01.06
2018

5 Tips for Improving Your Fleet’s Safety

When you’re the owner of a business with a fleet of vehicles, whether it’s a local delivery service or long-haul trucking, safety is always a primary concern. Safe driving factors in big to your company’s bottom line, including brand reputation. But when your drivers are constantly on the go, how do you keep on top of these practices? Here, five tips to help you do just that.

Perform Regular Maintenance
As we’ve discussed before, consistent maintenance is essential for keeping your fleet, no matter the size, in tip-top shape; it helps you avoid bigger, costlier fixes down the road due to negligence. But that regular checks also keep you and your drivers safer while on the road, by giving you the heads up about any issues before they become too serious. Setting up alerts through our software helps to make sure you don’t miss any of those important, regular appointments. (Bonus: You’re also more likely to save money by keeping your vehicles in the best possible shape.)

Keep Tabs on Driver Behavior
You hire the drivers that seem best suited for the job, but you can’t always be there to make sure they’re constantly delivering peak performances. However, with our fleet monitoring tools, you can keep track of certain behaviors, such as hard braking and accelerating, speeding, and even making sure they’re sticking to preapproved routes. Plus, we offer an ELD solution that keeps drivers in compliance with FMCSA regulations, so you know without a doubt that your drivers are taking the required break times rather than staying on the road for an unsafe length of time.

Incentivize Good Behavior
Sometimes the better incentive is to reward drivers that go above and beyond, rather than just reprimanding those that don’t meet expectations. With driver behavior tracked and logged, it’s easy to set up a reward system for those that regularly hit top marks. This could be in the form of a monetary bonus, extra time off, or even preferential schedules/routes. After all, regularly practicing safe behavior is going to save you money in the long run.

Provide Coaching
Similar to incentivizing drivers who regularly demonstrate stellar driving skills, having detailed reports about the not-so-great behavior of drivers can be used as a learning opportunity. Provide coaching to these drivers and give them a chance to improve based on real feedback from their time on the road. Most people are willing to take the time to improve their skills when given the opportunity.

Reduce Distracted Driving
Our driver-monitoring tools run in the background, without operators being required to actively engage while behind the wheel, so they can just focus on driving. But that doesn’t mean they’re distraction free … from their own devices. We’ve discussed ways to help prevent distracted driving in the past. Encourage your employees to actively avoid these distractions when they should be paying attention to the road. And if self-control is an issue, there are apps to help with that.

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31.05
2018

Actsoft’s Applications in the Shipping Industry

Two things that constantly hang in the balance of success for a shipping company’s daily operations are the quality of the goods they’re transporting, and the timeliness with which they’re delivered to a destination. Transportation companies today choose to make keeping both of these things optimized a priority, and many leverage them as positive differentiators between their services and those of their competitors to gain advantages in the marketplace. In addition to attracting and retaining business, heightened efforts to ensure that products arrive on time and in excellent condition also save shipping companies time and money by paying significant dividends back into their bottom lines.

To help transportation businesses find these sought-after optimizations, Actsoft’s solutions are there to provide an extra measure of insight for company administrators regarding their business’s daily operations. Key features that we support including Wireless Forms, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), and GPS Tracking allow shipping companies to fine-tune the various facets of their respective workforces for efficiency, security, and savings.

Wireless Forms

Using Wireless Forms, workers of shipping businesses can digitally transmit back important data from the field to their company’s headquarters nearly instantly. Records of completed orders that are filled out by remote employees via mobile devices eliminate the need for paper forms, and simplify business. As non-digital documents can be easily lost, costly to print from an annual perspective, and lengthier to process, our Wireless Forms tool has monumental influence on increasing virtually any company’s operational efficiency.

