13.02
2018

Freight and Farming: Two Essential Roles in the Food Industry

The next time you take a bite out of a slice of pizza from your favorite local eatery, you might consider taking a step back and pondering the sheer logistics that had to take place in order to allow it to be sitting in front of you. Long before the food was even first placed into an oven, industries such as trucking and farming were working seamlessly together to harvest and transport its ingredients efficiently.

It’s no secret that transportation and farming are two of the strongest vertebrae in the backbone of the United States’ food supply operation. With the tiniest mistake easily able to derail business for multiple delivery-dependent restaurants and supermarkets across the nation, the pair’s impact on America’s economy at large is huge. Due to this, high expectations of the farming and transportation industries are always prevalent, and workers from both verticals know how important it is to provide customers with fresh goods in a timely manner. As being stocked with adequate supplies is one of a food vendor’s biggest priorities when it comes to managing business, the tandem of farming and freight is often times left with very little margin for error.

At Actsoft, we take pride in being able to alleviate some of the difficulties that companies in these industries can face on a daily basis. For many farmers, their harvesting machinery is a crucial part of their livelihood, and these tools often times aren’t cheap. For example, a John Deere combine harvester, a common machine for harvesting grain can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase brand new. However, using our wireless solutions, lucrative machinery like this can be monitored and tracked via GPS and geofence setting, serving as a digital security blanket that actively protects against misuse and theft.

Furthermore, Actsoft’s solutions are able to help ensure that climate-sensitive goods are monitored carefully while being transported in trucks with refrigerated trailers. If a cooling unit deviates from a set temperature threshold while storing and transporting foodstuffs, alerts detailing the changes in climate will automatically be sent to company staff. As perished items can’t be used or served to customers, these cargo alerts from Actsoft remain an incredibly powerful tool for food transportation companies to take advantage of.

Moving and supplying millions of tons of food on an annual basis is no easy feat. However, to help companies in both farming and trucking achieve increased efficiency and saved revenue, Actsoft’s solutions are readily available to make these productivity goals a reality.

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10.07
2017

Big League Fun; 5 Things the Best Theme Parks Share

I’m no amusement park expert, but I’ve been to more than a few parks. Over time, I’ve noticed that the good ones share a few things in common.

Fun Factor

It’s in the title. Amusement parks are pointless if people are bored when they go. Fun means something different for everyone, so a wide range of activities is crucial. From roller coasters to water rides, simulators and games, with concerts, and food and wine festivals sprinkled in between, there’s always a different event to create memorable experiences whenever you visit.

Innovation

Replay value is crucial for amusement parks. The rides generally don’t change too much yearly, so they need to improve upon what they have until new attractions arrive. Park architects get it and they’re staying pretty trendy.

Seaworld’s Kraken Unleashed attraction is a perfect example of parks doing all they can to reinvent themselves with a modern touch. Here, ride designers have incorporated virtual reality into an already adrenaline pumping attraction to create a brand new roller coaster experience.

The parks are about more than the rides though. Amusement parks are littered with geolocation stops from the worldwide phenomenon Pokémon Go in efforts to get people walking and exploring the landmarks they offer. Technology and set design blend to make a sprawling Easter egg hunt people of all ages can enjoy. The tech that’s made Pokémon Go such a huge hit should look familiar. Actsoft employs very similar technology when it comes to GPS tracking and geofences for monitoring personnel, vehicles, and assets.

 Smart Travel Systems

Personally, one of the biggest issues I’ve found stems from traveling between parks. Park developers have caught on to this and they now provide alternatives if walking from park to park just isn’t your thing.

Disney is offering an Express Transportation add-on to their Park Hopper Option. With this service, they’ll take you directly to drop off locations in the theme park of your choosing, with no waiting time when it comes to re-entry. That’s huge, especially if you’re traveling with a large group, or with children. Keep everyone together and let the kids experience as much as possible before they get tired out.

Actsoft could make this process even better! Our GPS tracking feature is a game changer when it comes to predicting arrival and departure times.  By taking the guess work out of arrival times, visitors can plan things out even more effectively and squeeze every bit of fun possible out of their visit.

The same technology works behind the scenes too. Park dispatchers and administrators can follow buses as they travel. If something goes wrong, they’ll see it immediately and send the proper personnel.

Immersion

People go to these parks because of the allure of losing yourself in a fantasyland. Park set designers double as magicians; they take the world around us and mold it with the fantastic backdrops and dazzling visuals we instantly recognize from our favorite stories. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Pandora-The World of Avatar, and Super Nintendo World are some of the heaviest hitters when it comes to losing yourself in a different park’s world.

