10.04
2019

The Scary Side Effects of Poor Mobile Management

Summer is finally in the rear-view mirror and, as we look ahead, crisp fall weather is on the horizon. Though autumn is a little different for us here at Actsoft’s home office in Florida than it is elsewhere, we still look forward to (slightly) dipping temperatures and all things autumnal: seasonal beverages — sorry PSL, apple cider is the clear winner here — chilly(ish) mornings, and (best of all) the anticipation of the pending (and seemingly never-ending) holiday season.

This month in particular marks the official countdown to Halloween, the frightful holiday that kicks off the whole season. Haunted houses and visages of ghosts and goblins begin to pop up all over the place. It seems that no matter where you turn, you’re faced with visions of terror and the stuff of nightmares.

Of course, this type of scariness is all in good fun. But what isn’t a fun scare — and one we all like to avoid, no matter what time of year it is— is the idea that you’re losing a ton of money every single day from the inability to properly manage your team for the simple fact that they’re all off-site.

Encore can be the safety net that reels you in and gives you access to all the insight you need about your team and equipment, whether it be where tools and vehicles are located, how they’re used, and whether they need to be serviced; employee locations when they clock in or out; and how many customers they’ve tended to that day. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Don’t believe us? Let’s look at the numbers based on a fleet operation of 10 vehicles running on diesel fuel. If your drivers are selecting less-than-direct routes to and from each job and then allowing their trucks to idle needlessly for extended periods of time at each job site, this burns fuel excessively. Now let’s say, on average, this behavior wastes one gallon of diesel fuel each week, per truck. Given a current national average of $3.06 per gallon, that’s $30.60 each week. It may not seem like much, but over the course of the year, your crew’s behavior has effectively thrown away $1,591.20 of your money.

Scary.

Now, let’s consider that the same 10 vehicles in your fleet are staffed by two workers at any given time, and they each make $20 an hour. If the less-than-direct routes they opt to drive waste, say, an hour of each worker’s time every day, that’s $400 a day, which works out to be $20,800 every single year. Just because your drivers aren’t taking the most efficient routes between jobs.

Terrifying.

Think that’s bad? What if your team, unbeknownst to you, is submitting timesheets that aren’t entirely truthful? Maybe they fudge 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. This could add up to another hour of worker time that you’re paying for, though no actual work is being done. That’s another $20,800 taken out of your pocket annually.

Absolutely horrifying.

(And we’re not even getting into the lost revenue from potential customers that could have been seen if you were able to ensure that your team was operating as efficiently as possible.)

So with just these seemingly innocent, almost unnoticeable behaviors, your company is out $43,191.20 … every year.

About to faint, yet?

As petrifying as this scenario is, there’s a simple solution to it all: Encore. With our Fleet Tracking capabilities, you can make sure that your vehicles are taking the most optimized routes at all times. Plus, you can arrange to have alerts sent your way whenever vehicles are left idling for an excessive period of time, as determined by you. No more burning through fuel (and your wallet) needlessly. Driving the optimized routes will also save you from paying your workers for driving around instead of being at actual job sites.

Our Timekeeping functionality gives you digital verification of not just the times your team clocks in, but also their physical locations. This means there’s no more saying they were working when they were, in fact, just rolling out of bed. Or claiming to be finished with lunch, but hanging around offsite for another 20 minutes. The GPS Tracking capabilities can work in tandem with Timekeeping to help keep your employees accountable.

With the implementation of an easy-to-use, affordable solution, you just saved yourself $43,191.20 every year, plus your team now has time to fit more customers into each workday.

Not so scary, anymore.

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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08.07
2019

What the Cluck? What 37,000 Pounds of Frozen Chickens Can Teach Us

On September 27th, 2014, an Idaho trucking company was missing a truck filled with 37,000 pounds of frozen chickens. The company’s 42-year-old driver, Christopher L. Hall, allegedly abandoned the truck after being refused more money from his employer. Unfortunately, by the time they located the truck at a Montana truck stop, the chicken had already gone south — rotting and oozing liquids.

The chicken: worth $80,000.

The lesson: priceless.

What could the trucking company have done to prevent this loss? One option would have been to give the driver more money and have a potential criminal on their payroll — not to mention someone with little respect for frozen chicken.

The other, wiser option would have been to secure their assets — including both the cargo and the truck. With a simple tracking solution, this chicken situation could have gone a very different way. We provide a robust tracking solution used by thousands of trucks across the country, which would have prevented this loss with simple alerts and reporting tools that cost pennies a day.

For example, management can set perimeters for drivers so that there’s no risk of them taking vehicles out of designated areas. And if they do, an alert is sent to the main office and the GPS-enabled solution will let you know exactly where the truck is. Likewise, if you need to locate a truck, simply pull it up on the map and you can see its location in near real-time.

Another smart option when transporting expensive cargo is Asset Tracking. A discreet GPS-enabled device can easily be hidden anywhere in the shipment, so if it’s lost or stolen you can see where it’s at immediately.

This sort of protection is imperative when you’re dealing with costly equipment and shipments. Not only do you run the risk of losing big money, but you can also damage relationships and ruin a reputation you’ve worked long and hard to establish.

