27.02
2020

How Tracking Monitors Speed and Helps Reduce Fuel Consumption

Every day, organizations of all sizes dispatch delivery trucks, service vehicles, vans, passenger cars, and large trucks onto the streets and highways with one goal in mind: Get there as fast (and safely) as possible.

This sense of urgency can sometimes cause drivers to hurry to jobs, often exceeding posted speed limits. The negative side effects of this behavior are fairly obvious: Excessive speeding is dangerous, burns fuel needlessly, adds risk, and increases the expense of overall fleet operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that excessive speeding decreases fuel economy by up to 20 percent. Even in a small fleet of just 25 vehicles, saving 20 percent of fuel costs each year per vehicle quickly makes an impact. So you can imagine the dramatic impact it can have on larger fleets.

GPS and wireless technology have evolved to the point where vehicle tracking and fleet management technology leverages data such as satellite maps, traffic, and posted speed limits (in near real-time) to help organizations communicate, increase efficiencies, and track data such as fuel consumption, fuel efficiency, vehicle speed, and maintenance schedules. Leveraging this data to improve operational efficiency reduces fuel consumption and saves businesses thousands of dollars a year.

Implementing Encore’s solutions encourages drivers to practice safer driving habits because any unsafe practices are indisputably recorded and they will be held accountable. Once employees know you are monitoring their driving, speed, and gas mileage, they tend to take greater care in how they use company vehicles. This improved behavior saves fuel, reduces unsafe driving, and enhances a company’s reputation with the public.

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21.02
2020

Why a Small Team Can Be Better for Business Growth

When you think about all that it takes to elevate a business from a small startup to a national or global brand, you might think that the most important thing to do is increase the number of people in charge of running your company. Wouldn’t that make the most sense? To achieve growth, onboard a slew of high-level executives to help you reach that goal by taking advantage of their years of experience. But what if we told you that a smaller team was actually the better direction to go?

Why is that? One entrepreneur recently wrote about the subject for Fast Company and began with an anecdote that sums up the reason in a rather succinct and relatable way.

I’m standing in the middle of a crowded living room full of my favorite people. All around me, I hear a cacophony of opinions about where to dine. There’s 12 of us, and we’re all getting impatient, louder, and more than a little hungry. Over 30 minutes later, and no one can decide on where to eat. Instead of opting for trying something new, we end up ordering pizza. Again.

When it comes to building a team of decision-makers for your business, despite the growth you may be experiencing, fewer people can actually be more beneficial. Here at Actsoft, we’re focused on efficiency, so if you can get more done by using fewer resources, we’re all about that life. But before we come into the picture, consider the benefits that come from starting off with a smaller executive team.

The big picture takes center stage.
Some business owners feel that it’s important to have a dozen or more individuals that are experts in specific niches. While there can be some benefits to that, the downside is that these area experts may fail to see the bigger picture because they’re too focused on a single viewpoint. Instead, having a smaller executive team composed of individuals whose knowledge spans multiple disciplines means that you have a group that is more likely to approach situations from a variety of angles.

They stay more focused.
Have you ever been in a meeting with so many people, it becomes a standing room–only ordeal? How often are you able to make much progress in these situations? Chances are, there’s a lot more clashing of ideas than anything. These turn into “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenarios. You end up with an excessive amount of people trying to be heard over each other or, conversely, people withdrawing from the conversation because there is a cacophony of noise to cut through in order to simply speak. Smaller groups, however, have an easier time staying on task.

Communication is streamlined.
How many times in your life have you been faced with a situation that requires immediate attention? Now, imagine this is the case and your decision will permanently (and dramatically) affect the future of your business. Of course, you want to seek out the advice of your executive team. But just think about how much quicker you can all gather to discuss when you’re a smaller group. A consensus can be reached much faster, allowing the company forward in the right direction without delay.

