04.09
2019

The Importance of Driver Safety

The weather is warmer, school is coming to a close for the kids, and vacation season is nearly upon us. It’s a happy time of year with the snow just about all melted away. It only means one thing: more activity on the roadways.

Anyone who drives on a regular basis, whether it’s to and from work, or someone who drives a vehicle for a living, knows it’s imperative to be safe on the roadways. Make sure the tires are at a good grade, make sure the oil is fresh, and everything else with your vehicle is completely safe.

Still, the biggest component of driving safely is, well, driver safety. Things become tougher on the roadways with more and more vehicles clogging up lanes. This is especially true in areas that have high volumes of traffic and less than three lanes on each side for traffic.

Driving in an area with smalltown design, but big city aspirations can be a nightmare. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, as many as 100,000 people will clog the roadways during the day in certain spots of the highway. Despite the large volume of drivers, there are only two lanes in each direction for traffic. Add onto that about 100 yards for entry ramps, which is not a ton of room to merge, it’s not a great situation for hundreds of vehicles to go from two and one-half lanes to two.

The four-lane highway that may be better served as a six-lane roadway is not unique to Allentown. It may seem silly for experienced drivers, but it never hurts to have a reminder of safe driving habits for roadways that are difficult to maneuver. Anyone from an urban area is used to crowded roadways, but with plenty of lanes to get around. Anyone from a rural area is used to dealing with tight roads. Combining the two may not be a daily occurrence for every driver out there. Make sure you’re taking every precaution necessary to make it home at the end of the day.

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03.26
2019

The Importance of Efficiency

Running a business these days is tough. With employees in and out of the office and resources to keep track of, there are a lot of moving parts in any industry. It’s important to stay on top of what’s going on inside and outside the office.

Being off by just a few facts here or there can snowball on a company. In one of our case studies, Jeff Boone and Paul Headley of Napa Auto Parts in Louisiana shared his experience with “the little things.” Headley said that the gas wasted in two minutes of idling equates to about the amount of gas from a mile of driving for their vehicles. Reducing that amount of wasted gas with Actsoft’s solutions reduced the store’s fuel usage by 10 percent, or about $20,000 a year as Boone estimated.

The numbers for each business will vary by size, how many vehicles there are, and other factors. The key is to eliminate the little things so they don’t balloon into bigger issues. When a car is left running money is sent straight out the exhaust pipe. But idling is not the only issue we’ve seen with companies. Time management is a big issue especially when companies work in collaboration with others, have to accommodate customers, and rely on information exchanged between the office and field.

Championing time management is a huge accomplishment of Actsoft. The Denver Transit Partners (DTP), a collaboration of several construction companies that came together on a mass transit railway system in Denver, had as many as 45 different paper forms to get through the day. Forms were filled out onsite, sent to the proper offices, reviewed, and finally sent back to the field just for a simple order to be executed. The DTP also had to keep track of the hours many different employees worked, which can be problematic in such a large operation. The construction managers of DTP started using Wireless Forms and one of the safety managers, Craig Clairmont, said using these forms saved about three hours of paper processing a day. Gathering all the needed information was streamlined for them and can do the same for many other businesses.

Even if Actsoft’s solutions can only save a business a few dollars here and there, it makes sense to try and take advantage of what you can as a business manager. It’s never an easy decision to make a change, but you can see what others have had to say about Actsoft in our case study library and in our video library. Accuracy matters in running a business, so make sure you know exactly what you need to run your business effectively.

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03.05
2019

The Rise of Luxury Delivery Vans

Not all vehicles are created the same. An F-150 will never beat a Mustang in a race, a Camry won’t outhaul a Tacoma, and an Escalade probably won’t do as well in fuel consumption as a hybrid. There are certain disparities in vehicles that are obvious and aren’t up for debate. But what about this trend of mixing luxury with blue-collar vehicles?

