, because drivers are something that we utilize in the tool to determine the potential for process improvement benefits from adopting technology , drivers are defined as a characteristic that drives changing cost level. For example in order processing, drivers can be the number of orders and the time of order. They are generally defined as duration or volume drivers. Of course, the volume relating to in this case is the number of orders and time per order. We use these cost orders to compute the best-of certain technology.

Here are screen shots from the toll defining those cost drivers and the value for those. Here, the user would input what the cost driver is and provide an as is the value of for that. For the performance measures, in FTAT we have seven pretty fine performance attributes, categories and performance measures assigned to. They are reliability, responsiveness, flexibility, cost, asset management, safety and security. The first five are based on works from the SCOR model, performance attributes defined in the SCOR model. As we got into the development effort one of the areas we thought was lacking in SCOR was that there was no real focus given to the safety or security. There were other performance measures that pertain to them but they are scattered throughout the attributes. Being that most of the work that we have done this far has been either for FHWA or [ ], the government places a great deal of value on the safety and security. It is not one of the primary focus areas. We added those performance attributes in the toll. The individual performance measures are assigned to a performance attribute. Those performance metrics can be defined by the user, or again SCOR does not provide performance metrics that relate.

Here is the slide that provides was some of those performance metric might be. In the tool we define what the performance measures are. We have a chat box for the measures. We have the attributes that each performance measure is designed to and the associated processes. Each of those performance metrics would be assigned to a level three process. As we get into the technology evaluation, this lets us know which performance measures are of interest based on which processes the technology is going to affect. Once we have defined the processes and the cost and the performance measures, we begin to define the technology is. Because for the technology, once we define the technology, we define the cost for those technologies. It would be the total amount of money invested. We want to calculate the benefits of the technology. Again, this can go to the process improvement which comes from the cost drivers that we just discussed. It can come from totally eliminating processes, or it can come from the reduction or elimination of miscellaneous costs, insurance costs, and reduced pilferage. It could also be things such as increased revenue. As we define the technologies inside the tool, we would give it a class, hardware, software or a combination of both of those and a definition of those.

For each of the technologies we are going to come in and give a rating for the performance measure. Again, for each of the technologies, which processes that it can affect in the supply chain. Based on that, this list is populated for the performance measures associated with those processes. This is where the expert panel would come in and define what the potential effect on the performance measure glass candy. We are also going to come in and define the cost for the technology. We have an initial investment, maintenance cost and operating cost per year and other costs associated with that. The useful life of the technology and the minimum acceptable rate of return, for the cost drivers, we have already defined as its value as we define the processes. For each of the technologies will come in and define what the value is for that. Our benefits here that is calculated automatically for the process improvement. You can also have other categories of insurance, the fridge, other benefits. It can be increased revenue or any other benefit that can be revised for adopting the technology.

As we get into presenting the output, as Randy said, we have them to different approaches. We have a quantitative and qualitative. For the qualitative approach we use a quality function deployment to record the output. It is a qualitative analysis technique. Its purpose is to motivate organizations to focus on their most critical needs. In order to produce this, the user is going to provide a weight for each of the performance attributes. They can get a level of importance or the primary focus. Those will be given a higher weight to the other performance attribute areas. The performance measures as they are rated for each of the technologies, the total score is going to be calculated based on those weights. The benefit cost analysis is a quantitative part of the analysis and given with a number of financial outputs. Like into the net present value, internal rate of return and things of that nature.

Here is a screen shot of where we give the weight for each of those performance attributes. They would use the sliding scale for each of the attributes that they find of interest. If they find no interest, they can on check the box. Any performance measures related to that will not be used in calculating the total score. The FTAT output is where it all comes together. The top part of this is the qualitative summary, providing the score for each of the performance attributes and the total score that takes into account the weight that we assign each of the performance attributes. Below that we would have the quantitative summary for each of those technologies, what the net annual cash flow is and the financial output, such as the net present value and rate of return. We designed this to mimic any spreadsheet within the program that everyone is fairly comfortable with. This allows the user to have a side by side objective analysis of these technologies and their potential effects on the supply chain of interest. Now, I will turn it over to Paul. He will discuss the applications that we are currently undertaking with the motor carrier efficiency study.

