Archive for News

Connecting the DoTs: How Good Intentions Can Pave the Way to DoT Fines

Connecting-the-DoTs

You were just pulled over for DoT violations. Then you were fined an exorbitant sum for failing to provide driver logs, which you didn’t even think you needed. You’re driving short haul. What happened?

A lot of small companies are not prepared until they get caught.

  • Your small service fleet grew—and now you’re a victim of your own success—your new truck exceeds the allowable weight limit.
  • Your vanpool picked up one extra passenger—you were just trying to help—and now you’ve exceeded the number of passengers you can take.
  • Your short haul truck had a record busy day—business is great—but now you’ve been fined for letting your truck overshoot its allowable 100 mile radius.
  • Your service fleet took on some LTL (less-than-load) business—to reduce costs and fully utilize the fleet—and now you’ve been fined for carrying hazardous materials.

While long haul drivers are not exempt in any way, short haul drivers have certain exemptions, and that’s where you could inadvertently drive into a trap. A simple change in your business (buying a new truck, or carrying different cargo) could bump you out of the zone of short haul exemption and into the zone of long haul obligation, leading to fines.

Short haul trucking is defined as driving within a defined small radius (usually about 100 air mile area) of the truck’s home terminal during the day and returning to the same terminal at night. While short haul drivers are usually exempt from the same DoT regulations (Hours of Service for example), changing business practices within a company can bring the same regulations as long haul into play—sometimes even intermittently.

When Do Companies Have To Maintain Driver Logs?

According to Michael Scott, Software Architect responsible for translating DoT regulations into software solutions at Webtech Wireless, “Maintaining paper driver logs is an onerous task. Every commercial driver must maintain driver logs, which involves recording each transition (starts, stops, on duty, off duty, and so forth).”

Consider the following:

  • Do I have vehicles that are over 10,000 lbs?
  • Am I attaching trailers to my trucks (or towing other vehicles that could push the combined weight over 10,000 lbs)?
  • Do I have vehicles that carry hazardous materials (such as chlorine)?
  • Am I driving vehicles designated for fewer passengers than I’m actually carrying (remember, the driver counts)?

Size Doesn’t Matter

Michael says, “It’s really about driver activities. Even if you’re driving a minivan and otherwise subject to short haul restrictions, if you start carrying hazardous materials, you’re required to maintain driver logs or risk being in violation of DoT regulations.”

Key switches to start maintaining driver logs:

  • You start carrying hazardous materials
  • Your distances increase
  • Your truck’s gross tonnage for commercial vehicles increases (over 10,000 lbs)
  • You want to increase passenger capacity in a vehicle (check DoT regulations for more details)
  • You attach a trailer that puts the gross vehicle weight over 10,000 lbs (or towing another vehicle producing the same overweight result). Note: When the trailer or truck that caused to overage in weight is disconnected, the driver no longer needs to maintain driver logs.

Read the Fine Print

Regulations differ between US DoT and Transport Canada, but the intent is the same: In the US you must be able to show driver logs for 7 days and in Canada for 14 days. If you’re found not to have driver logs, you may be fined up to $1,000 per day for each day missing.

If you’re in the US,

US DoT Requirement to Fill Out a Daily Log:

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=395.1

If you’re in Canada,

Canadian Definition of Commercial Vehicle:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2005-313/

TMW Transforum – Five Strategies for Success

TMW-Transforum_13

This year’s TMW Transforum was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in southern California and, as an opportunity to showcase TMW’s suites of fleet management software, it brought together TMW experts, partners, vendors, and prospects. Having helped several of our clients integrate their TMW products with our award-winning Quadrant fleet management solution means that we’ve always have an invested interest in exhibiting at the TMW Transforum over the years.

This year, TMW took the unusual decision to invite one of the great American screen actors of all time, Robert Duvall, to the TransForum stage for lunchtime chat entitled, “A Conversation with Robert Duvall”. For anyone who thinks trade shows are same old, same old, Robert Duvall, veteran actor brought an air of greatness to the event.