It’s not a new trend, as the New York Times ran a story on the vehicles in 2011, but it’s a trend that still may be hard for many to imagine. These vehicles look like service vans but are larger and infinitely more luxurious. One Business Insider stayed in a luxury van for a week, comparing it to a small apartment.

The trend of utilizing oversized vans customized with lavish amenities has extended its innovation to the office. According to an article from Bloomberg Business, luxury vans are being used as mobile offices to conduct business meetings for CEOs and executives while on long commutes to the office.

Howard Becker, owner of California-based Becker Auto Design, said in an interview for the article with Bloomberg there’s significant revenue in customizing luxury vans for business use.

“Even in the first world, the major metropolitan areas are all behind in infrastructure,” Becker said. “What drives our business is the ability for our customers to get things done even when they’re driving, as opposed to sacrificing that time. The candy red Ferrari is still in the garage for fun on weekends, but they’re thinking, at least on weekdays, ‘I can’t afford to drive myself anymore.'”

To keep the look and feel of having an office like atmosphere inside these luxury vans designers have uniquely designed the vans with Wi-Fi, touchscreen, TVs, and airline pod-style seats, and other amenities can be added.

While they may be of some use for mobile businessmen, do these high-priced vans “on steroids” as the New York Times article referred to them, have any practical use for a fleet owner?

The “apartment on wheels” won’t have a significant impact on large mobile workforces, but there is a “Goldilocks zone” for van size. The Mercedes-Benz Metris is considered to be a van that is just right for fleet owners. Mercedes-Benz has a division of its company dedicated to making service vans and FleetOwner reports that people within the company believe the Metris is their best work.

The Metris is a mid-sized van that has a 5,000-pound towing capacity which is 50% more payload capacity than smaller Mercedes-Benz vans and 45% more cargo volume in a vehicle that can fit into a garage. While the larger luxury vans may take up half a city block, the Metris is efficient for its size. The Metris is powered by a 208-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with a 7-speed transmission.

These vehicles are certainly a high priority for whoever purchases them and can be targeted for theft, like any other service vehicle. If an individual or business is going to invest in such a lavish vehicle, it needs to be protected. One certain way to ensure the safety of these mammoth machines is with an industry-leading asset-tracking software that can be used in conjunction with the vehicle like what is offered at Actsoft.

At the price of $25,995 for mid-sized vans like the Metris, a fleet of service vehicles from a company synonymous with luxury may not be out of the question for some companies. Don’t expect any plumbers to roll around town with a mobile house to fix bathrooms, but performance and luxury don’t have to be mutually exclusive within the service industry or for businessmen on the go.

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12.04
2018

Handling the Inefficiencies of Harsh Winter Weather

The biting cold of winter can bring with it a slew of inefficiencies for organizations that must regularly deploy a mobile workforce. From icy roadways causing driving hazards to snowstorms affecting work performed outdoors, the toll that harsh winter weather imposes on operations should always be accounted for in any business’s game plan.

Construction and transportation companies in particular must deal with some of the worst symptoms of bad winter weather. As either road travel or working outdoors are essential to both of these industries, safety remains a major concern. And while our software can’t prevent bad weather from occurring, it can help your team stay on its feet during these kinds of less-than-ideal conditions. Features of Actsoft solutions like GPS Tracking make navigating roads simpler to do, especially when icy conditions have impacted available routes. In the case of an emergency situation, pinged positions of your employees’ mobile devices and fleet vehicles help your business know the whereabouts of its workforce’s various pieces on the fly. These positions also assist your administrators with finding the best routes for company drivers to take to job locations in the field.

Building delays from blizzards or other forms of inclement seasonal weather can also pose threats to your business’s success. However, our applications can help you communicate more efficiently with your staff during times like these, and find a more intuitive method to convey crucial information about project statuses. Save time and money by coordinating your workforce from the convenience of a single digital solution, and connect your team across distanced locations, even in the midst of bleak conditions outside.

Through the power of Actsoft, fight the inefficiencies that harsh winter weather can create for your company’s objectives. Our products make gaining insight into field operations and employee communication easy, no matter the amount of forecasted snowfall.

