Foresight Lights Up Winter

Are-You-Ready-for-the-First-Snowfall

It’s August, the air conditioning is turned up full blast, and all you can think about is… “I hope my snow plows will be ready when the first winter storm hits”. More likely, you’re thinking about a cool drink by the lake, but while you’re not thinking about winter, InterFleet is. Because, as sure as death and taxes, winter is coming.

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.”
? Sinclair Lewis, writer, thinker, Nobel laureate

Shouldn’t This Just Work?

Some people mistakenly assume that AVL technology doesn’t need to be checked after a summer of dormancy. “It should just work”, they say. That perception sometimes carries over to vehicles that have had their plow blades removed for summer work and even had their locators removed.

Even if a vehicle sits idle in the yard for six months of summer, you want the assurance that once the first snow storm hits, its AVL capabilities are ready to go. Statistically speaking, the bulk of accident claims are made against municipalities around the time of the first storm of the year, more so than later when drivers are re-acclimatized to winter conditions. If equipment isn’t ready, you can’t use the AVL data to defend against mistaken (or false) claims. Your winter operations department is on the defensive.

Get Your Fleet Ready for the Storm

According to James Dai, Manager of Winter Light Up, having your AVL components checked early produces significant gains. “After we completed the Winter Light Up service for five customers with a total of 199 snow plows, there were only two service tickets. In comparison, for customers who did not sign up for the WLU program, we received five service tickets for ten plows at one municipality, and six service requests from another municipality with over 15 plows. One city only discovered that ten of its winter maintenance vehicles had not even been reporting its controller data—until February!”

Given those kinds of statistics it’s no wonder field managers who’ve learned the value of using the Winter Light Up program well before winter arrives, endorse if fully. “Whatever you’re charging, it’s well worth it”, said Jim Kettle, Technical Specialist at City of Mississauga, Ontario.

Winter Light Up

Winter Light Up is a program from InterFleet that’s designed to ensure your winter operations are running smoothly before Old Man Winter arrives. InterFleet offers experienced project managers, project coordinators, solution engineers, and certified technicians to ensure your fleet is on-time and ready.  By having our Winter Light Up team analyze the technical details of your existing fleet, you are assured that your units have the right configuration files and the accuracy and details of your advanced reports are verified. This gives you the data you need to respond immediately to events as they unfold.

We ensure your spreader controllers, plow sensors, and temperature sensors are working and all locators are reporting as they should, so you get a thorough audit of your winter fleet’s AVL readiness. Let’s manage winter together so you can focus on storm fighting, not your AVL system.

InterFleet logo

For more information about the InterFleet Winter Light Up program, contact your account manager or call
+1 (877) 434-4844 (Option 2).

 

 

Readiness

tarogato-Jason-HallJason_Hall_clarinetsLast week was my birthday and, in the spirit of simplicity, I sent out a single invite through Facebook to my nearest and dearest friends to drop by my place for drinks.

Several drinks into the evening, somebody said “Play us something on the tarógató” and the crowd chanted “Jason, Jason, Jason”. Last year, I had a tarógató hand made for me in Budapest. A tarógató is a Hungarian form of clarinet with a melancholy sound somewhere between an English horn and a soprano saxophone (nothing like a clarinet).

My background is classical music (although I’ve been exploring improvised types such as jazz, blues, and Balkan music in the last few years), so playing spontaneously isn’t something I’m accustomed to. Nonetheless, I had several little ditties to play along with  stories of their origins:

  • “Kuruc dalok”, a Hungarian recruiting song used to entice young men off to war.
  • “Margot Labourez La Vigne”, a humorous medieval French song that admonishes Margot to keep working the vines and to stop flirting with local soldiers.
  • An old dance written by none other than King Henry VIII

It’s music performance the way I like it best—warm, intimate, and in the company of friends. There was much cat calling and hilarity too, especially around how Henry VIII could find time to write music whilst chopping off the heads of his wives. “He didn’t chop their heads off himself—someone else did that. That’s how he had time to write music”, one of my friends said.

