Synovia Solutions Blog

CONNECTING THE DOTS BETWEEN TIME AND ATTENDANCE

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 @ 09:41 AM

How GPS-powered tools can improve your payroll system.

6.27.17_Time_And_Attendance_Quote.pngWhen you run a transportation department, your responsibilities never end, from safety issues and driver behavior to route planning and fleet maintenance. To complicate matters even more, you also have very real budget concerns and, too often, budget cuts to deal with. Luckily, many people have realized that GPS technology can help them do more with less while saving both time and money. What many don’t realize, though, is that your payroll system is no exception – there are GPS-powered tools available that can help you better manage it as well.

How It Works

A time and attendance solution allows your drivers to clock in and out within their vehicles. This eliminates paying for non-driving time, and on average it saves 15 minutes per driver, per vehicle, per day. You can ensure your drivers are being paid accurately for their time on the road.

Integrating with Your Payroll System

When looking at solutions, you need one that can integrate with your current setup. All the information captured through GPS tracking needs to be exported to the payroll system you’re already using, quickly and easily. This eliminates any extra work during implementation.

Increasing Payroll Accuracy

Logging time by hand introduces the possibility of human error, causing your payroll accuracy to suffer. By automating time collection, you save quite a bit by eliminating inaccurate time entries. Even if you’re off by as little as one or two percent, that can have a significant effect on your overall payroll budget, no matter whether you manage 50 vehicles or 5,000.

Staying in the Know

One of the largest benefits associated with logging driver time electronically is being able to accurately capture time for payroll purposes. Since you are paying your drivers based on time, it’s critical to know how much of that time is actually involved in a specific route or activity. A time and attendance solution enables your drivers to log a job type with the same keypad they use to clock in from their vehicle.

With this type of solution, you can also review and manage the time that is being collected. As your drivers log in, your GPS system is sending that data back to you. You can review to see who’s logged in, what their time cards look like, and more – all in real time. In addition, you can compare your existing route schedules from your planning system to the actual time being logged by your drivers. If a driver assigned to a six-hour shift is logging eight hours, you’ll know.

Empowering Your Drivers

The GPS solution should also include an employee portal, which allows drivers to log in and view how many hours they’ve logged. The employee portal allows non-drivers or dual-role employees (for example,  someone who may drive in the mornings and work as an office employee during the day) to log time spent on activities that don’t involve operating a vehicle. This can be done from a computer, so time spent both on the road and in the office can all be captured on one time card.

Even if one of your drivers forgets to log in or out, GPS data will provide you with a full picture of that driver’s day, from when that driver left to the time they returned. There are no “he said, she said” arguments over time discrepancies because all the data is right there in front of you.

Overall Benefits to Tracking TIme and Attendance Electronically

Let’s walk through an example of potential benefits and cost savings. Below are some of the major differences experienced by one of our clients with Synovia’s Time and Attendance solution.

Prior to implementation, their process looked something like this. Drivers would fill out timesheets and clock in at their schools. The schools would then review the time by hand, increasing the manpower needed to complete payroll. There was a lack of accountability and accuracy overall.

After implementation, drivers clocked in directly from the bus. The transportation department was able to quickly audit time using the data provided by the software. They also utilized a daily payroll import to ensure payroll accuracy.

So, what was their overall result? The school has reported $100,000 in annual savings since moving to Synovia’s Time and Attendance solution.

Many schools have decided to say goodbye to timesheets and manual entry. They are instead turning to GPS solutions for accurate time tracking, easy-to-read reports, and payroll integration. The benefits are endless, from more effectively managed fleets to large cost savings.

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If you want to learn more about Synovia's TIme & Attendance solution, sign up for a free demonstration

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Tags: Time and Attendance, Payroll

The Many Benefits of GPS and Asset Tracking

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 @ 09:50 AM

Case Study: Loxahatchee River District

6.23.17-case-study-gps-tracking.pngLoxahatchee River District manages both a fleet of vehicles, and some very expensive heavy-duty equipment. It’s their job to provide a valuable service to the community each and every day, as efficiently as possible.

