09.04
2019

Trucking Troubles: Two Major Fleet Hurdles and How to Handle Them

Every year, the trucking industry faces the same problems which can pose huge threats to business if they’re not tackled properly. From ever-changing regulations to unpredictable fuel prices, there are a wide variety of factors fleet owners must deal with on a day-to-day basis, leaving less time to grow business.

First, let’s take a look at the most common stumbling blocks for fleets today:

  1. Fuel price volatility
  2. Driver safety

Fuel Price Volatility
According to The Gazette, America’s 2.2 million freight trucks get about six miles per gallon on average hauling cargo, which can amount to $500 per day or more. Depending on the driver’s speeding habits, that cost can rise significantly.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that total world consumption of marketed energy is expected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030. Because of decreases in spare oil production capacity, there’s no way to make up for sudden supply gaps or more demand, which drives the price up. This situation is further complicated when you factor in the problems of political instability in oil-rich countries.

Because fleet owners have no control over the cost of fuel, they must rely on other means to save money on fuel, such as driver behavior, route optimization, idling reports, and GPS tracking.

The average long-haul truck travels 4,000 miles a week, so even small reductions in fuel consumption can amount to a lot of cash saved by year’s end. By changing driving habits, like slowing speeds down by 10mph, will boost fuel mileage by a mile per gallon or more. This is a huge gain in savings for trucks that are getting six miles per gallon hauling heavy cargo.

Idling is another gas hog, as it uses about a gallon of diesel per hour. If your driver is letting the truck run while he drinks coffee and reads the paper versus turning it off to go inside a restaurant for that time, fleet owners are looking at an expensive cup of coffee.

Saving fuel (and money) is as easy as using basic devices and software that can monitor driver behavior, such as speed, idling, and even where they’re at in near real-time. These reports are emailed immediately, or as often as a manager chooses, so businesses can have a clear picture of how much money is going out during the course of a day and where savings can be had.

Driver Safety
In 2016, there were approximately 475,000 large truck and bus crashes. Of those, 3,864 were fatalities while 104,000 ended in injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). The estimated cost of all truck and bus crashes is estimated at about $100 billion per year.

  • The average cost of a large truck crash involving a fatality is $3.6 million per crash
  • A crash with injuries costs almost $335,000 per crash
  • The average cost of all large truck crashes is about $148,000 per crash

Not only are crashes devastating to victims, but they make enormous dents in a company’s bottom line. The worst part is, the majority of crashes are preventable. The majority of fatal crashes involving large trucks are attributed to speeding and driver fatigue. Thankfully, there are incredibly effective solutions to monitor and curb this behavior, giving fleet managers more control over what’s happening on the road.

Our easy-to-install tracking devices record driver speeds so you can make sure each employee is adhering to your standards. And ELDs monitor drivers’ hours, helping to assure that they don’t go over their legal time limit, thereby reducing ability for fatigue to factor in Both are crucial pieces of information in understanding how drivers are performing, and experts agree that making drivers accountable is an easy and powerful way to get better results on the road so there are fewer crashes, less costly citations, and reduced liability. By encouraging good driver behavior, there can even be a reduction in vehicular insurance, which is an easy way to cut costs and fatten up your earnings.

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08.16
2019

Electric Fleets: Is Now the Time?

We’ve discussed at length the various ways you can transform your company into a green machine. From the ways small businesses are leading the pack in environmentally sound practices and tips for helping your company follow suit, to ways you can reduce wasteful vehicle idling and the benefits of going paper-free, how we treat our planet is very front-of-mind for an increasing number of people.

And why shouldn’t it be?

In addition to that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with making decisions that reduce your carbon footprint and help ensure a hospitable environment for future generations, there can also be an array of financial benefits from making eco-friendly decisions.

One of the biggest changes — one that also includes the largest potential environmental impact — that your company is (or soon will be) faced with is the decision as to whether or not to upgrade your fleet from traditional internal combustion engines to the newer, cleaner electric vehicles. Before taking the plunge, there are a few things to consider to make sure it’s a decision that’s right for you at this point.

How far does your fleet travel each day and what do the routes look like?
If you operate a fleet that travels long stretches, you need to determine whether there are any outposts at which you can recharge along the way if that route goes beyond your vehicle’s single-charge limit. Plus, you’ll want to factor in the length of time it will take to charge a nearly drained battery. (This varies from vehicle to vehicle and the output of each charging port.) If there are no viable options, now may not be the right time to make the switch. But, if your drivers can make the full or roundtrip journeys without the fear of fizzling out, you may want to proceed.

