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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07.23
2019

What Great Leaders Know: Understanding Weakness Leads to Success

From legendary coaches to the best teachers, the strategy is always the same: Understand the team’s weaknesses. It’s easy to identify star players and focus on the moments of glory, but without assessing the big picture, your team will only perform at a fraction of its potential. This is especially true for companies who are dealing with many moving parts, including fleet-based operations who have dozens of drivers spread out across the city, state, or country.

Understanding what seems like minutiae — such as driver behavior, gas usage, and time management — may seem like an impossible undertaking; how can you possibly track all of these activities every day? And the more important question: Is it worth it? The answers are surprisingly simple. With hardware and software solutions from Actsoft, your tracking is automated and reports are automatically compiled and sent to you as often as you need them. And the value is in the numbers. Most companies save thousands each month by monitoring fuel usage and route efficiency.

Actsoft, the maker of a suite of tools for remote management, puts all of the fleet information together on one platform to give our customers the power and knowledge to be able to make key strategic decisions.

With high-performance GPS-tracking devices and software like Encore, you can find the strengths and weaknesses of your entire driving team. Now you can accurately fine-tune performance, cut down on waste, and reduce liability.

Some of the key features include understanding driver behavior. By monitoring various aspects of driving habits — everything from speeding to fast braking — you can get a clear picture of your company’s health in that area. If you have several drivers who are in the habit of speeding and braking late, not only does your accident risk spike but so does your fuel costs and vehicle maintenance.

Likewise, if you have drivers who stay within the pre-set perimeters, stay within speed limits, and don’t idle, you can count that aspect of your business as healthy and a model for other areas. This allows you to re-focus your energy on departments that aren’t functioning as well.

Moreover, a workplace that rewards great performance is one that usually has less turnover and overall better ratings in employee satisfaction.

By using a mobile solution like Encore, which can be accessed on any smart device, you’re taking charge of what happens outside of your office walls. With a wide variety of additional features, you can choose from allowing mobile timekeeping and dispatching, giving you an upper hand on the competition. All this amounts to a healthy fleet that is driving responsibly, generating more revenue, and saving the company big bucks every year.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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07.03
2019

Construction Season: How to Avoid Theft and Damage

With construction season underway, it’s not uncommon to see heavy machinery, trailers, and sundry other tools left unattended on construction sites. And while signs like “No Trespassing” and the like may deter mischievous teenagers, it’s not going to do anything to stop thieves who want to cash in on the opportunity you left them.

According to research, a knowledgeable thief can enter a site, load the equipment, and be off within ten minutes. However, anything more than that and most thieves will move on to the next score. Additionally, many construction companies don’t have a simple loss prevention plan, so it may be days before they notice that tools are missing. This can result in a lot of wasted time and effort trying to recover and replenish tools, not to mention the time taken away from work.

Here are a few tips that can help construction companies, along with any company that deals in expensive inventory, keep track of their goods, save time and money, and keep on schedule with their projects.

Plan, Prevent, and Save

Simple software solutions can help your employees keep track and manage equipment easily and even automatically — without much effort. The solutions that we provide include GPS-enabled software that allows you to track and trace equipment in near real-time. So if your backhoe is moved from a site, you will be alerted via text and receive up-to-date positioning so you can see exactly where your equipment is.

Keeping track of your equipment through routine inventory checks can also be helpful for knowing where your tools and assets are and what’s missing. You can scan right from your phone and import that information via solutions like Wireless Forms.

Maine.gov also offers these helpful tips in preventing crime and securing your property.

  • Implement a documented check-out and -in system for all tools and equipment.
  • Establish an “end of shift” security inspection protocol.
  • Make unscheduled visits to work sites, including at night, on weekends, and on holidays.
  • Lock and immobilize equipment during non-work hours.
  • Utilize basic key control and specialized locks. Locks should be placed on all vehicles, portable equipment, storage sheds, trailers, and utility bodies when not in use. Use only high-security locks: pick-resistant, case-hardened, or laminated steel. If a chain is required, it should be case-hardened and thick enough to prevent easy cutting.
  • Attach anti-theft devices, such as steering wheel locks, kill switches, tire and wheel/axle locks, locked hood side plates, and locking fuel caps.
  • Whenever it is practical, all operating levers, handles, etc. should be stored under securely locked covers or lids.
  • Lock and protect equipment with an alarm system.
  • Avoid storing equipment overnight at the work site whenever possible.
  • In high crime areas and where values warrant it, consider hiring a security guard or using a surveillance system.
  • Fences are a good form of perimeter protection. Exits and entrances should be kept to a minimum. If it is not possible to fence an entire site, consider partially fencing it, including trailer, equipment, and storage areas.
  • Good lighting is extremely effective in deterring criminal activities. Keep storage areas well lit and free of hiding places, such as shrubbery and trees. Consider using motion-detecting floodlights.
  • Contact the local police before starting a job. Ask them to include the job site in their patrols. Ask neighbors to report suspicious activities.