ELD

Powered by VisTracks, Actsoft’s ELD solution can provide transportation companies with increased stability by taking much of the guesswork out of their drivers’ jobs. As a capable application that’s fully certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), our ELD solution helps employees verify that they’re staying in compliance with Hours-of-Service (HoS) mandates, as established by the FMCSA through automated driver data recording. Fines resulting from errors in manually-logged information can end up costing shipping businesses thousands of dollars, and when equipped with a powerful tool like ours to help mobile workers attain higher levels of consistency, companies can avoid as many of these fees as possible.

GPS Tracking

GPS Tracking from Actsoft can help shipping companies keep tabs on their mobile drivers in near real-time, and make sure that their transit networks are operating in fashions that are safe, secure, and expedited. Fuel-efficient routes can also be planned out using this feature, which help businesses implement some of the most standardized and budget-conscious methods possible when it comes to moving goods.

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11.05
2018

Making the Most of Your Ice Cream Truck Business

Summer is almost upon us! For those of you unfortunate souls living up north, we know how trying (and seemingly never-ending) this past winter was, so we can imagine the jubilation you all feel now that you’ve had the opportunity to thaw out, since Mother Nature finally deemed it time to grace you all with a steady stream of beloved warm weather.

As the mercury rises, so returns all the familiar sights and sounds that we look forward to every year after Jack Frost is sent packing. Birdsong greets you everywhere you go. The scent of blossoming flowers is virtually unrelenting. Rolling swaths of greens are filled with sunbathers, eager to soak up some vitamin D. And that persistent chime — you know the one — spills out of slowly roving ice cream trucks, beckoning passersby, urging them to splurge on a refreshingly icy treat.

Running a successful ice cream truck business is a bit different than selling the same product from a brick and mortar location. When faced with a drought in the customer department, you have the luxury of closing up shop and changing locales at the drop of a dime; it’s quite the advantage over immobile spots that must remain fully dependent on a single location.

A school might be a hot spot to stay perched outside of (especially when classes let out), but that same spot is probably not as likely to do so well on the weekends since class is typically out of session. Conversely, a densely populated park may seem like a no-brainer, but for any number of reasons, it’s not; maybe your park pick is actually a major fitness destination, making sugar-filled treats less likely to be enticing to its patrons.

Having the ability to track your sweet-eat fleet’s whereabouts can be a serious advantage, one that empowers you to monetize a business like this as much as possible. Imagine being able to have definitive data detailing exactly where each truck set up shop for the day and then being able to compare it to the number of sales that were made. Using the breadcrumb-trail feature, you can follow these types of patterns, which can lead to better instruction given to your drivers — like vetoing a location that never quite seems to do well.

Additionally, you can make sure the drivers you entrusted with your livelihood are actually worthy of that trust. The same tracking feature that keeps your staff accountable, helping to guarantee that they are always at approved coordinates, also gives you the ability to make sure your mobile freezers aren’t being used for personal business on the side.

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08.05
2018

International Port Cities and Global Trade

Trade networks across the globe play an instrumental role in the continuous upkeep of the world’s economy.

They’re the superhighways of international exchange, and the collective spinal cord of global commerce. Every single day, millions of goods travel along these networks to provide populations with vital resources. The port cities serving as funnels for the mass distribution of goods take in these extraordinary amounts of supplies via airplane or boat, and then redirect them to specific locations through effective transport via roads and streets. Without all of these parts of world trade seamlessly coalescing, many of the things we constantly have at our disposal wouldn’t be available.

Some of the globe’s most prevalent port cities like Sydney, London, Singapore, and Miami also stimulate continued economic growth of the world’s economy by having become highly developed in terms of service-providing. The advent of digital banking and the internet have allowed for glistening, futuristic skylines to emerge from the ground up at many of these type of port cities, enabling them to serve as global hubs for information storage as well.

Businesses that frequently operate in port cities and shipping alike can use Actsoft’s software to upgrade the potency and efficiency of their daily workflows. Enhanced communication and better teamwork can follow as a result of implementing a smarter answer to fluidize daily operations, and we’re here to help your business find that solution.