Food!

The way to my heart is through my stomach, and I know I’m not alone. The food matters! It greatly adds to the immersion experience. Many parks make it possible to sample delicacies from across the globe without leaving the country (assuming you’re in the United States). Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival provides a great way to get lost in the food and culture of places you may have never dreamed of visiting.

As iconic as amusement parks have become, we have to remember there’s a real business aspect to them and to keep them open, they have to generate revenue. Park creators have to pander to the masses and continuously grow to keep up with the times. Otherwise the magic fades, the luster dulls, and eventually, the rides stop.

 

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.05
2017

Trucking, Tracking, and Safety

A lone truck driver was traveling along a cliff-side roadway, midway through completing a long haul. While navigating one of the roadway’s curves, the brakes fail. The truck, its cargo, and driver all go over the edge, with no witnesses to the incident…

Elsewhere, winter snows assault another driver as he travels into the northern reaches of the country. With temperatures well below freezing, the driver’s rig suddenly comes to a stop. Despite his efforts to start it, his truck remains dead in the snow. The drop in temperature has caused his gasoline to gel. Now, he must radio for assistance, but the zero visibility caused by the snowfall will make finding his location incredibly difficult…

Both of the above instances capture hazards long haul truck drivers face while completing deliveries. With drivers spending weeks on the road at a time, they expose themselves to risks that jeopardize their rig, their cargo, and their own person. The elements of nature and mechanical failure present a significant threat to truck drivers that their employers should take into consideration. A fully loaded rig legally carries 80,000lbs or 40tons as its cargo. The trucks and trailer carry price tags in excess of $260,000. Combined with the incalculable cost of human life, a driver and semi-truck incapacitated and exposed to the elements result in a pressing issue for their employers.

How do you find a semi-truck when communication with the driver is impossible and weather conditions limit visibility?

The answer is “GPS Tracking.”

Actsoft provides employers with the technology to track their employees and assets in near real-time. While the driver in the first example is traveling, our tracking feature will relay his position back to the company’s office at regular intervals. The web-based portal allows the driver’s location history to be viewed; when things go wrong and he stops transmitting via the radio, a “breadcrumb trail” of his positions as captured by the tracking software can be pulled up. Even after he goes over the cliff, the tracking technology will still send his location while the vehicle is unmoving. It will even “ping” at a slower interval in order to conserve energy. The driver in the second case has the benefit of still being able to communicate actively with his rescuers, but the blinding snow combined with the dropping temperature makes his situation almost as dangerous. With Actsoft software continuing to relay his position to his employers, rescuers can pinpoint the driver’s location and save him and his rig.

Truckers hauling cargo across the country face various challenges; weeks on the road being grueling enough on their own. With changes in terrain and weather presenting themselves as hazards for these drivers, it is worth employers considering installing a means for tracking their position. The ability to track these rigs would mitigate the loss of vehicles, their cargo, and their drivers.

 

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05.05
2017

Distracted Driving & The Workforce

This story is a familiar one: A lone person is driving along an often-traveled route, confident in their ability to navigate without giving the road their full attention. Their phone, sitting in a cup-holder to their right, vibrates with a notification. The driver picks up the phone. It is a simple text: “what do you want for dinner?” They smile, deciding to look back up before responding. “Why is there a pole in the middle of the road?” they ask themselves before colliding with the light pole…

Distracted driving is the cause behind a multitude of traffic accidents within the United States. 2.5 million People are involved in road accidents annually. With what amounts to over 37,000 deaths a year, it is clear that the roads of America are not as safe as we would like them to be. Of these people involved in yearly accidents, 1.6 million of them are the result of cell phone involvement.

The presence of cell phones within vehicles creates increased opportunities for drivers to be distracted from focusing on the road. As stated in our previous blog post, the optimum speed for drivers to maintain in order to avoid inefficient fuel consumption is 55mph. According to Luke Ameen’s “The 25 Scariest Texting and Driving Accident Statistics,” it takes an average of five seconds to read a text message on your mobile phone. In those five seconds, a driver traveling at 55mph would have traveled the entire length of a football field. That distance, combined with that length of distraction, sets the stage for an accident to occur within a moment’s notice.

While cell phone usage is only one of many distractions drivers face while operating their vehicles, business owners must consider it the primary distraction in today’s age. More businesses are distributing company-issued smartphones in order to strengthen the connection to their remote employees and manage their workforce more efficiently. These same businesses are inadvertently increasing their employees’ likelihood of getting into an accident while operating a company vehicle. This circumstance complicates the matter further in a couple of ways:

  • An employee causing an accident opens the door for you and your business to be held accountable. Should the accident result in any loss of life, the fallout would result in more than just increased insurance premiums for your business.
  • In the event no one is harmed during the incident, the loss of a functioning vehicle is a blow to your workforce. The inability to utilize your resource hinders your efficiency, while the driver more than likely continues to text-and-drive.