To do this, they recently turned to GPS and asset tracking to be more forward looking in their business. They were experiencing some issues typical to managing a fleet of their size, such as lack of clarity into what their drivers were doing daily. And they understood the risks of using and managing such expensive equipment. They realized the risk of losing such pricey assets was much higher than the cost to track it.

They decided to turn to Synovia for help with their GPS and asset tracking needs. Download their case study to understand:

  • The exact challenges their transportation team experienced with their fleet and assets
  • The key benefits they were looking to receive from GPS and asset tracking
  • How Loxahatchee implemented and used GPS to run their business more effectively
  • The results experienced from implementing a fleet management solution

A complete GPS tracking solution can provide many benefits to organizations like Loxahatchee River District. Tracking vehicles, mapping routes, and insightful reporting are just a few. Read more to understand the complete story of Loxahatchee’s success.

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THE SECRET TO SELECTING THE RIGHT TRACKING SOLUTION

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 @ 09:19 AM

3 key questions to ask when evaluating GPS systems

6.20.17_GPS_Tracking.pngSelecting the right fleet management solution is no easy task. You must make sure it meets your  needs, and you need a complete understanding of how it will help you in the long run. Will it help keep your riders safe? Will it help your drivers increase their route efficiency? Will it save you money and provide a noticeable ROI? These questions and more must be considered when evaluating potential GPS tracking solutions.

As technology improves, more and more solutions come to market. How do you know which is best for you?
Below are several factors to consider when selecting your tracking solution.

What Is a “Nice to Have” vs. a “Must Have”?

There are many different solutions available now; it’s not just standard GPS tracking. Determine what is important for your school district or company first, and find solutions that match your needs. For example, how does your transportation team currently track time and attendance? Would they benefit from an all-in-one solution that allows drivers to clock in and out on the bus, rather than relying on hand-written time cards or clocking in at the school?

Another aspect for schools to consider is parent communication. Some solutions, such as Synovia’s Here Comes the Bus®, offer unmatched communication with parents and students. Whether it’s knowing how close your bus is or knowing when your child gets on or off the bus, Here Comes the Bus provides an easy answer.

By closely examining your needs and wants, you will be better prepared to evaluate the GPS tracking market and all its available options.

Is the Software User-friendly?

When evaluating different solutions, it’s very important to understand how the software works. First, think through who will be using the software on a daily basis. What are their needs, and how will they need to incorporate the software into their day-to-day lives? You may also consider asking the vendor if you can try it out before you buy. Let the users inside your organization test the software in real time. Is it user-friendly? Does it give them the information they need to make their jobs easier? Demos and trials are a great way to determine whether the technology is going to work for you and your team.

What’s It Going to Cost?

We all know budgets are tight, making the cost of the solution critical. But many times the better question to
ask is: can you afford not to have a GPS solution in place?

On two different occasions a school system in Florida petitioned their board to pay for a tracking system for
their school buses. Both times the petition was denied, and then one day that school system had three different buses collide with each other while out on the road.

While thankfully no children were seriously injured, later on it was determined that speeding was a significant factor in the cause of the crash. The crash could have been avoided altogether if the school system had simply been tracking their drivers’ behavior a little more closely.

The liability alone of what could have happened if just one of those students was seriously injured is scary, not to mention the real toll of such an incident to parents and students. Fleet tracking software can let you know in real time (as it’s happening) if your drivers are exceeding the set speed limit, and by how much, in order to help prevent things like this from happening.

As with any investment, you must take the time to fully explore all options available to your school system. Speak with other school districts to see how they are managing their fleets. Ask vendors for references and case studies. And, ultimately, find the solution that works best for your organization.

To learn more about GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

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THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF SUCCESS

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 @ 02:28 PM

What kind of insurance do you need?