I was happy that I had a few tunes that I could play (and stories about them) on a moment’s notice. Later, I got thinking about how great it would be to have other “party pieces” ready that describe who I am and what I do. If anyone asks me about what I do as a marketing/technical writer, I should have a story to tell him or her.

Last year, I wrote a winning award application for Webtech Wireless. The fallout from that was a stream of related documents and the CEO saying, “Now, we can now call ourselves an award-winning software company”.

Now, I have a handy one-pager to share about how I helped Webtech Wireless win its first-ever technology award.

 

Simplicity

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry

I spent the month of July this year in Paris. In summer, Paris is very exciting with the Fête de la Bastille parade, the Bal des Pompiers, the Tour de France, and many other festivals all happening simultaneously. The city crackles with excitement. Yet with two thousand years of history, what is a little missing in the summer sun are Paris’s subtler sides.

I have a deep love for the quietude and timelessness of Medieval thought. I’ve always admired the multi-panel manuscript Les Très Riches Heures du Duc du Berry for its depiction of simple life…and that blue, blue sky that seems to bear witness to a timelessness now so rare. Part of the book depicts everyday life throughout the year (it’s a book of hours afterall). What I never knew was that in the October panel, the castle is a real one and that it still exists—in part. It is the original Louvre.

Over the centuries this old castle, with its many ardoise turrets, was gradually erased and replaced by successive regimes bent on modernizing it and putting their stamp on it. But in 1989 when excavations were made to build the Carrousel du Louvre (the pyramid), the original Louvre was rediscovered.

One bright and hot day, I followed the self-guided tour that takes you down to the foundations and origins of the Louvre. On the walking tour, you can now walk through the original moat and the substructure of the walls and donjon (keep). There’s nothing much else remaining, just simple stonework, yet my eyes set these stones high against that azure Medieval sky. And stared.

Upstairs, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and a thousand other art treasures awaited, and yet I stood mesmerized by these unadorned stones. It’s not what you’re looking at so much as what it evokes.

Temperature Monitoring – What’s the Right Flavor for You?

 

Webtech-Wireless-Temperature-Monitoring

Don’t Let Your Profits Melt Away

There’s probably nothing sadder than a small child crying over an ice cream cone that melted before he or she could finish it. In the grow-up world, it’s a different kind of sad for a fleet manager to lose an entire truck load of frozen ice cream on route to market—it’s an expensive sad.

Choose What’s Right for You

Depending on the types of vehicles you’re using and your temperature monitoring needs, Webtech Wireless offers two distinct solutions: The WT7000H+ Locator for straight trucks, and the WT2250 Locator for trailers. With either, this sets you apart from your competition by enabling you to monitor the contents of your shipments on route to ensure that they travel within the required temperature specifications.

“There was a night and day difference after Quadrant was deployed at National Foods. Quadrant is a full fleet solution with multiple areas where it can help.”
—Kevin Bookey, Transportation Manager, National Foods

Real Customers, Real Solutions

A Texas-based frozen food distributor, which prides itself in its premium best-selling ice creams, approached us in 2011 to monitor the location, temperature, and door open/close of its mixed fleet of ice cream trucks. Starting with a pilot program installed on eight vehicles, we were able to help them not only reduce content spoilage and monitor its straight trucks and trailers, but having real-time visibility into its vehicles also helped prevent cargo theft as well. By trying out the solution as a pilot, the company was able to certify success before rolling it out to all trucks in the fleet. Webtech Wireless then worked with certified installers to bring fleet GPS tracking to monitor its ice cream for the entire fleet.

Here’s what this frozen food distributor chose:

Fully certified and calibrated temperature probes ruggedized to provide sensitivity and accuracy to be aware of critical temperature swings that could ruin product.

Quadrant Manager Mobile for iPhone, iPad, and Android gave their fleet managers the same mobility to check temperatures and vehicle locations while they themselves are on the road.