Since handheld devices can be distracting while completing work related tasks, Actsoft provides a solution through the CalAMP LMU-3000, which is compatible with any vehicle that has an OBDII port. An easy and reliable “plug-and-play” option that captures the location, acceleration, and driver data you desire while taking the possible distraction out of the hands of a driver. The CalAmp LMU-2620/2610 is a hard-mounted or “permanently installed” option that constantly monitors vehicle activity and immediately responds to pre-defined threshold conditions. Both are welcomed alternatives to companies who are looking for tracking functionality while keeping drivers eyes on the road.The GPS Lockbox PTT Driving Kit enables drivers to holster, charge, and utilize their mobile devices for push-to-talk communications without keeping them in their hands. When married with the software, it creates a complete system for communication and for hours-of-service compliance.

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the organization implores all employers to have a cell phone ban for all drivers. With 64% of the total number of traffic accidents caused by drivers distracted by cell phones, it is in the best interest of employers to discourage the use of cell phones while driving year-round. Curbing the use of cell phones while behind the wheel will not only benefit your workforce and its productivity but also benefit society.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.05
2017

Too Fast, Too Furious – Monitoring Employee Speeding

People love to move quickly. It is equal parts the desire to reach a destination faster and the desire for the thrill. Track meets, drag races, and fighter jet displays are just some of the methods used to achieve the thrills of speeding. However, the thrill of speeding drivers pose a detriment to your business when they make up your workforce.

 

Issues Speeding Presents to the Workforce

Speeding subjects vehicles to greater rates of fuel consumption. 55mph is widely accepted to be the most fuel-efficient speed for a vehicle. Reaching speeds greater than 55mph results in a decrease in efficiency of a vehicle’s fuel consumption. Every five miles per hour increment above 55 increases the rate at which fuel is consumed by 5%. If a driver is clocking speeds of 75mph, they are burning fuel at a rate of 20% more than what is considered fuel-efficient. Consistent speeding consumes 30% of a tank of gas, reducing fuel efficiency to 60% for a single vehicle. Assuming the average price of a gallon of gas is $2.00, we can conclude how much a 15-gallon tank of one of the vehicles within your fleet would cost.

$2.00 per gallon

X   15 gallons of gas

$30.00

If a single tank is fifteen gallons, we can derive how many gallons are consumed by consistent speeding:
15 gallons of gas

X .30 percent of tank consumed by speeding

4.5 gallons consumed by speeding

A single vehicle within your fleet alters its fuel economy through speeding to the point where 4.5 gallons of its fifteen-gallon fuel tank are consumed inefficiently. With the average cost of a gallon of gas at $2.00, that is $9.00 of every tank of gas being mismanaged. If you fill up that vehicle once a week, your speeding driver is burning $468 over the course of a 52-week year. If we impose these figures onto a 100-vehicle fleet, your business will be burdened with $46,800 worth of misused fuel due to speeding!

Speeding drivers do not only cause an inefficient use of fuel, but also a negative impact on your company’s reputation. Because drivers do not operate their personal vehicles throughout the workday, whatever actions they take while operating their work vehicles directly affects your company’s reputation. Your employee speeding with little-to-no regard for consequences inadvertently relays a negative message about your company and its culture towards your customer base.

Consistent speeding also leaves its mark on your vehicle’s integrity. Subjecting your vehicle’s engine to higher output causes it to generate greater levels of heat. While operating within a city where a driver will start and stop their vehicle numerous times en route to their destination, the engine will not receive a constant influx of cool air to reduce its temperature. Additionally, to maintain control of the vehicle after reaching reckless speeds, the driver must engage the brakes more often and sometimes suddenly. This increased stress opens your vehicle’s brakes up to warping and possibly requiring a full replacement.

Actsoft’s software provides managers with the ability to monitor their employee’s location and the speed they are traveling at effectively. Once speed parameters have been established, they can receive an emailed alert should a driver exceed the designated speed threshold. The software is robust enough to provide information on instances of hard acceleration or hard braking that occur while the driver is operating the vehicle, giving the opportunity to take proactive action against speeding in the workforce before it gets out of hand.

