Reaching out to Resource Industries to Reduce and Save

BCRoadbuilders

Andrew Paul, VP of Commercial Sales at Webtech Wireless, attended the BC Road Builders’ Annual Fall Conference in Kelowna, British Columbia this week and, apart from a few rounds of golf, came away with a renewed respect for the concerns of the transportation sector in the Interior of BC. Nestled between the Pacific Coast Mountains and the Rockies and stretching from Washington State to the Alaska/Yukon border, the Interior may be few in people, but it’s plenty in natural resources and keeping its primary industries (logging, mining, oil and gas exploration) clean includes the trucks and heavy equipment that service the region. The statistics support this need: while overall Canadian transportation accounts for 27 percent of all carbon emissions, in BC the amount is much higher at 37 percent.

Andrew mentioned his meeting with Scott Everall of the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative (COAC). The COAC is a non-profit organization that promotes its Fuel Efficiency and Carbon Reduction Initiative to owners of heavy diesel burning equipment, and long and short haul trucks. Its aim is to help trucking companies reduce their carbon footprint by providing monitoring and reporting their fuel consumption.

I caught up with Scott to find out how greening a trucking fleet can save fleet managers money. Talking green to business owners in northern British Columbia can be a hard sell. “Imagine yourself visiting a trucking company that’s in the business of cutting down trees, and you go in there to chat them up about making their business more environmentally friendly”, said Scott. Then with humor, “the look they give me is like, ‘are you going to give me a hug now?’ But my position is to describe how monitoring carbon emissions can reduce fuel costs by 10 percent”, he says adding, “Even a one percent reduction annually can add up to $300,000 in savings over our suggested three-year monitoring period. That, they listen to.”

Scott mentioned that many trucking companies have the willingness to change, but they may not have the manpower to manage the administration of carbon monitoring, “so that’s where we come in”, said Scott. “We help them reduce their operating costs by help them monitoring, reporting, and finally trading or selling carbon offsets”, he said.

“If using a system like what Webtech Wireless has, they’d be able to save money while reducing carbon emissions”, Scott said.  Scott’s attitude is, “As we become more aware of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative program will play an increasing role in helping the transportation and resource sectors reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency and create a safer working environment”.

What’s Your Calling?

Addiction

My friend, Todd, made a commitment to quit smoking this month. To support him, several of his friends ante-d up with some form of commitment of their own. I don’t smoke, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have some addictive behaviour—everybody does. For me, it’s a nasty little computer game called Civilization, in which an hour of relaxing time can (and does) easily spin out of control into seven-hour marathons that leave me sleepy, unproductive, and somewhat guilty about not achieving the goals I’ve set for myself.

The only way I can think it’s possible to thwart addiction is to overcome it with something more attractive. That would be, something non addictive, that’s more attractive. Without the usual outlet to steal myself away, I’ve discovered something much more attractive than a computer game—people.

Since I’ve declared war on my addiction, not only am I going to more events (last week three concerts, the Tweed Ride, a francophone barbeque, a birthday banquet, and a new course I just signed up for at BCIT), but I’m also using these events to branch out more connections. That is, I’m meeting more and more interesting people.

Todd is back to smoking sadly, but I ensured my commitment was not contingent in any way on him keeping his (that wouldn’t do our friendship any good). I’m beginning to see what even a smallish addiction is costing me in terms of, well, life. Who knows, it might be my term to inspire him the way he initially inspired me.

 

Your calling is where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.

—Frederick Buechner

Waking Up to the Costs of Fatigued Driving

Waking-Up-to-the-Costs-of-Fatigued-Driving

Huffington Post’s Third Metric campaign recently warned businesses to redefine success to include wellbeing—or face burnout. The Post’s intent is to raise awareness on the dangers of overwork and the opportunities of employee wellbeing, and in it Arriana Huffington advised, “The biggest obstacle keeping our desperately needed redefinition of success from becoming more widespread is the misguided belief that overwork is the route to high performance and great results.”

What caught my attention is how she draws a link between overworked and fatigued employees, “There is no company whose bottom line will not be enhanced by healthier, happier, less-stressed, well-slept, centered employees.” In the world of commercial trucking, the overworked employees are drivers and an overworked driver is a fatigued driver.

Westcoast Crackdown

Washington State Patrol’s (WSP) Commercial Vehicle Division (CVD) is using a more conventional approach to combatting fatigued driving—fines. It recently announced that it has partnered with Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia authorities to crack down on fatigued driving along the busy West Coast corridor. “A fatigued driver at the wheel is just as serious and as dangerous as driving under the influence,” said WSP Assistant Chief, Mike DePalma, “The effects caused by a fatigued driver can be devastating.”

The crackdown targets commercial vehicle drivers’ Hours of Service reporting, especially as previous investigations have found that “eight of the drivers had falsified their logbooks so they could drive more hours”. According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), “Driver fatigue is a contributing factor in 19% and the cause in 4% of all fatal vehicle collisions. It is the cause of about 20% of non-fatal crashes”.

HOS Promotes Wellbeing

Whether we’re compelled to change your behavior out of fear of fines or propelled to do so to create a healthier work environment for your drivers, the result is the same: preventing driver fatigue results in fewer deaths, injuries, and destruction on our roads—and that means safer roads for everybody.

Our Quadrant In?Cab solution is a fully automated device that monitors and enforces Hours of Service regulations, prevents driver fatigue, and saves the lives of drivers and innocent bystanders on the road.

Mary Cecilia MacPhee, Senior Inside Account Manager, Webtech Wireless

The timing was impeccable for this well-written article. I used it at  my meeting—and it generated a lot of questions.  Great Work Jason.

—Mary Cecilia MacPhee, Senior Inside Account Manager,
Webtech Wireless

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

Davida Kidd, Artist/Professor Visual Arts, University of the Fraser Valley

“My thoughts on your playing were that it was animated and seemed to move in time to the natural rhythms of the human body. I envisioned the cadence of people walking in procession and the dance like curves of people moving against gravity and characters. This kind of phrasing relates to breathing rather than the metronome. I see someone running full out in tall grass. Everything became visual to me. Beautiful playing Jason!”

­—Davida Kidd, Artist/Professor Visual Arts, University of the Fraser Valley

Ride the Wall

Adversity

My randonneur ride to Victoria with my friend Todd was scotched, because  Todd had has bicycle stolen today. For me, and without a doubt for Todd, this is a real bummer. My sense of discouragement about humanity is profound. Todd’s a good person; he doesn’t deserve to have his bicycle stolen.

Perhaps it’s also why this video inspires all the more. Michal Maroši, a Czech downhill competitive cyclist showed me how to get over discouragement mighty fast. After a devastating early-race fall, he dared something wild—and won!

There are a lot of advice givers out there quick to tell us how important it is to overcome adversity, but quick thinking Maroši showed what it looks like. Next time adversity rears its head—and it will again—I’ll remember Michal and Ride the Wall ! ! !

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.