Let it snow…..or make it stop?

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, November 20th, 2014

SnowflakeAn incredible amount of snow has recently fallen on the City of Buffalo. I’m sure we’ve all seen the images. Residents aren’t out of the woods just yet though, with one online news/weather site stating “the meteorological  kick-me sign” hasn’t fallen off just yet. A weekend warm-up may cause a rapid melt that could quickly turn to flooding.

Not to ring our own bell, our thoughts are with the residents of Buffalo as they grapple with what Mother Nature is doling out. We are, however, happy the City of Buffalo is using Webtech Wireless’ GPS/AVL fleet intelligence solution – Webtech Fleet Center, to manage their winter maintenance fleets. We’re also happy the residents of Buffalo have access to the mission-critical road condition information (including snow plow information specifically) their City is gathering using Webtech Wireless’ mobile government app, Webtech 511 to ensure residents can navigate the City armed with real-time information on which routes are best to use given the current weather conditions.

Real-time fleet intelligence solutions provide agencies with both the ability to optimize their winter maintenance operations and offer unparalleled transparency of customer service commitments to their customers. And in today’s world of instant access to all types of information, mobile applications like Webtech 511 make really good business sense.

Experience the benefits of Webtech 511 firsthand, download the City of Buffalo’s “Buffalo Roads Conditions” app from iTunes and Google Play stores and watch this fun, high-level video overview of Webtech 511 in action.

Could Webtech 511 benefit your agency? Get in touch with us today to find out.

GPS/AVL Fleet Management Solutions and Fuel Economy

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, November 20th, 2014

GasFuel accounts for 31% of operational costs in trucking. In a low-margin business like trucking, the effect of lowering fuel consumption by 5% can increase profitability by as much as 18%.

Reducing fuel consumption in your fleet is a never-ending challenge requiring sustained effort in driver training and feedback, vehicle maintenance, monitoring and management.  The impact of better fuel economy hits the bottom line immediately, freeing up resources for investment in the fleet, and in other parts of your organization. Driver behavior is the number one factor in fuel consumption and bad driving behaviour can increase fuel expenses between 5-15%. The good news is that this behavior can be corrected with access to accurate and timely GPS/AVL fleet intelligence and positive, bottom-line impacts can be seen fairly soon upon implementing minor corrections.

Idling:

Unnecessary idling is the largest factor in how much fuel a fleet wastes. Idling for long periods of time – whether at a job site, a railroad crossing or pulled off to the side of the road– wastes fuel that could be saved by simply turning off the engine.  60 minutes of idling time is equal to 80-120 minutes of driving time and idling wastes one gallon of gas per hour. Reducing idle time by 10% can result in a 10-20% increase in fuel efficiency. Regulations at every level of government seek to reduce idling for both personal and commercial vehicles. Also, as in other regulated segments of the transportation industries, penalties can be steep.  A GPS/AVL fleet management solution can allow fleet managers to track fleet idling times and set alerts every time a vehicle exceeds a pre-determined idle-time threshold. Fleet managers can in turn, use this information to correct wasteful behaviors and lower overall fuel consumption.

Speeding:

If you’re not burning dollars while standing still, then chances are you’re burning them by going too fast. It’s a well-known, well-documented fact that speeding has a negative impact on fuel consumption. Studies have shown that reducing driver speed can lower fuel consumption by up-to 14%. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each 5 miles per hour driven above the speed limit has the net effect of increasing the cost of a gallon of gas by twenty cents.

Telematics solutions can provide automatic driver performance reports designed to show the percentage of time that each driver is speeding over defined thresholds. These reports give you all the visibility you need into what speeding is costing your organization. You can then use the reports to educate your drivers, devise policies to incentivize reduced driving speeds and to monitor performance improvements over time to entrench lower driving speeds.

Driver Behavior:

The way an individual drives a vehicle has a big impact on the overall fuel economy of the vehicle. While driver behavior would seem to be one of the factors most under our control, the reality is that it is hard to change people’s habits. The most effective way to obtain long –term driver behavior change is through training, ongoing monitoring and feedback.

