Synovia Solutions Blog

THREE SCHOOL BUS SAFETY TRENDS WE’RE SEEING IN THE 2015-16 SCHOOL YEAR

Posted by Liz James on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

School bus safety is always top of mind for parents, bus drivers, and administrators alike. It’s thschool bus safetye same way for us at Synovia Solutions as well. We’ve identified three trends in school bus safety that have dominated the first half of the 2015-16 school year. Let’s take a look at what’s happening – and how your school district could be affected.

THREE POINTS FOR SAFETY

In November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially endorsed and recommended three-point safety belts for all school buses. In the past, the NHTSA has maintained that belt-less buses were safe, and acknowledged that retrofitting buses with belts would be costly. Their stance has now changed.

"The position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that seat belts save lives," said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. "That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus. And saving lives is what we are about. So NHTSA's policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt."

Any rulemaking effort from the NHTSA will face opposition, though. Adding seat belts to buses is an expensive endeavor. It can cost around $500 per seat on a full-size bus, meaning a total cost between $7,000 and $15,000 per bus in many cases. When school districts around the country are already strapped for cash, that investment simply may not be feasible.

The fact remains that seat belts save lives, though, and some states and school districts are moving forward despite the cost. The Rhode Island general assembly will consider a bill in its next session that would require all new bus purchases to include seat belts. The Houston Independent School District has already implemented the same requirement. In both cases the rule applies only to new buses, meaning that older buses will not be retrofitted with belts. This will increase the cost of new buses, but the burden on districts will be lighter than if older buses were also required to have belts. This is likely the safest, easiest, and most cost-effective way forward.

SHOWING NEW DRIVERS THE ROPES

School districts nationwide are having issues finding, hiring, and keeping good bus drivers. Only six percent of contracting companies this year reported that they had enough drivers (down from 15 percent just last year). This is partly because the economy is stronger than in recent years, so fewer people are seeking part-time work. This shortage is also due to heavy regulation of drivers.

The strict requirements to become a driver are necessary to keep students, as well as everyone else on the road, safe; however, these stipulations can deter people from pursuing a bus driver position. As a result, many districts are desperate for new drivers. From Minnesota to Colorado to Virginia, school districts are creatively recruiting new drivers to minimize the shortage.

It’s critical, though, that standards and training are not sacrificed in an effort to fill out a driver roster. In fact, the desperation to find drivers makes training even more important, and it’s something no district can skimp on. When a new driver isn’t properly trained, it can cause major problems.

Due to this, districts are using newer and more modern training methods to give drivers experience in a variety of situations. Advanced simulators give drivers hands-on experience in maneuvers that they may not typically encounter. They also provide a safe situation for practicing more complex training exercises, without having to worry about damage to a bus or equipment. This way an inexperienced driver can safely and quickly become proficient before he picks up a single child.

Part of that training is learning routes, and that can’t be done in a simulator. It’s important for managers to be able to monitor routes to make sure drivers are hitting their stops and driving efficiently. A tool like Synovia’s Comparative Analysis compares planned routes to actual routes using GPS tracking data. This information can be used to show new drivers where they’re going wrong, and how they can improve. If someone’s routinely missing a turn or taking the long way, they may not even know – and information is key.

KEEPING WATCH

Internal cameras have been popular for years as a way to help with discipline, both for riders and drivers. Any incident that happens on a bus is recorded and can be dealt with in an objective manner. Many districts are also adding external cameras to deal with a growing issue – other drivers ignoring bus stop arms.

According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, 70,000 vehicles illegally pass stopped school buses each day. When it happens, the bus driver’s first priority is to make sure students are safe. That means they’re not typically able to identify a license plate. As such, cameras which automatically activate when a bus’ stop arm is engaged are becoming more popular.

It’s not entirely clear whether they have much of an effect, though. One example is the Laramie County School District in Wyoming, where state law requires cameras to be installed on all buses by 2016. Although the law is well-publicized, drivers are still passing stopped buses. According to transportation director Merle Smith, the district is still seeing double digit violations on a daily basis. In other districts, though, a deterrent effect has been reported. When a district can afford them and the law permits it, external cameras are more likely than not to be a good idea.

GIVE PARENTS PEACE OF MIND

Parents can’t control what happens to their children once they get on the bus. That responsibility belongs to bus drivers and transportation administrators. As a parent, putting a child’s safety in someone else’s hands can be frightening. One way you can ease their concern is with Here Comes the Bus®.