Robert Duvall, Award-Winning Actor, Director and Producer, is known for a string of legendary roles including Major Frank Burns, MASH; Tom Hagen, The Godfather; Boo Radley, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Lt. Col. Kilgore, Apocalypse Now; and revered by Texans for his role as Ranger Gus McCrae in The Lonesome Dove.

Duvall was interviewed by David Wangler, TMW Systems President. While Wrangler read from a prepared script, Duvall, like any good actor, answered spontaneously and extemporaneously. When Wangler asked Duvall about his early days driving trucks to support his early acting career in New York, Duvall quipped, “I did? Who does your research?” Despite Duvall’s casual style and dubious credentials as a trucker, what transpired over the hour-long chat was his winning attitude that can be applied to any field of endeavor.

Out of his talk, I pulled together Robert Duvall’s five strategies for Success:

  1. Do your research. From roles as diverse as Joseph Stalin to a US Marine, Duvall meticulous researched the characters, their times, and their environments to ensure he brought the characters to life in three dimensions.
  2. “Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies” – Throughout Duvall’s life he has always cultivated hobbies, most notably his passion for tango dancing. Hobbies point to his inner curiosity about life—at 82, Duvall is still willing to learn new things.
  3. Acknowledge everyone you work with. Time and time again, Duvall acknowledged the people he’d worked with from famous directors and lowly grips.
  4. Laugh – atmosphere is worth a lot. Duvall described the pranks and general hilarity on the set of MASH and how much it helped them work as a team—especially when there was stress.
  5. Trust the process. Although he starred in many, many films, there are many others he turned down. In his chat, he made a point of describing how he’d turn down a role that wasn’t right for him (or not right at the time), while trusting that the right role would fill the vacancy. His accomplishments now speak for themselves and  to acknowledge his inspiring message.

In the end, what made the delighted crowd of sponsors, exhibitors, and fleet managers jump to their feet, was to be in the presence of Robert Duvall is to witness how infectious optimism can be. In his own words, “If you make plans, something will come from around the corner and surprise you”.

 

Tracking a Movable Feast: How National Food Does It

National-Food_Home
Photo courtesy National Food Corporation

Based in Everett, Washington, National Food is an egg and egg products production and distribution company. To economize its egg delivery service, its transportation department also offers for hire truckload and LTL (less than load) transportation services of refrigerated and dry freight to other food companies throughout the Pacific Northwest.  “In doing this, often if not always, we transport a variety of products that are being delivered alongside our products”, said David Harbour, Transportation Projects Manager at National Food.

Because of this diversity of product that National Food transports, the temperature monitoring solution David’s team picked isn’t used as advertised. At Webtech Wireless, we promote temperature monitoring as a solution that enables fleet managers to know through real-time alerts if temperature thresholds in trucks and trailers are being reached. While this is valuable information for National Food, they’ve opted out of the real-time alerts and focused instead on the benefits of reporting.

How National Food does it

For National Food, it’s all about reporting. “We have less need to know what’s going on in real-time than to have the reporting capabilities after the fact”, said David. And after-the-fact reporting is how National Food saves thousands of dollars in otherwise lost revenue. A shipment can run around $40,000 to $50,000, and I can think of at least three instances where temperature reporting saved us a lot of money. If a client claims that a shipment was spoiled, we can produce reports that show it didn’t happen on our watch”, said David adding, “It saved our bacon.”

Looking Forward to the New WT2250

WT2250 by Webtech Wireless“We already have three WT2250 Locators installed and plan to upgrade 28 trucks with the WT2250s as well”, said David. He mentioned some of the new features he’s looking forward to having with the new WT2250 Locators. “The WT2250 Locator sends a temperature report with every record, so in addition to the GPS location information, I know what temperatures my reefer trucks are recording”, said David. He goes on to mention the rugged build of the new WT2250s, “The antenna is built in, so there’s no separate accessory and one less fail point”.