Temperature reports set with unique location-based profiles (geofences) enabled fleet managers to identify temperature ranges and distinct thresholds for daily operations and weekend storage.

Automated driver logs, which perfect for fleets that operate in multiple states or jurisdictions. Our award-winning fleet management Quadrant solution supports automated driver logs, ensuring compliancy with the latest HOS (Hours of Service) regulations.

Refresh Yourself

Whether you need to update an older temperature monitoring solution or step up to a GPS fleet tracking solution for the first time, you can expect to reduce unnecessary spoilage and save costs with a Webtech Wireless solution that truly fits your needs.

Contact us today. Don’t let your ice cream melt. Call +1 (866) 287 0135 (Option 2) to discuss your fleet challenges and how our GPS/AVL solutions can help you today.

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.

Risky Business

The Risk of Distracted Driving and Guide to Safer DrivingIn the business of helping companies grow, leaders lead and people live more fulfilling lives, an industry has grown up around risk taking. Personal development seminars, sometimes under exotic names such as Riskology, sell the idea that daring risk taking is something that is always desirable. Take for example, these gems of wisdom:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
—Anais Nin

“Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

“If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.”­
—Mario Andretti

But how about this one?

“Almost 1.2 million people die each year due to vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving”
—Ford Motors study

While it may seem a mood killer at a personal development seminar, most fleet managers agree that reducing risk—not increasing it—is serious business. While they are as interested as anyone in growing their business (i.e., taking certain kinds of risks), there are other kinds of risk to avoid, because their avoidance is critical to their successful operations. It’s called risk reduction.

“There are so many unknown losses from accidents. The cost itself can be really bad. Trucks are down, customers are upset, and it is an amplification of a problem.”
—Kevin Bookey, National Foods, Transportation Manager

At Webtech Wireless, we have over a decade of experience helping customers successfully mitigate risk using our GPS/AVL fleet tracking solutions:

Improve Safety

  • In the event of an accident claim against a company vehicle, GPS/AVL reporting data can prove the real location of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Our customer, Steve Troyer of Troyer Ventures, credited the Webtech Wireless Quadrant In-Cab MDT (mobile data terminal) with getting his drivers off cell phones while driving, “Texting dispatch instructions directly to the MDT pad in the truck eliminates misunderstandings, provides safer and more efficient journey management, and also provides documented records of instructions given”.

Reduce Liability

  • As someone responsible for mobile workers, you are at risk whenever they work alone—especially in the hazardous environments common to the oil and gas sector. Without real-time visibility into these workers and how they’re driving, you risk your credibility, your company’s safety reputation, and of course the worker’s wellbeing.

Lower Costs

  • Managing a large fleet of vehicles and drivers is risky and insurers know that. They also know that using telematics to track your fleet reduces your accident rate and they will reward you by reducing your insurance costs—GPS/AVL solutions can help you negotiate a reduction in your insurance premiums, and with proof of reductions in your accident rate, you can use that data to reduce your premiums further.

Want to Reduce Your Risk?

For fleet managers, choosing a telematics solution is a proven way to reduce that risk, because it gives them visibility into the fleet. With that visibility comes knowledge and with knowledge comes the capacity to make informed decisions about their business.

Remember On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:00 am to 12:00 pm PST (2:00 to 3:00 pm EST), we are offering a free webinar called “Reducing Business Risk with a GPS/AVL Fleet Management Solution” aimed at reducing risk for your fleet by implementing a GPS/AVL fleet management solution.

  • Identify risks in fleet management
  • Learn how to reduce risk for your drivers
  • Protect your brand reputation
  • Lower operating cost

Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your operations are running safely.

Join Us!

GPS Fleet Tracking Reduces Risk

GPS-Fleet-Tracking-Reduces-Risk

Even if you specialize at transporting chemicals or hazardous materials, you can find yourself losing sleep worrying about how much risk is too much. When accidents happen the entire organization is affected. Cleaning up after a spill, for example, takes many more resources than preventing it in the first place, and while that’s going on, your brand reputation and customer service is seriously undermined. What you still want to know is “Where are my vehicles?”, “What are my drivers doing?”, and “What are the business risks?”