Where will you house vehicles?
One detail that’s easy to overlook is, when you have electric vehicles, you need to have a place to plug them in while they’re not in use. It’s important to maximize your daily range in between charges, so what better way than to start at 100 percent charge at the beginning of each day? If you have a smaller fleet, regular old outlets may suffice wherever you park them at night. But as the number of electric vehicles you incorporate grows, you may want to consider the cost-benefit of installing charging stations.

How will you deploy new vehicles?
Once you determine the benefits of making the switch to electric, you have to decide a rollout plan. Are you going to replace your entire fleet at once? Or implement a multi-year (or -month) plan to slowly make the switch over time? Consider the fiscal impact you expect from the introduction of these new vehicles (i.e. money saved over time from less dependency on gasoline), the return you’ll receive from the sale of your current fleet, and your level of comfort/ability to spend.

There’s no way around it: Making the switch to electric is an eventual inevitability. But it’s up to you to determine when the best time to begin that transition is.

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06.25
2019

Fleet Safety 101 With Actsoft Solutions

Safety is the top priority for those tasked with managing a business fleet. As drivers operating business vehicles tend to be dispersed considerably far from one another, finding a fleet management solution that can provide details on the driving behaviors of each mobile employee is integral, no matter their distance from the office.

Two of the most important aspects of keeping a safe business fleet include being able to monitor driver habits and keeping tabs on vehicle locations. Too much hard acceleration and braking can increase vehicle wear and tear, putting your mobile employees and other users of the road at greater risk when it comes to accident potential. Being able to recognize excessive instances of dangerous driving habits like these and actively enforcing procedures to help curb them in your mobile workforce can help your staff implement safer driving styles. Vehicle tracking can also help you better pinpoint and dispatch out aid to any of your drivers that may need emergency assistance if an accident does occur.

Actsoft solutions are equipped to provide your fleet managers with all the tools they need to employ a safer fleet by blending versatility with robust features. Our premier solution Encore lets you see near real-time traffic patterns on a live view map, and it can integrate with some third-party software types for an even more detailed experience. Sync weather data with your Encore solution’s map to see where your drivers are located in relation to any inclement storms or blizzards, even on a nationwide scale. You can then use features like Job Dispatching to communicate out new protocols to your drivers nearly instantly, helping them stay safe and return to their tasks once it’s safe to begin driving again. Encore’s detailed reports about driver speeds also make it easy for you to see which of your drivers are going too fast too frequently.

Manage delivery delays and more using Actsoft technology to better prevent staff from driving in hazardous conditions. The power of our applications helps you see where specific drivers are, respond more efficiently to any breakdowns that might occur, and keep your team safer on the road as a whole.

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06.04
2019

The Benefits of Asset Tracking

Most businesses employing a mobile workforce also rely on at least a few pieces of vital equipment to conduct daily operations. With the power of Actsoft’s asset tracking technology, your team can keep constant tabs on its machinery and gain key benefits like these.

Theft prevention

Your assets, most likely, collectively add up to a high monetary value, making security crucial. Actsoft applications are able to provide you with an extra way to surveil any relevant equipment and protect it more effectively against being stolen. Return on investment comes in many different forms with our solutions; in addition to common benefits like better fuel efficiency and productivity, theft prevention helps companies like yours regularly receive additional savings.

Saved time

Leaving the assets your company regularly uses in the field overnight can reward your team with extra time to complete jobs. Rather than having to task your employees with returning equipment to the office before finishing a workday, you can allow staff to leave the machinery at the job site, giving them more time to complete work. Rest assured that assets remain safe while left behind, ready for use the following morning, as they’re being monitored via our GPS Tracking feature.

Increased accountability

Improper usage of assets by employees outside of working hours can be a big problem for businesses to deal with, especially if it’s a frequent occurrence. Implement a greater standard of workforce accountability through our GPS Tracking feature’s ability to pinpoint assets. If any pieces of equipment deviated from their specified locations after day’s end, you can see detailed reports of where they were taken, along with accompanying timestamps. You can even set up alerts to notify you if they move at unauthorized times.

Our asset tracking capabilities can help businesses in industries from construction to transportation improve their operations. Give your workforce an additional method of security by using Actsoft solutions to help safeguard the valuable equipment your business relies on today.

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05.21
2019

The Advanced Aspects of GPS Tracking in Encore

The GPS Tracking feature in Encore is a multifaceted tool that uses advanced solutions such as Breadcrumb Trails, Traffic Overlay, and Geofences to provide companies with ways to save. Each of these aspects do this by working to increase efficiency and security even further for businesses that employ a mobile workforce.