6.14.17_GPS_Tracking_Blog.pngA GPS tracking system is a large investment for most companies and school districts. You want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck. And you want to make sure you’ve got a plan in case something goes wrong. This is where Synovia’s Synsurance comes into play. It’s the unique value provided to Synovia customers to minimize their risk and give them peace of mind that we’ve got their back, no matter what.

So what exactly is Synsurance? It’s a one of a kind service guarantee offered to Synovia’s customers. It includes benefits such as:

  • Lifetime Technology Warranty: For as long as you are a Synovia customer, any defective hardware on your buses will be replaced at no charge. Additionally, customers are provided unlimited access to Synovia’s customer portal for software support.
  • Immediate Access to Spare Hardware: For Synovia customers, additional hardware (2% of the total number of buses in the fleet) is provided as backup. If a piece of hardware fails, it can be immediately
    replaced with a spare. Then simply send the defective unit back, and receive a new shelf replacement at no additional charge.
  • First Time Fix, or Synovia Pays: If you log the same issue more than once within thirty days you will be credited one day’s charge for your entire fleet. No questions asked.
  • No Limits: With Synovia’s Synsurance, you receive unlimited user licenses as well as unlimited training webinars and videos.
  • All-inclusive Service Fee and Price Protection: Everything is included in the service fee – use of hardware, installation, software and updates, implementation, hosting, data plan, support, and training. There are no surprises. And the service fee will not increase over the lifetime of an agreement. Guaranteed.
  • Access to a Municipal Lease: Synovia understands that sometimes budgets change and funds are redistributed. With Synsurance, if funds are no longer available you may cancel the agreement without penalty.

With guarantees like these, it’s easy to see why Synovia’s customers have minimized their risks and reaped the benefits of their GPS tracking solutions. Find out if your company or school can be one of the many that benefit from fleet tracking and Synovia Synsurance with a free demonstration

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MITIGATING RISK WITH GPS

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Jun 07, 2017 @ 07:00 AM

You’ve decided you need a GPS tracking solution. The benefits are all too clear, and it’s time to make the change. But how do you ensure that you make the best decision possible, and that the implementation of the solution goes smoothly? There are a couple of simple things you can do to mitigate your risks when implementing a fleet management software solution.

Do Your Homework

6.7.17_Blog.pngFirst and foremost, you need to make sure you have a solid understanding of what you need and why. What is the driving force behind the decision to use a GPS tracking system? What problems do you need the solution to solve? Only with this understanding will you be able to select the best solution for your school. And since there are many different options out there, be sure to research each of them thoroughly. Ask for a demo or even a free trial before you buy to ensure the solution will work for your specific situation.

Determine What Kind of Insurance Is Provided

6.7.17_Blog2.pngThe better the system (and the company), the more likely they are to be comfortable with offering you some kind of guarantee for their product. Do they offer hardware warranties? Are they willing to reimburse you for downtime? Are you given spare hardware up front, so if there’s any kind of failure you can replace a malfunctioning unit right away? The better the guarantee, the more likely it is you’ll be happy with their services, and the less risk you take on with the implementation of the software.

Ensure Your Team Is On Board

6.7.17_Blog3.pngAs with any large project, you need the buy-in from your team to ensure success. The best way to get it is through communication. Determine your message and make sure it is consistent across the board. Explain
the benefits that the entire district will experience, from better route management to significant time and cost savings. Finally, ensure that you have a training program in place. Select a vendor that provides solid training materials, such as on-demand videos and webinars. 

With the proper preparation to reduce your risk, a GPS tracking solution project can go off without a hitch, and begin to provide benefits immediately.

To learn more about GPS tracking, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your team. 

Download Now

ARE YOUR DRIVERS RUNNING THE RIGHT ROUTES?

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 08:00 AM

Gaining insights you need for better route management.

5.16.17_gps_tracking_route_management.pngAre your drivers taking the routes you want them to? You have spent countless hours planning to ensure they are given the best and most efficient routes. But without the proper tools in place, you have no way of knowing whether your drivers are following the routes you’ve specified.

