Ford Offering 3G-Connected Dashboard Computers in 2009 Trucks

Ford continues their push for tech-friendly vehicles with a new announcement to put computers with Sprint 3G connections into the dashboards of 2009 F-Series trucks and E-Series cargo vans.

As of now, this "Ford Work Solutions" system seems aimed at construction workers who need on-site computer systems to track inventory and schematics. While the system's screen seems a bit small, Ford promises that one can "review and edit graphically-rich blueprints" from the cab of their truck.

I can't say that this is quite the dashboard computer we've been waiting for, but it is actually coming out soon (this spring) for an undisclosed price.

SPRINT JOINS WITH FORD TO LAUNCH SOLUTION SUITE TO INCREASE FIELD WORKFORCE PRODUCTIVITY AND REDUCE COSTS

Ford F-Series and E-Series vehicles will be equipped with in-dashboard PC
with internet connectivity via the Sprint Nationwide Mobile Broadband Network

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - March 24, 2009 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced the details of its agreement with Ford Motor Company to provide a solution suite as a central component of "Ford Work Solutions" (www.fordworksolutions.com).

Beginning this spring, 2009 Ford F-Series and E-Series vehicles - and later in 2009, Transit Connect vehicles - will offer an in-dashboard PC with internet connectivity via the Sprint Nationwide Mobile Broadband Network. This capability provides the opportunity to leverage productivity application solutions via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, including real-time labor and material-cost capture, inventory updates, invoice generation and work-order edits and completion.

This new capability provides an unprecedented opportunity for job-site productivity gains and cost reductions. Work can be accomplished on site, on schedule and on budget. By minimizing the need to make trips back and forth to the office, fleets can reduce fuel consumption and their carbon footprint, and further enable the ability to "drive green."

Organizations can now perform mission-critical tasks remotely at a job site or a customer or field location, increasing operational efficiencies and guaranteeing client satisfaction. Examples include:

* Field service and construction industries can modify and confirm "change orders" to a "work order" or "job estimate," avoiding lengthy delays and keeping the job on schedule. Additionally, with the optional Bluetooth® Printer from Ford, the customer can review and authorize the "change order" on the spot with a written confirmation.
* Engineers and project managers can review and edit graphically-rich blueprints or schematics while inside the truck.
* Sub-contractors, suppliers and customers can collaborate in real-time to review project-planning documents and website portals.
* Utilities and oil and gas crews in the field gain real-time, high bandwidth access to work orders, safety and compliance data and asset management.

Ford and Sprint will soon announce exclusive offers for this solution suite. In support of the co-marketing efforts around this capability, they will also appear at several events in the months ahead, including key industry trade shows, to further inform their customers.

"This joint collaboration between Ford and Sprint delivers unprecedented freedom to field work forces," said Ed Pleet, Ford Work Solutions product and business development manager. "Now organizations' desktop business applications and systems can be brought where and when they are most needed – at the ‘front end' of the cabs of F-Series and E-Series vehicles while they are on site."

"This solution suite will empower organizations to continue to work hard while also working smart," said Keith Dardis, regional vice president, Sprint. "We will provide our mutual customers with a competitive edge, unparalleled productivity and cost savings, and the opportunity to do their part to ‘drive green.'"
Both Ford and Sprint have a history of innovation. Ford Motor Company has developed and maintained a Field Work Force industry-leading position for over 30 years around their "Built Ford Tough" line of F-Series pick-up trucks and E-Series cargo vans.
Through its unmatched Direct Connect push-to-talk service, rugged devices and other technology, Sprint has developed and maintained its leadership in Field Work Force solutions by understanding that effective Field Work Force management requires constant coordination of crews, fleets, suppliers, project managers, engineers and field service teams — often in harsh conditions and always on tight timelines.