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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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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Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler: The Solution to Work Order Inefficiencies

In one of last week’s blog posts, we discussed some of the difficulties a field service company faced without having a tool to plan out their mobile employees’ work orders in advance. In addition to productivity and brand reputation suffering due to confusions in scheduling, the company was also spending too much money on paper documents to instruct staff that were handwritten and, at times, illegible.

Our flagship workforce management software Encore now enables businesses to manage workloads ahead of time with its Dispatching Scheduler feature. Available exclusively to users of the solution’s Ultimate tier, the Dispatching Scheduler provides an easy, yet intuitive way for your team to plan out customer visits and increase its efficiency.

Features of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • A color-coded dashboard that provides easy identification for work order progress.
  • The ability to create service delivery windows for employees dispatched to new customer locations.
  • A feature for reassigning pending orders to new workers on the fly.
  • Calendar and Schedule rows that display availabilities, last known employee locations, and current assignments.
  • The ability to see lists of unassigned orders and drag and drop them onto user schedules.

Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler dashboard.

Benefits of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • Distribute workloads more evenly.
  • Optimize employee schedules for higher efficiency.
  • Save time and money with intuitive scheduling that helps to keep employees informed.
  • Provide customers with more accurate service delivery times.
  • Graphics-based scheduling allows your staff to work faster and more interactively.

When applied to the field service use case, it’s easy to see how this powerful new capability could instantly improve the company’s processes. Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler allowed the business’s mobile employees to have easy access to their daily schedules, eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth communication from the office to the field and giving them a much more accurate timeframe for service deliveries. Due to both an increase in productivity and efficiency with the Dispatching Scheduler, their business was able to save significant revenue and also increase its opportunities from a strengthened reputation amongst its customer base.

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Industry Spotlight: Actsoft Solutions in Field Service

Whether your field service business deals in machinery installation, commercial repair work, landscaping, or industrial servicing, the need for efficiency persists. And as employees of field service-based companies are typically supplied with tasks located away from the office, transparency between company headquarters and remote work zones is key to a job well done.

At Actsoft, we know the inconveniences that can be posed from the burden of having to manage a mobile workforce, and the diversity of the field service industry makes it a perfect fit with the power of our versatile solutions. Here’s a few of the ways that our software is able to bring extra efficiency, sharpened communication, and greater modernity to your workforce’s operations.

Staying connected

Directing in near real-time is simpler than ever with Actsoft’s solutions. Your field technicians can remain connected to headquartered administrators by using GPS Tracking, Messaging, and Job Dispatching to facilitate better communications channels, and make adjustments on the fly. Quickly disseminating directives out to your team’s various components also becomes a much easier process, once the power of mobile technology has been tapped into. Our solutions excel at integrating smartphones and tablets with the desktop computers at your home office, tying everything together digitally.

Increasing efficiency

If your field service company was given a tool for reducing wasted time, improving productivity, and holding employees more accountable all in one, what more could it accomplish? Using the features of our software packages, feel free to save your business more money and resources. Unnecessary trips to the office can be trimmed down with Timekeeping, as staff can clock in and out remotely via mobile devices. Give back more time for your employees to tend to the needs of customers in the field, and make the most out of every work day by enhancing your team’s productivity.

Powering workforces

The future landscape for mobile workforces includes an increasing reliance on technology to streamline operations. Teams that are managed using the latest in business-enhancing solutions are poised for success, savings, and tighter coordination. Let’s get to work on making your business thrive, with the capabilities of our unparalleled solutions supporting it the entire way forward.

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