This week has been much more about meeting people than being the scribe in the corner. I’ve got a fistfull of business cards after visiting the EMSCC (emergency services) convention and trade show at the Westin Bayshore. Then, in the evening, I was wined and dined at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre as a guest (on behalf of Webtech Wireless) to the annual British Columbia Technology Association Industry impact awards (TIAs). In part to me interviewing our client, Troyer Ventures, and writing the award application, we were nominated and last night, we won! The following day was a mad montage of assembling all the copy including a news release, new Home page, and new blog post (listed below):
I wrote the content for the new Webtech Wireless Home page and photographed and photoshopped an image of our award. It, being glass, was quite a challenge, but eventually I prevailed.
I also slammed together a rather festive blog post describing the event for the Webtech Wireless blog. Our winners were holding their glass awards toward themselves, so I had to flip the image (and therefore some buttons on jackets) for the best effect.
Scott Edmonds (centre) shares the stage with Steve Troyer (podium) and Chris Maddocks (right)
On June 14, 2012, Webtech Wireless celebrated its win of the Adoption of Technology award at the 2012 Technology Impact Awards (TIAs). The British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) hosted the awards night held at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. BCTIA President and CEO, Bill Tam said, “The Adoption of Technology award recognizes a company whose technology has proven to make a positive difference for customers”.
By definition, this award is collaborative and we were thrilled to share the stage with our client, Troyer Ventures, and technology partner, TMW Systems. Webtech Wireless President and CEO, Scott Edmonds, Troyer Ventures’ owner, Steve Troyer, and TMW Director of Development, Chris Maddocks jointly accepted the award. We were chosen over many applicants by a panel of eight judges representing technology, innovation, and business for our Quadrant implementation to Troyer Ventures, a service provider based in northeastern British Columbia, and in partnership with TMW Systems.
One of the beauties of corporate blogging of course, is to be able to do it from anywhere. As I’ve been quick to irritate my friends and co-workers by saying, “If I can work from home, I can work from the South of France”, which is exactly what I did last winter. This week, however, I’m writing from Toronto where I’m holed up researching and writing for Webtech Wireless’ InterFleet division (headquartered in ultra trendy west King street area). Once again, much of my work is research and less finished projects, so get ready for the deluge when all this stuff goes to print.
Could You Live on 25% of Your Wages? describes the sad tale of Pat Tillapaugh of Burnaby who was in an MVA (motor vehicle accident) and found that her loss-of-work coverage from ICBC amounted to only 25% of her wages.
This week, I interviewed a client at LA County Transit about the InterFleet GPS devices they use to track the whereabouts of their 38 mini vans and buses. They approached me to write the story although their isn’t yet much content. There isn’t really a story, but I’ll probably write a little slice-of-life blog post about how their using this technology.
I also drove up from Toronto to the City of Vaughan (a satellite/service town of Toronto) to interview the senior engineering assistance for their Public Works department about how their GPS winter fleet management solution is equally effective in summer (on grass mowers instead of snow plows). I asked a few questions about business intelligence (the buzz in the industry) and non rolling asset watcher devices, piquing their interest in technology InterFleet is also now offering. Maybe I helped make an additional sale.
Okay, it’s a long week (ten days). There’s been a lot of research going on in the background (not ready for release), but the following corporate web-based posts provide the overview. Of note, I finally finished managing the French translation of the InterFleet brochure. The company I’ve hired, Anglocom, is a joy to work with. To me they should form the template for how other companies manage communications and customer service. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to put together a first class brochure confidently in French.
Spinal Care Available from ICBC considers how spinal injuries affect British Columbians. Many spinal injuries result from motor vehicle accidents and every MVA means a trip to ICBC with the risk of your claim not being settled in your best interests.
–By Chuck Lane, Solution Engineer, Webtech Wireless
Idling for longer periods of time—whether at a job site, railroad crossing, or pulled off to the side of the road to make a cell phone call—consumes gasoline that could be saved by simply turning off the engine.
Eliminating an hour of idling per day produces significant cost savings and emissions reductions over the course of a year. For fleets operating Class 3 and larger trucks, the savings are even more significant. For example, a typical truck burns a half-gallon of Diesel fuel for every hour it idles and, in the process, adds the equivalent of 40 miles of wear-and-tear to the engine. If you want to green your fleet by reducing emissions, you need to decrease fuel consumption, and the easiest way to do so is to decrease unnecessary idling.
For example, every gallon of gasoline burned idling creates 19.5 lbs. of CO2. Similarly, every gallon of Diesel burned idling creates 22.4 lbs. of CO2
The key is to be able to measure idling accurately. There are idling reports (using non BUS connectors) that simply calculate the time between ignition on and ignition off, and then subtract the time while moving to equal the actual idling time. This type of idle reporting, however, proves to be inaccurate for drivers that use the ignition to access the vehicle for things like radio and air conditioning, while leaving the engine off (Key On, Engine Off).