With configurable timed reporting intervals and detailed reports show temperature history and readings exceeding thresholds, David and National Food have much to look forward to as they continue to deliver eggs and other food products to their customers—efficiently and cost effectively.

National-Food_eggs

What Impact Does the Climate Action Plan have on the Transportation Sector?

What Impact Does the Climate Action Plan have on the Transportation Sector
Image courtesy White House blog

There isn’t a person in the transportation sector who doesn’t want to see a brighter future for his or her families and loved ones, but how much will the new US Climate Change Action Plan unveiled this month affect the livelihoods or workers in this sector?

In a speech delivered this month at Georgetown University, President Obama described his Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduce carbon emissions;
  • Prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change;
  • Lead international efforts to fight climate change and prepare for its impacts.

According to the Plan, “Heavy-duty vehicles are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector.”

21CentureTransportationSector
Image courtesy The President’s Climate Action Plan, 2013

Telematics for the Planet®

We can help you today achieve the twin goals of reduced emissions and increased savings, like we have for these customers:

Reduce Waste

Webtech Wireless Telematics for the Planet provides a way for you to structure vehicle certification around measurable parameters based on organizational targets or environmental standards. Working with agencies such as Cascade Sierra, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach replaced many of their older drayage vehicles (renowned for their pollution) and, using our Quadrant solution to measure idling, dramatically reduced the amount of idle time. As of 2010, there was 50% less elemental carbon—an indicator of diesel particulate matter. Cascade Sierra Solutions uses US government loans and grants to help fleet managers improve their fleet performance.

Idling Controls – Lower idling times by up to 90%. Long-haul trucks can save $8,000 per truck per year (averaging 1,800 hours idling per year)

Improve Use

CalVans relies on some of its capital and operating funding from federal investment through grants. With Webtech Wireless reporting, CalVans is able to provide a cleaner alternative to commuter driving through vanpooling over single-car commuting.  Through Webtech Wireless MDTs, CalVans is able to provide detailed reports that show the distance traveled, time durations of rides, and the number of riders (one of the key metrics to show how much vanpools reduce single-occupant vehicles on municipal roadways).

Speed Limits – Reduce fuel use, saving you money, and CO2—and improve safety—by monitoring excessive speeds.

For the transportation sector, the future is clear: the key to growth is fuel efficiency. People want it; the government wants it; and (if the mounting evidence of climate change is taken as an indicator), the planet wants it too.

Highway Infrastructure Upgrades : The Good News

Webtech-FHWA

Commonwealth of Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear at the ground breaking ceremony for the $1.3 billion Downtown Crossing project. Courtesy FHWA

Our customers know the challenge of deploying the infrastructure needed for a successful GPS/AVL deployment. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been a leader in using telematics to improve its fleet performance, increase fuel efficiency, while keeping everyone who uses its fleet accountable. The Commonwealth is now leading the way in new highway infrastructure development. But first, a little background on this critical US infrastructure is in order.

The US Interstate system accounts for just 1.2 percent of U.S. highway miles, but at 47,000 miles, it carries 24.2 percent of all highway traffic. Since it was inaugurated during the Eisenhower administration in 1956, it’s been hard pressed to match maintenance and upgrades with the forces of wear and tear. Daily life and businesses are inconvenienced by highway construction, but that’s nothing compared with how inconvenienced people feel if a bridge fails or a route has to be shut down? Consider the long line ups on the I-5 following the recent collapse of the bridge over the Skagit river in Washington to know what inconvenience is.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), “The movement of freight dominates trucking activity and is a significant component of highway traffic. Three-fourths of VMT by trucks larger than pickups and vans is for carrying freight, with much of the rest being for empty back-hauls or serving construction and utilities. Single-unit and combination trucks accounted for every fourth vehicle on almost 28,000 miles of the NHS in 2007, and 6,000 of those miles carried more than 8,500 trucks on an average day.” In other words, the US economy relies heavily on the smooth movement of freight along its interstate highways. While the bill to repair aging infrastructure may seem astronomical ($688 billion at last count), the cost to the economy of not maintaining it is much higher.