If you’re ready to see what options there are to meet your needs, give us a call today. We’re waiting for you!

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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01.30
2019

The Importance of the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry is the backbone of the economy in the United States. With so much of the country’s goods transported across the U.S. in trucks, the industry is invaluable to the country. Nearly 70% of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. This amounts to about 10.5 million tons moved each year, transported via some 3.5 million heavy-duty trucks that consume around 39 billion gallons of diesel fuel in the process. Needless to say, the trucking industry is a huge operation.

To keep America going the trucking industry needs everything to be reliable. Everything from the brakes to vehicle maintenance, knowing who’s behind the wheel of each vehicle to where each vehicle is at all time, is vital for all the fleet managers across the country to stay on top of. The industry calls for reliability in many different areas. We bring reliability to all different parts of a fleet.

With our solutions, company owners can set up maintenance alerts on vehicles. Having the ability to set up notifications for eliminates the guesswork for which ones need to be serviced and what specifically needs to be worked on. These alerts are a part of the reporting feature and can be included in a regular report emailed to management.

The alerts can be set up far in advance or created as needed, and they become even more helpful when used in conjunction with other alerts that keep management aware of driving behavior. Administration receives alerts when vehicles are excessively idling, speeding, hard accelerating or braking, in unauthorized locations, and if used off hours.

Knowing all the details of a vehicle’s usage helps decision-makers know if vehicle A should get a tire rotation, if vehicle B should be in line for a battery check, or if vehicle C needs some more coolant, all before the check-engine light comes on.

Our solutions do much more than just keep fleet owners on top of when their vehicles should be serviced. They provide a clear insight into the daily happenings within their fleet. They allow management to track the location of vehicles with GPS precision, set up alerts such as speeding and hard braking, and to know when a vehicle travels outside of a designated area. These notifications and metrics are put together in a report that can be viewed when needed or can be sent as a reoccurring report.

There are issues with fleets that even the best driver might let slip through the cracks, like idling, which can account for up to eight percent of fuel costs. For perspective, a truck that spends $70,000 a year on fuel is spending $5,600 of that on idling. Just ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. Our solutions report idling to ensure every ounce of fuel is put toward getting the job done.

At Actsoft, we provide reliability throughout your fleet.

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01.09
2019

Commercial Motor Vehicle Medical Certificates

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers have long had to comply with various safety precautions to ensure they’re alert on the road during long drives and amid poor driving conditions. One of these mandates is a clean bill of health.

The National Registry of Medical Examiners was created to reduce highway accidents according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Requiring CMV drivers to have up-to-date medical certificates is based on various reports, such as National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash investigations, which indicates that improper medical certification of CMV drivers with serious disqualifying medical conditions has directly contributed to fatal and injury crashes.

A school bus and truck collision in New Jersey illustrates the importance of certified medical examiners, according to the NTSB. The school bus driver involved in the crash received his medical certification in January 2012, before medical examiners were required to have training. The FMCSA had no regulatory authority over the examining doctor, there were no federal training or certification programs to ensure that examiners were familiar with the regulations, and there was no national registry of examiners. However, examiners were expected to exercise good medical judgment and carefully evaluate each person on whom they performed a physical examination (Herner, Smedvy, and Ysander 1966).

According to the investigation, in this case, the medical examiner, a chiropractor, never saw the school bus driver before and did not obtain medical records or consults from the driver’s primary care and specialist doctors. The extent to which the medical examiner verbally discussed the driver’s chronic low back pain and diagnosis of alcoholism (and alcohol abuse), which are underlying potentially disqualifying conditions, is not known. Moreover, it is unknown to what extent he discussed the prescription medications he was aware of, even though he wrote on the commercial driver’s license (CDL) form that they do not interfere with driving. Therefore, the NTSB concludes that the CDL medical examiner did not thoroughly evaluate the school bus driver for medical conditions that could have disqualified him from receiving a CDL. The NTSB also concludes that based on the school bus driver’s combination of medical conditions and use of multiple prescription medications, it is likely that he would not have been medically certified to drive a school bus if he had fully disclosed his medical history on the CDL medical certification.
While it’s impossible to know what a driver’s habits are on a daily basis, it’s crucial to put measures in place to ensure the safety of vehicles and passengers on roadways, as illustrated by the New Jersey crash.

Along with required medical examinations by now-certified medical examiners, as well as the newly passed Hours of Service legislation, there are other measures companies themselves can institute to ensure driver safety. GPS tracking has long been a popular tool to maintain watch of driver behavior — which would have been impossible pre-technology. Now, for pennies a day, fleet-based companies, or any business who uses drivers to deliver services or goods, can monitor a host of behaviors.

What can I monitor?

  • Driver speeds
  • Idling
  • Fast braking
  • Travel outside of authorized areas
  • Rapid acceleration

Each of these behaviors can be set up to alert managers and office personnel so that a driver can be notified that they are breaking a rule and must modify their behavior before an accident or other liability happens. Moreover, weekly or monthly reports can be created to get a snapshot of driver activity, to compare behavior from month-to-month or to compare drivers with each other.

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