08.01
2018

Geofences and City Construction

Constructing the megalopolises of today requires some of the most cutting-edge technology available. In a time where space in downtown areas is limited and building strategies have been trending upward rather than outward, the importance of modern tools to contractors can’t be understated.

These state-of-the-art tools come in many different forms, including both digital and mechanical ones. Workforces that are tasked with the responsibility of putting together an entire city’s infrastructure from the ground up need everything from heavy machinery to workforce management solutions continuously at their disposal, in order to complete projects in timely fashion.

On the workforce management side, Actsoft can help construction companies pinpoint the locations of their assets, fleet vehicles, and mobile workers in crowded urban environments. Features of our digital solutions such as Geofences allow for the establishment of up to 30 customized points around remote work zones, clearly defining the perimeters of job sites via GPS.

Using the power of Geofences, contracting workforces can further optimize their productivity levels, and provide near real-time information on what’s truly happening in the field back to their headquartered administrators. Once geofence boundaries have been set, businesses are able to use them in conjunction with other Actsoft features such as Alerts and Asset Tracking.

Companies dealing predominantly in high-rise and downtown construction in particular significantly benefit from our asset monitoring systems, because they’re versatile. Any time a piece of equipment enters or exits a geofence’s set boundaries, Alerts will automatically notify designated individuals within their organizations. And, as the shapes of geofences are highly customizable, any obstacles to plotting accurate site boundaries are out of sight and out of mind. Irregularly-shaped geofences in space-deficient city construction can be precisely drawn to contain everything that a business needs, and nothing it doesn’t.

Allow Actsoft to help your construction company improve the security of its valuable equipment, and ensure that your team is where it needs to be during routine workdays. With our solutions’ Geofences feature, explore all of the benefits that modern GPS technology is readily offering to your workforce.

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07.24
2018

Dispatching’s Important Role in Directing a Mobile Workforce

Effective communication between remote employees and management remains an essential ingredient to the upkeep of virtually any company’s daily business operations. For organizations with mobile workforces in particular, these connections are even more important. Administrators at corporate headquarters must conduct a symphony of efficiency when it comes to managing their remote employees, and a better way to orchestrate it is with Mobile Dispatching.

This tool allows businesses to send out new directives to remote workers wirelessly, all from the comfort of a centralized location. By tapping into the power of cell phones and other forms of mobile technology, Mobile Dispatching is able to notify employees in the field about new job instructions through web portal integration. At Actsoft, it’s an integral component to our powerful suite of business solutions.

We’ve carefully engineered one of the most effective Mobile Dispatching applications, taking into account both practicality and ease of use within our development process. Actsoft’s Mobile Dispatching system even displays the availabilities of dispersed staff members, giving administrators greater insight into their workforce’s daily activities.

Coordinating resources and employees alike is also easier than ever using our solutions’ Closest To feature. As new work locations are confirmed in the field, you’ll be able to identify the nearest workers to them and route labor based on proximity. With a tandem of Mobile Dispatching and Closest To, increase the efficiency of your business’s responsiveness to new customers, and save money on fuel costs by reducing unnecessary trips.

The advent of mobile workforces has created a need for smarter, simpler business solutions that remove confusion from the task of managing scattered staff. Allow Actsoft to help your business improve its on-the-fly communication through Mobile Dispatching, and eliminate the need for employees to return to your home office any time new instructions are given.

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04.30
2018

Welding: A Trade That’s Becoming More Valuable Than Ever

Welding is a profession that makes everything from wrought-iron fencing to skyscraper infrastructure possible, and in today’s ever-modernizing world, it couldn’t be more important. The process of transforming raw metals into specialized objects is a fascinating one to watch, and with torches often times reaching temperatures in excess of 5,000 degrees when heating up metals, welding requires a unique skillset of close attention to detail and prolonged stamina.

Within the realm of manufacturing, welding as a trade has grown and developed significantly. The scope of sectors that this valuable profession now has a part in is wide-ranging. Construction, modern art, aviation and aerospace technologies are just a few of the industries that rely on skilled welders for different aspects of their respective operations, making it a trade that’s certainly booming in the 21st century.

Machinery’s rise has given further fuel to the trade of metal-working’s explosive growth, and as mechanical power becomes increasingly commonplace, the demand for skilled welders continues to skyrocket. At Actsoft, we understand the importance of manufacturing and welding jobs to the world’s economy of today. As a result, we’ve taken steps to design cutting-edge applications that can assist in facilitating ideal operations for businesses in these spheres.