As you may already know, our solution helps you make the most of your team when they’re in the field. It’s our mission to help companies around the world increase their efficiency and lower their costs, particularly when it comes to organizing mobile employees. But the ability to do this all starts at the top. Create a smaller executive team of impactful, expert individuals that share the same mission of success for your company, and we’ll help you with the rest.

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19.02
2020

How GPS Solutions Save Gas and Money

Gas prices are out of control and could go higher. So, why wouldn’t you want to save a tank a month, particularly if you have a number of work vehicles constantly on the go? If you have ten trucks on the road and each one costs $80 to fill up, conservatively thinking, you can easily save $800 a week. (My Prius costs $40 to fill right now, so I’m being very kind with this estimate.) That’s $41,600 a year!

How, you ask? A GPS vehicle tracking device can help companies and fleet owners squeeze every drop of value from their liquid gold (aka fuel). A number of fuel-saving measures involve using a vehicle efficiently and wisely. By using a GPS tracking device, companies can ensure and enforce efficient of use with their vehicles.

Here are four ways to reduce fuel consumption:

  1. Drive slower. Studies have shown that fuel economy drops by 17.1 percent as speeds increase from 50 mph to 70 mph. Every 5 mph of additional speed over 60 mph costs drivers an additional 30 cents per gallon in fuel costs.
  2. Idle less. Fifteen minutes of idle time uses half a gallon of gasoline, and even 30 seconds of idle time uses more fuel than turning the engine off and then on again.
  3. Plan Routes. Direct routes that avoid traffic snares help eliminate delays. Being able to easily see which driver is closest to a last-minute requirement is invaluable.
  4. Eliminate side jobs. Think some of your employees might use your vehicles to make a little side cash? It happens, especially when the economy gets tight. Find out exactly where your vehicles travel to make sure they’re never veering off course without a valid reason.

Companies using GPS tracking solutions can tackle every one of these issues. Knowing where vehicles are, when and how fast vehicles are speeding, how long they’re idling, which vehicle was fueled where, and what route they should take to save time and fuel can pay significant dividends and improve bottom lines.

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18.02
2020

Recap: Actsoft’s Visit to the 2020 Synapse Summit

Last week, a few of our staff members were treated to an incredible experience, gaining the opportunity to attend the 2020 Synapse Summit at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. As a convention for all things entrepreneurial and technological, the Synapse Summit gave our team the chance to take a couple of days to learn more about startup business and city development as a whole in the Tampa area.

Speakers at the event included Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx, Jeff Hoffman, founder of Priceline.com, and Steven Currall, president and CEO of the University of South Florida, just to name a few. Each keynote brought a unique perspective to the table about scaling a company, personal growth, and the future of business. Separately from the main stage speakers, smaller breakout sessions took place, with industry experts offering discussions on topics ranging anywhere from trends in healthcare to new advances in military applications.

Out of all the valuable information the Actsoft team received at the Synapse Summit, one of the most crucial things we took away from the event was that the Tampa tech community is truly sprawling, and we’re so proud to be a part of it. Getting a chance to see where many of the industries our mobile workforce management solutions play in are headed was also immensely beneficial, as we plan to take our findings to the drawing board in an effort to continue pushing the boundaries of what our solutions can do.

The Synapse Summit reminded us as a company that the future is brighter than ever, not just for local developments in technology, but more specifically, the future landscape of software as a whole. We’ve returned from it inspired and rejuvenated, ready to provide an application that provides even more return on investment for your mobile workforce.

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14.02
2020

Autonomous Vehicles’ Future in Fleet

Last week, we discussed a new way that automation is beginning to make its way into the field service workforce. While the landscaping example we spoke of is still in its infantile stages, it’s no secret that much larger strides have been made in the world of vehicle automation. But just how soon should we expect that autonomous vehicles will become the norm on the open road?