J. Symoun:
Thank you Nathan. Our final presentation will be given by Paul Belella of Delcan.

Paul Belella:
Thanks, Nathan. Basically what we are trying to do now is under a project that is sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association and was directed by the SAFETEA-LU authorization, we are trying to basically apply the FTAT methodology in an environment that is focused very heavily on the motor carriers at the level of efficiency they currently have and to identify the potential effects of some candidate technologies for improving efficiency in their operations. When we say efficiency, the study is entitled motor carrier efficiency study. They are also very much interested in the safety and security component that Nathan alluded to earlier in his presentation. It is a fairly wide ranging and initiative.

As you can see on this slide, there are three major study components in this phase of the study. This is phase one of a two phase program that is directed by Section 5503 in the legislation. The idea here is to identify high priority motor carrier inefficiencies and it to look at applying wireless technology to address those inefficiencies, primarily from a capability standpoint and not necessarily from a specific technology or standard. We are looking at performance and what carriers will be able to do that they could not necessarily do before or do very well by having technology that is injected into this situation and the hypothetical benefit cost analysis. The key thing to keep in mind here is, because the FTAT tool really is intended to provide, kind of advanced information before an investment is made, many of the benefit cost analysis that we will be conducting, and I think, unless I am mistaken and Nathan can correct me, the FTAT tool has been used for hypothetical benefit cost analysis. It has all been in advance of some deployment to determine whether or not an investment is worthwhile undertaking. Those are the primary components.

Progress today, if you think about what Nathan just presented, we have defined our supply chain segments. We use the term segments because supply chains that encompass the operations that motor carriers would be involved with are much more far reaching than just those portions where motor carrier gets involved and moves the good. We identified segments within those larger supply chains that are appropriate for inclusion in our analysis. We will show you what that looks like in a minute. We identified process specific inefficiencies. What we mean by that is to look at the supply chain segments and identified specific points where there are inefficiencies that carriers specifically told us were considered high priority inefficiencies. We then capture data to define the effects of those inefficiencies. That is that we primarily looked to gain quantitative data wherever it was possible and where it was not possible, we sought and obtained qualitative data. Again, we will show you if a little bit about what that looks like you're in a moment. In the end, we are hoping to use the FTAT to perform this preliminary benefit analysis on 10 scenarios.

We call a scenario a combination of a supply chain segment and some technology application that is intended to provide a certain set of capabilities. We have basically five different supply chain segments. We have long-haul trucking, a multi point pick-up and delivery operation; port to inland destinations, railroad, and inter-modal truck. There are five different categories of supply chain segments. We will be running a two difference in areas with each of those segments, different applications of technology. Also, within each of those scenarios we will be performing a sensitivity analysis that will bring into play factors such as if you are talking about a long-haul truck load movement, we will vary and the length of the actual move. That is an example of one of the dimensions that could very. We will bury the length of the move to see if there is a significant effect on the benefit accrued based on the length of the trip. The same thing can be done for the value of the commodity and so forth. So, those are the 10 scenarios.

Moving on from here, what we see on this slide is a graphical representation of the information that we have captured 41 of the supply chains. This is the port to inland segment. What you should see here are figures that look familiar to what Nathan indicated before. We do not have the level of one process where it has a picture of the sea port and the trucking company and distribution point, some delivery point. This is showing the level two on the left-hand column in a vertical fashion on the right it shows the level three sub process. I will walk through this and show you how we are organizing the information in order to enter it into the tool. Taking a look at that left hand column, I mentioned this is a level two process. It is very simply a stepwise as Nathan alluded to, a stepwise representation of the major groups of activities with regard to moving a container out of a sea port into some inland destination. It is difficult to see on this slide. I will back it up a slide. We can see on the left-hand slide, and I think I have a pointer here-the buried left hand side, you will see that this is intended to show that this is a repetitive look. In other words, a driver might pick up goods, transported to a drop facility and return to the port for another pick up. That is what this is the depth and intended to reflect year.