Welding can be a dangerous job, with torches heating metal to thousands of degrees and showers of scalding hot sparks frequently peppering the work zones of employees. GPS and Asset Tracking alike let companies in this line of work know exactly where their remote employees are in near real-time, leaving no emergency situation to chance. Any expensive or potentially dangerous work equipment belonging to a company is also able to be closely monitored using Asset Tracking and geofencing within our suite of solutions. Trucks that are stocked with valuable equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace, and if they’re constantly being monitored for unapproved activities, administrative teams in welding and manufacturing can enjoy true peace of mind when it comes to managing the placement of their business assets.

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04.23
2018

Managing the Effects of Severe Weather Using Modern Solutions

In Tampa, Florida, Actsoft’s home city, intense weather can at times be commonplace. During the spring and summertime especially, pulses of violet-colored lightning frequently slice across the waterfront’s horizon, illuminating the bay’s rippling water at the edges of Tampa’s Riverwalk district. The city is commonly referred to as the “lightning capital of the USA” due to its high frequency of thunderstorms, but it’s more of a marketing phrase, as another Floridian city, Fort Myers, currently holds the science-backed title of America’s most lightning-struck city.

Regardless, the Tampa Bay region still receives more than its fair share of inclement weather on a yearly basis. Tampa’s National Hockey League team is even named after the bolts of electricity that accompany the torrential downpours and growling, charcoal-colored thunderclouds that characterize an average Gulf of Mexico–fueled storm.

These run-of-the-mill thunderstorms typically don’t last very long and only have minimal wind gusts accompanying them, which is something that Tampa Bay residents have grown accustomed to dealing with regularly in everyday life. Any widespread devastation that larger, more powerful weather phenomena like hurricanes and tornadoes can cause obviously isn’t typical for these types of routine showers. However, if and when a brutal natural disaster does make landfall on a major metropolis, Actsoft is there to help its businesses restore, repair, and assist those who are in need.

In disaster-stricken areas where maintaining clear communication is a constant challenge, our solutions can especially help companies in utilities, construction, and field service foster strong systems of workforce cohesiveness. With elements such as downed power lines and catastrophic flooding causing glaring safety concerns for both workers and civilians alike, tools within our software such as GPS Tracking allow for the positions of mobile employees to be reported back to a company’s home office in near real-time. This keeps administrators constantly in-the-know about their employees’ whereabouts during working hours, and makes pinpointing their locations easier in the context of emergency situations. A powerful tandem of GPS Tracking and Mobile Dispatching also makes sending out assistance as streamlined and efficient as possible, particularly for businesses that are tasked with cleanup efforts after a catastrophic weather event.

During critical situations where restoring power grids and infrastructure are the highest priority, companies in construction, utilities, and field service can all lean on Actsoft solutions to optimize the productivity and efficiency of their mobile employees. While certain factors such as severe storms will never be completely unpreventable, the developments that we’ve made in management technology can help workforces with mitigating aftermath and restoring cities faster than ever to regular sustainability.

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04.12
2018

Workflow Checks and Construction-Site Safety

Last week in St. Petersburg, a bustling city just south of Actsoft’s home base in Tampa, a giant crane — roughly ten stories tall — tasked with hauling heavy loads of construction material, toppled to the ground. It narrowly missed at least one worker on the ground by just a few feet, while many others scrambled for safety. Thankfully there were no serious injuries reported. The mishap took place at the site of the future St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters and was apparently the result of the crane operator attempting to move too much weight at once.

A different crane crashed to its side earlier this year in Austin, Texas, while attempting to lift a large concrete slab. In this case, one of the chains attached to the wall appeared to snap, setting forth a series of events that left the large piece of equipment laying horizontal on the ground. (Again, there were fortunately no serious injuries.)

Naturally, it’s always in everyone’s best interest to avoid any type of mishap. That goes without saying. But construction sites are prime spots for them to happen. There’s a lot of large equipment, generally many people engaged in a lot of different projects, and plenty of interference from the elements, among other factors. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to not only be prepared to shift gears in the event that something does happen, but to take all the proper precautions ahead of time, and putting procedures into place that can help prevent disasters before they happen.

That’s where Actsoft’s tools can come into play. For example, crews can use Wireless Forms to help guarantee all necessary steps are complete before advancing to the next stage of any project. And with the new Form Workflows feature, a single form can be digitally passed from one worker to the next, just as projects tend to pass through many hands; if a step is inadvertently missed, or something isn’t up to snuff, the form can be bounced back to make sure each action is properly completed.

Take the recent incident in St. Pete. While local news reports cited user error for the crane tipping, what if a daily reminder (via checklist) could have helped prevent too much cargo from being lifted inappropriately? There were no injuries, but there very easily could have been. Plus, think of the time lost, and the expense, that came from what turned out to be an easily avoidable mistake. (Not to mention, the trauma from those involved in the experience itself.)