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10.11
2018

Industry Spotlight: Actsoft Solutions in Transportation

In the wake of a brutal natural disaster, supplies are in critical demand. Before power restoration and rebuilding comes the provision of emergency aid to those in need, which often times comes in the form of bottled water, medicine, and food deliveries to shelters, and the transportation industry plays an essential role in accomplishing this.

Bringing goods to areas that have been hit hard by a volatile weather system isn’t always easy, as road blockages, flood waters, felled power lines, abnormal traffic patterns, and other obstructions can impair efficient delivery. However, transportation companies that offer assistance in scenarios like this can use Actsoft solutions to mitigate operational hindrances, and better help people that have been caught in some of nature’s most destructive potential.

GPS Tracking

Even after a storm has passed, there’s still a significant level of danger in reaching areas that have been damaged by blistering winds, torrential downpours and structure-devouring storm surges. Our GPS Tracking feature helps transportation companies monitor the near real-time positions of their employees, fleet vehicles, and assets, and enhances driver safety by keeping administrators constantly in-the-know about their locations. Should an emergency occur on the job, supervisors can know exactly where any of their dispersed employees are, making emergency situations much more manageable.

Dispatching

Mobile technology and Actsoft innovations work together to bring dispersed workforces into a more connected state. If adjustments in delivery assignments need to be made on the fly, our Dispatching tool allows administrators to contact their drivers nearly instantly through integrated desktop-to-smartphone communications. With relief efforts requiring high levels of flexibility, Dispatching is a valuable asset for 21st century transportation companies to have in their repertoire, especially during times of catastrophic weather.

Traffic Overlay

After a weather event like a hurricane has ceased, it may take a while for traffic patterns return to semblances of normalcy. Emergency deliveries, however, don’t have time to wait when the public is in dire need of survival supplies. Using Traffic Overlay, a recent enhancement to our Encore solution, organizations can see near real-time congestion patterns on their live view GPS map, and then select the most efficient routes for their drivers to take to affected areas.

Extreme weather phenomena are often unpredictable. Let the power of our solutions revolutionize your transportation business into the most productive, efficient, and versatile version of itself, and provide disaster-stricken areas with unparalleled assistance during aftermath recovery.

 If you’d like to donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief fund, click here.

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08.29
2018

Industry Spotlight: Actsoft Solutions in Agriculture

Agriculture has remained essential to human existence over the course of history. As society has developed, the process of growing and harvesting crops has become even more efficient than ever before, thanks to developments in technology over time which have helped this particular industry expand in terms of both volume and future potential. Farming is also an industry that’s proving to be more and more crucial as the world’s populace continues to increase. Still, it’s no easy feat to coordinate and provide a constant supply of food internationally.

To help facilitate this vertical’s around-the-clock processes, Actsoft solutions are here to provide practical applications for better operations management. These three features of our business solutions in particular are some of the most crucial for companies in the industry of agriculture, primarily due to their ability to enhance efficiency and keep valuable equipment in the field safe.

Asset Tracking

With Asset Tracking, farming businesses can keep tabs on the positions of important tools such as harvesting equipment and transportation supplies at virtually any time of the day. Collecting and distributing huge portions of crops in today’s age requires the use of heavy machinery to accomplish, and often times that heavy machinery isn’t cheap. Keep your agriculture company’s assets and equipment safeguarded 24/7 by using Asset Tracking to monitor them via GPS technology.

Wireless Forms

As another addition to the repertoire of the modern workforce, Wireless Forms’ applications in farming are frequently underestimated. Use this feature to streamline information flows on a digital scale, and complete documents such as orders, equipment repair forms, and data logs about harvest yields without having to deal with the inconveniences of paper.

Alerts

Alerts are able to add further security to assets by sending automatic notifications to property owners if a piece of equipment is moved without their authorization. In certain cases, Alerts is a feature that can also enable farmers to prolong the lifespan of their vehicular equipment by reminding them whenever routine maintenance needs to be performed. Through intelligent reporting, this capability helps agriculture businesses save on their bottom line by helping to reduce instances of equipment loss, and prevent cases of possible damage from occurring.

