Braving the elements in Nashville

Posted by: Mike Cornford, February 26th, 2015

iceLast week, I had the business trip experience of a lifetime! I was on my way to the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council in Nashville, TN, where Webtech Wireless would be demonstrating the benefits of our GPS/AVL fleet intelligence solution, Webtech Fleet Center. We would be focusing on the strengths the solution delivers to transportation organizations, particularly relating to better management of fuel related costs. The trip started off like any other – an early morning drive to the airport, catching connecting flights, landing and checking into the hotel, grabbing a dinner and then settling in for the next day’s last minute event details.

I didn’t know it, but Nashville, TN was about to give me a lesson in cold that most of you would think I’d be well-schooled in. A Vancouver, BC – based Canadian – we have easy-access to local ski hills to experience snow, even though Vancouver itself doesn’t really get snow. But I am after all, Canadian and some of our provinces exemplify true winter wonderlands during the winter months.

A clear and bright morning greeted me the next day, but as the day progressed, the temperatures rapidly dropped, and my phone began a steady stream of severe weather advisory alerts. “Sure, sure, this little storm won’t impact me – I know how to navigate the cold”!

As evening approached, Nashville started to shut down – what, really? The temperature got colder and colder, which led to snow, sleet and a complete freeze. Trying to walk to and from the convention center saw me taking a low, center-of-gravity stance, with slow and measured steps in my ridiculously slippery leather soled shoes. I must have looked like Spiderman would if he was scaling a building, but I was only trying to make my way down the sidewalk!

The mayor called a “State of Emergency” requesting people stay off the roads and that’s exactly what they did. Cabs were scarce, restaurants were closed and my hopes of complimenting this business trip with some great southern fare and top-rate, live music got downgraded to hoping I get to and from the convention center safely and ensuring three square meals a day (trail mix and microwave dinners).

The freakish weather continued. This snap would go on the books as the coldest in Nashville since 1978 and the ninth coldest February in recorded history. People were stranded at the airport and parts of Nashville (that included many hotels) were suffering from power outages. Hotels were booked solid, some weren’t accepting guests as a result of the outages and travelers were combing the City for toiletries.

I did actually manage to hail a few cabs during my stay. Each time I ended up with the same great driver. He was brave enough to venture out against the advisories and provide a much needed service for us conference goers and food seekers. Needless to say, I ended up getting his contact for my next visit and future fares. I can’t thank him enough for his services.

I did survive the week and managed to return home to Vancouver without any significant delays. Remarkable, as the weather continues to play havoc and all flights have only recently resumed. In Hindsight it was a bit humbling – when you are out of your element, it’s a whole new game when you encounter something out of the norm. But, when you face the unexpected, is also when you really notice the above and beyond. I’ve known Nashville to be a friendly place, but it’s even more friendly when you are bracing against snow, ice, sleet and incredible wind-chill. Sure, I didn’t get to sample as much Southern BBQ this time and I didn’t get to float from one amazing live performance to the next, but this recent trip to Nashville hasn’t dampened my hope to return again soon so that I can make up for that oversight and enjoy southern hospitality when it’s maybe just a little warmer outside.

Eliminate Transportation Paper-Based Reporting

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, February 12th, 2015

PaperlessToday’s transportation organizations are faced with increased pressures to comply with regulations, manage a shrinking driver pool and increased driver turnover and the needs to improve service levels while reducing costs.

Telematics solutions can save an organization thousands of dollars in tracking and resolving errors, processing overtime and even reducing FMCSA and DOT compliance fines.

Going paperless can provide a transportation organization with:

  • Ability to update records whenever work occurs
  • Allowing a driver to capture data automatically at the point of work, and updating systems in real-time
  • Eliminating the need for redundant back-end office data entry

Linking your drivers with the enterprise and its data resources, minimizing manual processes is the key to enhancing productivity, accuracy, profitability and ultimately customer satisfaction.

There are many benefits to removing paper from your driver’s day-to-day lives, but the two big-ticket wins are:

Creating more efficiency:

Replacing paper-based procedures with automated systems can provide your drivers with productivity gains of up to 18%. And once data is stored it can automatically be shared amongst different applications without the need for clerical data entry.

Reducing errors:

Mistakes and inefficiencies negatively impact your bottom line in more ways than you can imagine. Studies have found a skilled typist makes one error for every 300 key strokes. Factor in a long working day and the increase in errors that would occur at the end of a shift (most common practice is for paperwork to be completed at the end of a driver’s day) and you get a sense for the cost such errors might have on your organization.

Webtech Wireless’ AVL/GPS fleet management solution can help you on your way to a paperless cab –ensuring you are compliant with upcoming regulations. Contact us to learn the many ways you can save money, streamline your processes, and beef up your bottom line.

Better Driver Behavior really does Impact your Bottom Line!

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, January 29th, 2015

GasSo you probably already know this. But do you actually take steps to ensure you and your drivers are using best practices to generate efficiencies and cut costs where possible?

Better yet, are you continually monitoring, measuring, correcting and implementing what you learn?

Gathering relevant fleet/driver data can give you an accurate representation of what you and your drivers are doing and provide you with the opportunity to correct, modify and correct. This is one of the core benefits of implementing a GPS/AVL fleet management system.

And while gas prices are not currently as high as they have been – it’s always good business to strive to achieve maximum efficiency whenever possible. By changing your driving habits you can improve your fuel economy up to 37% immediately – making adjustments now will only help you in the long run and perhaps provide that competitive advantage when you need it most.

Here’s a quick refresher:

Keep Calm and Carry On

Accelerating quickly or too slowly can limit your fuel economy and when it comes to braking, less is more. When it comes to acceleration you should aim to take 15-20 seconds to get to 50mph from a stop. Braking takes kinetic energy and turns it into waste heat. Anticipating road conditions and coasting in gear to a stop will make the most of your momentum. Tests conducted by Edmonds.com reported calm and measured driving provided an average fuel savings of 31%.

Consider your Speed

Gas mileage typically peaks at speeds between 40-55 mph and significantly declines after 60 mph. Oak Ridge National Laboratory research further indicates fuel economy drops 12% with speeds in the 50-60 mph range, 25% with speeds in the 50-70 mph range and by 36% with speeds in the 50 to 80 mph range. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that by watching your speed, you can lower highway driving fuel costs by 33% and city driving costs by 5%.

Cruising to Save

Using cruise control on the highway has a noticeable effect on fuel economy. Edmonds.com conducted their own tests using a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang. The Land Rover got almost 14% better mileage using cruise control set at 70 mph compared to user-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 mph. The Ford Mustang got 4.5% better mileage.

Cruise control cuts down on unnecessary speed changes and prevents “speed creep” – both behaviors can cause excessive fuel usage.

Note: if you are in a mountainous area – it’s best to turn off cruise control as your vehicle will burn extra fuel trying to maintain the speed you’re set to cruise at.

No Need to Idle

Edmonds.com again ran their own tests and were surprised to discover just how much idling costs the average user. While idling varies per vehicle, Edmonds.com reports a 19% savings from avoiding excessive idling on the vehicles they tested. The recommendation is that if you are stopping for longer than a minute, you should turn your vehicle off. And according to the Environmental Defense Fund, idling for just 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting your engine.

—————————–

This is only the tip of the iceberg really. A fleet management solution can help you save fuel costs (as well as many other fleet operation costs). It’s all about the data. Do you have a means of gathering the relevant data from your fleet? Do you have the ability to extract the information how and when you need it in a format that suits your business best? Can you monitor, measure and correct on the fly? Can you use your fleet data to make better, smarter, more strategic business decisions to help you achieve your operational goals? If it doesn’t, we can certainly help.

Here’s how some of customers are using fleet management to reduce fuel costs.

Read more on how a fleet management solution impacts fuel costs.

Contact us to learn more.

 

EventsAre you making the most of your supply chain or heavy-duty construction fleet intelligence to get the most from your fleets and bottom line?

High-value data extracted from your vehicles and various assets can power-up your productivity, increase efficiency and drive the changes necessary to establish a competitive edge.

Access to real-time, accurate, location-based data drives effective management by exception and the ability to:

 

  • make informed, smart, strategic decisions
  • identify and remove obstacles to productivity
  • increase driver safety
  • improve asset utilization

Not sure where to start, or how to match your business needs to the best solution?

Webtech Wireless is exhibiting at Cargo Logistics, January 28 and 29th, 2015 at the Vancouver Convention Center in booth #617.

We are also exhibiting (for the first time) at the World of Concrete event, February 3-6th at the Las Vegas Convention Center in booth #N2568.

We will be demonstrating Webtech Fleet Center, our powerful GPS/AVL fleet management solution, and Webtech Driver Center, our electronic logging device (ELD) software application at both events and would love the opportunity to show you the value of each in person. We’ll also have solution experts on-hand just in case you’d like to talk needs analysis.

If you visit us at either event, you can also enter our draw to win a panoramic tour of Vancouver (draw will be held on January 29, 2015), or a “Vegas strip” helicopter tour (draw will be held on Feb 4, 2015).

Hope to see you there!

The Night Before Santa’s Big Day

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, December 18th, 2014

Santa

Santa’s big day was quickly approaching

but elf meteorologists announced a storm was a ‘rolling.

Oh no! What now? Santa must keep his word!

Each North Pole elf and reindeer nervously concurred.

 

We need a way to monitor global snow removal,

to plan and strategize our efficiency is crucial!

“I know,” said Santa. “We’ll manage our fleet

with Webtech Fleet Center, we’ll plan every visit to each single street.”

 

“Rudolph and Blitzen will be our team leads.

They’ll use Webtech Driver Center to manage their needs,

and boys and girls the world over will be happy to see

Webtech 511 display the routes Santa and his team are most likely to reach.”

 

“Hooray,” yelled the crew. “Santa, you’ve solved it, we’re sure!

We’ll meet all our targets, and we’ll do it with ease!

No home unvisited, no child forgotten on tour…

and Santa – you’ll be able to put up your feet!

 

Happy Holidays from Webtech Wireless

Play

 

 

 

 

ATA Hoping to hire 100,000 veterans over next two years

Posted by: Deirdre O'Brien, December 4th, 2014

Here’s a positive win-win piece of industry news as we enter the holiday season!

A recent Commercial Carrier Journal article states the American Trucking Association, through a partnership with “Hiring Our Heroes” is committing to hire 100,000 military veterans over the next two years.

The “Hiring Our Heroes” campaign launched in March 2011 to help veterans and their spouses find meaningful employment. Around 370,000 veterans have been hired to date.

How often in life do the pieces fall together so well? Here’s an industry in need of a large resource pool and a large resource pool of dedicated people looking to enter new workforce opportunities.

The ATA is going to use a different type of technology – Fastport’s JobMaps to help match potential employers with potential employees.

For the full article, click here.

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.