To Aid in Recovery

  • Double-stamp all tools, equipment, and attachments with an identification number, one conspicuous and one hidden.
  • Display warning signs that indicate identification and serial numbers are recorded.
  • Paint your equipment with bright, easily recognizable colors to identify them from a distance.
  • Use aerosol-applied Microtaggants, thermostat plastic coatings that contain coded pigments or metal particles.
  • Stencil the state’s logo or other identifying marks on equipment.
  • Take photographs of your high-value pieces; catalog these photos and update them as equipment is purchased and sold.
  • Consider equipping each piece of high-value equipment with tracking devices.

After a Loss

  • Secure the scene.
  • Make a prompt and thorough report to a police agency and to the Risk Management Division.
  • Send theft alerts to equipment distributors.
  • Check eBay and used-equipment sales for your equipment.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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06.28
2019

Summer Vacation Season and Workforce Management

Believe it or not, 2019 is already halfway over. That means business owners everywhere are beginning the processes of reviewing all the important numbers as we approach the end of Q2. As they do this, they’re also making any adjustments needed so they’re able to hit the ground running the second Q3 starts.

Kicking off Q3 with a bang can seem like a daunting task, because not only might there be huge expectations from a business point of view, but there’s also another major event taking place at the same time: the unofficial launch of the vacation season.

Just in time for schools across the country to wrap up classes, summer this year officially kicked off on June 21. With mercury levels rising, kids out of the classrooms, and parents itching to get away for some quality time with the family — not to mention vacation deals galore — this is when businesses everywhere tend to notice their teams may not be running at maximum capacity.

But running with a less-than-full staff doesn’t mean your numbers have to suffer. Vacations go hand-in-hand with operating a business. This time of year just happens to be when more people are out more frequently. So how do you go about making sure it’s business as normal all through the summer?

That’s when our software comes into play. With a proper workforce management software in place, like our flagship Encore solution, you’re able to maintain a bird’s-eye view of all the goings on at your business, no matter where you are or how many people are actively working.

Job Dispatching helps to make sure all of your work orders are being addressed in as efficient a manner as possible. Have projects mapped out well in advance and then in comes a vacation request? No problem! Reassign the work orders to team members who have the availability.

Wireless Forms helps to speed up processes whether you’re fully staffed or down to one person. Eliminating guesswork due to chicken-scratch handwriting is a huge timesaver. Decision logic helps workers zip through forms quicker than ever since the system automatically skips over sections deemed irrelevant to the job at hand. And with no need to drop off forms back at the office, “paperwork” can begin processing almost immediately.

Now, with fewer people helping to produce the same amount of work, it may be inevitable that some overtime comes into play. But with our easy-to-use Timekeeping feature, you can help to minimize the amount you’ll have to pay out. First, with GPS-based punch ins, you can make sure you aren’t paying your workers until they actually show up at a job site. Second, with on-call reporting, you can quickly review the number of hours each person has worked and assign new orders accordingly. Finally, if you do have to rely on some overtime, you can keep the peace by dispersing the work evenly.

Vacation is a necessary part of every business. Your workers do their best work when they are rested, both physically and mentally. And you’ll able to run a successful operation knowing that, thanks in part to our streamlining solution, while your hard-working team is off enjoying the fruits of their labor, it’s still business as usual on the work front.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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06.21
2019

Summer School and Fleet Tracking

Summer is upon us and, though that means school is out for most students across the country, that doesn’t mean school districts are coming to screeching halt. In fact, there are plenty that keep chugging along all summer without much of a break at all. In towns and cities everywhere, a plethora of programs — from summer camps to robotics courses to the oh-so-dreaded summer school — kick off in the warmer months, taking advantage of this would-be downtime to help students get ahead (or get caught up, as it were).

With these types of programs in full swing, it’s important to bear in mind the necessity to keep an extra vigilant watch over the students that are left in educators’ hands. Though their numbers may be vastly reduced from the droves they oversee during the regular school year, the propensity for worried parents wanting to keep tabs on their children is just as real as ever.

The summer is also the perfect time for school districts to make changes to their preferred solution for keeping parents updated, which is why we want to invite you to consider making the switch to Encore, our flagship suite of tools that can help educators always remain in the know.