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08.22
2018

ELD: The Future of Transportation

Automation is the name of the game in 2018.

Businesses are increasingly in search of ways to take old, cumbersome processes and revamp them into contemporary forces of efficiency, and transportation companies in particular are a prime example of this trend. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are becoming viewed as the true future of the shipping industry as a whole.

Demand for reliable ELD technology stems from the need to standardize the methods in which transportation companies go about complying with federal regulations. The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) has instituted mandates called Hours of Service (HoS) that require corporations to record and report certain information about their employees’ driving data. During roadside inspections, operators of semi-trucks must meet certain criteria derived from their logged information, particularly as it relates to drivers getting adequate amounts of rest. These HoS regulations were designed in part to help improve road safety, and reduce the potential for drivers to fall asleep at the wheel during lengthy cross-country travels.

If a corporation’s drivers don’t comply with HoS mandates, their business risks having to pay costly fines, or even worse: they may risk higher possibilities of car crashes involving employees. Injuries and lawsuits from roadway accidents are two things that all transportation companies seek to avoid as much as possible, which makes ELD an especially valuable tool of the 21st century.

ELD solutions help to improve operations for transportation companies by automating the logging of driver data, making it easier than ever for them to avoid HoS infractions. Our ELD solution is powered by VisTracks, and it relies on a unique software/hardware combination to track driving information. Through minimal training requirements, on-screen documentation tools, and easy-to-use administration features, our solution remains one of the most intuitive on the market.

With Actsoft’s fully FMCSA-certified ELD application, allow your company’s drivers to focus on driving safely and efficiently by digitizing their driving information. Let our solution eliminate the hassles of logging travel data, and in turn increase your team’s productivity, accuracy, and bottom line savings today.

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07.09
2018

Natural Wonders: 5 Perfect Places for Hiking

The ability to track your drivers’ behaviors is tantamount to money in your pocket. When you make sure that the people responsible for taking your fleet on the road are practicing stellar driving habits — like minimizing unnecessary vehicle idling times, keeping a steady pace instead of burning fuel by speeding, and curbing that tendency to slam on the brakes needlessly — you drastically cut back on fuel consumption.

Studies have shown that just cutting down on aggressive driving alone can save you anywhere from 10 to 40 percent on fuel. Whether fuel prices are sky high or at record lows, any amount back into your pocket is money you can then invest into your business.

And let’s not make light of the safety benefits that also come from having safe drivers behind the wheel. Knowing that you have a team on the road following the rules gives you peace of mind that their risk of costly accidents is also diminished.

At Actsoft, we help give you that peace of mind and help put extra money back in your pockets. Tracking your fleet through our software means that you know exactly where your drivers are, their routes, whether they’ve been idling excessively, if they’ve been speeding, and if they have a habit of hard braking or quick starting, among other habits.

It’s all a part of helping you do your part to go green, while simultaneously being able to cut costs. So, in a continuation of our Natural Wonders series, to celebrate the cost-saving that also benefits the environment, this week we’re going to explore the best places to get outside and take a hike.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

With roughly 200,000 acres of protected land, hiking abounds in this treasured parkland. Here, you’ll find more than 500 miles of trails, along which you may spot any number of wild animals, including more than 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, plus countless insects and spiders. Don’t miss a chance to hike a part of the Appalachian Trail; 105 miles of the famed 2,180-mile-long path is located right here.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Spanning the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, the sprawling park stretches an astounding 522,000 acres. As one of the largest protected parcels of land in the country, myriad animal species call the grounds home, including the American Black Bear, the park’s unofficial mascot. There are some 1,500 of these bears in the park, making it the largest protected bear habitat in the East. Choose from more than 150 official trails, and be sure to take part in the “Hike the Smokies” challenge; just log your excursions and earn pins incrementally as you surpass 100 miles of hiking.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Just 15 miles from the glitz and glam of always-awake Las Vegas are nearly 200,000 protected desert acres itching to be explored. There are 26 official hiking trails that allow you to take a look at all the desert world has to offer. Keep an eye out for wild burros, desert bighorn sheep, and even red-spotted toads (after a rare rainstorm). Plus, depending on the time of year, it’s actually possible to spot waterfalls, even in the desert. (Lost Creek, Ice Box Canyon, and First Creek Canyon are three trails where you may find one.)