As part of the grants program for new technologies, the Federal government is deploying an ambitious program to help states improve safety and reduce congestion using new technologies. For example, on June 4, 2013, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood awarded more than $16 million to 14 innovative highway and bridge projects in 13 states (and the District of Columbia) designed “to improve safety, create jobs and enhance the quality of transportation infrastructure”.

FHWA Highways for LIFE FY2013 Discretionary Grants. Courtesy http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom

The FHWA’s Highways for LIFE (HfL) grants “encourage the use of innovative technologies and practices on America’s roads and bridges, such as accelerated bridge construction, cutting-edge building materials and advanced methods for construction project management. FHWA received 29 applications requesting more than $43 million.”

Governor Steve Beshear, of The Commonwealth of Kentucky recently launched the ground breaking ceremony for the $1.3 billion Downtown Crossing project over the Ohio River. The states of Indiana and Kentucky are working together to build the bridge between the cities of Jeffersonville and Louisville. “These bridges link more than just two banks of this historic river,”  Beshear said. “They connect people. They create possibilities. They keep commerce flowing and jobs growing. They preserve our way of life and they promise a better tomorrow.”

Like Governor Beshear, we want to create a better tomorrow by automating fleets with our GPS/AVL solutions.

Finding the Right Fleet GPS for a Livable City

Port Metro Vancouver
Images courtesy of Port Metro Vancouver

Vancouver has always prided itself as a livable city. Year after year, Vancouver tops the list as “world’s most livable city”. One unintended result—stemming from its freeway wars of the 1960s and 70s that put a finish to highway construction—was that the city’s residential streets would find themselves hosting long queues of Port container and long-haul truck traffic.

While Port Metro Vancouver does not operate container trucking companies or container trucks of its own, with 149 privately-owned trucking companies sending over 2,000 trucks to the Port, it has found itself at the diplomatic center of a delicate balance between trucking and city politics.

Last year after Port Metro Vancouver closed its receiving entrance on Clark Drive (a designated truck route), residents quickly noticed a huge increase in container truck traffic on Nanaimo Street (a primarily residential street). With complaints flooding in from constituents, City Hall put pressure on Port Metro Vancouver to do something to reduce this congestion.

In a special pilot program, Port Metro Vancouver equipped 300 container trucks with GPS tracking devices to send information to Port authorities about what routes Port-bound trucks were using. In a recent interview with The Vancouver Sun, Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester described the pilot program  as having “already brought results”.

As with CP Rail (another customer of the Port), it vastly improved turnaround time at the Port. “It’s really looking at having a minimal number of trucks in the Lower Mainland,” Sylvester said, adding the Port hopes to reduce the number of trucks leaving without cargo by 30 to 40 per cent. “That would be fantastic. We’re building the tools to move toward that goal.” Based on the improvements in efficiency, the Port is looking to outfit all licensed trucks to its facilities with a GPS solution soon. The program is voluntary and free to licensed trucks serving the Port facilities.

Port Metro VancouverWhile the City of Vancouver is always keen to retain its “most livable city” designation, it also has big incentives to see trucks and commercial vehicles move efficiently.  With over $200-million worth of cargo moving through the port each day, the City must balance the needs of trucks and commercial vehicles positively with the overall health of the city.

The City enforces truck route regulations based on public complaints and safety inspections, but now Port Metro Vancouver can be pro-active. “The GPS (units) will create a system where we’re more pro-active rather than waiting until a community raises a concern”, Silvester said.