Moving forward, that is a level two process deduction. Next to that is a column that we have put in your call the allocation of inefficiency. Basically, what we tried to do here is specifically pinpoint what point in the level two processes that specific deficiencies occur. This will help us to narrow down our efforts to make sure that we aren't seeking and applying input to the FTAT analysis that are appropriate for the actual study that we are being involved with. You can see the first two steps, it should delivers good to sea port, I know this is probably difficult to read, but I have read it so many times I have memorized it. The containers are staged for pickup. Those first two level two processes, we do not have any specific identified inefficiency's there. That is not to imply that there are not any inefficiencies, but there are not inefficiencies that motor carrier representatives engaged in this activity felt were in a high priority and needed to apply a technology solution to. That carries over to the right. You will see in the third step, the truck picks up goods. There are four specific inefficiencies that we have identified. So on and so forth. The next column, we call these specific inefficiency effects columns. This is where the actual data we got regarding, basically, the cost or impact of inefficiency on a motor carrier's operation-again, it is very difficult to read. You will have things like how long it takes to do something. It could be how long it takes to check in or out of a gate, how long drivers are waiting to pick up the containers or to get in and out of a date. How many times the frequency with which they have to, in other words that flip it and put it on another for a number of reasons. We try to assign specific numbers and use them in the FTAT analysis.

The third part of this is the level three processes. Here, we have decomposed the processes into their components. What is not shown in this diagram, partly because it has evolved a little bit, we added a column to this to show how the related data is specifically allocated to individual level three sub processes. If you remembered in Nathan's review he showed a data entry field, basically screen shots from the application. But what we have tried to do here is let out all of the information and data that we have so that we can see what we do and do not have but to also see where specific data elements will be plugged into the model for analysis. The next iteration of this diagram has an additional column first of all; it has specific on level three process elements that and say this item will be analyzed as part of this sub process. Plus, it shows where we will be performing qualitative analysis at a higher level, like a level two analysis, so that it is all laid out and very easy to see. It would be basically impossible to read anything on the slide if I put that on there. It is quite a bit more complicated. This is one way that we have prepared the input that we received for input into the model and how we have identified what holes we have in terms of date said needs and how we are providing a level of transparency and clarity for the analysis so that everyone involved understands where the numbers came from and where they are going and how they should influence the output.

So, basically, what we will be doing, what you are seeing on this slide is a basic by step process for how we are using FTAT for the Motor Carrier efficiency study. Step one, in putting specific data regarding current activity results, activity duration and cost. This is all of the information, how things work now or fail to work now, depending on your perspective. The second step would to need to identify it likely changes, activity results, duration and cost at the sub process level. When we say likely changes, there is a part implied here that is not on the slide. Between the identification of the inefficiencies and the identification I would like the changes, we are going through a process of identifying potential technology based solutions. That will include coming up with whatever we can in terms of implementation costs and specific effects on any one of these effects, these data elements that are showing up in either level two or level three. That whole kind of conceptual development process is not shown on here. Once we do that, we, basically, go back to a group of experts who understand operations and technology, and specifically, within the context of the supply chains and get their expert opinion about what likely changes, or what changes are likely to occur in the processes. That carries over to item three or step three where we also input anticipated implementation and use costs for technology and process changes. Anyone who has done any kind of process analysis Engineering Research understands that it is a pretty rare undertaking to input or implement a technology and have all of its effects be localized to a specific sub process or a portion of the business. The idea here is to understand not only these sub process level but the overall supply chain said net level what the likely costs and changes are that will occur. If we take all of that information that has been input into FTAT and execute calculations instep four. Step five will examine those changes, focusing on the bottom line, recognizing in the end that that is the reason you do a benefit cost is to understand how it will affect the bottom line and improve your efficiency, certainly, and what the cost is an increasing that efficiency. That is our basic five step process. It is a fairly simplistic view of what I think it's a much more involved set of calculations than might be implied by that screen.