Acadia National Park, Maine

The oldest national park in the eastern U.S., Acadia’s 49,000 acres span most of Maine’s Mount Desert Island, as well as some of the smaller surrounding islands. The coastal park is home to a plethora of wildlife, including gray seals, snowshoe hares, minks, coyotes, and golden eagles. Hiking trails abound, but you’re in Maine, arguably one of the most picturesque coastal states, so stick to one of the six official coastal trails. The Gorham Mountain Loop is 3.5 miles and features a 525-foot mountain that’s the perfect spot to catch a stunning sunrise.

Central Park, New York City

Yes, really! Who’s to say great hiking has to be completely immersed in acre upon acre of unadulterated wilderness? Smack dab in the center of the concrete jungle that is New York City, Central Park is a green oasis that spans nearly 850 acres and is jam-packed with trails that are manageable for just about anyone. Trails wend through all sections of the park; while it’s easy to forget for a moment that you’re in the middle of a major metropolis, one glance up at the towering skyscrapers that surround the park will snap you back to reality.

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06.22
2018

Natural Wonders: 5 of the World’s Coolest Caves

We’re on a mission to save the world from waste. What kind of waste, you ask? Wasted time, wasted money, and wasted resources. As you know, when you’re running a business, the name of the game is to be as successful as possible. What determines that success? At the end of the day, delivering a stellar product with a loyal customer base, no matter what that product may be, is a huge part of the game. But any good businessperson knows that behind the scenes, efficiency is a key component to delivering that product. This means that properly managing your time and resources, while still delivering your product as promised, is essential to also keeping your business profitable.

Helping your business to decrease its waste output is one of Actsoft’s major goals in the delivery of our product. We strive to help your business make the most of its employees, time, and resources, to reduce unnecessary expenditures while maximizing profitability. In addition to profits, one side effect that comes with the implementation of our software is actual physical waste reduction.

Take our GPS Tracking feature. When you have a fleet of vehicles, it’s imperative that your drivers all adhere to the same principle: drive the most efficient route possible, always, without exception. Navigating along unnecessarily long routes is tantamount to throwing money away. And the negative impact of needlessly burning excessive fuel in the process is horrible for the environment. Our software helps you keep your drivers on the road to efficiency and, in the process, you’re playing a part in preserving our planet’s natural resources.

In a continuation of our celebration of the amazing natural wonders of the world, this week we’re taking a look at incredible caves from near and far. These fascinating destinations are prime spots for aspiring spelunkers to explore and discover a whole different world. Here, five of our favorites.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Otorohanga, New Zealand
Located about halfway up New Zealand’s North Island, a bit inland from the western coast, are these caves that, while impressive in their own right, are made that much more spectacular by their inhabitants. Dangling from the roofs of these caves are thousands of bioluminescent glowworms, casting an eerie-yet-serene bluish glow on the waters below. Book a 45-minute boat ride along the underground Waitomo River for the opportunity to see these fantastic creatures for yourself.

Cave of Crystals, Chihuahua, Mexico
Superman’s Fortress of Solitude has nothing on this surreal cave in north-central Mexico. Not open to visitors due to the extreme nature of the ecosystem responsible for the crystals’ growth — think temperatures as hot as 136 degrees F with 99 percent humidity, thanks to an underground magma chamber that lies just below — this place is still more than worthy of a mention. The largest of the behemoth crystals, which have been growing for tens of thousands of years, stretches nearly 40 feet in length and weighs some 55 tons.