To combat this problem, consider integrating your routing system with a fleet tracking solution. Why? Because it means you’ll know when each vehicle should be at each stop, and whether they arrived as planned. Essentially, you can compare your planned and actual stops while also receiving informative summaries of the overall activity of your fleet.

Better Service & Satisfaction 

One of the major advantages to this kind of visibility into your fleet is improved customer satisfaction. It can be frustrating for your customers when there are unexpected delays or changes in the normal routine. Instead, imagine a scenario where you would be able to quickly alert your customers if a planned stop changes, or if the driver has deviated from the expected route. This would make your customers happier, and lead to fewer complaints to your transportation department.

Better Route Management

Ultimately, combining your route planning and GPS tracking allows you to effectively manage your routes. You can better ensure on-time departures and track route compliance. You can manage time performance and keep key people informed at all times. So the real question becomes: why wouldn’t you implement this solution?

Better visibility and understanding is key to planning and running the most efficient routes. School districts and businesses with fleet tracking tools have all the information they need to make the right decisions – and more.

To learn more about this, and other Synovia solutions, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for you.

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Tags: route efficiency, GPS

PROTECTING ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST ASSETS: YOUR VEHICLES

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, May 10, 2017 @ 10:34 AM


Engine_diagnostics_5.10.pngYour vehicles are one of your transportation department’s biggest expenses. As the fleet manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure they last as long as possible, which requires staying on top of your vehicles’ maintenance. Since it costs far less to prevent an issue than it does to fix it, Synovia offers fleet managers live diagnostic information about their vehicles. This provides you the visibility you need to eliminate unexpected – and costly – surprises. Instead, you stay on top of your fleet and monitor its’ needs before they become emergencies.

Protecting Your Vehicles

Tracking allows you to connect directly to your vehicles’ engines to monitor fault codes, odometer readings, and fuel consumption. If there is a fault code, the information is transmitted directly to the manager of the fleet. The data also provides the opportunity to standardize regular maintenance using information like odometer readings, engine hour data, or time since last service. By being proactive in your maintenance approach, you can avoid many expensive repairs. This keeps your budget in line and your vehicles on the road.

Maintenance Reporting

There are all kinds of useful reports as well. These include distance driven, fuel usage, and idle time. At the end of the day, you will know exactly where your fuel is going. You can monitor driving behavior such as harsh braking and acceleration to identify drivers who may need more training to prevent vehicle damage. You can also set alerts based on fuel usage and speed. Overall, the more safely a vehicle performs and the more efficient it is, the easier it is to save money while protecting your drivers and passengers.

If you want to learn more about how to maximize the efficiency of your fleet, download Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. It is filled with the most up-to-date fleet management information to help you increase savings, improve safety and enhance customer service. 

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PAVING THE WAY

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Pulling Off GPS: What You Need to Know

pulling-off-gps-tracking-4.25.17.pngIf you're like most, you are constantly looking for ways to better your situation through technology. One of the most common and useful ways to do this is through GPS solutions. For years, schools and businesses have been looking to GPS to provide cost savings, improve operational efficiencies, and increase driver and passenger safety.

Adopting a new technology can be frightening, though. How difficult will it be to implement? What will be required from you and your team during implementation? What about after the tracking systems are installed? How will it affect the daily lives of your transportation department, drivers, and students? Luckily, implementing a fleet management solution is easier than you’d expect. Let’s walk through what you should expect when selecting and implementing a GPS tracking solution.

The First Steps

First, you must determine which GPS solution is best for your situation. Typically, this is accomplished with
a thorough demonstration that highlights the solution’s capabilities. During this demo, it’s important to examine your needs in detail and decide on the right mix of tracking solutions for your exact situation.

Once you’ve determined what the right solution is for you, the next step is some sort of orientation. This is where you will be introduced to the full set of features and functionalities of your software. This in-depth look will further your understanding of the full potential of the GPS solution.

