Tag Archive for GPS

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!

 

 

My Writing: Habits, Racing, and Oil (July 30 to August 6)

I’m constantly confounded by the extent to which subject/verb and noun/pronoun errors cause mayhem to the English language. Consider the following:

Ottawa’s attempts to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline are just one example.

I am in agreement with the choice of “are” over “is”, because the subject of the sentence “attempts” is clearly plural. Where it gets crazy is in the choice to end the sentence, “just one example”. What could be more singular than that? For what it’s worth, here are my solutions:

Ottawa’s attempts to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline are just examples of…(content needed from writer)

Ottawa’s attempt to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline is just one example.

As for this week’s writings, here are just one example…

5 Dangerous Driving Habits to Avoid this Long Weekend points the blame at mom and dad (and other middle aged drivers) to smarten up. If the ICBC statisticians are to be believed, the dangerous drivers are the older ones.

 

Pedal to the Metal describes the strange case of the overturned ICBC claim against a fellow racing (and smashing) his corvette in a speedway. In the eyes of the judge, the difference between a motor “racing” event and “training” event is all in the timing.

 

How to Reduce Dependence on Offshore Oil describes our efforts to lessen ourselves of offshore oil dependence. One way is to rejig our entire fleet of vehicle to use natural gas; another, is to lessen our consumption through GPS/AVL technology. This time, what costs less is also easy on the environment.

Integrating Fleet Technology Boosts Revenue

Recently, we talked with CEO, Steve Troyer, and found out how Troyer Ventures is generating revenue to stay way ahead of its competition.

Challenge

As a leading fluid transportation company in the oil and gas sector in north-eastern British Columbia, Troyer Ventures found that it couldn’t grow with the old system. And to realize their growth potential without replacing the old system, Troyer was facing adding an additional dispatch office or even splitting the fleet, which in itself presented another host of operations challenges.

To realize its revenue generating potential, Troyer made the strategic decision to embrace an integrated technology solution.

Solution

Troyer took the unprecedented initiative to adopt a challenging integration combining the best of three different software providers: TMW, Great Plains, and Webtech Wireless’ Quadrant solution.

“It allows us to re-allocate staff to more strategic activities than merely pushing paper and most importantly, it has allowed us to grow and handle more revenue with the same staff.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures

Better ROI

So far, the implementation is showing many encouraging trends and Steve concludes that what’s emerging shows what a great fleet management tool Quadrant is, because it has allowed Troyer to “realize better returns on our assets and people”.

“With the level of minute-by-minute information we’re getting, Quadrant is the best thing going.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures

How Much Better?

Steve expects benefits to increase over next 12 months with trends pointing toward a complete return on investment in the not-too-distant future. In addition, the new growth strategy leverages on improved staff efficiencies, particularly as staff re-allocations mean increased revenues for the company without increasing staff.

“In the end, it all pays off—we doubled our revenue.”
—Steve Troyer, Troyer Ventures

History of GPS Devices

Since working at Webtech Wireless, I’ve starting getting an idea of how transformative location-based GPS-powered technology can be to our future once everyone adopts it into their everyday lives.

Take for example, your public library. No longer would a librarian passively wait for borrowed books to be returned and then issue fines. Every librarian could take an active part in repossessing books, because each book would have its own GPS device installed. With just a little help from satellites and small fire arms, a librarian could then find and repossess books from forgetful borrowers?


Moral drawn from this short film clip: Return your library books and nobody gets hurt.

But enough of the mundane future. What about the past? The past is full of great missed GPS/AVL (automated vehicle location) opportunities. How would the Age of Exploration be transformed by GPS?

No more “Let’s try around the next shark infested cape for the route to Cathay, or the Fountain of Youth, or Name-Your-Spice Island” anymore. A Magellan or Columbus could toss his outdated sextants and ridiculous astrolabes overboard and, instead, boot up his GPS device.

Voíla! With affordable on-board communications, he could easily navigate around monsoons, plot a route to India, or get the upper hand on Malacca pirates. As a leader in bringing  state-of-the-art GPS tracking and cellular solutions to small vassal states, he could add to the riches of his king and/or patron. And through communication among enterprise-level fleets, he would be able to offer just-in-time delivery of gold, tobacco, slaves, and beaver pelts on time and under budget.

thar be monsters !

Why Increased Accuracy Matters

–By Chuck Lane, Solution Engineer, Webtech Wireless

With ever increasing fuel costs, a common question these days is, “how do I accurately measure my individual vehicle fuel consumption?”

GPS versus Vehicle Odometer Reporting: “It’s a mine field”

With the advent of on-board diagnostics (OBD) in the 1980s the problem was solved, right? In an automotive context, OBD is a generic term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. All vehicle manufacturers conform to SAE J1979, and the OBD-II standard has been mandatory for all cars and light trucks sold in the United States since 1996.

“It’s complicated”

Problem solved! We just connect to the vehicle OBD port (they all have one) and read the fuel consumption data, right? Wrong—it’s not that simple—it’s complicated and fraught with pitfalls.

Each vehicle manufacturer implements the OBD standard uniquely and will rarely, if ever, share that standard outside its service network. It’s possible to gain access to that standard and implement a solution to read the PID (parameter identification) number codes, but manufacturers are not required to implement all PIDs listed in J1979, and they are allowed to include proprietary PIDs that are not listed. It’s just a minefield to attempt to interpret individual manufacturer PIDs accurately.

Most importantly, non-approved connections to a vehicle OBD port (ECU/Engine Control Unit) could invalidate warranty and cause other legal or technical issues. Modern vehicles are controlled by highly sophisticated computer systems, can detect miniscule unexpected current draws, and may register a fault. What if you have a mixture of old and new cars, vans, buses, and other vehicles from different manufacturers? Older vehicles don’t have any OBD port at all.