Though summer programs rarely involve the traditional bus pickup route as kids can enjoy during the year, they do often involve a hefty amount of field trips. Equipping your bus or shuttle vehicles with our fleet-tracking GPS equipment means that you can assure parents of their children’s location in near real-time. If the class is running late, hits an unexpected pocket of traffic, or took a longer route home to avoid that delay (thanks to our Traffic Overlay feature), you can make sure everyone is kept up to date, rather than be left to face a torrent of angry parents demanding to know where their children are … and not having the answer.

In addition, though it’s traditionally used for keeping track of employee hours, you could get creative with our Barcode Scanning feature and scan school ID cards from students as they arrive at school in the morning and exit your facility’s care at night. As students leave for the day, educators can effectively clock students out, so to speak, as each one is released to their parents’ care.

As we mentioned, with fewer students at the schools over the course of the summer, these summer months are both the best time to try out our solution and see just how much it improves processes for you and your staff. Plus, with fewer resources (read: buses) being used, it’s the perfect opportunity to implement tracking devices to your fleet without any disruption to services. (Though even if in full swing, the simplistic design of our plug-and-play device options make installation a breeze.)

We’d love the opportunity to chat more with you and discuss all that we can do to help you improve processes in your school. Happy summer!

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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05.15
2019

How Asset Tracking Can Help Recover Stolen Goods

It’s unfortunate, but with the number of products that are moved by trucks daily, fleets have become targets for thieves. Especially for trucks that have highly valuable cargo, it’s essential to have protection against situations similar to what happened to Transvalue, Inc. on I-95 in North Carolina back in 2015.

Armed robbers took more than $4 million in gold from the drivers of Transvalue. After holding up the drivers, the robbers unloaded barrels filled with gold and made their getaway in a separate vehicle. Neither driver was able to get a good look of the burglars, who made off with the gold.

A year later, a suspect was arrested after a friend tipped off the FBI. But by this point, the gold was broken down and sold. However, there is a scenario where police would have been able to recover the stolen gold and return it to Transvalue.

If the containers holding all those valuable assets had tracking devices like the ones we provide, inconspicuously placed in the containers, the thieves would not have gone far. Using the live GPS tracking feature would have allowed Transvalue to communicate with police and track down the criminals almost immediately. It provides a mapped location of every one of your assets at any given time.

It’s sad that crime can be so unrelenting and that Transvalue will never recover the gold, though they are attempting asset seizure of all the lavish purchases the robbers made. Catching criminals like these are a big deterrent that can help stop future crimes from occurring. But the lesson learned here is that it’s important to take every measure possible to keep the safety of cargo in mind. Be glad it wasn’t your company who learned this lesson the hard way and get your assets on track.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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05.08
2019

The Cost of Idling

We all know that idling is very costly, but is there an actual dollar amount attached to letting a car sit with the engine on for extended periods of time? We found out in a recent case study that idling can cost up to $20,000 per year in fuel for companies with a fleet of vehicles. That’s a lot of money, but if your business operates in New York City, idling could cost you nearly that much in an afternoon. Plus, citizens could be motivated to report when your vehicles are idling.

New York City recently enacted legislation that would pay citizens up to 50 percent of the summons revenue for turning in vehicles in violation of idling. According to an article in the New York Post, the bill stipulates that citizens be trained by the Department of Environmental Protection in order to profit for their help. Citizens would then need video evidence of a vehicle idling to receive compensation.

Under the proposed bill a first-time violation is punishable by warning, but second offenses would be between $350 and $1,500 and subsequent fines could cost as much as $2,000 for vehicles.

However, those fines are nothing compared to the Heavy Duty Vehicle Idling Laws currently in place in the state of New York. Heavy-duty vehicles, including diesel trucks and buses, can be fined from $500 to $18,000 in the case of a first violation after five minutes of idling.

Those are some shocking numbers for fleet owners knowing that one vehicle’s fines from idling can cost nearly as much as an entire fleet may waste in fuel in a year due to idling. With that much money on the line can your company afford to not have a solution for idling?

We can definitely help save money wasted on idling. With our solutions, companies can set up alerts that reports idling in vehicles to stop the habit before it becomes an issue.

These laws in New York are meant to help the economy and your company can contribute by tracking idling and cutting the engine before your business is forced to cut a check. Idling can cost $20,000 a year in fuel and nearly that much per idling offense, now potentially with citizens incentivized to report violations. Don’t let idling cost your company a load of money.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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04.24
2019

3 Ways to Make Your Commutes From Work Less Stressful

Those dreaded red brake lights illuminating the interstate for miles on end at 5 p.m. every day are something that no one looks forward to. As heavy rush-hour traffic can be especially stressful after having just completed a full eight hours at the office, it’s important to do whatever you can to experience smoother trips home from work. Here are three tips to make those lengthy commutes from the office a little more manageable.