This type of scenario can be mitigated. If we install the Webtech Wireless Locator (GPS Unit) ignition wire to ignition on—avoiding accessory key position—the driver can then go to accessory position without affecting the Locator operation. This is true for most light-duty vehicles. Most heavy-duty trucks/tractors have a key on and engine off alarm, so drivers don’t spend a lot of time in the key on, engine off scenario (the alarm is a soul piercing, shrieking high-pitch buzzer).
Webtech Wireless conducted a study with a major customer where we compared ignition on/off durations, to engine on durations. The plan was to target this key on, engine off scenario. We found a 2.7 percent deviation between ignition cycles and engine cycles. So for 100 minutes of key on, 97 minutes were engine on. As this was so low, the customer accepted the Webtech Wireless Idle report using ignition cycles and not engine cycles.
Of course, the Non-Bus Idle report is completely different from the BUS-related (such as JBUS, CanBus, or OBDII) reports that actually report engine hours to be used in idle calculations. Webtech Wireless conducted the above study with the assumption that future non DLOGS (Driver Logs)/ HOS (Hours of Service) installations would avoid the BUS entirely. We really have no control over the BUS and the failed elements that sometimes occur with customer vehicles. We’ve already enabled odometer GPS to eliminate the BUS impact on the Locator odometer. We found that over 2,500 tractors measured during fuel tax testing, had more errors with BUS than with non-BUS GPS (see Why Increased Accuracy Matters).
While it’s possible to gather idling information from both GPS and BUS related statistics, any vehicle that has a DLOGS/HOS system must be intrinsically synchronized with the vehicle BUS connection. In laymen’s terms, DOT (Department of Transportation) compliance requires a BUS connection. We can’t avoid BUS anymore, if the solution is supporting DOT. Fuel tax compliancy does not require BUS connectivity. IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) regulations state ‘use an odometer’, and don’t require that the vehicle BUS odometer be the only one used.
In conclusion, non DOT system installations can use ignition and GPS data to measure vehicle idling accurately. Reducing unnecessary idling is the simplest way for a fleet to reduce fuel costs and unnecessary emissions. In addition, excess idling causes needless engine wear-and-tear and unnecessary noise pollution. A typical goal for many fleets is to reduce engine idling time to less than 5%, a goal that motivates many fleets to implement anti-idling initiatives.
Once again, this week has seen much work that is as yet unseen. I’ve been talking to project managers in Iowa, sales managers in Montréal, and managing editors in southern France, but none of that work is going to be published this week. Instead, I have several technical stories festoon my gallery of corporate blog posts. Enjoy!
I worked with Product Marketing Manager, Irtiza Zaidi at Webtech Wireless to describe his experiences at the Petroleum Safety Conference in Banff, Alberta a couple of weeks ago. The oil and gas industry is extremely dangerous and technology is one way to keep drivers (and those using the roads) safer.
Summer Driving in BC: How Safe Is It? describes how reduced truck inspection, increased highway usage, and distracted driving conditions, are making BC’s roads increasingly like a “war zone”.
“Watch out: Canadian(s) about…” is my homage to some great hiking trails I explored in the South of France (around Nice) last December. Le Magazine Azur, where its published, is based out of Antibes. While being an online magazine, it publishes every two months like a print magazine.
Irtiza Zaidi is the Product Marketing Manager at Webtech Wireless. He works closely with the safety professionals in many companies in the oil patch.
Recently, he attended the Petroleum Safety Conference—billed as “Canada’s premiere oil and gas safety conference and tradeshow”—in Banff, Alberta, for a few days to learn more about safety concerns in the oil and gas industry.
Below are his latest discoveries about the Conference and safety professionals.
Irtiza Zaidi: “Before I dive into the meat and potatoes, I wanted to share some insight into the safety profession and the folks I interacted with. I went to one breakout session led by Imperial Oil, which was quite an eye opener. The purpose was to describe the risks that safety professionals take every day on the job and how they deal with them. The idea is that, before we can start preaching to others, let’s evaluate ourselves first.
Now the view I had of safety folks was they were risk averse by-the-book people. They worked Monday to Friday and in their off time did everything possible to avoid risk. They would never cross a yellow light while driving nor would they park without paying. Well, was I was in for a shock!
We had some safety people talking about how they chased storms in Alberta. Winter storms, rain storms, blizzards, and how they had been doing this for 15 years. Another safety person talked about how they wore helmets on their motorcycles while travelling at speeds of 120 on the Canadian highways, but once they got to the US, the helmets came off. Or the safety person who jumped between moving boats in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while it was raining, so she could help out with a lobster catch.
The presentations I attended were delivered well and the topics of immense importance. Colonel Mark Trostel, Driving Safety Advisor with Encana, presented, Driving Safety: Enhancing Performance, Reducing Exposure, in which he described some of the challenges of using in-cab audible feedback (such as buzzers and beeps), to try to change driver behaviour. He provided helpful statistical information as well as first-hand knowledge of the affect alerts have on drivers.