Business Intelligence from Intelligent Communities

Business Intelligence from Intelligent Communities

You need to have some forbearance for municipalities that raced to keep up with demand for web-based communication systems suitable to desktop computers only to watch their constituents abandon fixed computers in favor of mobile devices, particularly smartphones. While the trend toward increased mobile device usage by constituents is only speeding up, the core theme (beyond the flip flops in technology) continues to be toward citizen-driven real-time communications.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
—Stephen Hawking

Municipalities are now embracing new technologies (such as smartphone apps) not just to keep up with their constituents, but as a means to making their services readily available and scalable to people’s diverse needs. For example, municipalities must respond to a pro-active population that takes for granted the ability to see details about snow plow route completion, traffic congestion, parking restrictions and emergency situation alerts. Constituents want to live in intelligent communities. But what makes a community intelligent?

Citizen-Centered Services

Martin Duggan, vice president of market strategy at IBM, recently described in The Atlantic how public-sector departments must depart from the old service-delivery models and become more collaborative with their constituents. He stresses that “Today there is a shift toward citizen-centered services…” which in effect is saying communication has left push mode (government) and entered pull mode (citizen) as never before.

In Drawing Intelligence from Data, I described how business owners are becoming overwhelmed with the amount of data that’s now being collected—93% of CEOs believe they are losing opportunities from a lack of tools to handle this data. While constituents demand information at ever-increasing rates—and in real-time—organizations and businesses must make sense of it all.

One of our customers, Ville de Québec, sought to make sense of it all by tying the data it gathered from its snow plows using Webtech Wireless’ InterFleet solution to how it communicated with its constituents. It had large amounts of information it could use to inform constituents via an interactive web map and provide real-time locations of the city’s snow plows. For this, and other intelligent initiatives, Ville de Québec was nominated as an intelligent community.

What’s next for communities with data on their hands? Could past seasons of weather data be layered to forecast upcoming budgets for salt requirements on city roads? What are municipalities doing to become intelligent communities with business intelligence?

Know Where You Stand

While Webtech Wireless’ Customer Care supports two main communication tracks (email and a Customer Care website), it’s the latter track that is winning over our customers. The reason? The Customer Care website is designed expressly with the customer in mind.

“From the point of view of the Technical Support Team, it doesn’t matter if customers email or use the Customer Care website”, says Andrew Hwang, Technical Support Lead, “because we have our own internal process that ensures we track customers however they contact us. But to our customers, the Customer Care website gives them much more visibility into the status of their technical requests than sending us an email.”

And that’s the beauty of the Customer Care website. Customers have extensive visibility, or as Andrew puts it, “they know where they stand”.

Having a single place for communication is ideal for trucking fleets that may not have extensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to integrate internal and external information across their organization. In plain language, that means it is better than relying on email, and as everybody knows, email gets lost, is tied to individual users, and if not continuously culled, becomes overwhelming.

Customer Care Portal Ticket

Customers who have technical issues can log in, create a new ticket, search and view the status of tickets (even for tickets submitted by other employees at the same company), view the history of closed tickets, and even attach documents (such as PDF and Excel files) to tickets.

Just as Webtech Wireless excels at providing visibility to fleet management—from finding trucks on the road to business intelligence drawn from data gathered by GPS fleet tracking—customers can expect the same level of visibility when getting technical support.

If you’re not already signed up with the Customer Care Website, what’s stopping you? Visit http://www.webtechwireless.com/en/contact/ and sign up today!

Winter Fleets—Let’s Celebrate!

This winter, thousands of locals and visitors alike will don their skates and glide effortlessly along the Rideau Canal Skateway, a highlight of winter in Ottawa and the world’s longest skating rink. At 7.8 kilometres long, the Rideau Canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s best known as a winter wonderland as it wends its way from the steps of Canada’s majestic parliament buildings through the heart of downtown Ottawa and finally winds up at Dows Lake skating rink.

Unlike many cities, Ottawa comes to life in the winter when the frozen canal becomes the focus of winter festivities such as its Christmas Lights across Canada, featuring over 300,000 multi-coloured lights, and its popular Winterlude, held in February, make Ottawa a winter destination. For most city Public Works departments, winter is the time to prevent streets from becoming the world’s longest skating rink. But Ottawa’s got that handled too.

In 2009, The City of Ottawa implemented the Webtech Wireless InterFleet winter operations solution for government fleets, because it supports an extensive array of sensor integrations (road temperature sensors, spreader controllers, plow sensors) and boasts ten-second reporting and turn-by-turn navigation. With InterFleet, it gained visibility into how much salt its third-party contractors were using and with that came the ability to identify excess salt. Not surprisingly, by reducing excess salt usage, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.

“Installing GPS technology in our salt spreader vehicles is a great way to help us reduce the amount of road salt we use, and reduce costs at the same time,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien, “By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”

Due to its negative impact on the environment, particularly drinking water supplies, the City of Ottawa actively encourages residents and snow removal contractors to reduce the rock salt they use. Ottawa’s Public Works Department is always looking for innovative means to reduce salt usage and it found GPS technology linked to its electronic salt spreader controllers to be one of the most effective ways to track salt usage. It actively promotes the Smart About Salt Council to increase awareness about eliminating rock salt and using resources more effectively.

Ten-second real-time reporting provides supervisors with the information they need to handle winter effectively. No matter where they are—the office, home, or vehicle—supervisors can respond immediately to events as they unfold, confident that the information they are looking at in their InterFleet solution is completely accurate and up to date.

So, when the temperature drops this winter, it’s time to celebrate!

Check the skating conditions on the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Find out more great ideas about things to see and do when you visit Ottawa and Gatineau this winter at Canada’s Capital Region!

Photos courtesy of National Capital Commission

How Transportation is Recovering from Sandy

When parts of New York’s subway system sank beneath the waves, and lower Manhattan’s Wall Street district became awash, and when the most reliable solution for getting basic supplies like fuel and food to city dwellers was cargo bicycle, and when the city’s airports inundated up to the aircraft loading bridges, it became deeply apparent how important a great city is dependent on one thing for its survival—the transportation routes feeding it.

Webtech Wireless brings your trucks in from the storm

Airports

Most major airlines repositioned their planes away from the storm’s wrath well in advance and even after the storm Associated Press reported that airlines “are carrying extra fuel when they fly into the New York region in order to ensure they have enough to leave the area without filling up”. Moving all these planes was a good idea, although it meant 20,000 flights were canceled, because it saved the planes even as the airports themselves all but disappeared beneath the waves.

Highways

As Sandy bared down on the East Coast of North America, the traffic ban amplified the already crowded truck stops—particularly those from New Jersey to Massachusetts. And with Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts already considered by many truckers to be “the least friendly states to the trucking industry because they don’t provide enough truck stops and parking”, the crowding was amplified.

According to one lucky driver, on route from Florida with 23,000 pounds of refrigerated goods, who got through, “If I was here when they shut down the roads, I would have been screwed. Those winds would have knocked me all over the place.”

Hours before Hurricane Sandy arrived, many truck stops were already full and with the travel ban affecting commercial trucks, drivers started filling up parking spots normally reserved for cars and even the bays used for diesel fill ups. Storm conditions at various truck stops lit up the Twitter waves with storm-related tweets, such as Travel Center of America’s “TA Lamar, PA #068 does not have hot water due to weather issues“.

Fuel Supplies

While Sandy hasn’t affected diesel prices adversely, The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it would ensure efficient movement of fuel to the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. According to the DOT, “The team will serve as a single point of contact for states, the trucking industry, and other agencies to assist in the removal of barriers to the quick delivery of fuel.”

DOT Waivers

The DOT has set up a hotline (800 832-5660), and is using an innovative strategy of providing waivers to a number of transportation regulations for the most impacted regions, including the following waivers:

  • Driver Hours of Service
  • IFTA Fuel Tax Waiver
  • IRP (International Registration Plan) Vehicle Registration Waiver
  • Low Sulfur Diesel Waivers
  • Oversize and Overweight
  • Toll Waivers