Form Workflows and GPS Tracking are two features of our flagship solution Encore that can help facilitate improved communications, greater transparency, and bolstered productivity in workforces, particularly those that operate in transportation. If a shipping company needs to submit an important document back to the office quickly regarding an order, Form Workflows is an Ultimate-tier level feature of Encore that can bring multiple employees into the fold when it comes to completing and submitting the form. This helps the document get completed quicker and with a higher grade of accuracy. Hosted on a digital interface, nearly instant transmissions of the order form between employees keeps operations smooth, and gives back valuable extra time to shipping companies and manufacturers alike.

GPS Tracking keeps company administrators informed of the whereabouts and activities of their mobile employees, including speeds traveled and a variety of different alerts regarding the status of company vehicles. With GPS Tracking on Encore, along with the rest of our solutions’ end-to-end capabilities, businesses in transportation and international trade can embrace a new era of simplified but powerful logistics.

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16.04
2018

Actsoft in the Healthcare Industry

New technology is continually transforming the ways in which companies are conducting daily operations in the healthcare industry. Emergency situations are becoming much more manageable due to breakthroughs in mobile resource management (MRM) software, and Actsoft stands as a leader in pioneering some of these practical innovations for companies to use.

Our solutions allow businesses in patient transport, pharmacy, and hospice care know where their employees and assets are in near real-time by equipping them with tools that let them receive data back from the field nearly instantly. Gaining vision on field operations allows administrators to have an extra measure of insight into their mobile workforces, and helps them ensure that employees are getting to job sites on time and in the most efficient ways possible.

Multiple companies in healthcare already benefit on a daily basis from using Actsoft to streamline their information flows and enhance the productivity of their workforces. Two primary features of our solutions that these businesses rely on daily to provide quality care are Wireless Forms and GPS Tracking.

With Wireless Forms, companies can eliminate their organization’s use of paper documents altogether. Using this feature, a healthcare business’s mobile workers can fill out and pass off digital forms from mobile devices while they’re at remote locations. Lessening data errors, clearing illegible handwriting, and reducing high annual paper costs are all easily possible with a fluid system of digital documentation in place.

GPS Tracking is another powerful tool from Actsoft that businesses can use in everyday operations. In healthcare, safety is paramount, and by allowing management teams to see the near real-time locations of ambulance drivers, GPS Tracking helps them ensure that patients, EMTs, and drivers are all secure during critical situations. Further benefits of better routing and increased fuel efficiency are also available with the help of this feature, and any potential for vehicle theft can be mitigated if the locations of valuable assets are being constantly monitored.

Managing crises using 21st century tools is something that many of today’s healthcare companies strive to do, as they seek out more efficient ways to provide excellent care to their patients and clients. Actsoft takes pride in being able to help businesses in the healthcare vertical and many other industries take their daily operations to a next-level gear of efficiency.

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06.04
2018

HBO’s “Westworld” and Behind-the-Scenes Management

In late 2016, HBO fans were introduced to a fantasy world that reinvented the classic western, adding an element of science-fiction to the concept we’re all familiar with. “Westworld,” based on the 1973 film of the same name, is about an expansive, immersive theme park that caters to the elite. Those who are willing (and able) to shell out the hefty price of admission are treated to a cornucopia of possibility, where the only limit is their imagination.

On April 22, fans will once again be whisked away into this western reverie-cum-reality. The theme park, which spreads across enough land to encompass multiple towns, stretches of desert, and shows absolutely no sign of modern civilization, is sought after by people looking to lose themselves in an experience that allows them to leave their lives behind, if only for a little while.

Westworld is populated mostly by highly advanced animatronic “hosts,” who are so incredibly lifelike, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish them from flesh-and-blood human beings. The guests are treated to whatever western-themed outing they are looking for, be it an old-fashioned showdown with a bad guy or an afternoon of companionship at a saloon.