Next up is the installation process. At this point, the software should be fully configured to make sure you hit
the ground running. The length of this phase can differ, though. It can range from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on your fleet size and schedule. Be sure your installation is scheduled around the availability of your fleet, and at a time where it minimizes the disruption to your transportation department.

The Ins and Outs of GPS

time-and-attendance-4.25.17.pngAfter your hardware is in place and your software is ready to go, everything should be tested. And once you know everything is operating correctly, you’re ready for training. This is where you get familiar with the software and begin to understand just how to best manage your fleet. The solution should help you determine things like how to organize your fleet effectively, whether you should limit or restrict certain vehicles, and so on. This is also where you will decide what reports and alerts to set up in your software. Determine what information is most valuable to you, and set up accordingly.

Depending on what solution options you’ve selected, there may be some additional training and set up needed.

For example:

  • Time and Attendance: If you’ve selected this feature, you’ll need to integrate with your payroll system and explain to your drivers how to clock in and out directly on the vehicle. No more paper time sheets and manual data entry!
  • Comparative Analysis:  If you’ve selected this feature to compare planned to actual routes, you’ll need to integrate with your route management system. You’ll be one step closer to better route management!

All things considered, you should expect to be fully implemented within six weeks.

Reaping the Benefits of GPS

Once you are up and running, you’ll have immediate access to all the insights and metrics you need. But it can be a little overwhelming. Some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Consider establishing some key performance indicators. These will deliver a high-level view of what you're tracking. 
  2. Focus on one or two areas at a time, such as route compliance or fuel consumption. You can always drill down into more detail whenever you choose. 
  3. Training isn't a one-time event. In order to best stay on top of your software and its functionality, consider attending regularly scheduled training webinars provided by your vendor. 

The final piece of the puzzle is the introduction of your GPS solution to your employees. In reality, there is very
little that needs to be explained or demonstrated for drivers. It is often a matter of simply letting them know
the devices are on their vehicles. You may want to explain some of the benefits as well. Explain how monitoring activity will help achieve cost savings, and how it can also protect drivers in the event of unjust criticism.

For example, GPS can be used to come to the defense of drivers and prove they are driving safely and arriving on time when they’re accused of doing otherwise.

GPS is a very powerful tool that, at the end of the day, will help you achieve a higher level of safety, savings, and service. It makes the job of your transportation department easier and more enjoyable every day.

If you think GPS tracking is something your company could benefit from, sign up for a free demonstration

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DRIVING SAFETY AND SERVICE WITH HERE COMES THE BUS

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

A look at how Synovia’s app can improve the bus riding experience.

4.19.17_Here_Comes_the_Bus.pngMany school districts experience painful budget cuts when it comes to transportation. They are forced to cut both routes and drivers, yet they are expected to pick up the same number of students. With hundreds or even thousands of students, this is no easy task. Often stops must be moved to less convenient locations. Families who in the past had door-to-door bus stops are now required to wait on a corner, blocks from home. This means children who once could stay inside until seeing the bus are now forced to wait outside for long periods of time to ensure they do not miss their bus. This situation is far from ideal for both schools and families.

As you can imagine, a situation like this usually results in very unhappy parents. They make complaints at school board meetings, and many calls to the transportation department. The school needs to stand firm, but also needs to realize they are providing less service to their customers (that is, parents and students) than before. What can a school do? 

The GPS Solution

To answer this problem, many school boards have decided to pursue a GPS solution. There are many options available to schools when it comes to GPS tracking, but one feature stands out among the rest – and it belongs to Synovia’s Here Comes the Bus app. Here Comes the Bus provides excellent customer service for schools and their students. With this app, parents are able to find the real-time location of their child’s bus, and they can receive push and email alerts when a bus is near or has been substituted. Additionally, parents can get notifications when their child gets on or off the bus, meaning no more worrying whether they’ve made it to school or back home safely. Providing families with this type of access is a great way to solve the problems that result from transportation budget cuts.