Caverns of Sonora, Sutton County, Texas
Dress accordingly if you’re gearing up for one of the two-hour tours through this central Texas cave. Temperatures inside may only average 72 degrees F, but with 98 percent humidity, it’ll feel a lot hotter. But as you wend your way along the roughly two-mile-long guided tour, you’ll soon realize it’s worth the minor discomfort. The caves are covered with myriad calcite crystals, the most unique being rare helictites. These are stalactites that, during early formation, begin to shift their growth to the side rather than straight down, forming odd shapes that resemble fish fins, butterflies, worms, and ribbons. When you’re done exploring the wonders of this cavern, take some time to pan for gemstones on the ranch grounds outside.

Škocjan Caves, Divača, Slovenia
Regarded as one of the most important cave systems in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest known underground canyon and, due to particular conditions, it’s home to a unique ecosystem, making it possible for a mix of Alpine and Mediterranean species to grow side-by-side. Tours of the caves run much more frequently in the summer months, but are available year round.

Lascaux Cave, Dordogne, France
Another member of the UNESCO World Heritage club, the complex passages of this cave system aren’t so much revered for the natural features that have formed throughout the years; rather, it’s the 600 or so parietal wall paintings that date back some 17,000 years. Depicting mostly local creatures, such as aurochs, horses, and deer, as well as native vegetation, these cave paintings provide an important insight into the earlier inhabitants of the surrounding land, though many theories about these people are still cause for much debate. The archaeologically significant site may not be open to tourists, but you can tour an exact replica to get a feel of what it would be like inside the real deal.

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06.01
2018

5 Tips for Improving Your Fleet’s Safety

When you’re the owner of a business with a fleet of vehicles, whether it’s a local delivery service or long-haul trucking, safety is always a primary concern. Safe driving factors in big to your company’s bottom line, including brand reputation. But when your drivers are constantly on the go, how do you keep on top of these practices? Here, five tips to help you do just that.

Perform Regular Maintenance
As we’ve discussed before, consistent maintenance is essential for keeping your fleet, no matter the size, in tip-top shape; it helps you avoid bigger, costlier fixes down the road due to negligence. But that regular checks also keep you and your drivers safer while on the road, by giving you the heads up about any issues before they become too serious. Setting up alerts through our software helps to make sure you don’t miss any of those important, regular appointments. (Bonus: You’re also more likely to save money by keeping your vehicles in the best possible shape.)

Keep Tabs on Driver Behavior
You hire the drivers that seem best suited for the job, but you can’t always be there to make sure they’re constantly delivering peak performances. However, with our fleet monitoring tools, you can keep track of certain behaviors, such as hard braking and accelerating, speeding, and even making sure they’re sticking to preapproved routes. Plus, we offer an ELD solution that keeps drivers in compliance with FMCSA regulations, so you know without a doubt that your drivers are taking the required break times rather than staying on the road for an unsafe length of time.

Incentivize Good Behavior
Sometimes the better incentive is to reward drivers that go above and beyond, rather than just reprimanding those that don’t meet expectations. With driver behavior tracked and logged, it’s easy to set up a reward system for those that regularly hit top marks. This could be in the form of a monetary bonus, extra time off, or even preferential schedules/routes. After all, regularly practicing safe behavior is going to save you money in the long run.

Provide Coaching
Similar to incentivizing drivers who regularly demonstrate stellar driving skills, having detailed reports about the not-so-great behavior of drivers can be used as a learning opportunity. Provide coaching to these drivers and give them a chance to improve based on real feedback from their time on the road. Most people are willing to take the time to improve their skills when given the opportunity.

Reduce Distracted Driving
Our driver-monitoring tools run in the background, without operators being required to actively engage while behind the wheel, so they can just focus on driving. But that doesn’t mean they’re distraction free … from their own devices. We’ve discussed ways to help prevent distracted driving in the past. Encourage your employees to actively avoid these distractions when they should be paying attention to the road. And if self-control is an issue, there are apps to help with that.

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