While the guests are allowed to lose themselves in the fantasy that Westworld is, behind the scenes is an entirely different matter. The scientists and technical experts responsible for creating the hosts also came up with a way to keep constant surveillance over the hosts. The puppet masters, so to speak, monitor the park at all times, assuring that robots are functioning properly, to the standard of patrons, and that any abnormalities are able to be addressed expediently and with as little interruption as possible, so as not to break the illusion.

In many ways, this front-end/back-end relationship we see here reflects the experience of using our software in your business’s day-to-day. When you have a staff that largely works in the field — the hosts, so to speak — you need a way to make sure they remain on task, regardless of who is or isn’t there to monitor in person. GPS Tracking gives managers back at the office the inside scoop on where their employees are at any given time. In other words, if they’re supposed to be with a customer at a certain time, you can make sure they’re on track for that appointment and, if there are any delays, customers can be notified.

Knowing where employees are also lets you choose wisely when tasking new job assignments. Reviewing the GPS coordinates, along with the open work orders for the day, managers can easily assign new projects to the person that makes the most sense, in order to maximize efficiency.

And making the switch to wireless forms over the wasteful use of piles of papers isn’t just a great choice for environment-minded folks. The clarity of forms filled out digitally, versus sheets filled out with illegible and/or smudgeable (not to mention, easy to misplace) script, guarantees a smoother processing once submitted to managers; this, in turn, reduces the chances of inputting misinformation on file, therefore minimizing the threat of customer disputes.

Much like in the fantasy world portrayed by “Westworld,” our solutions help to simplify an otherwise complicated undertaking, so the experience you are delivering to your customers runs as smoothly as possible. The processes remain on top of any potential hiccups, and the end result is a satisfied customer that is none the wiser about anything that happened behind the scenes.

Season 2 of Westworld returns April 22, 2018, on HBO.

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29.03
2018

Self-Driving Vehicles and the Future of Trucking

I feel as though it wasn’t long ago that I was sitting in my parents’ living room as a kid, staring at the fantastical world imagined as the backdrop for The Jetsons. Between robotic servants; self-driving, flying cars; jetpacks; drones; smartwatches; and myriad space-based buildings, among other things, the future looked insanely cool, but also so far-fetched. A thing that couldn’t exist outside the limitlessness of a cartoon fantasy world.

But in the relatively short span of time that has elapsed since then, many of those never-gonna-happen ideas not only exist today, but are readily accessible to anyone, if they’re willing to shell out a little money. (Still waiting on those space cities, though.)

One innovation that strikes a particular chord with us here at Actsoft is the self-driving vehicle. It was just about a year ago that we discussed the future of the driving industry as it pertained to the emergence of this technology. Will human drivers be replaced, forcing so many people out of jobs? And if so, what would all these people — roughly 3.5 million, according to AllTrucking.com — do if they finally found themselves without jobs?

Good news! It looks like the future for truck drivers may not be so grim after all. According to a recent survey conducted by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the need for truck drivers may actually increase in the wake of automation.

How can that be?

Essentially, the company doesn’t foresee self-driving trucks filling every nook and cranny of the trucking industry. Rather, these vehicles can focus on the long-haul treks, taking the wheel, so to speak, between “transfer hubs” positioned at various outposts along highways. Then, when it comes to navigating the more involved, complicated legs of the trips (read: within city limits or industrial areas), the human element would take the reins to complete the delivery.

You may still be wondering: How does any of this translate to there being not just a viable future in trucking, but a potential for even more jobs in the industry? The way Uber sees it, the proliferation of automated trucks on the road will increase the efficiency of overall freight transportation while also driving down costs. This will, in turn, create an even larger demand, necessitating an upsurge in the number of humans needed to bookend each trip.

Additionally, the localization of trucking jobs may help to keep younger generations interested in pursuing careers in an industry that is frankly difficult to staff long-term, particularly for long-haul routes. That’s because those can mean being on the road — and therefore away from friends and families — for two-thirds of the year. Automation could help solve that problem and keep attracting new recruits.