Making GPS a Success

The rollout of an app like Here Comes the Bus is critical. In a district with hundreds or thousands of students, you need a large percentage of families signed up in order to realize the full benefits of the solution. What is the key to rollout success? Simply put, it’s communication. Schools must work very hard to ensure the messaging resonates with parents and students alike. Often school districts create posters, flyers, and pamphlets that explain the benefits and provide step-by-step instructions for how to use the app. These materials should then become part of every registration package that goes out.

Another idea is to visit with parents of new kindergarteners to introduce the app. Schools often hold a meeting for these new students, and it provides yet another chance to answer questions and walk parents through set-up on the spot. Additionally, if a parent calls the transportation department with an issue or question, schools can take the opportunity to sign them up right then and explain how Here Comes the Bus prevents the same issue from happening in the future.

Don’t Just Communicate – Over-communicate

Communication can’t be a one-time event, though. One of the biggest mistakes schools can make is assuming that “if you build it, they will come.” Just because the information is made available, that doesn’t mean parents and students will read it. Instead, schools should plan on overcommunicating with the district. Each year, and all year round, provide materials explaining the system. Don’t just include them in the registration information and assume parents and students have what they need. This is especially important if the school system has a transient population. In many districts, hundreds of students come and go throughout the year, which makes the constant flow of information even more critical to get the most out of the app. Essentially, the more schools get the messaging out, the better.

More Facts. Fewer Complaints.

Ultimately, school districts should think of Here Comes the Bus as a service that they can provide to their customers. And when implementing both GPS and Here Comes the Bus, schools usually experience great changes. Information becomes all factual. For example, if a school receives a call saying the bus didn’t show up, the GPS information can be pulled up to see what happened and the schools can have the conversation based on data. This visibility, combined with the service provided by an app like Here Comes the Bus, helps create a great relationship with parents. It also means fewer calls and complaints, and a happier district all around.

To learn more about Here Comes the Bus, and other Synovia solutions, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your district. 

Download Now

WHAT CAN VIDEO SURVEILLANCE DO FOR YOU?

Posted by Christina Dieckmeyer on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 @ 10:30 AM

4.12.17_Blog_Post.pngOne recent trend in transportation is video surveillance. Many schools and businesses have installed fully integrated video surveillance in their fleets. It allows the drivers to see and capture what was invisible before. And this added visibility equates to added safety.

Eyes in the Back of Your Head

Surveillance can be particularly important for schools. Without it, drivers can struggle to watch and monitor students’ behavior while on their routes. Drivers are severely outnumbered, and need to be concentrating on the road. But bad behavior, if not corrected, can cause trouble on a bus. In the past, bullying, vandalism, and other student discipline issues would often take place and go undetected. This is no longer the case with video surveillance. Even the mere presence of the cameras can make a difference. Kids think twice about misbehaving if they understand their chances of being caught are much higher with video monitoring. And if they decide to misbehave anyway, the proof is in the pudding. There’s no getting away with it when the bus is equipped with cameras.

Video surveillance not only provides visibility into what the riders are doing, but also gives drivers a new awareness of their surroundings. For example, bus drivers must be aware of what happens after the students step off the bus. Has the student cleared the path of the bus? Or do they know what’s behind them when reversing? These unknowns are removed with video surveillance. Drivers no longer rely on the little that they can see.

Video monitoring can boost safety in other ways as well. That car that just flew by your stop arm? Video surveillance can capture the license plate. Are you unsure if all drivers are coming to a complete stop at railroad crossings? The video captured on the vehicle will give you a definitive answer. Was there an accident, and you are unclear about who was at fault? Again, video footage will show you exactly what happened and give you the answers you need.

For school systems and businesses, video surveillance provides immediate results and increased safety. At the end of the day, the “eyes in the back of your head” bring peace of mind to both drivers, and fleet managers alike.

If you want to learn more about how to maximize the safety of your fleet, download Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. It is filled with the most up-to-date fleet management information to help you increase savings, improve safety and enhance customer service. 

Download Now