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

Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack

Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack

While the world has looked on in horror as tornadoes ripped their way across Oklahoma, another type of severe weather—drought—is having a very different impact: Theft. Farmers and ranchers are finding that as the drought continues, hay prices are on the rise and with that, a rise in the theft of hay bales. This is serious business as without the hay, their cattle starve.

Although one part of the state received some rain last week, it appeared in the form of severe weather prompting Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center to say, “A drought really tests your coping capacity.” To protect their agricultural assets, many Oklahoman ranchers are proving they’re meeting the challenge by turning to technology. They’ve installed GPS Locators into their hay bales to help track them in the event of theft.

Putting a GPS locator into a hay bale safeguards it automatically against unauthorized movement. Should it go missing, it can be tracked in real-time (by sending alerts and providing real-time visibility). With this visibility, farmers and ranchers can work with local police to locate wayward assets and retrieve them.

Smart Rural Communities

Back in 1920, 34% of the US population lived and worked in rural areas, but by the end of the century only 2% of American workers made a living there. With the decrease of economic output resulting from decades of population loss, agricultural areas stand to benefit from tools that help businesses do more with fewer workers and tools that help them monitor their assets more effectively.

In describing Intelligent Communities (those that use broadband technologies such as DSL, cable, satellite and wireless to prosper) Robert Bell described the misperception that intelligent communities are only affluent, urban, chic neighborhoods in large cities. While decrying that perception, he looks at rural areas as among the chief benefactors of smart technology. And, in that respect the cattle ranchers of Oklahoma agree with him.

Asset Tracking

Like farmers and ranchers, fleet owners lose sleep not knowing where their assets are. From hay bales to heavy machinery, assets left in the field are at risk of theft. Implementing asset tracking solutions reduces risk, improves productivity, and ultimately saves operating costs.

Shannon Pratuch, PR & Marketing, Jupiter Hotel, Portland, Ore.

The article is so well-written, thoughtful and I cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate your attention. For a locally owned and operated establishment like ours, people like you help make a difference.

—Shannon Pratuch, PR & Marketing, Jupiter Hotel, Portland Ore.

Partnership Creates Possibilities

Partnership-Webtech-Wireless

At Webtech Wireless, we partner with a range of companies because it helps us focus on our key products and services while offering you a diverse range of solutions.  For example, we have partnered with four of North America most prominent mobility providers to ensure you have the widest area of cellular coverage and that includes cross-border (US and Canada) coverage.

We also have resellers and distributor partners that sell our products and services and specialize in solutions for commercial and government fleet markets. Our OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners embed our hardware products within their products, and leverage the software services we provide to develop and sell a combined offering to their customers.

While we have many partners, this story focuses on profiling three of our partners who have recently provided important integrations:

In-Cab Navigation from ALK Technologies

We partnered with ALK Technologies to bring enhanced in-cab navigation and routing capabilities to our MDT 3100 and Quadrant Manager. ALK CoPilot is an industry-leading truck-specific GPS routing solution designed to provide reliable navigation on truck-legal roads while keeping drivers safe. Fully integrated into the MDT 3100, drivers can seamlessly switch between Hours of Service and navigation.

Fuel Card Integration from FleetCor

We partnered with FleetCor because its fleet card products provided fuel card integration with Quadrant Manager. FleetCor is one of the global leaders in fleet fuel cards and this integration made it easier for our customers to better manage their fleets. For example, data from FleetCor and Quadrant Manager can be used to easily discover discrepancies between the location of fuel purchases and the location of vehicles.

“FleetCor fuel cards provide visibility into when fuel purchases were made and Webtech Wireless provides the location of the vehicle at the time of purchase. It makes the information trail complete for the fleet manager”, says Andrew Paul, VP Commercial Sales.

Traffic Scorecard Reporting from Inrix

“Death, taxes and traffic are often called the three certainties of life”, according to Inrix and, with the ability to provide traffic data points numbering in the trillions, Inrix has shown that it can handle at least the traffic part of the equation. Inrix has carved out a niche for itself as one of the pre-eminent providers of traffic data. What that means our customers is that we can offer utilize that data to increase the profitability and safety of companies operating fleets on busy roads and highways. For example, Coach Canada uses Quadrant reports that rely on Inrix data to ensure its drivers are driving safely. In particular, they can now report on the length of time the vehicle traveled beyond a pre-defined speed and driving behavior issues such as hard breaking or sharp accelerations, indicators of potential dangerous behavior by drivers.

Coach Canada, a leading Canadian commercial bus line, has achieved a variety of internal targets to monitor vehicle speeds, recently announced it had reached and exceeded its safe speed initiative and credited its improvement in overall safety and performance to our Quadrant Manager solution in conjunction with real-time road speed  and posted speed limit data from INRIX®.

Our partnership with Inrix and its successful implementation with Coach Canada have produced some very positive data: “We’ve seen a 90.4 percent reduction in speeding after implementing these Quadrant Features in 2012”.