So given Uber’s predictions — as one of the companies leading the pack in self-driving vehicle development — while the trucking industry should be planning for a major shakeup, it’s not quite time to hit the panic button. But do be prepared to embrace and adapt to the evolution the industry will inevitably undergo.

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22.03
2018

5 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

In our über-connected world, distractions abound. Our senses are constantly inundated with a steady influx of visuals and sounds. Each competes for our immediate attention if even for just a moment, to deliver a message that hopefully sticks with us amid the sea of noise. These missives come at us in so many forms: commercials, billboards, phone calls, text messages, emails, music, traffic signs, pop-up advertisements, and more.

To say this saturation of data is overwhelming is putting it mildly at best. But throw in a focus-driven activity into the mix — like driving a car, for example —and it can be downright dangerous.

When you’re behind the wheel, there’s a lot at stake that goes well beyond successfully making the trek between points A and B. Driving safely not only requires that you remain cognizant of the important things — signs, traffic lights, emergency signals, etc. — but that you also keep the needless distractions — conversations, music, scenery, etc. — at bay.

With your life (and the lives of those in and around your vehicle) at stake, staying as safe as possible is key. Here, our tips for avoiding distracted driving.

Hands off your phone.
We get it. You see a text notification and you feel the need to read and reply. Or suddenly an idea pops into your head and you just have to share it with the world. Whatever it is, it’s probably not that important. Save the cellphone use for later. Have some trouble controlling that impulse? Try installing one of these free apps to limit your device’s functionality while on the go.

Keep passengers under control.
Road trips are fun. Cruising around with friends is fun. But save the super-animated conversations for when you reach your destination. We’re not saying that you should be riding in silence; just keep the volume in check and consider changing subjects if the topic causes you to veer too deep into debate mode, which can become distracting.

Put down the …
Sandwich. Makeup. Newspaper. (Yes, we’ve actually witnessed the latter before. More than once.) Multitasking may be a great trait to slap on your resume, but when it comes to driving a car, it’s better for all parties involved if you remain focused on the one task at hand and save the rest for later.

Don’t drive if you’re tired. 
Fatigue may not seem like a distraction, per se, but if the bulk of your energy is being used trying to remain awake, then you’re far from focused. In fact, studies have shown that sleep-deprived drivers can experience impairment equal to that of intoxicated drivers, or even worse. So if your eyelids are heavy, take a nap, ask for a ride, or call a cab.

Secure your belongings. 
The last thing you need is your coffee-cup tray spilling everywhere, or shopping bags crashing to the floor, or any number of unexpected — but preventable — distractions. If you’re loading up the car before you head out, make sure everything is best situated so it all stays put.

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12.03
2018

The Best Apps for Preventing Distracted Driving

Distracted driving — and the wave of devastation that comes with it — is a major issue today. In 2015, it was the cause of nearly 10 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle fatalities and around 16 percent of overall automobile injuries.

Cellphone use has taken the forefront as the target goal for distracted driving prevention, though it’s not the only form. (Other examples include lack of focus due to preoccupation with something else, fatigue, conversations, and eating.) But it’s for a good reason. On average, reading or sending a text takes around five seconds; at a speed of 55 mph, that’s enough time for a person to traverse the length of an entire football field.

It should come as no surprise that younger drivers (20 and under) are among the most impacted by distracted driving. Not only is this segment lacking in experience on the road, but they’re arguably the most connected, digitally, so the propensity for distraction is greater. (Not to mention, the invincibility/“not me” complex tends to reign truest in this demographic.) That always-by-their-side cellphone can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, 42 percent of high school drivers fessed up, admitting to having texted while driving.

But it’s not just kids that are practicing this type of behavior. It’s adults, too.