According to findings by Statista, there will be significant growth in the next 10 years, but it may not be to the extent that many thought it would be. They estimate that just 1 in 10 vehicles will be self-driving by the year 2030. While that is a relatively large jump, considering the speed that new technologies are adopted today, it’s a modest increase.

What is curtailing a faster growth? Well, for one thing, manufacturers’ projected ability to scale up production on new vehicles. For another — and this may be the biggest reason — more than 70 percent of all consumers believe that these types of vehicles are vulnerable to hacker attacks, making them hesitant to make the switch.

That being said, you may be surprised to learn that the industry most likely to embrace autonomous vehicles over any other is the taxi industry. Its market-size projection for 2030 is at an astounding $1.2 trillion worldwide.

But just because the general public may not be fully on board with the idea, that doesn’t mean this technology will necessarily stay too far removed from implementation within various other industries. Just this week, Royal Truck & Equipment Inc. announced that it will begin testing out its Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA). The test will take place along a 5-mile stretch of highway in Florida with the robotic truck following a human-driven lead truck. The lead vehicle will transmit GPS data to the ATMA to help guide it, while the ATMA will serve as a protective buffer in the event any vehicle inadvertently drifts into the work zone.

The demonstration — if proven to be successful — will certainly be an indication of changes to come in the field maintenance industry. How drastic and rapid will those changes be? That is yet to be seen. But the general consensus still remains: While autonomous vehicles are bound to make certain jobs obsolete, they won’t be destroying industries. Rather, they will be forcing a shift in responsibilities and will actually create jobs. And, as is the case in the aforementioned demonstration, they will simply exist to protect the necessary human counterparts from accidents.

Autonomy is an inevitable change that we won’t be able to escape. (And that we frankly shouldn’t be trying to escape.) We just have to make sure we’re flexible enough to adapt and evolve alongside technology.

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12.02
2020

Your Vehicles Are Your Image

If you own a business and have a fleet of service vehicles, you know those vehicles are powerful moving advertisements. Once your logo and contact information is showcased, the vehicles are a direct representation of your company, and you as a business owner.

In the past, employers had no choice but to send their employees off each day and assume they would stick to the program. With today’s technology, Global Position Satellite (GPS) based systems can take care of the guesswork.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Are my employees safe drivers? It’s a fact: A monitored driver is a safer driver. Our solutions offer speed alerts which enable employers to keep tabs on driving habits. Alerts can also be set to let you know if your drivers have a habit of hard accelerating or braking, another sign of less-than-safe driving practices.

Are they sticking to the plan or route? Our vehicle-tracking software can help answer that question just by simply plugging one of our devices into a vehicle’s OBDII port (under the steering wheel). You can view a breadcrumb trail of your vehicle’s history, which helps for route optimization, an essential factor in lowering fuel consumption. An optimized route is a cheaper route!

You saw my vehicle where? Indeed, it has happened before. Imagine receiving a message from somebody one afternoon that one of your vehicles was spotted parked out front of a … questionable establishment. That’s not exactly the type of brand recognition you were going for when you plastered your business name and logo on your company’s fleet. This is where vehicle tracking, coupled with geofencing, comes in handy. Think of geofencing as an invisible fence that can protect your vehicles and your good name. If there is a specific zone or area you want your vehicle to stay in or out of, set it up and the software will alert you if those parameters are breached.

Your vehicles can speak volumes about your company; they can have a positive or negative impact, depending on the circumstances surrounding their drivers’ behaviors and locations. Don’t you want to make sure you’re sending the right message?

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07.02
2020

How Will Autonomous Mowers Affect Your Landscaping Company?

As we’ve discussed in the past, there is a lot of uncertainty on the horizon when it comes to the proliferation of autonomous vehicles and its implication on the future needs for human drivers. While it is believed that the need for truck drivers may actually increase with the adoption of self-driving fleets, what sort of impact might autonomy have on other industries?