The impact speeding has on your company is nothing short of negative. An unchecked culture of speeding creates an opportunity for profit to escape your grasp through inefficient fuel consumption, negative consumer experiences, and expedited wear-and-tear. Establishing a system that alerts you when your drivers are speeding is only one way to curtail speeding habits before they grow into hemorrhages in your business operations.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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14.04
2017

Idling Vehicles & The Fight Against Fuel Consumption

The City of Ontario, California recently implemented a pilot of anti-idling software across a variety of vehicles. In June 2016, according to the city’s fleet services manager Craig Grabow, Ontario calibrated five vehicles within its fleet with the software, while establishing an equal number of vehicles as the control group. Three of the vehicles operating under the pilot software were from the Police Department, while the remaining two belonged to Utilities and Parks & Maintenance.

The vehicles running the anti-idling software idled, on average, 56% of the time they were in use. Spending over half of their use-time idling led to the consumption of 140 gallons of fuel per month, per vehicle. This idle time, combined with the average cost of gas being $2.78, resulted in $389.2 worth of gas consumed per month, per vehicle. The experiment confirms the incredible costs idling vehicles burden businesses with.

The anti-idling technology enabled the vehicles to consume 22.5 gallons of gas less per month on average. With the price of gas remaining $2.78, the average saving for each vehicle being $62.55 per month and the yearly savings reaching $750.60.  The savings may seem relatively small when compared to the overall expenditure businesses experience, but (if applied to the entirety of the City’s fleet of 1,000 units) can total over $750,000.

 

Where Does Actsoft Come In?

 

Actsoft provides technology that provides users with the ability to set up alerts with predetermined parameters that, when reached, immediately notify users with an email. Idling vehicles are just one of the many threshold alerts Actsoft software provides, relaying the times vehicles are left running while not in explicit use. When establishing the alert parameters, administrators can specify a time that a vehicle can idle for before the alert is triggered. This grants administrators the power to decide what constitutes a negative instance of idling.

While vehicles within your fleet may make several stops during each workday, each stop does not equate to an instance of idling. Setting parameters at a reasonable interval allows your employees to maintain a workday without rushing to avoid an idle alert and prevents you from being overwhelmed by the reported incidents.

Idle alerts open the door for businesses to curtail the amount of fuel consumed by their fleet.  With, according to Sustainable America, 3.8 million gallons of fuel consumed by idle vehicles in the United States daily, implementing an idling software is one step in shoring up the costs hemorrhaging your business.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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31.03
2017

Data is King: The Road to Self-Driving Vehicles

Data is the “cash cow” of the digital age. Like gold and oil in decades past, there is a rush to accumulate as much data about consumers as quickly as possible. Companies like Facebook and Google are acquiring and making a fortune off the sale of said data. Matt McFarland of CNN tech explains the current environment surrounding data acquisition and the proliferation of sensory technology in our vehicles.

The increased presence of sensors and cameras within modern cars yield greater ability to monitor performance and surroundings. Today’s vehicles can identify which part of the car’s interior needs maintenance or if there are obstacles around us as we drive. These sensors generate data that is analyzed in the hopes of creating self-driving vehicles.

Self-driving cars would generate immense amounts of data (1 gigabyte per second according to Tom Coughlin, Founder of Coughlin Associates). The possibilities created by these acquisitions are equally immense. Vehicles will potentially be able to relay the location of specific landmarks like parking spaces in a crowded lot, for instance. While the ability to locate a parking space from a single application on your phone is beneficial, it is only one positive change self-driving vehicles could bring about.
 

How does that affect your workforce?

Self-driving vehicles would remove driver necessity in the transport industry. Taxis, cargo trucks, etc. would find their once human-operated vehicles controlled by a computer receiving incredible amounts of data as it travels.  There would not be payroll discrepancies about overtime wages. Gone would be the days of driver error resulting in accidents (which result in $242 billion a year in the United States). Like the invention of the mechanized assembly line, the widespread implementation of self-driving vehicles would make the use of anything else obsolete.

McFarland mentions that the presence of affordable autonomous travel would exponentially expand the travel market. Transportation companies would be able to enter and reach people in the developing world who are unable to afford vehicles of their own or transport services operated by human drivers. The presence of vehicles always connected to the internet opens up the avenue for location and time based advertisements. Companies could not only generate revenue from the use of vehicles and the sale of vehicle data, but also from advertisers trying to reach constituents in a particular region.

Self-driving vehicles can potentially streamline the route optimization and dispatching processes of your fleet – new orders will no longer have to be communicated from headquarters, as the car nearest a request would immediately get the request. Traffic congesting routes would be circumvented as the car receives data on the various paths towards its destination.

The advent of the self-driving vehicle will be disruptive to various industries. Companies will have to adjust their processes should the benefits outweigh the costs.

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