GPS/AVL Fleet Management Solutions:

When a fleet is on the road, managers and office staff cannot know exactly where their vehicles are without constantly contacting the drivers. This lack of knowledge leads to inefficient dispatching:  vehicles far from the next customer site are often chosen to respond over vehicles which are much closer, wasting time and fuel.

GPS/AVL Fleet Management solutions deliver a wide-range of benefits, not the least of which is the ability to achieve greater fuel economy.

Would you like to start increasing your fuel economy using accurate, relevant data derived directly from your fleet of drivers? Let’s talk!

Mapping and Fleet Management

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, November 6th, 2014

MapMapmaking has been an integral part of human history for thousands of years. People have used maps as essential tools to help them define, explain and navigate their way through the world. This couldn’t be more true today with the prevalence of online and mobile device mapping tools.

Most telematics solutions represent vehicles as icons on a map. The accuracy of that data depends on the underlying map layer, how closely you are zoomed in, and the rate at which the vehicle telematics device is reporting back to your telematics solution.

Exactly how much information is shown, how often the map is refreshed, where the mapping information comes from and what layers are on the map are different from vendor to vendor. Accuracy is also dependent on your GPS receiver.

Digital Maps vs. Geographic Information Systems:

Digital maps display basic vehicle navigation information, which is often well-suited to simple track and trace applications, providing standard mapping data, street, address, latitude/longitude etc…

A GIS system is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, and manage data offering a more specialized and complete understanding and analysis of all aspects of the geography as it relates to a user’s fleet.  GIS mapping combined with a telematics solution allows users to create interactive queries (a user can ask questions such as is this location on the street? What street segments make up a district? Can you color the route my trucks have covered?), create maps, integrate information, and visualize scenarios resulting in a greater ability to solve complicated problems, present powerful ideas and develop more effective solutions.

The capabilities of a given telematics solution will depend on whether its underlying architecture is based on a mapping solution, a GIS solution or a hybrid of the two. It typically costs more to offer a GIS map layer, but as pointed out, the user is better able to solve complicated operational challenges. This is where a good analysis of your business needs will help you determine which path you take. Reducing up-front costs is very appealing, however, in the long term, full cost of ownership should dictate which solution best suits your needs.

GIS enabled telematics solutions typically offer sophisticated importing capabilities of GIS databases. If you are planning on incorporating your GIS information in a telematics solution, be sure your project plan includes the following:

  • You review your GIS databases with your vendor
  • Document which databases are going to be used in your telematics portal
  • Devise a plan for how you will initially import your GIS information into the telematics solution
  • Create a process where your GIS information is continually updated with your vendor’s solution.

Webtech Fleet Center is a fully comprehensive fleet management solution that seamlessly integrates GIS Mapping for advanced fleet intelligence. If you’d like to learn how Webtech Fleet Center can power-up your business, or if you are looking for advice on what solution is best for your needs, you can reach us here.

ELDs – The journey has only just begun!

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, October 23rd, 2014

MDT3500Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are already an integral part of the trucking industry’s future, with a final FMCSA mandated adoption deadline anticipated at the earliest in the spring of 2017.

The proposed mandate has generated all sorts of discussion in the industry with camps on both sides of the opinion fence – those absolutely in favor and those absolutely not.

It’s clear that many details still need to be ironed out.

With all this talk about ELDs, speculation on what the final mandate will actually look like and how it might impact the transportation industry, have we spent any time considering the benefits ELDs may deliver well into the future?

Technology typically develops to meet an existing need or requirement and then evolves to encompass more and more. If you take the mobile phone as an example, early models offered basic phone services. Today’s mobile phone is a GPS, daily planner, game station, music player, movie viewer and a host of other services.

Given this standard model of technology maturation… what could the future ELD offer in the way of services?

We’ve given it a bit of thought. Click here to read more.

Are you ready for the ELD Mandate?  This infographic details the benefits of ELDs. If you’d like further reading, download our “Preparing for the FMCSA’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) whitepaper here.

Fleet Management by Exception

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, October 9th, 2014

ExceptionsAs more and more, fleet management data becomes available, fleet managers can easily find themselves stuck behind their desks, sorting through reports to locate the source of issues and concerns.