In the end, there are really three basic objectives, three primary outcomes that we are looking for using the FTAT. The first is to clarify it opportunities. That really begins with identifying specific inefficiencies and their effects and quantifying and qualifying potential benefits. When we say clarify opportunities, what we are really looking at here is the motor carrier efficiency study is all about pinpointing opportunities for conducting additional research and conducting some pilot deployment and technology. This tool will help us to understand the relative benefits and costs of different undertakings from technology implementation opportunities to help the decision makers make that decision. That is really the third, facilitate decision making, but I will get to that in a moment. The second is to enhance overall knowledge. In addition to the execution of FTAT, the Motor Carrier efficiency study and the conduct of a map or nine stakeholder sections around the country where we went down and sat down and spoke to at length representatives of various parts of the Motor Carrier community and also technology providers, third-party logistics providers, quite a right variety. The goal was to consolidate information about not only inefficiencies but wireless technologies and general capabilities all into a single resource, which will be included in the final report from the Motor Carrier study and also to provide numerical evidence. The more we know about what the anticipated dollars and cents effects are of undertaking certain activities, the better educated we will all be about what the potential lies within these technologies to improve the motor carrier operations. I mention the third major objective, facilitating decision-making. At its core, FTAT is a comparative analysis tool. It is a very effective at doing side-by-side comparisons of various technologies, particularly if they are intended to address a specific set of inefficiencies. If it forces you to decompose the things to an elemental level and really analyze them and come up with numbers that are realistic for input. Once you do that, then the program takes you through the rest and give you some good comparison output. It will be a good tool for comparative analysis of potential phase two pilot projects and hopefully provide the government team with the knowledge they need to make decisions about where the rest of the Section 5503 money should be spent. With that, that concludes my portion of the presentation. I thank you all for your attention.

J. Symoun:
Thank you Nathan. With that, we will go ahead and move on to the question and answer session. I only see one question typed in as of now. I do encourage you, and if you think of additional questions to continue to type them in. We will also open the phone lines in a second. I will start with the first question. I believe this is directed toward you Paul, although I will open it to any of you.

Why would any carrier provide you this information? Many consider customer information proprietary. Large trucking companies have hundreds of customers and supply chains. The data collection effort would be enormous. Many contracts would preclude carriers from participating in this data collection effort.

P. Belella:
I will give my answer and also have Randy and Nathan comment. That is a common challenge. We have done a couple of things to try to mitigate it to some degree. The first is the supply chain segments we have defined our relatively generic. They were intentionally made that way so that they did not reflect too terribly closely to any one company's operation as compared to another company's operation. There are positives and minuses to that. On the plus side, it does sterilize the input a little bit. When we talk to carriers to match, we indicate to them that their specific information, is not going to be a related to anyone outside of any discussions that we might have with them in order to populate this model. No one from the government or the outside is privy to those conversations directly. We have captured all of that information and made it anonymous so that it cannot be attributed to any one company. We put into place a couple layers of protection, including making the supply chain segment generic in nature. On the minus side of that, some of the minuses have been fairly obvious. If you make it too generic it is difficult to be specific about what the effects will be on any individual supply chain. In other words, if ABC tracking gives us information and we put it into a generic supply chain, it does not necessarily match their operation then ABC tracking cannot expect to take that output of our analysis and apply it directly and say this is what it will exactly do for us. There are pluses and minuses to it, we understand that.

We are one to provide some level of analysis using ranges of figures that say, okay, if you are currently engaged in an operation that looks like this, if you apply this wireless technology that provide a certain set of capabilities, you can expect a benefit-cost ratio, of between 8 to 1 and 11 to 1. It might be that we are left with that kind of analysis. It is a challenge. I do not want to understate the challenge there. We have also had some really good input from carriers. We have been pleased with it; even given the nature that they know this is a government study. They have been fairly forthright about it. You will have one company that will not give you anything and another company, and it is typically the smaller ones, interestingly enough, they are willing to share with you what the challenges are and what the costs of their operations are. It is a hit or miss kind of prospect. I hope that answers your question.

J. Symoun:
Thank you. Randy or Nathan, anything you want to add to that?

N. Rychlik:
I think Paul covered it pretty well. I do not have anything to add.

R. Butler:
Jennifer, I would like to say in the design of the tool, we knew we would run up to problems like this. There are always going to be problems of sharing information. That is one of the reasons that we built the qualitative side in so that when we could not get the appropriate data if we wanted to still evaluate the process we could do it at a qualitative level.

J. Symoun:
The next question typed in is: this must be a dynamic process, so I would think that what you presented to date can and/or will be modified to best meet the needs of the program. Have these see this process of evolving over time?