Proper checks and balances are what keep a business running smoothly. With systems in place to maintain standard operating procedures, things run a lot more efficiently and safely. And because of that, at the end of the day, all parties involved benefit.

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04.06
2018

HBO’s “Westworld” and Behind-the-Scenes Management

In late 2016, HBO fans were introduced to a fantasy world that reinvented the classic western, adding an element of science-fiction to the concept we’re all familiar with. “Westworld,” based on the 1973 film of the same name, is about an expansive, immersive theme park that caters to the elite. Those who are willing (and able) to shell out the hefty price of admission are treated to a cornucopia of possibility, where the only limit is their imagination.

On April 22, fans will once again be whisked away into this western reverie-cum-reality. The theme park, which spreads across enough land to encompass multiple towns, stretches of desert, and shows absolutely no sign of modern civilization, is sought after by people looking to lose themselves in an experience that allows them to leave their lives behind, if only for a little while.

Westworld is populated mostly by highly advanced animatronic “hosts,” who are so incredibly lifelike, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish them from flesh-and-blood human beings. The guests are treated to whatever western-themed outing they are looking for, be it an old-fashioned showdown with a bad guy or an afternoon of companionship at a saloon.

While the guests are allowed to lose themselves in the fantasy that Westworld is, behind the scenes is an entirely different matter. The scientists and technical experts responsible for creating the hosts also came up with a way to keep constant surveillance over the hosts. The puppet masters, so to speak, monitor the park at all times, assuring that robots are functioning properly, to the standard of patrons, and that any abnormalities are able to be addressed expediently and with as little interruption as possible, so as not to break the illusion.

In many ways, this front-end/back-end relationship we see here reflects the experience of using our software in your business’s day-to-day. When you have a staff that largely works in the field — the hosts, so to speak — you need a way to make sure they remain on task, regardless of who is or isn’t there to monitor in person. GPS Tracking gives managers back at the office the inside scoop on where their employees are at any given time. In other words, if they’re supposed to be with a customer at a certain time, you can make sure they’re on track for that appointment and, if there are any delays, customers can be notified.

Knowing where employees are also lets you choose wisely when tasking new job assignments. Reviewing the GPS coordinates, along with the open work orders for the day, managers can easily assign new projects to the person that makes the most sense, in order to maximize efficiency.

And making the switch to wireless forms over the wasteful use of piles of papers isn’t just a great choice for environment-minded folks. The clarity of forms filled out digitally, versus sheets filled out with illegible and/or smudgeable (not to mention, easy to misplace) script, guarantees a smoother processing once submitted to managers; this, in turn, reduces the chances of inputting misinformation on file, therefore minimizing the threat of customer disputes.

Much like in the fantasy world portrayed by “Westworld,” our solutions help to simplify an otherwise complicated undertaking, so the experience you are delivering to your customers runs as smoothly as possible. The processes remain on top of any potential hiccups, and the end result is a satisfied customer that is none the wiser about anything that happened behind the scenes.

Season 2 of Westworld returns April 22, 2018, on HBO.

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03.02
2018

Ancient Greek Artifacts and Construction Delays

For more than a decade, construction crews have tunneled away in Thessaloniki, an ancient Greek city steeped with history. The painstaking project will eventually yield an expanded, modern metro system to whisk residents and tourists alike throughout a series of underground tunnels. But, with the entire city being a veritable excavation site, this project is an exceptionally massive undertaking, with crews having to tread lightly as myriad archaeological discoveries are made along the way.

To date, more than 300,000 artifacts have surfaced during excavations in the city. The latest came this week, as construction crews worked near the Hagia Sophia, an eighth-century church constructed in the likeness of the Istanbul church of the same nameA headless statue of Aphrodite — the Greek goddess of love and beauty — was unearthed, along with a well-preserved fourth-century floor mosaic.

In a destination like Thessaloniki, a region rife with still-undiscovered ancient goodies waiting to be found, regular construction delays were anticipated from the start — particularly in the wake of sister city Athens’ metro installation ahead of the 2004 Summer Olympics. But knowing that there are likely to be delays and then confronting the actual roadblocks as they arise are two entirely different things.

Because of this, construction work in particular requires an incredible amount of foresight and, more importantly, a heavy dose of flexibility. Crews need to be cognizant of the fact that project timetables are, in effect, well-educated guesses and, when the unexpected arises, they need to be ready and willing to make adjustments and keep pressing forward as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.

Actsoft’s solutions are ideal for keeping construction projects — unanticipated changes and all — as on track as possible, so you’re better equipped to make that goal and move on to the next assignment on time.