Here at Actsoft, we help businesses monitor employees for a number of work-related habits, including certain safe driving habits such as speed, length of time legally allowed to be spent behind the wheel in a day, and rapid acceleration and deceleration. Keeping drivers safe is extremely important to us. As a nod to our commitment to driver safety, we wanted to share a couple of apps you can use to help combat that urge to pick up the phone while you’re on the road. Not only can they help keep you and your loved ones safe, but they’re both absolutely free!

AT&T DriveMode
Once you reach a speed of 15 mph, the app is triggered, silencing incoming alerts and phone calls. Music and navigation are still accessible, but from a consolidated one-touch menu, along with select speed-dial contacts. Although it’s available to anyone, AT&T customers have the added bonus of being able to send automatic replies when text messages are received. And, with special controls built in for younger drivers, parents can rest a little easier, since they’ll be alerted if their kids switch the functionality off or add a new speed-dial number. AndroidiOS; free; att.com/drivemode

TrueMotion Family Safe Driving
Sometimes a little incentive helps to curb a bad habit. TrueMotion Family Safe Driving adds some friendly competition between family members to encourage driving safer. Tapping into your smartphone’s native capabilities, the app monitors your driving habits, including phone use while in motion. At the end of each trip, you’re given a score. Keep up with your family’s scores and see who comes out on top as the most-focused driver. Members can even opt to share their locations and trip data so others can see how they got to their destinations. AndroidiOS; free; gotrumotion.com/app

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08.03
2018

How Can I Prevent Expensive Repairs to My Car?

Routine car maintenance is an important thing that a lot of people tend to neglect or forget about altogether. An illumination of the dreaded “Check Engine” light is often times a scary thing for a car owner to see, and they may put off necessary vehicle checkups related to this occurrence out of fear of a potentially large repair bill. What isn’t often realized, however, is that failing to take reparative action in a timely manner could exacerbate the problems, calling for even more expensive repairs later on down the road. To prevent expensive and inconvenient transportation issues like this from happening to you, it’s best to always pay close attention to what messages your car is sending, and in turn give it plenty of preventative maintenance.

How Can I Take Care of My Car?

The importance of routine oil changes for your vehicle cannot be stated enough. According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, a good guideline of how often your oil should be replaced is either about once every three months or once every 3,000 miles driven. By doing this on a regular basis, you can ensure that only clean, proper levels of oil are helping your engine operate, and that as little wear-and-tear as possible is being put on the pistons inside it. Engine repairs are easily able to fetch thousands of dollars in price, so making sure that your motor remains healthy by routinely changing your oil should always be a priority.

Idling is another common practice of many drivers that can wear vehicles down over time. When a car is turned on and subjected to a lengthy standstill, the engine continues to run, burning fuel, expelling carbon monoxide, and in effect having its total lifespan chipped away at. To reduce instances of idling, something as simple as turning your car off every time you’re stuck waiting for a train to pass at a railroad crossing can positively add up over multiple years. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate all instances of idling, maintaining a conscious effort to reduce this practice as much as possible could end up paying off huge in the long run when it comes to the longevity of your car’s lifespan.

In addition to reducing idle times, getting your brakes checked regularly is another way to prevent expensive repairs later on and maintain a vehicle that is safe to drive. Grinding or squealing sounds when slowing your car down should be an immediate sign that there is an issue with your brakes, and that they should be examined at a repair center as quickly as possible. As delaying brake repairs could result in putting both yourself and other drivers on the road in danger, never take your car’s warning signs of a problem lightly.

If you’re in charge of multiple cars, finding a method of managing the maintenance needs of each individual vehicle can pose quite a challenge. Thankfully, Actsoft’s fleet management solutions can provide a way for you to receive instant alerts about when your vehicles are due for an oil change, when a “Check Engine” light in one of your vehicles activates, or when a driver is idling for too long. With our simple but powerful solutions, never feel uncertainty about your fleet’s maintenance schedules ever again.

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