Here are some statistics shared in this presentation:
40% of all fatalities in the energy industry occur in vehicles
Leading indicators of crashes
– Excessive Braking, following too closely, distracted driving
– Rapid starts and aggressive or reckless driving
– Habitual speeding dramatically increases risk and severity of accidents
– Frequent Lateral “Gs” are precursors to a rollover crash
Encana’s AVL program for its light-duty vehicles provides
– Driver scorecards that were emailed to the driver each week
– Supervisors with the ability to review their drivers’ driving habits
– Providing drivers with feedback about their performance on a weekly basis
– Providing incentives to drivers with good behavior worked
– Having drivers compare themselves with their peers led to the drivers creating their own “Top 100 Club”
What didn’t work?
– Driver feedback by way of audible tones or flashing lights only lasted three weeks before the drivers went back to their old driving patterns.”
“Safe Driving Programs – Why Should I Care?” by Colonel Mark Trostel, EnCana in 2010
Big news this week is that last week’s gains continue to drive writing efforts forward. The French translation of my first article for Le Magazine Azur will be complete by the week-end, and my application that won Webtech Wireless the 2012 Adoption of Technology award continues to reverberate through that company. CEO, Scott Edmonds, said, “now we can call ourselves an award-winning software company”.
Pro-EOBR Campaign Gaining Ground describes efforts by trucking associations to get the Canadian government to legislate in favour of mandatory electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs). These devices replace paper logs books that drivers use to track their hours. EOBRs are considered safer and more reliable in the industry.
I turned some creative writing into a movie just for fun. It was fun, but it cost money too. In my new little film, I was amused at the idea that our brains grew not to accommodate our needs, but exactly the other way around.
On May 2, 2012, The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said that its campaign to provide carriers, drivers, owner-operators with an easy way to send pro-EOBR messages to federal MPs is gaining ground. According to the CTA, “To date, several hundred carrier companies and individual drivers have sent about 1,500 messages directly to MPs from across Canada.”
The web forums are crackling with debate both for and against electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). Many comments cannot be reprinted here, but some point to a rich fabric of support for EOBRs—from fleets owners to independent drivers. Ultimately, EOBRs support accountable drivers.
“Bring on the EOBRs. Drivers need a wakeup call as to the hours they’re putting in and not getting paid.”
If you’d like to weigh in for EOBR support, here’s what you can do:
4. Alternatively, by typing a four-digit text code, drivers can send a message to their MPs from a cell phone. Simply text the letters eobr to the number 77777.
Federal Transport Minister, Denis Lebel, said EOBRs can “improve Hours of Service regulatory compliance by reducing the opportunity for commercial drivers to exceed regulated driving hours or falsify logbooks”. Lebel added that “a technically flexible, performance-based EOBR standard, combined with a suitable phase-in period would hopefully allow sufficient time for suppliers to offer cost-effective options meeting the needs of carriers and drivers”.
CTA president, David Bradley, agrees with this statement adding, “While we understand that there is a minority in the industry who may oppose an EOBR mandate, it’s important that decision makers hear from those who have experience with EOBRs in enhancing compliance and making highways safer.”
“Our efforts show that there are many carriers and drivers who are clearly in favour of replacing outdated paper logbooks with more efficient and compliant electronic monitoring devices,”
—David Bradley, President, Canadian Trucking Alliance
Transport Canada supports the development of an EOBR standard that leverages the work done in the United States. It is in favour of a harmonized North American standard that Transport Canada states, “Ultimately, a harmonized North American standard would be ideal in consideration of the importance of domestic and cross-border trade.”
“Clearly, these devices lead to greater compliance with maximum driving limits, which is very good for the trucking industry as a whole and highway safety.”
— Bill Graves, President and CEO, American Truckers’ Association
We were at the NAFA 2012 trade show (North America Fleet Managers Association) in St. Louis and one of the highlights of the show was the keynote presentation, Making Sense of the Future, given by Dr. Peter Bishop, PhD. Together with other trade show attendees, we gathered in full force and in great anticipation to hear Dr. Bishop provide a wide vision of the future of debt, oil & resources, people and demographics, automotive market and emerging technologies.
Patrick Lizotte, our account manager in Quebec and eastern North America said, “Dr. Bishop invited us to look into change versus sudden change, and our relationship and involvement with technology and computers; that is, how we are evolving and adapting ourselves toward the computer era”.
Some of the topics he presented included:
Which trends and technologies impact on our business?
Which scenarios of the future are imaginable?
What will we probably have to face and what not?
Which surprising changes of direction could the future take?
Which new future markets and business models are imaginable for us?
Which alternative designs for the future of our company exist?
What do we need to do to use our opportunities and secure our future?
Dr. Bishop concluded his presentation with a simple two-word recommendation, “Stay Awake”. – Be certain to handle Future and Change.
Dr. Peter Bishop is an associate professor of Human Sciences and chair of the graduate program in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Dr. Bishop specializes in techniques for long-term forecasting and planning. He delivers keynote addresses, conducts seminars on the future for business, government and not-for-profit organizations, and also facilitates groups in developing scenarios, visions and strategic plans for the future.
"I felt challenged in Jason’s class and I credit him with helping me to develop the level of organization and precision I needed to succeed as a technical writer. He is an inspiring educator, and I look forward to encountering him in future courses."
Helen Dudley, BCIT student, February 7, 2012