Earlier this year, Arkansas State University announced that, in an effort to reduce expenses and cut back on fuel use, it introduced autonomous electric mowers to supplement its larger fleet of maintenance equipment. These one-foot-wide mowers are able to help maintain campus grounds without much need for human interaction. In addition to the savings, relying on this equipment also reduces noise and air pollution on campus.

The cutting-edge — get it?? — technology uses GPS to maintain a designated tract of land and can run for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge. That’s when a human element is needed, of course: when it’s time to charge the units. After an hour of charging, they’re good to go again. The best part? After the initial investment, these mowers only cost between $10–50 per season to operate.

So what, if any, potential backlash could this type of technology have against the landscaping world?

While it’s true that the robotic lawn mower industry is poised to grow exponentially in the coming years — to the tune of a 22 percent increase over the next five years — we don’t think that it will have a negative impact. Rather, much like the trucking industry, landscaping businesses will simply have to adapt to the technological changes that are inevitable and unavoidable.

Plus, in the same vein that ASU’s adoption of robotic mowers is just to supplement its larger fleet, that’s likely what we’re going to see on the professional landscaping front: autonomous mowers being used to supplement labor needs and reduce costs. And with these machines taking care of the lawns — even if it’s homeowners investing in their own mowers, versus landscapers bringing them to jobs — it leaves their human counterparts free to take on the tasks that can’t be automated, such as hedge-trimming, yard cleanup, leaf blowing, etc.

It also has the potential to decrease the time needed at each job so that landscapers will actually be able to fit in more customers on any given day while maintaining a smaller staff.

That’s where our solution comes into play. Using Encore, landscapers are better able to manage the influx of new work orders that come in. In particular, one of our new features, Dispatching Scheduler, gives premium customers greater flexibility and ease when designating work orders to individuals or teams. This new functionality introduces a service window–style approach to scheduling; shows dispatchers near real-time statuses on active job sites; and lets them easily reassign jobs with ease, using a simple drag-and-drop method.

It’s just one of many features that will come in handy in an industry that shows no signs of slowing down. Just as autonomous mowers can help your business take on even more clients, the technology we offer can help you manage them.

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05.02
2020

GPS Technology and Personnel Management

Every organization wants to see their business succeed. Depending on the size and nature of the business, it may be necessary to look outside of the normal “personnel management” scope to make operations run at peak performance. As mobile devices keep getting more advanced, coupled with a growing and evolving mobile workforce environment, management teams are realizing the benefits of Mobile Resource Management (MRM) technology.

Advances in wireless technology show that a hand-held or in-vehicle device can perform a wide range of business functions; gone are the days these were just a basic communication tool. Devices can now be used to locate and track mobile workers for more effective job scheduling, to deliver and accept incoming work orders, capture signatures for instant invoicing, manage mobile inventory, perform wireless time clock functions, and so much more.

By leveraging wireless technology to expedite critical business functions, organizations are seeing significantly improved cash flow without high up-front investments.

Businesses that do not use GPS technology to manage mobile personnel are missing an effective means of increasing productivity to cut operational costs. GPS technology has a wide range of application that can help companies to:

  • Keep accurate time records
  • Maintain and increase productivity
  • Reduce liability
  • Monitor the use of company property

An abundance of personnel data can position a business to react positively, quickly, and effectively to issues that arise. Additionally, equipment fitted with tracking devices will help business owners to know how their equipment is being used at all times. An increased level of accountability is inherent when employees know that their use of the company equipment is being monitored. Businesses can reduce liability when they use GPS to encourage adherence to safety guidelines.

Operational controls like these naturally lend themselves to better management of human resources. Having a higher level of control over human resources translates into quantifiable benefits, which includes increased profits, higher security, and a reduction in operational expenses.

Actsoft has the right mobile business solution for your company, whether you are at the beginning stages of implementation or want to improve upon your current mobile workforce solution. By providing one-on-one consultations to review your business strategies, we can help take your business to the next level of mobile workforce management and significantly improve your cash flow.