Listen to audio

Whether it’s music, a podcast, or the radio, having something to listen to while you’re on your way home can be immensely beneficial. Education-based audio may help you pass lengthy bouts of idle time by teaching you new things or helping you become a more well-rounded person. However, there’s still something to be said about relaxation and entertainment, and through avenues like music, you can experience both while driving home safely.

Optimize your schedule

Are there particular times of the day where you regularly notice traffic to be at its worst?  If so, it’ll help to tailor your daily schedule outside of the office a bit more toward avoiding driving far distances during those times. Choosing to meet a friend for dinner nearby after work or exercising at a gym close to your job are just two examples of activities that can help you dodge the worst of rush-hour’s snails-pace congestion, while also being beneficial to your well-being. It may not seem like that big of a difference at face value, but even delaying your usual departure home from the office by an additional 30 minutes to work out or eat first could end up saving you an hour of time that would’ve been spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Find better routes

If a backroad route is longer mileage-wise than a commute home via the interstate is, consider it as an option if it offers less congestion. Even still, if that route takes you five minutes longer to get home when compared to traveling on a jammed highway, it may be less stressful for you to have a drive where there’s as little stop-and-go as possible.

Through these tips, we hope that you’ll be able to experience safer, more manageable commutes during the work week. For solutions to the traffic inefficiencies that your mobile workforce may be regularly dealing with, see how Actsoft can assist.

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04.17
2019

3 Ways Actsoft Solutions Provide Return on Investment

At Actsoft, our primary goal is to build solutions that offer your business the most possible return on investment. In engineering our Encore solution, we’ve managed to integrate multiple different features within a single application, providing mobile workforces like yours with necessary tools to gain maximum ROI. Here are three of the most important ways that our software products can help you see positive results on your bottom line.

Mileage

For companies that distribute fleet vehicles to their mobile employees, managing miles on the job can be a challenging task. By providing near real-time locations of business vehicles, as well as route histories, our solutions can help keep employee accountability strong when it comes to what your staff are using their work vehicles for. If even just 10 employees out of a team of 50 are taking the scenic route to a frequented job site, adding an extra three miles to each of their daily trips in the process, that can add up significantly. With an average gasoline price per gallon of $2.20, the total annual loss comes to almost $1,650 on fuel alone.

Using our GPS-enabled solutions, you can easily identify the most efficient routes for your mobile employees to take daily and verify that they’re following designated paths. Check out our interactive ROI calculator to see specific, achievable savings that your organization could net from reduced fuel expenditure.

Data entry

Data entry is a tedious task that, while necessary, can chew up excessive amounts of time during the course of a workday. Thanks to Actsoft’s Wireless Forms and integration, however, your team can save valuable resources by eliminating it entirely. Instead of having to translate paperwork to digital storage, use Wireless Forms to input data directly from the field and seamlessly integrate it with a number of third-party systems.

Efficiency-driven revenue

Our solution’s Timekeeping feature helps to reduce unnecessary drive time for mobile employees by allowing them to clock in and out remotely from a smartphone or tablet. Instead of having to drive to and from the office to register time-punches, your mobile employees can use that extra saved time to accomplish more tasks, driving revenue even higher for your business.

Return on investment is something that we specialize in at Actsoft. Use our solutions to generate ROI by discovering more about your mobile workforce’s daily operations.

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04.16
2019

Tips for Doing More With Less

Efficiency is key. It’s a message we’ve preached for years at Actsoft. Getting the job done with the most effective use of manpower in a timely manner will save money. Plain and simple.

Efficiency is important to all companies and businesses, but as time progresses, it will become an even more important part of the trucking industry.

Why? In recent years, there has been a shortage of truck drivers and the number may continue to decline. With a decrease in manpower on the road, it’s crucial that each minute is used in getting the job done and essential that drivers are given the tools they need to succeed on the roadways. After all, the workload for trucking companies isn’t getting any lighter.

With our suite of solutions, both management and drivers will find their days made much easier.

Our tools do everything a management team will need. It will keep track of vehicles with GPS, view driver activity, and improve routing. All the tools necessary to compile reports and have insight into a business’s fleet comes included.

It keeps drivers in mind, too. With it, they can use the route optimization feature to find the best possible path to completing the job and getting them off the roads. Spending less time on the road allows drivers more time to be home with their families. Benefiting the driver and the company, with happier employees.

With the number of truck drivers decreasing, it’s imperative that companies have all the tools necessary to get the job done. The need for truckers isn’t decreasing, so it’s even more important to be able to do more with less.

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