Fleet reporting is critical, and right from the initial days following implementation of a fleet management solution, the reporting data can help fleet owners/managers better understand their fleets and day-to-day challenges. Over time, however, the data can become mundane and less serviceable. Managing by exception is far more beneficial to the fleet owner/manager and entire organization – enabling fleets to deal with deviations from the norm quickly and efficiently.

Management by exception (MBE) is a practice in which only significant deviations from the plan or norm are brought to the attention of the management team. This ensures that management focuses only on those areas that require action – allowing them to hone in on the specific issues for rapid resolution.

Management by exception enables thinking and planning at the strategic level.

Fleet managers who manage by exception are notified only when, for example, a driver is nearing a violation, excessive driving behaviors are detected, or in the case of winter operations, an irregular amount of material such as salt is used on a particular street.

To avoid over managing exceptions, your organization should define thresholds that highlight only those results that require further action.

  1. Set thresholds that make sense – spend as much time as possible to ensure your thresholds are meaningful and sensible.
  2. Know when to stay away – when all processes are working leave them alone.
  3. Focus on eliminating the exceptions or factors that lead to exceptions so they don’t repeat. An exception that keeps coming back is counter-productive and perhaps requires a different approach.

Benefits of Management by Exception

  1. Saves management time and energy and allows for concentration on more important problems and issues
  2. Leads to a much better return on technology investment.
  3. Facilitates the engagement of specialised staff for highly routine jobs.
  4. Encourages workers to exercise their own judgement. As long as they are within established guidelines, they can continue working.
  5. Leads to identification of critical problem areas and rapid resolution.

Accountability-WordleThe principle of accountability dictates that government officials are responsible to their citizens for all decisions and actions and that those decisions and actions be accessible and open to public scrutiny. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible. Accountability and transparency makes for good business too – together, these principles can save money, strengthen people’s trust in government and encourage greater public participation in decision-making.

Communicate your Service Level Agreements for Increased Accountability and Transparency

Service Level Agreements between service providers and customers clearly identify the services to be provided as well as their costs and priorities. Greater still – these documents highlight the mutual responsibilities of the parties involved – the government agency and its citizens, so the public is made an active participant in the services they are receiving.

Borrow Practices from Commercial Carriers for a Further Level of Detail

Government fleets can also borrow protocols the federal government has implemented to improve motor carrier safety for commercial fleets. Exemptions exist for state and local government fleets; however, pre and post-trip inspection reporting can promote safety and increase accountability amongst vehicle operators and maintenance personnel across the board.

Commercial carriers with vehicles that exceed a specific weight restriction are required by federal regulation to inspect their vehicles and document the results in a form prescribed by the federal government.  This form, the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), covers a wide-range of safety areas including brakes, steering mechanisms, tires, emergency equipment etc…The form also provides space for the driver to acknowledge that they reviewed the previous drivers DVIR. For more efficient and accurate methods of tracking, electronic logging is also available.

Sharing Service Level Agreements and utilizing protocols that are already in-place in other industries are just two ways government agencies can proactively increase safety, transparency and accountability, whereby developing a greater bond with the citizens who are making use of the services offered.

Webtech Wireless will be exhibiting at this year’s TransForum User Conference and Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee, September 21-24, 2014. Visit us at booth #227!

As always, the TransForum Conference will provide an incredible array of opportunities to network with leaders from various organizations and positions within the industry. Attending the event is your ticket to gain insights from many of these leaders, including Webtech Wireless on existing and emerging challenges, and the technology solutions and best practices that ensure your organization will come out on top.

Some of the more critical challenges faced by the industry that can impede or halt a carrier’s ability to grow:

Regulation: One of the most immediate concerns to industry stakeholders is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate; however, there are several other regulatory mandates on the horizon that can potentially impact the industry.

Freight Pricing: Flat in 2013, consistent industry growth is required for pricing to improve.

Driver Availability:  The ATA forecasts the driver shortage will total roughly 239,000 by 2022. Eric Starks, President of FTR (Transportation Intelligence) states in a Commercial Carrier Journal article, “We are facing easily the largest collection of regulatory changes in history. There are 20 regulations already started or are coming into play that either take a driver out of the system, or cause a productivity dip that requires adding another driver.”