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04.02
2020

What Geofences Can Do for a Business’s Security Levels

With employees, vehicles, and assets in the field, running a secure operation away from the office can be difficult for a company to accomplish. However, Encore’s Geofences feature is able to enhance security by bringing extra accountability and transparency to mobile workforce management. Geofences helps safeguard equipment, fleets, and employee safety in three primary ways:

Customizable Boundaries

By making your geofence boundaries highly specific to the job sites your teams are located at, your office administrators can have greater field visibility. Narrowing down certain job locations with accurate perimeters makes pinpointing them on a map easier to do. If an emergency situation occurs, assistance can be more immediately dispatched out to the affected job site, helping to keep employee safety high. For potentially dangerous locations like an active construction site, Geofences in particular can help your team get help faster, whenever it’s needed.

Alerts

Our Alerts feature works in tandem with Geofences to provide you with everything you need to know about your mobile workforce. Whenever a company-owned fleet vehicle or asset enters or exits a geofence perimeter, you’ll receive an email notifying you of the occurrence, keeping you truly in the know about equipment statuses. The value of your fleet vehicles and assets can’t be understated; use Geofences to keep comprehensive records of each’s whereabouts.

24/7 Job Site Monitoring

Geofence boundaries remain constantly active, enabling your team to leave vehicles and assets in the field overnight, free of security worries. If a tracked piece of equipment or a vehicle is moved after work hours, you’ll still receive nearly instant notification of it. Eliminate unnecessary and costly back-and-forth travel from the warehouse or office to a remote job site by allowing your workforce to leave its tools around the clock at a frequented job location, with Geofences helping to keep them safeguarded. In doing so, you’ll improve your business’s versatility, security, and savings.

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31.01
2020

Encore’s Adjustable Ping Rates: A Mission-Critical Lifesaver

We all know that GPS is a versatile technology that reshaped the way we do business. It gets drivers to job sites faster by directing them to the fastest, least-trafficked route. It enhances service experience by giving dispatchers the ability to update customers on the locations of drivers, giving them realistic arrival expectations. It can even come in handy from a legal standpoint, verifying worker locations at job sites if ever there is a dispute as to whether someone showed to do the work.

Another important functionality is the ability to monitor worker locations in near real-time. Not only does this help to ensure that worker accountability remains at max, but it can also help keep them safe while at remote jobs.

But what happens when you find yourself in a mission-critical situation? When waiting 60 seconds for employee location updates is no longer a viable option? Recognizing that there is a need for certain customers of ours to have more immediate location updates, we recently unveiled our latest feature: Adjustable Ping Rates.

Now, customers using Encore Vault can toggle the rates of their team’s individual location updates (pings) down to just a couple of seconds, giving administrators a much more accurate sense of exactly where everyone is.

Consider, for example, the ongoing battle against the devastating bushfires raging throughout vast swaths of land in Australia right now. Battling these infernos indisputably puts firefighters in an onslaught of precarious positions, especially given the unpredictability with such a battle. One sudden shift in the wind direction can change everything.

In a situation like this, administrators on the back end that are in charge of monitoring responder locations don’t benefit very much from location updates that come in once a minute. A lot can happen in that seemingly short time span. Toggling the ping rate down to just a couple of seconds paints a clearer picture and helps keep those in the field much safer.

It should be noted that increasing the frequency of these ping rates does have a direct effect on the battery lives of the field workers’ mobile devices, as well as data use, so be sure to take this into consideration and restore them back to their standard frequency once the emergency situation is resolved.

Of course, there are plenty of other circumstances in which this great new feature will come in handy, running the gamut from dire emergencies like the example given to the simple need or desire to keep a closer eye on activities.

If you’re using Encore Vault, you already have access to Adjustable Ping Rates. But if you’re not, or if you just want more information on how this new feature works, just give us a call; our experts are standing by to help you out.

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