As unforeseen tasks arise, supervisors can use our software to quickly message individuals or entire groups as needed, to stop or detour work. They can then easily dispatch new work orders to appropriate crew members, determining assignments based on actual real-time availability. Plus, with these additional work orders being drafted digitally, there’s no concern about paperwork being lost in the shuffle. Administrators can see where each assignment is at any given time, thanks to near real-time status changes and mobile connectivity to the cloud.

GPS tracking on equipment pinpoints the location of any vital machinery that may need to be commandeered in order to rectify whatever barricade manifests, with alerts set up to assure that these tools stay within a certain, customizable radius (geofence) as needed, and don’t wind up going missing, resulting in further delays. Once the surprise project is complete, those alerts can be removed and the equipment released to the next most-needed area.

And our newest feature, Form Workflows, streamlines the process of completing tasks that need input from multiple staffers, including supervisor approvals of fulfilled assignments. Available to top-tier members, each Forms page can be set up so that they are assigned to one of a predetermined list of users as the project moves ahead. If something is missing or wasn’t done correctly, a user can reject an assignment and kick it back to the previous person to make adjustments.

So as you wend your way along various avenues to maximize your construction company’s course of actions when confronted with a headless Athena, consider the ways Actsoft can best help you reach your final destination with as few bumps as possible.

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06.05
2017

Wisconsin Mill Explosion – Actsoft in Emergencies

An explosion tore through a corn and ethanol mill in Cambria, Wisconsin late on Wednesday, June 1 2017. The subsequent fire claimed the lives of three employees within the plant and wounded over a dozen more.  The cause of the explosion remains unknown, but medical helicopters and several fire departments quickly responded to the blaze.

While the cause of the explosion is still a mystery, its effects are severe and long lasting. As with any emergency, the aftermath always begs one question from those involved: How can we do better next time?

While an ideal world would see no emergencies, we must realistically assume they will happen and prepare ourselves accordingly. In an environment like the corn mill, an efficiently coordinated response in the face of an emergency is the difference between a successful evacuation and a tragedy. While every organization has established plans “in case of emergency,” it is commonly believed that most plans go out the window in the face of a crisis. In order to combat the inevitable confusion that follows the collapse of a plan, transparency is key in the event of an emergency.

Actsoft facilitates transparency between workers and managers in a factory environment with its mobile device solutions. From a web portal, managers can relay messages across their workforce in order to coordinate their movements during an emergency. Furthermore, managers can establish groups of workers in order to deliver instructions that are more specific to intended groups of workers.

The tracking capabilities of Actsoft’s solutions enable constant visibility of employees in near real-time. During an emergency where workers are unaccounted for and/or trapped, the speed at which rescue teams can find them becomes imperative to their survival. As long as their mobile devices maintain their transmission and remain on their person, the tracking features will help ensure that any lost employees are found.

Emergencies are both unfortunate and unavoidable. We can plan a reaction to them, but plans are rarely adhered to when tensions are through the roof. The next best thing to do is to plan for the confusion following a crisis and figure out ways to reduce it, while realigning everyone involved with the initial plan. Actsoft provides the software to create a safety net underneath a plan that has fallen through.

 

For greater insight into what Actsoft can do to help manage your company’s risk feel free to explore more of www.actsoft.com or click below to speak to us directly.

 

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05.22
2017

Busting Burglars: Home Appliances & Tracking

Imagine having just slated a recently constructed home for closing. There could be anywhere from a few days to a week before the closing actually occurs. During this window, appliances are installed within the home. This is also when thieves tend to target these homes to steal those appliances.

Charlotte, North Carolina experienced a string of burglaries last year that targeted the appliances within homes slated for closing. The perpetrators, in each instance, made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of appliances. Each appliance stolen is a loss incurred that has little-to-no chance of being resolved even if the perpetrators are captured.  Unfortunately, when items are stolen, the costs fall on the owners. It’s a reoccurring theme nationwide.

Elsewhere, over $30,000 worth of appliances were taken with neither the contractors nor the homeowners aware of their whereabouts. With the authorities stretched too thin to monitor every home slated for closing, and burglars not fading out of style anytime soon, what can you do to protect your assets?

Tracking.

In order to defend against thieves, tracking your assets is one of the primary choices to make. Utilizing GPS to remain aware of your assets’ locations and its impact were outlined in Workforce Management & The Return on Investment: Vehicles, Part I. While that piece focuses on maintaining awareness of large pieces of equipment, the concept of monitoring unattended equipment can be applied to household appliances.

Actsoft has the CalAmp TTU 620, a battery-powered device that can be attached to appliances once the homes are slated for closing. Once attached, the devices send a signal relaying its whereabouts as long as its batteries retain power, which can last up to an entire year depending on use. Its relatively small size makes the CalAmp TTU 620 the perfect companion for unattended appliances due to being unobtrusive and of low energy cost.

 

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