Breadcrumb Trails

Past routes that mobile employees have taken to job sites are recorded and presented on Encore’s map through Breadcrumb Trails. Any time a driver travels to a location during working hours, their business vehicle’s position is picked up and archived in the system’s memory. Company supervisors can then go back and review trip histories to enhance accountability and verify job completion.

Traffic Overlay

At the beginning of each work day, administrators in a company’s home office can also use Traffic Overlay to see near real-time congestion patterns on roadways. By identifying the most traffic-heavy routes to job sites prior to travel, companies can help their mobile employees avoid excessive idling, save time and fuel, and reach customer locations faster.

Geofences

Geofences help businesses improve fleet and asset security, employee accountability, and quality control, all at once. These are digital boundaries that can be custom constructed on Encore’s live view map around job sites in the field. Geofences are used in tandem with Alerts to electronically notify managers whenever an asset, employee, or vehicle enters or exits set perimeters, providing an extra layer of surveillance for their valuable equipment. In addition to better theft prevention, geofence monitoring helps organizations ensure that their workers are arriving to and leaving assignment destinations right on schedule.

These three aspects of GPS Tracking in Encore give companies like yours even more ways to save time and money. Through providing increased detail about your workforce’s daily routine, Breadcrumb Trails, Traffic Overlay, and Geofences can help you run a more effective operation.

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05.14
2019

Feature Study: ELD on Encore

Encore’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution helps businesses in the transportation industry easily keep track of the information that they need to regularly document and report. Powered by VisTracks, our ELD application is a powerful tool that can automatically log important data regarding drivers’ active time behind the wheel.

Why is documentation important?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put in place Hours of Service (HoS) regulations that transportation companies must abide by, as a means of enhancing highway safety. HoS mandates set the total amount of time that commercial drivers can spend on the road before they’re required to rest, making documentation of these hours off critical for remaining in compliance.

Manually logging driver data takes time, isn’t always accurate, and doesn’t provide the detailed analytics that our ELD solution does. From Encore’s web portal, you can see reports of your truck drivers’ drive times and hours off, all from an integrated system that automatically captures and displays relevant data.

Benefits of ELD on Encore

ELD on Encore offers multiple benefits to transportation companies that can help them save both time and money. Costly fines can stem from HoS infractions; however, our ELD solution is able to provide your team with all the tools it needs to organize and automatically record its data, lowering your potential to incur regulatory fees like these.

Encore’s ELD solution uses a simple combination of hardware mounted into company vehicles and back end software to automatically document driver logs. This tandem consistently works to provide your drivers with extra time during daily working hours, allowing them to only focus on safe, efficient driving.

Actsoft is constantly developing new solutions to help transportation companies like yours enhance cost efficiency, improve safety, and save resources. Use our ELD solution to take the guesswork out of remaining in compliance with HoS mandates today.

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04.30
2019

Can Natural Gas Fleets Save Money?

Managers of any business that owns a fleet of vehicles are always on the search for options that will save money. It’s crucial to always be on the cutting edge of technology. Especially with fuel prices steadily climbing, finding thrifty fuel alternatives is a must. Perhaps a company could save some green by converting their fleet to go green.

In recent years, Ford started to offer compressed natural gas and propane-ready gaseous prep packages for V8 engines in its F-150s. According to FleetOwner, this was done as a response to customers reaching out to Ford requesting alternative-fuel capabilities, even for its larger 5.0-liter V8 engines.

But what does this mean money-wise? Can natural gas vehicles actually save companies money?

Manufacturers for the vehicles estimate up-fitting for pickups and vans can cost up to $13,000 per vehicle. In the short run, alternative fuels are an investment. Reports by The Tulsa World and FOX 13 of Salt Lake City see that about three cents per mile driven is saved for a vehicle.

The vehicles in the Tulsa World and FOX 13 reports (transit buses and a news van) are a bit different than the Ford vehicles, which will come with the upgrades and the costs included in the vehicle price. But at three cents per mile, it may take a while to offset the estimated $13,000 of costs and start saving money. For a vehicle that drives 25,000 miles per year, it would take nearly 18 years to begin saving money.

Alternative fuel might not be the best option to save money at the moment, but as technology improves it will become a more realistic option. FleetOwner’s article urged that performance doesn’t drop off with these alternative fuel vehicles, which will be able to tow the same amount of cargo as a traditional gasoline vehicle.

Alternative fuel may not save money for your fleet of vehicles this year or next, but natural gas fleets are a growing trend that fleet owners will want to keep an eye on.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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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