Comparing OBD against GPS Statistics

Both OBD collected data and GPS calculated data have some inherent flaws—neither one is 100% accurate. Recent studies have shown a variation of plus or minus 5% for speed and odometer data from OBD. We recently conducted a series of studies with our major customers involving hundreds of vehicles measuring the accuracy of ODB versus our GPS locator information. With recent improvements in our  locator hardware and algorithms we have now confirmed our GPS information is accurate to plus or minus 3% versus OBD data from the same vehicles.

The federal specification for vehicle speed/odometer is plus or minus 10%. A recent study by a major Webtech Wireless customer has shown that their trucks were reporting a speed of 15% to 20% higher than actual when using cruise control (this data was taken from the ECU (engine control unit)). This prompted the customer to switch to GPS calculations for speed.

Odometer Drift Analysis for 827 Vehicles

Recently, Webtech Wireless completed a study of 827 vehicles from a large customer fleet. This study compared the odometer readings from the vehicle with the mileage calculations from the Webtech Wireless Locator using GPS calculations.

The results of the study are as follows:

Odometer Drift Analysis for 827 Vehicles

  • Average GPS odometer drift was plus or minus 3.07% when compared to vehicle odometer
  • 87% of the vehicles had less than 5% drift
  • 63% of the vehicles had less than 3% drift
  • 2% of vehicles had GPS antenna issues (19 vehicles)

In an additional study, one of our largest clients found ECU data on speed to be way off, so they asked us to switch to GPS calculated speed.  When the GPS antenna was properly mounted and had clearance to the sky (i.e., in highway conditions further from obstructions such as skyscrapers), GPS speed and odometer calculations were favorable.

Increasing Accuracy

The biggest factor in getting good GPS odometer (mileage) readings is to have the GPS antenna installed properly. Improper installation can cause a high number of no-fix records that, in turn, can cause invalid GPS odometer readings.

The following actions can increase GPS odometer accuracy:

  • Install a GPS antenna with a good view of the sky
  • Update the GPS odometer for all vehicles every 6 to 12 months
  • Update the GPS odometer during scheduled maintenance
  • Monitor vehicles with high no-fix rates of greater than 25%

Summary

In conclusion, both vehicle OBD and the GPS odometer readings can have some issues regarding accuracy. Webtech Wireless Locators and highly accurate GPS calculations provide proven GPS accuracy for speed and odometer readings. These studies resulted in our customers using Webtech Wireless GPS reporting for accounting purposes.

Quadrant proves powerful tool during tsunami warnings

HELCO truck

HELCO truck

In addition to the Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) success with reducing fuel consumption, using Webtech Wireless’ Quadrant location-based services (LBS) and telematics solutions (see previous Blog post), HELCO has also found Quadrant to be a necessary tool in times of crisis.

With its own home-grown volcanoes, the Hawaiian Islands are no strangers to nature’s fury. At the center of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii must also be prepared for dangers from its far-flung Ring of Fire neighbors—in the form of tsunamis.

Tsunami from Chile

The effectiveness of the Quadrant system in emergency situations was tested in February 2010 after the devastating 8.8 Mw earthquake in Chile, which put all of the Hawaiian Islands on tsunami alert. HELCO’s emergency plan was kicked into high gear, which meant immediately locating all of the company’s mobile resources and redistributing them to key points on the Island and HELCO installations, away from areas that could be vulnerable in a tsunami event. “It made such a difference to have that information available in real-time and on my computer so that I could easily direct our staff, and if needed, share that information with other emergency organizations,” said Kelvin Kohatsu, HELCO’s Fleet Administrator.

Fortunately, Hawaii was unaffected by the quake, but it was a good test of HELCO’s preparedness and the Quadrant system.

Quadrant GPS map showing HELCO truck locations on the Big Island of Hawaii

Quadrant GPS satellite image showing HELCO truck locations on the Big Island of Hawaii

Tsunami from Japan

On March 11, 2011, the tragic 9.1 Mw Sendai earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, again demonstrated Quadrant’s usefulness in times of crises. As Pacific Rim nations raced to secure their coastlines before the tsunami hit, Kelvin was able to use Quadrant GPS to allocate trucks and drivers, and to prepare to assist with evacuations and clean up on the Big Island.

With a tsunami bearing down on the Hawaiian Islands, Kelvin rushed to HELCO’s headquarters to check that fuel acquisition, standby contractors, dispatch, and equipment were available and ready. In addition, he hurried to ensure HELCO trucks located in the tsunami inundation zone were relocated to higher ground.

As Transportation & Maintenance Unit Leader for the Logistics Team at HELCO, he credited Webtech Wireless’ Quadrant solution (particularly Dispatch Management) as crucial in supplying needed vehicles to support Operations. “GPS remote vehicle management technology is invaluable in these situations,” he claimed, adding that “having a comprehensive GSP system allows us to instantly locate units and plan for dispatch of those resources. Other organizations would use two-way communications, if they’re operational.”

During tsunami alerts, the main evacuation route requisitions the Hilo International Airport runway

During tsunami alerts, the Hilo International Airport runway becomes a main evacuation route

This first operational period lasted until the tsunami warning was lifted, which came the following day. After the emergency period passed, HELCO transitioned to the recovery period, where it supported Operations in clearing and cleaning up debris and damage from the tsunami, which fortunately was minimal.

Quadrant has also been of use in more minor situations such as when a localized oil spill affected Hilo Harbor and HELCO vehicles and personnel were involved in containment and cleanup efforts.