Recent recommendations to lift the ban of hazardous material across the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit (USA) to Windsor (Canada) still don’t make things easier. There are Hours of Service rules to contend with, rules that differ between the two countries (which if not followed carefully could wind you up with fines).

At Webtech Wireless, we’re able to offer a complete North American wide GPS fleet tracking solution. We’ve partnered with the key mobility providers to ensure you have coverage in either the US or Canada and we’re ahead of the ball implementing the new HOS (Hours of Service) rules for transportation in the US (coming into effect July 1, 2013). Building on the success of our 3G devices, with increased capability to handle more data at a faster rate, we’re building on innovation, vision, and commitment to help our customers for the long term.

On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:00 am to 12:00 pm PST (2:00 to 3:00 pm EST), we are offering a free webinar called “Reducing Business Risk with a GPS/AVL Fleet Management Solution” aimed at reducing risk for your fleet by implementing a GPS/AVL fleet management solution. Join David Greer, VP Marketing, Webtech Wireless who will describe how you can reduce risk to your fleet. 

His webinar includes the following:

  • Identify risks in fleet management
  • Learn how to reduce risk for your drivers
  • Protect your brand reputation
  • Lower operating cost

Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your operations are running safely.

Join Us!

 

 

Ulrike Rodrigues, Integrated Web Content Coordinator and Brands Liaison, Norco Products

Jason’s Writing for the Web course was fresh, broad, and instantly beneficial. Thanks to the social media, blogging, SEO, and marketing techniques I acquired in his course, I was hired as a coordinated web content coordinator for Live to Play Sports (formerly Norco Products Ltd.). My manager counts on me to build a business-to-business and business-to-consumer online presence for the re-launched company, and I have Jason to thank for the Web skills I now use everyday.

—Ulrike Rodrigues, Integrated Web Content Coordinator and Brands Liaison at Live to Play Sports (formerly Norco Products)

Making Hay of Story Threads

In the Rumpelstiltskin fable by the Brothers Grimm, a young maiden makes a pact with a gnome to help her fulfill her father’s boast that she can spin hay into gold. It’s this bit of alchemy that reminded me of the many threads that can come together to make a good story.

More than Marketing Bumpf

The challenge in writing an ongoing blog about the same technology (as is the case at Webtech Wireless where I write), is to write about more than just the products and services the company offers. That gets stale really fast. I try to keep it alive by finding interesting threads that tell stories indirectly about the benefits of our goods and services. So, not a direct sell but value given in the vicinity of our goods and services.

For example, my May 23, 2013 blog post, “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack” brings several seemingly unrelated events together and tells them in a way that reflects favourably on Webtech Wireless’ offerings.

Here are the threads the provided an interesting story about Webtech Wireless’ GPS fleet tracking technology:

  • Recent tornadoes in Oklahoma galvanizing the media’s attention
  • Other severe weather in Oklahoma, drought. Did you know it’s been going on there for three years?
  • Due to drought, the price of hay is going up.
  • As the price of hay goes up, theft of hay bales is on the rise.
  • To counters this, ranchers and farmers are turning to technology in the form of GPS locators placed in hay bales to help track them.
  • A recent article lambastes the perception that Intelligent Communities are always urban. The writer says that rural areas stand to benefit from new technologies.
  • Oh, did you know that our wireless GPS locators are really good for tracking assets to prevent theft and help with recovery?
  • And by the way, several of our clients have been nominated for Intelligent Community awards (here, I rely on SEO to tie this thread in as we have several articles about Ville de Québec and other clients of ours that were nominated).

These stories by themselves don’t relate closely to our products, but put together into a narrative they spin a tale that, if not gold, is a step up from the usual marketing bumpf that plagues many blogs.

Read the article: “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack