21.05
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.

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14.05
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.

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30.04
2019

Can Natural Gas Fleets Save Money?

Managers of any business that owns a fleet of vehicles are always on the search for options that will save money. It’s crucial to always be on the cutting edge of technology. Especially with fuel prices steadily climbing, finding thrifty fuel alternatives is a must. Perhaps a company could save some green by converting their fleet to go green.

In recent years, Ford started to offer compressed natural gas and propane-ready gaseous prep packages for V8 engines in its F-150s. According to FleetOwner, this was done as a response to customers reaching out to Ford requesting alternative-fuel capabilities, even for its larger 5.0-liter V8 engines.

But what does this mean money-wise? Can natural gas vehicles actually save companies money?

Manufacturers for the vehicles estimate up-fitting for pickups and vans can cost up to $13,000 per vehicle. In the short run, alternative fuels are an investment. Reports by The Tulsa World and FOX 13 of Salt Lake City see that about three cents per mile driven is saved for a vehicle.

The vehicles in the Tulsa World and FOX 13 reports (transit buses and a news van) are a bit different than the Ford vehicles, which will come with the upgrades and the costs included in the vehicle price. But at three cents per mile, it may take a while to offset the estimated $13,000 of costs and start saving money. For a vehicle that drives 25,000 miles per year, it would take nearly 18 years to begin saving money.

Alternative fuel might not be the best option to save money at the moment, but as technology improves it will become a more realistic option. FleetOwner’s article urged that performance doesn’t drop off with these alternative fuel vehicles, which will be able to tow the same amount of cargo as a traditional gasoline vehicle.

Alternative fuel may not save money for your fleet of vehicles this year or next, but natural gas fleets are a growing trend that fleet owners will want to keep an eye on.

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09.04
2019

The Importance of Driver Safety

The weather is warmer, school is coming to a close for the kids, and vacation season is nearly upon us. It’s a happy time of year with the snow just about all melted away. It only means one thing: more activity on the roadways.

Anyone who drives on a regular basis, whether it’s to and from work, or someone who drives a vehicle for a living, knows it’s imperative to be safe on the roadways. Make sure the tires are at a good grade, make sure the oil is fresh, and everything else with your vehicle is completely safe.

Still, the biggest component of driving safely is, well, driver safety. Things become tougher on the roadways with more and more vehicles clogging up lanes. This is especially true in areas that have high volumes of traffic and less than three lanes on each side for traffic.

Driving in an area with smalltown design, but big city aspirations can be a nightmare. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, as many as 100,000 people will clog the roadways during the day in certain spots of the highway. Despite the large volume of drivers, there are only two lanes in each direction for traffic. Add onto that about 100 yards for entry ramps, which is not a ton of room to merge, it’s not a great situation for hundreds of vehicles to go from two and one-half lanes to two.

The four-lane highway that may be better served as a six-lane roadway is not unique to Allentown. It may seem silly for experienced drivers, but it never hurts to have a reminder of safe driving habits for roadways that are difficult to maneuver. Anyone from an urban area is used to crowded roadways, but with plenty of lanes to get around. Anyone from a rural area is used to dealing with tight roads. Combining the two may not be a daily occurrence for every driver out there. Make sure you’re taking every precaution necessary to make it home at the end of the day.

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26.03
2019

The Importance of Efficiency

Running a business these days is tough. With employees in and out of the office and resources to keep track of, there are a lot of moving parts in any industry. It’s important to stay on top of what’s going on inside and outside the office.

Being off by just a few facts here or there can snowball on a company. In one of our case studies, Jeff Boone and Paul Headley of Napa Auto Parts in Louisiana shared his experience with “the little things.” Headley said that the gas wasted in two minutes of idling equates to about the amount of gas from a mile of driving for their vehicles. Reducing that amount of wasted gas with Actsoft’s solutions reduced the store’s fuel usage by 10 percent, or about $20,000 a year as Boone estimated.

The numbers for each business will vary by size, how many vehicles there are, and other factors. The key is to eliminate the little things so they don’t balloon into bigger issues. When a car is left running money is sent straight out the exhaust pipe. But idling is not the only issue we’ve seen with companies. Time management is a big issue especially when companies work in collaboration with others, have to accommodate customers, and rely on information exchanged between the office and field.

Championing time management is a huge accomplishment of Actsoft. The Denver Transit Partners (DTP), a collaboration of several construction companies that came together on a mass transit railway system in Denver, had as many as 45 different paper forms to get through the day. Forms were filled out onsite, sent to the proper offices, reviewed, and finally sent back to the field just for a simple order to be executed. The DTP also had to keep track of the hours many different employees worked, which can be problematic in such a large operation. The construction managers of DTP started using Wireless Forms and one of the safety managers, Craig Clairmont, said using these forms saved about three hours of paper processing a day. Gathering all the needed information was streamlined for them and can do the same for many other businesses.

Even if Actsoft’s solutions can only save a business a few dollars here and there, it makes sense to try and take advantage of what you can as a business manager. It’s never an easy decision to make a change, but you can see what others have had to say about Actsoft in our case study library and in our video library. Accuracy matters in running a business, so make sure you know exactly what you need to run your business effectively.

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05.03
2019

The Rise of Luxury Delivery Vans

Not all vehicles are created the same. An F-150 will never beat a Mustang in a race, a Camry won’t outhaul a Tacoma, and an Escalade probably won’t do as well in fuel consumption as a hybrid. There are certain disparities in vehicles that are obvious and aren’t up for debate. But what about this trend of mixing luxury with blue-collar vehicles?

It’s not a new trend, as the New York Times ran a story on the vehicles in 2011, but it’s a trend that still may be hard for many to imagine. These vehicles look like service vans but are larger and infinitely more luxurious. One Business Insider stayed in a luxury van for a week, comparing it to a small apartment.

The trend of utilizing oversized vans customized with lavish amenities has extended its innovation to the office. According to an article from Bloomberg Business, luxury vans are being used as mobile offices to conduct business meetings for CEOs and executives while on long commutes to the office.

Howard Becker, owner of California-based Becker Auto Design, said in an interview for the article with Bloomberg there’s significant revenue in customizing luxury vans for business use.

“Even in the first world, the major metropolitan areas are all behind in infrastructure,” Becker said. “What drives our business is the ability for our customers to get things done even when they’re driving, as opposed to sacrificing that time. The candy red Ferrari is still in the garage for fun on weekends, but they’re thinking, at least on weekdays, ‘I can’t afford to drive myself anymore.'”

To keep the look and feel of having an office like atmosphere inside these luxury vans designers have uniquely designed the vans with Wi-Fi, touchscreen, TVs, and airline pod-style seats, and other amenities can be added.

While they may be of some use for mobile businessmen, do these high-priced vans “on steroids” as the New York Times article referred to them, have any practical use for a fleet owner?

The “apartment on wheels” won’t have a significant impact on large mobile workforces, but there is a “Goldilocks zone” for van size. The Mercedes-Benz Metris is considered to be a van that is just right for fleet owners. Mercedes-Benz has a division of its company dedicated to making service vans and FleetOwner reports that people within the company believe the Metris is their best work.

The Metris is a mid-sized van that has a 5,000-pound towing capacity which is 50% more payload capacity than smaller Mercedes-Benz vans and 45% more cargo volume in a vehicle that can fit into a garage. While the larger luxury vans may take up half a city block, the Metris is efficient for its size. The Metris is powered by a 208-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with a 7-speed transmission.

These vehicles are certainly a high priority for whoever purchases them and can be targeted for theft, like any other service vehicle. If an individual or business is going to invest in such a lavish vehicle, it needs to be protected. One certain way to ensure the safety of these mammoth machines is with an industry-leading asset-tracking software that can be used in conjunction with the vehicle like what is offered at Actsoft.

At the price of $25,995 for mid-sized vans like the Metris, a fleet of service vehicles from a company synonymous with luxury may not be out of the question for some companies. Don’t expect any plumbers to roll around town with a mobile house to fix bathrooms, but performance and luxury don’t have to be mutually exclusive within the service industry or for businessmen on the go.

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30.01
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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09.01
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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21.11
2018

Don’t Let the Weather Freeze Your Pockets

As the temperature drops, everyone’s bills begin to rise. Of course, energy bills go up as many try to avoid the frosty outdoors. But have you noticed an uptick in how much you spend on fuel for your vehicle in winter?

The freezing weather (20 degrees F) can drop a car’s gas mileage by about 12 percent when compared to normal performance at 77 degrees, according to a study done by FuelEconomy. For shorter trips, it can drop as much as 22 percent.

How does the weather affect fuel consumption?
There are multiple reasons fuel economy is reduced in frigid conditions. One reason is that the friction from the icy conditions can make it more difficult for a vehicle’s engine to perform. It’s also more difficult on engines if you work in an area that requires your vehicle to plow through the fluffy white stuff.

Much like how we desperately wait for a vehicle’s heating unit to warm up in the cold, the engine itself requires a warm-up to get to a point where it’s at peak performance. That takes time — and fuel — for the car to get to that point.

But hybrids will be okay, right?
Actually, the same study done by FuelEconomy showed hybrids can have their fuel economy reduced by as much as 34 percent when the weather is below freezing, compared to the vehicle’s normal performance. The main reason hybrids do worse is the computer that monitors fuel economy can see a drop off in performance due to freezing temperatures. Hybrids also suffer from the issues a conventional vehicle faces in the frigid conditions. Basically, the same system that helps your fuel consumption in a hybrid may be its downfall in the cold.

The human factor
There are driving habits that can burn up fuel as well. Turning on a vehicle and waiting half an hour for it to heat up, of course, will burn up fuel. Idling has been proven to have a mileage of zero miles to the gallon.

However, there are some other factors we might not even consider. The more trips a vehicle has to make in a day will take its toll during the winter. Each time a car is shut off and subsequently turned back on it requires energy to do so and that, of course, is gasoline.

Solutions
So what can be done to avoid frequent trips to the pump while the weather outside is frightful?

Plan trips to avoid unnecessary stops. The more you fire up the engine (especially if the engine sits for a while and gets cold), the more precious energy it takes to get the vehicle going. Try to get everything done in one go, if possible, and try to reduce the total distance traveled per trip.

Check the tires. The weather can have a strain on the air in a vehicle’s tires because cold, dense air causes the tire pressure to drop below an efficient level.

Don’t let the pedal hit the metal. The more accelerating drivers do the quicker fuel is burned up. Each time the engine revs up it’s like tossing a few nickels of gas money out the driver-side window.

At Actsoft, we unfortunately can’t control the weather, but we can help you be efficient despite the conditions. We can help monitor driver habits and make sure drivers aren’t needlessly accelerating or breaking hard on the snowy streets. We can make sure the money Jack Frost is trying to take from you stays in your pocket rather than being lost to the icy roads.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you through the cold season?

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11.10
2018

Industry Spotlight: Actsoft Solutions in Transportation

In the wake of a brutal natural disaster, supplies are in critical demand. Before power restoration and rebuilding comes the provision of emergency aid to those in need, which often times comes in the form of bottled water, medicine, and food deliveries to shelters, and the transportation industry plays an essential role in accomplishing this.

Bringing goods to areas that have been hit hard by a volatile weather system isn’t always easy, as road blockages, flood waters, felled power lines, abnormal traffic patterns, and other obstructions can impair efficient delivery. However, transportation companies that offer assistance in scenarios like this can use Actsoft solutions to mitigate operational hindrances, and better help people that have been caught in some of nature’s most destructive potential.

GPS Tracking

Even after a storm has passed, there’s still a significant level of danger in reaching areas that have been damaged by blistering winds, torrential downpours and structure-devouring storm surges. Our GPS Tracking feature helps transportation companies monitor the near real-time positions of their employees, fleet vehicles, and assets, and enhances driver safety by keeping administrators constantly in-the-know about their locations. Should an emergency occur on the job, supervisors can know exactly where any of their dispersed employees are, making emergency situations much more manageable.

Dispatching

Mobile technology and Actsoft innovations work together to bring dispersed workforces into a more connected state. If adjustments in delivery assignments need to be made on the fly, our Dispatching tool allows administrators to contact their drivers nearly instantly through integrated desktop-to-smartphone communications. With relief efforts requiring high levels of flexibility, Dispatching is a valuable asset for 21st century transportation companies to have in their repertoire, especially during times of catastrophic weather.

Traffic Overlay

After a weather event like a hurricane has ceased, it may take a while for traffic patterns return to semblances of normalcy. Emergency deliveries, however, don’t have time to wait when the public is in dire need of survival supplies. Using Traffic Overlay, a recent enhancement to our Encore solution, organizations can see near real-time congestion patterns on their live view GPS map, and then select the most efficient routes for their drivers to take to affected areas.

Extreme weather phenomena are often unpredictable. Let the power of our solutions revolutionize your transportation business into the most productive, efficient, and versatile version of itself, and provide disaster-stricken areas with unparalleled assistance during aftermath recovery.

 If you’d like to donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief fund, click here.

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