Given that technology plays an incredibly important role in addressing these top challenges – technology can enable regulatory compliance, technology can help optimize your business performance and improve bottom line results and technology can generate operational efficiencies that can offset driver shortages, it’s the perfect time to attend TransForum.

Would you like more info? Book an appointment with a Webtech Wireless solution expert!

Hope to see you there!

Drawing more than 5,000 attendees, this year’s Congress delivered a wide-range of valuable educational sessions to public works professionals and also provided a forum for us to re-connect with partners and customers – to share, to learn and to grow.

Congress also offered the venue for us to launch our new fleet intelligence solution, Webtech Fleet Center. An incredibly comprehensive and robust fleet business intelligence platform, Webtech Fleet Center drives better business, better accountability and better transparency and best of all, it meets the ever-broadening needs of government and commercial clients alike – all in one easy-to-use solution!

Events like Congress are key for us. The breadth and width of information available, the depth of the exchanges, the fostering of ideas – all come from being in the heart of the industry. This Congress was no different. We’ll take what we gathered and continue to evolve our solutions to meet and exceed the needs of our customers. We’d love to continue the dialogue with you. What are the challenges you face in your day-to-day business? How can we help you address these challenges? Contact us at: info@webtechwireless.

For more information on Webtech Fleet Center, please follow this link.

 

Incredible success for Vancouver Street Dance Festival!

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, August 22nd, 2014

Street_DanceCongratulations to fellow Webtech Wireless employee Boris Khramtsov for the success of this year’s Vancouver Street Dance Festival!

Boris is one of two event organizers, Jessey Kwong is the other. Together they have created an event that is not only gaining National exposure, but steadily generating more interest on an International level!

The festival, a free outdoor event, took place this year on August 2 in Robson Square, downtown Vancouver and attracted more than 5,000 people.

Three years since its inception, the dance festival has grown from one that featured local judges to this year’s event featuring specialized judges from across North America, including some International representation from Paris. The competitors are now also from as far away as Japan. From an organizational standpoint, Boris and Jessey have grown the team to 12 people and have formed a non-profit organization to help plan and host all future events.

So, check it out and maybe even make plans to attend next year’s event? And if you need additional encouragement here are some pretty cool facts about Vancouver’s street dance community:

  • Vancouver is home to a small, but thriving street dance community that is better known around the rest of the world that in its home town.
  • Vancouver street dancers travel all over the world to compete and judge
  • Dancers from Asia participate in work exchange programs for the opportunity to dance in Vancouver

http://www.vanstreetdancefest.com/vsdf-2014-re-cap/

Do you want more from your GPS/AVL and Fleet Management Solution?

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, August 14th, 2014

Webtech_FleetCenter_horiz_COUL_TMDrive change and enhance your operations like never before! Introducing our new ground-breaking fleet intelligence solution – Webtech Fleet Center!

Webtech Fleet Center is a powerful set of GPS/AVL and fleet management tools that deliver enhanced business intelligence for fleets. Really enhanced! In fact, it might be just what you need to increase your levels of service, establish a competitive edge, increase transparency and accountability and drive better bottom line results.

Combining the best of InterFleet and Quadrant, Webtech Fleet Center delivers all the traditional fleet management functionality you’re used to but includes some very new, very exciting benefits that provide the fleet manager with the ability to drive even more business value, be even more accountable and provide a superior level of service. New functionality includes:

  • Route Completion Reports:  Compare actual performance against planned targets and gain real, valuable insight into fleet activity
  • Live Service Maps:  Define new levels of customer service with access to customer-centric information
  • GIS Solutions:  Cross-correlate fleet intelligence and custom GIS maps for enhanced reporting and monitoring
  • Advanced Reporting: Gain access to more meaningful, relevant data spanning up to 15 months to enable better, more efficient business decisions
  • Dashboards:  Access only that data required to highlight critical issues and get visibility to roadblocks at a glance

These tools will help organizations meet regulation and compliance initiatives, optimize fleet performance and productivity, reduce costs and ensure the safety of drivers better than ever before.

Want more information? Follow this link.

Let Webtech Fleet Center translate your fleet information into data that is meaningful, and relevant and help enable the organizational change you need to remain current in today’s fast-paced and ever competitive world!