Partnership Matters

All our partners provide unique solutions that are part of the distinctive GPS fleet management solutions we provide. We’re always expanding the products we offer and our partnerships play a key role in making this possible. For more information on our partners, please email us at info@webtechwireless.com.

New HOS Rules Mean “Comply by July”

New_HOS_Regs

Federally regulated rules and driver monitoring raise the specter of Big Brother with anyone considering a monitoring solution, but while some blatantly flout the law and force their drivers to work long hours, others lose sleep at night worrying about the safety of their drivers and operations.

Changes in HOS rules are rarely popular. The National Private Truck Council is currently running a survey and posing the question, “With the new Hours of Service rules effective due to take place July 1, 2013, what is your fleet’s estimated loss of productivity?”, but with the increase in accidents attributed to fatigued drivers, it’s no wonder that the US DoT continues to update its regulations. Safety trumps all.

At Webtech Wireless, we anticipate changes to HOS rules and provide regular software and hardware updates well in advance of change deadlines to ensure our customers never experience downtime and business interruption.

We Were Ready Then

Last December, we released an update of our MDT 3100 In-Cab solution to offer HOS Oil Well Waiting capability for fleets in the Oil and Gas sector. With Oil Well Waiting, drivers could track time waiting at a well site without it counting against their HOS time limit. This capability ensured fleets could remain competitive while complying with FMCSA HOS regulations. At the time, our Quadrant VP of Products and Services, Ernie Chatham said “This feature is designed with drivers in mind. It’s easy to use and the interface and workflow are simple, allowing for quick training, simple implementation, and immediate cost savings.”

We’re Ready Now

We’ve started letting affected customers know about the new changes to HOS rules for fleets operating in the US, so if you haven’t heard from us directly, you soon will. Here’s an overview from the US Department of Transportation.

30-Minute Mandatory Break – Starting in July, drivers of a CMV operating in the US cannot drive if more than eight hours have passed since the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper break of 30 minutes or more.  When a driver reaches the eighth hour into the work shift, before continuing the driver must take a 30-minute break.

Restart Rules – A 34-hour restart is a “valid” restart only if the driver ensures that the period includes two back-to-back nighttime rest periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. The restart rules restrict how often a restart can be used. If a driver restarts more often than what’s allowed by US rules, the driver must indicate on the log which restart will be the one that’s being used as the valid restart.

For more information, see the US Department of Transportation web site.

Technical Support

If you have any questions about how the new HOS rules might affect you, please contact our technical support specialists:

support@webtechwireless.com Phone +1 (604) 419 8163

Toll Free (US/Canada) +1 (866) 945 4568

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Friday 6:00 am – 5:00 PM PT

Saturday 8:00 am – 4:30 PM PT

Don’t Gamble on Distracted Driving

By Joel Waithman

WEW-Booth

Walt Fischer and Nigel Maund man the new Webtech Wireless booth at NAFA 2013.

 

Last week, along with Nigel Maund, Walt Fischer and others from Webtech Wireless, I attended NAFA in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I’m sure it’s a fun place in the summer, but in April there wasn’t much to distract me from the trade show (except perhaps a visit to the roulette table).

While at the conference, I attended an excellent presentation called, “Breakthrough Technologies and Future Trends for Fleet Telematics”, which described how telematics is going to impact fleet management in the next few years. The format of the presentation was a panel of four telematics specialists (responsible for huge fleets such as ARI) and a moderator. They fielded about ten questions and spent about ten minutes answering each question, except for one: The big question on everyone’s mind was distracted driving. This topic consumed a whole hour of the presentation time with many people from both commercial and government fleets weighing in on different points. Questions included, “How can we solve it?”, “Are we invading the privacy of the driver?”, and “What applications are available?”

So, gambling may be a fine distraction in Atlantic City, but no one’s gambling on distracted driving. One commenter compared cell phone use while driving to gun ownership. After all, a vehicle is potentially as lethal to operate, so some form of regulation is needed to ensure people use it properly. But is it the responsibility of governments to enforce? Some government operators suggested that unions might resist (unless required to comply by government regulations) while others embraced the idea (particularly commercial operators who shoulder a great deal of responsibility regardless of whether cell phones are used for private or company purposes). Everyone was aware of the Coca-Cola settlement of last year that set a precedent across the board for companies to monitor their drivers’ cell phone habits more closely.

On a lighter note, this year AT&T set up a demo car on the trade show floor equipped to demonstrate the risks of distracted driving. To try it, we put on special goggles that simulated a driver’s view and then we were given a cell phone to type on while driving. The demo could measure our level of distraction using graphs that measured speed fluctuations as we texted. People who tried the simulation were surprised by how distracted they became.

Joel Waithman

Joel Waithman, Channel Partner Manager - Webtech Wireless

These experiences reminded me how critical our Webtech Wireless MDTs with hands-free voice are to preventing distracted driving. Even our auditory alert warnings (such as on the Accelerometer) to warn of excess speed, braking, and other erratic driving behavior ensure safety by keeping drivers focused on driving rather than texting. There are many ways to be distracted nowadays, but it’s in no one’s interest to gamble on road safety.