11.15
2019

Tips for Driving Safer This Winter

As the year moves forward and winter approaches and the mercury continues to drop, driving conditions can start to become more precarious than usual, particularly when snow falls or when freezing temperatures create icy conditions after even the lightest of rainfalls. Last year, we shared some great tips that you and your drivers should keep top of mind when getting behind the wheel in these frigid months. But, as with anything, there is always more that you can do to improve, so we want to share some additional tips to help keep everyone safer while on the road this winter.

Drive slower.
This may seem obvious, but anyone that has experience driving knows that not everyone drives cautiously during inclement weather or road conditions. So it’s important to be extra careful while they’re driving, both to keep your own vehicle in control and to be better positioned to react to other reckless drivers.

Be mindful of tire spray.
When driving on a particularly precipitous day, take a look at the amount of water spraying off the tires of other vehicles’ on the road. When there’s a lot of water coming off, you know you’re dealing with a wet road, obviously. But, if the spray begins to lessen — and it’s clear the road hasn’t dried completely — you’re facing freezing conditions, so be extra cautious.

Turn into a skid.
If your vehicle starts to skid, your initial reaction may be to turn the wheel in the opposite direction in order to compensate. But in reality, you’re better off turning into the skid, as it lets you maintain more control of your vehicle.

Prepare a winter driving kit.
What exactly is a winter driving kit? In the event of a breakdown that leaves you stranded, you want to make sure to have the proper tools that can either facilitate a fix on your own, or that can keep you safe while waiting for help to arrive. Your kit should include items such as extra clothing (gloves, rain gear, additional layers), a blanket, a flashlight with batteries, non-perishable food, water bottles, a bag of sand and/or salt, a shovel, an ice scraper, tire chains, and a cell phone charger. Basically, anything that you might need to weather a storm in a broken-down vehicle, or to help get you out of a sticky situation.

Don’t be afraid to pull over.
Yes, you might be on a tight schedule, but under no circumstances should you risk your safety, or the safety of those around you, by continuing to drive in treacherous conditions. If you find yourself caught in the onslaught of a storm, pull over until driving conditions improve. You’re better off arriving late than not arriving at all.

In the event of an emergency …
If you find yourself broken down on the side of the road, particularly during a storm, try your best to remain calm. Minimize the amount of time you spend outside of the vehicle, particularly if rectifying the situation is beyond your control. It’s safer for you to stay inside your vehicle, with the hazard lights turned on, until help arrives.

Some of these tips may seem obvious to more experienced drivers, but no matter how long you’ve been behind the wheel, they merit repeating at the approach of every winter season. When it comes to driver safety, you can never be too careful.

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11.13
2019

Is Your Heavy Equipment Protected?

What’s the problem?
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), heavy equipment theft is a growing problem throughout North America. Citing organized crime rings as the major perpetrator, the NICB explains that these criminals are generally sophisticated, precise and successful in their efforts to steal expensive equipment, usually targeting construction sites. According to The Globe and Mail, a Toronto-based newspaper, the oilfield industry is also losing millions of dollars in machinery and material. Everything, from copper wire to ATVs to whole drilling rigs, is a prime target for thieves looking to cash in on black-market sales. The Texas website StopOilfieldTheft.com reports that the U.S. oilfield industry estimates it loses almost a $1 billion a year to thieves.

Sgt. Jeff McBeth, detachment commander in the northwestern Alberta community of Fox Creek, said his detachment gets about one oilfield theft complaint a week.

What do thieves look for?
According to a report in The Glove and Mail, thieves look for a wide range of opportunities to steal equipment. Heavy equipment is an easy target because it’s left unattended in lots, remote locations, and in the field overnight.

“Thieves take advantage of spring breakup, when heavy vehicles are banned from muddy roads until they’ve dried up enough to withstand them,” Mark Salkeid, president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, told the Globe. Drilling sites are shut down for up to a month and attempts to harden the locks on equipment sheds haven’t worked, so some operators simply weld the doors shut.

Heavy equipment can be easy targets for thieves for a lot of reasons. It’s often left unattended in remote locations and single keys can start multiple machines. Not to mention, a lot of people simply don’t employ basic anti-theft measures.

Why are summer months prime for theft?
May through September are the busiest times for thieves; warmer months are more popular because they are the most active, in terms of construction, due to cooperative weather, longer days, and the end of crop growth cycles.

Where does the equipment go?
Once stolen, the equipment is shipped to other countries, leaving it untraceable and unrecoverable in most instances. According to the NICB, only around 10 percent of machinery is ever recovered. International law enforcement uses a standard worldwide 17-digit product PIN number to identify stolen vehicles. However, the best measure of protection is prevention.

Top 5 Prevention Tips
1. Make equipment immobile or difficult to move when it’s not attended.
2. Cluster equipment in a “wagon circle” with more easily transported equipment in the center, surrounded by larger pieces of equipment.
3. Keep a current database of all equipment serial or product identification numbers with accompanying photos.
4. Use sleeve locks to fix backhoe pads in an extended position, keeping wheels off the ground.
5. Install a tracking transmitter system, like the ones we offer, in each unit designed for construction and heavy-duty equipment.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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11.12
2019

Shipping During the Holiday Season and Actsoft Solutions

In 2017, UPS estimated that they’d be shipping nearly 750 million packages during the course of the entire holiday season. This year, that number isn’t likely to drop. With a steadily increasing number of gifts being given around Christmastime, companies that are in charge of package transportation must use technology and precision to ensure that there are as few delivery hiccups as possible.

At Actsoft, we engineer digital solutions that help streamline operations for companies in industries like transportation for both the driver and the administrator. By making things easier for all employees involved in the shipping process, our solutions help delivery businesses maintain efficiency, even during their busiest quarters of the year. Two applications in particular that we offer are essential for transportation companies: ELD and GPS Tracking.

Powered by VisTracks, our Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution enables delivery drivers to focus strictly on safe and efficient driving by automatically logging their active time behind the wheel. Rather than having to manually fill out nationally mandated forms for Hours of Service (HOS), semi-truck operators can reach their destinations as quickly and safely as possible with instant documentation preventing their attention from being diverted toward cumbersome paperwork tasks. Information about rest compliance that’s automatically logged on a driver-by-driver basis is readily available to administrators and can help reduce their business’s potential to incur regulatory fines.

On the administrative side, our solutions’ GPS Tracking feature enables location positioning to help keep cargo and trucks safe, even if they become separated from one another. Track semi-truck trailers, the vehicles themselves, and even employees during working hours with accuracy from our software’s live view map. Monitoring all mobile operations via GPS technology helps keep fuel usage optimized, package containers secure, and drivers accountable.

With the power of Actsoft solutions, transportation businesses can maintain ultimate control on their operations. Cut costs for your delivery company and keep efficiency high throughout the frenzied pace of the holiday season using our mobile management software.

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11.08
2019

Radio Waves and Data Security

If, like me, you have a propensity for following tech blogs, you may have heard about a recent snafu that occurred across the pond. The incident I’m referring to involves an amateur radio enthusiast who set up an automatic feed that picked up stray radio waves and converted these transmissions into text. This text was then displayed on a computer screen and its content was broadcast via webcam onto a live feed that was open to anyone who stumbled across it.

The biggest issue here: This setup was picking up messages from the pagers — yes, those seemingly archaic devices we all wanted back in the 90s still do exist — used by medical professionals and, as such, the information that was being recorded and transmitted included sensitive patient information from emergency ambulatory calls. Names, addresses, and injuries were being put on display for anyone to see.

Upon discovering this, the radio enthusiast’s internet provider was contacted and the user — who said he was unaware of the type of information that was actually being recorded and shared — ended the webcam feed. But who knows just how many patients had their personal information splashed across the page of an otherwise innocuous, automated web feed? And it begs another question: How many more patients will have their personal information broadcast over an unsecured network? The UK’s National Health Service said that medical facilities have until 2022 to convert from pagers to a more secure system. That’s a long time to wait for patient confidentiality!

Stateside, however, healthcare providers are governed by regulations set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. With HIPAA, patient confidentiality takes center stage. There are serious repercussions here if it’s discovered that a patient’s private information is leaked, including hefty monetary penalties.

Data security — particularly within the healthcare industry — is a big part of why we developed the Vault version of our Encore solution. With Encore Vault, you get a solution with end-to-end data encryption that guarantees all information recorded is fully secure while at rest and when being transmitted to the home office. We even enlisted a neutral third-party company to verify that our software meets the standards of HIPAA compliance.

Whether you’re an at-home care provider and simply need a secure digital form that allows you to satisfy the requirements of Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act, or you need the benefits that come with the more robust, complete version of our software — which includes Job Dispatching, Timekeeping, near real-time GPS Tracking, and much more — we can help bring greater efficiency to your company while keeping all of your important information leak-free.

Don’t let your healthcare company become a front-page headline for all the wrong reasons. Give us a call and let’s chat about the ways Encore Vault can boost your efficiency and keep your private information secure.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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11.06
2019

What Makes Encore’s Wireless Forms Feature Dynamic?

Encore’s Wireless Forms feature offers a much more robust experience to companies than what traditional paperwork offers. By allowing your mobile employees to document and submit form data from a smartphone or tablet, the feature is able to harness all the capabilities of mobile technology to increase efficiency and detail with every form submission. Here are three specific ways Wireless Forms offers a more dynamic documentation process than traditional paperwork.

Dynamic fields

Perform anything from mathematical equations to signature captures with dynamic fields on Wireless Forms. These portions of a digital form provide more versatility and functionality than traditional paper documents, making the form completion process simpler, smarter, and more detailed. Four types of dynamic fields include:

  • Signature Capture (with a touchscreen device)
  • Photo Capture
  • Audio Capture
  • Barcode Scanning

Data analysis

Form data submitted back to the office from the field is formatted and collected on our Encore solution’s dashboard, making it easy for your administrative team to see and analyze graphical representations of all submitted data from your company’s mobile staff. Manual data entry is eliminated from paper forms to desktop computers, increasing your team’s productivity and providing it with extra insight on your workforce’s activities.

Faster information reception

Instead of having to drive truckloads of paperwork to and from the office, or worse, paying for security companies to transport it far distances, rely on Wireless Forms to transmit information nearly instantly on a highly safeguarded digital platform from mobile devices back to the office. Encore Vault’s heightened security levels are able to help keep document data secure at rest and in transit, allowing you to receive document submissions quickly and confidentially.

Reduce paper costs, damage from handwriting or mathematical errors, and wasted time with Wireless Forms. By providing your team with additional savings avenues, this feature of Encore adds documentation that’s truly dynamic to your workforce’s processes.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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11.06
2019

Truck Safety: Tips and Tools to Promote Good Driving Habits

As the amount of freight transportation activity increases, so do the chances of traffic accidents. Today, trucks carry the majority of freight, about 65 percent, from the United States into Canada and Mexico. With all this movement, there are bound to be accidents. But how many are preventable? What, if anything, can companies do to curb bad driving habits? Experts agree that implementing a proactive program in the workplace is a crucial factor in mitigating traffic incidents. Before we explore possible incentives employers can provide to promote safe driving, let’s look at what commercial truck drivers can do when they get behind the wheel.

  • Get plenty of rest before driving.
    Eat well and stay fit. Driver fatigue and lack of attention can significantly increase your risk of a crash.
  • Slow down in work zones.
    Stay alert. Almost one-third of work zone fatal crashes involve large trucks. Most of these crashes occur during the day. Take your time going through work zones, give yourself plenty of room, and expect the unexpected.
  •  Be aware of your “No Zone.”
    Other drivers may not be aware of the size of your blind spots. One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars take place in the No-Zone areas around a truck. Adjust your mirrors and be vigilant in watching out for vehicles.
  • Always keep your distance.
    Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. In rear-end collisions, regardless of the situation, if you hit someone from behind, you are considered at fault. Large trucks, given their mass, have much greater stopping distances than 4-wheelers. Take advantage of your driving height and anticipate hard braking situations.
  • Always maintain your vehicle.
    It can save your life. Inspect your vehicle before each trip and check your brakes regularly. Brake defects are the most frequently cited out-of-service inspection violation. Learn how to inspect your brakes, identify safety defects, and get them repaired before risking your life and the lives of others.
  • Drive defensively.
    Avoid aggressive drivers and maintain a safe speed. Two-thirds of all traffic fatalities may be caused by aggressive driving behaviors. The only thing excessive speed increases is your chance for a crash.
  • Always fasten your seatbelt.
    Buckle up for safety and vehicle control. If you are in a crash, a seat belt will save your life. It will keep you in your seat and allow for you to maintain control of your truck. Increasing seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on our roadways.

Keeping Track of Your Drivers: How You Can Help?
Now that you know what your drivers should do, how do you know that they’re practicing good driver behavior throughout their shifts? From minor collisions to major accidents, your business depends on safe, conscientious drivers who will mitigate risk and represent your business with integrity. Actsoft offers incredible, affordable, and reliable software solutions for tracking and monitoring driver behavior. Through detailed reports (which you control the frequency of, from daily to monthly to ad hoc and more), you’ll get a full picture of your drivers. Some of the things you can monitor are:

  • Speed
  • Rapid acceleration and deceleration
  • Arrival and departure times

You may also receive vehicle maintenance reminders and alerts informing you when drivers are in restricted or unauthorized areas. This is especially useful when the law prohibits certain freight from entering certain areas, such as neighborhoods and school zones.

If you’re ready to take a step toward a safe, low-risk approach to vehicle management, then give us a call! We can help you choose solutions right for your needs and budget.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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11.01
2019

Professional Services Spotlight: QuickBooks Integration

Last week, we introduced you to the world of our Professional Services team, a group of talented individuals who are responsible for spearheading the more labor-intensive integration projects that some of our customers don’t have the resources to execute for themselves.

While we continue to explore the various projects that our Professional Services team takes on, you’ll quickly see that their capabilities are quite extensive. Last time, we showed you how they were able to save one company a lot of time and money by creating a custom business intelligence dashboard. This week, we’re going to take a look at how they handled QuickBooks integration with another of our customers.

Order Integration with QuickBooks

The Challenge: This delivery service was using QuickBooks Online (QBO) as their invoicing tool to keep track of orders that needed to be delivered. Historically, they would print out the invoices for their drivers at the beginning of each workday, which drivers used to appropriately load their vehicles and then refer to at each delivery site.

Rather than continue to rely on this tedious process, the customer wanted to have invoice information automatically feed into Encore via the Dispatching tool. This would allow the back office to save time and resources by cutting back on so much printing. Plus, drivers wouldn’t have to haul piles of paperwork around every day.

The Solution: Our Professional Services team was able to create a workflow that synced the customer’s QuickBooks Online account with our Encore solution. So now, whenever the customer creates an invoice using QBO, the integration our team put together — using Microsoft Flow — automatically generates an order in Encore.

Taking it a step further, they also added a feature that would create a PDF of each QBO invoice. These invoices can be uploaded to a Dropbox account, with a sharable URL included on each order form, allowing drivers to easily view the full invoice, as the customer would receive it, right on their phones.

The solution that Professional Services came up with for this customer greatly sped up their processes and ultimately saved them both time and money. It’s just another example of the innovative thinking this team puts forward and demonstrates the potential return for your business if you were to take advantage of their expertise.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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10.29
2019

Using Encore’s Timekeeping Feature to Make Payroll Management Easier

Payroll doesn’t have to be complicated for your mobile workforce. With Encore, your employees can clock in and out from the app that they already use for everyday operations, giving them an intuitive new way to manage their time schedules while on the job.

Even though our solutions can’t entirely take the place of your team’s payroll software, API integration allows Timekeeping data your employees have recorded to seamlessly sync with the system you currently have. This ability simplifies the payroll management process and consolidates things for your company.

Additional benefits of taking your timesheets mobile include reduced overtime, neater organization, and enhanced productivity. By giving your staff a way to register time-punches directly from a smartphone or tablet, they’re equipped with the tools they need to stop working as soon as their days are up, without having to drive back to the office first to clock out while still on company hours. This can also help increase the amount of work each individual on your team can accomplish daily by giving them more available time in the field, resulting in a boost to your business’s bottom line. Fit in more customer requests per day by using Timekeeping to help eliminate unnecessary drive time as a routine task for your mobile employees.

Electronic timesheets are also able to improve your business’s processes by enhancing its level of organization. Smarter storage and an absence of illegible handwriting throughout the timekeeping process both work to improve accuracy, as there’s less points for errors to potentially occur when timecards aren’t having to be regularly filled out by hand and manually delivered to the office.

With the power of Encore’s Timekeeping feature, your business can embrace all the benefits that mobile technology has to offer to the remote workforces of today. Find out more about what integrating timesheets with your existing payroll system can do to help your company save by scheduling a live, customized webinar here.

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10.25
2019

Professional Services Spotlight: Business Intelligence Dashboard

Here at Actsoft, we pride ourselves not only on our ability to provide companies with affordable, easy-to-implement solutions that help them reshape the way they do business every day, but also in being able to offer additional services that go one step further and help implement our software in ways that companies may never have realized was possible, nor would have had the ability to execute themselves.

For these types of projects, our Professional Services team is available to take on the intricate back-end work on your behalf, handling all the development work necessary to get you up and running as fast as possible with a more powerful, time- and money-saving system in place, to help make your company realize its true potential.

So what types of projects can our Professional Services team handle? Glad you asked. We’re going to start sharing a selection of use cases — all from real Actsoft customers — to give you a better understanding of just what our talented team can do.

Creating a Custom Business Intelligence Dashboard

The Challenge: This customer, who operates a refrigeration service business, needed an easy way for their technicians to quickly review customer history and know what tasks had previously been performed. Historically, their method was inefficient and required techs to call the office, relay equipment serial numbers, request that an on-the-spot report be pulled, and then have the service history relayed.

Making matters worse, there was no way for the office to pull reports based on serial numbers. They could only search by user and date range and since there was no way to know when the equipment was last serviced and by whom, they had to pull a much broader report and scour through significantly more results for the serial number in question in order to find the needed information.

To say the least, it was not efficient.

The Solution: Our Professional Services team was able to create an integration that automatically saved all of the company’s equipment history forms, which then fed into a business intelligence dashboard that displays all submissions. They built a search filter that allows users to search specifically for the serial number. From there, they could review the history specifically for that unit.

To make it even easier, our team generated a URL for the dashboard, meaning that technicians can easily access the database from the field (as long as they have mobile service) and search for the equipment history themselves … without having to call the office.

Just imagine all the time this company is now saving from this easy-to-use feature. That’s the kind of game-changing solution our Professional Services team excels at delivering to our customers. Think about what they could do for your business.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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10.22
2019

Actsoft’s Strategic Partnership With Geotab

As a strategic partner of ours that supplies top-notch fleet tracking devices and fleet technology, Geotab is the perfect complement to Actsoft’s solutions. Our alliance with Geotab allows us to pair ultra-advanced hardware and fleet diagnostics with the workforce management capabilities of our solutions to give your team a truly robust digital management platform.

Through Geotab GO9 devices, the MyGeotab software, and Actsoft integration, companies can have a rich and detailed fleet management experience, gaining tools for advanced collision detection, driver reports, and more, as well as the features they need to effectively manage all other aspects of their workforces.

After employees have exited their business vehicles and begin working, insight can sometimes become lost; this is where handset tracking comes in. Our solutions provide device monitoring technology, allowing you to keep tabs on each member of your team during working hours in the field. In addition to handset tracking, we also provide solutions for Timekeeping, Job Dispatching, Intra-Company Messaging, and Wireless Forms, allowing your team to take its processes fully digital and control its operations with higher efficiency. When paired with Geotab’s proficiency in the fleet management sphere, our solutions can provide even greater potential for your business.

Use Actsoft and Geotab to gain full insight on both your fleet and remote workforce in near real-time. Our strategic partnership with Geotab allows us to expand the capabilities of our mobile management solutions, help our existing customers continue to succeed, and create meaningful new relationships both now and in the future.

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