R. Butler:
I will give it a try. You will receive all of the software associated with it. The only thing you would have to add is the Visio software . The way it would evolve would be based on the quality of data and information that you put into it and continually build upon that. You start out with a general assessment of a particular situation. You might be at a very low level of data input and as you start to build, you can continue at to this tool and build processes and tools to support your decision making process.

P. Belella:
I will add to that as well. From a practical standpoint of applying the tool, and I will address it from the level of the Motor Carrier efficiency study application of it, we do see it evolving over time. What we have done is, we have said we will set up expert resource groups. They will provide us input on what they think the potential effects and costs of various technology implementations will be. We will take their numbers and put them into FTAT and go back to them afterwards with what the output is and say, yours is what we had before. Here is what you told us the effects will be. If you apply it, we come back with an internal rate of return of X, a benefit cost ratio of Y. We are basically, going to ask them to give us a sanity check. If they provide us numbers and the general consensus is that it will not make a great deal of difference and we come back with a benefit-cost ratio of 25 to 1, then we are going to seek their guidance on, is this realistic? Do we understand completely what we have put in? Do we need to go back and put in some of the numbers that would put in for estimated cost drivers and actual benefits to modify this to make it more accurate? From that perspective, from a practical perspective, we anticipate that it will be a evolving process.

J. Symoun:
For the people that are interested in receiving the software and user guide, I know you mentioned earlier, Randy, should they e-mail you directly for that?

R. Butler:
On the next slide I have the cover sheet and the contact information on the following slide. We have built a complete user guide and the CD. The only other software that is required is Visio to work with it.

J. Symoun:
Okay. I do not see additional questions typed in. We can open up the phone lines and see if anyone has a question over the phone. If you do think of another question and would rather type it in, please feel free to. If the operator can please give instructions on asking a question over the phone.

Operator:
Okay. Thank you. We will begin to question and answer session. If you'd like to ask a question please press *1. To withdraw your request please press *2. Please wait a minute for the first question.

At this time, we have no questions.

J. Symoun:
Okay. Thank you. There are no other questions typed in. Since we have a little bit of extra time, is there anything that you would like to say in closing?

R. Butler:
I would just like to thank everyone for their participation. If they have questions after they review the presentation on line, they can certainly contact me. My contact information is shown there. If you would like a copy of the software, please contact me and I will send to the user guide and the CD.

J. Symoun:
There was another questioned type in. I do not know if you know the answer for this. This question is if any MPOs have used this tool?

R. Butler:
I am not aware of any. We just received the CD and user guide. We have not started a full distribution yet. We did use the software to evaluate the cross-town improvement project in Kansas City. I know the Mid-America Regional Council is involved in that. They did not use the tool.

J. Symoun:
Okay. Another question, is this an ongoing program, or has the development been completed?

R. Butler:
The development has been completed at this time. The contract has basically been terminated. We do not plan on going for further development.

J. Symoun:
Okay. Well, if we do not have any additional questions or comments, I guess we will go ahead and close out a little bit early. I am sorry. There is another question. The question is: what is the cost of the software?

R. Butler:
It is free, just need to ask.

J. Symoun:
Great. Again, thank you, Randy, Nathan, and Paul for the presentation. Hopefully, this will generate some interest in the software tool and you will see some requests coming in for it. Thank you for everyone in attendance today. The recorded version of the seminar will be available within the next few weeks on the talking freight web site.

Before I continue closing out another question came in. The question is: this seems like an interesting tool to use in teaching. Do you have any plans to develop any cases for such a purpose?

R. Butler:
We have not really discussed that yet. That is a good point. Is a good opportunity to use it in teaching. I would be glad to talk with you, Jordan, about that.

J. Symoun:
Okay. As I was saying, the recorded version of this as well as the PowerPoint presentation and a transcript from the seminar will be available within the next few weeks. I will send an e-mail out to everybody in attendance to let you know when it becomes available. If you did not register in advance and are interested in receiving that information, please send me an e-mail with your name and e-mail address. I typed my e-mail address in the chat area. The next seminar will be on August 15 and is entitled Virtual Weigh Stations. I also encourage you to join the freight planning list serve if you have not done so. If you think of additional questions, please contact the presenters directly or send them to the LISTSERV. With that, thank you everybody and enjoy the rest of your day.

Updated: 03/29/2011
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000