With Here Comes the Bus, parents know exactly when their child’s bus is near, and can send them to the bus stop at just the right time. No more long waits at the bus stop, and no more missed buses. For parents, such a simple thing can mean a lot. Combined with Synovia GPS and Comparative Analysis, Here Comes the Bus is a powerful tool to keep students safe.

You’re always thinking about student safety. Keep an eye on these bus safety trends while you’re readying for the second semester. With the right knowledge and the right tools in place, you and your parents will be able to rest at ease.

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Tags: transportation directors, safety, k-12, here comes the bus, school bus

WINTER CONSTRUCTION DEMANDS VIGILANCE FOR SAFETY AND QUALITY

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 @ 09:01 AM

SYN Winter Construction Demands 290x226It’s nearly wintertime in the United States, and across much of the country that means a seasonal shift in approach for construction companies. Cold weather sets in as the seasons change, and plummeting temperatures change the game for everyone who works outdoors. As you might expect – and U.S. Census Bureau data backs up this statement – business tends to drop for construction companies. However, with changes in the economy and construction technology in the past couple decades, there is no off-season.

Your business is expected to remain active even after the first snow. Here’s how you can accomplish that, maintain quality standards – and keep your crews safe. 

EVERY DETAIL IS CRITICAL 

You’re always careful about making sure every part of every job is done right, but in cold winter weather the margins are slimmer. Any minor mistake can snowball into a major problem, and the normal ways of doing things may not cut it when the temperature dips below freezing. Because of that, it’s critical to get all the details right when you’re building in winter.

Cold weather causes many typical construction materials to act differently than they do when it’s warm out. Water in concrete will freeze, resulting in crystals forming in the mix and the dried concrete failing to reach its full strength. Masonry has the same issues, as water expands while freezing which can cause strength issues in a finished masonry project. Digging foundations is made more difficult by frost in the ground – once the frost level goes below 8-12 inches, special machinery may be needed to penetrate it. When snow or freezing rain covers building frames, it becomes impossible to apply sealants. These are just a few of the problems that winter construction can bring, and any one of them can deal a heavy blow to your efforts. 

Winter is especially taxing for vehicles and equipment, making maintenance more an issue than ever. First of all, you must prepare your own equipment for cold weather. Preventative maintenance and checks of heat and defrosting systems are a good start. It’s also important to continually monitor your equipment all season long – don’t just give each vehicle a once-over and assume it’s good to go. This is one place where Synovia can help. Our Silverlining™ suite includes real-time engine diagnostics that give fleet managers the ability to know when repairs are needed before a breakdown. Unexpected repairs are a thing of the past, and the maintenance that’s done is far cheaper.

Fuel economy also becomes a bigger issue than normal during winter. Cold weather affects efficiency in a number of ways – cold engine oil increases friction, icy roads decrease grip and waste energy, even heaters waste energy. Synovia engine diagnostics allow fleet managers to monitor efficiency and take necessary steps to save fuel. Location tracking also helps, by giving insight into whether drivers are operating vehicles efficiently and whether they’re driving optimal routes.

Additional equipment is required past your usual arsenal as well. Heavy-duty equipment may be needed to properly dig through the frost layer to lay a foundation. If inclement weather strikes at the wrong time, the frame needs to be covered for sealant application. Masonry and concrete must be kept warm throughout the whole process, and anything from heating the components to simply heating the whole work site could be called for. If wind chill is a factor, wind breaks may need to be built as well. 

PROTECTING YOUR TEAM 

Job site safety is top of mind for every project, but again, the unique conditions of winter mean extra effort must be exerted to make your team safe. Ice, snow, and cold all make the job site a bit more dangerous than it would be in the pleasant weather of spring or fall, or even the heat of summer.

Driving in winter is an issue, whether it’s a truck going from site to site or a piece of equipment moving around on an individual site. Ensuring drivers are properly trained and licensed to operate the vehicles they drive in winter weather is critical. Simply reminding workers of the dangers of icy roads and frozen job sites is important as well. 

Workers being struck by vehicles on site is a major concern, since it’s far easier to skid or lose control of a vehicle in the ice or snow. Because of this, traffic controls are just as important on a work site as they are on the road. Signs, cones, barrels, and barriers can all be used to protect drivers and pedestrian workers alike. It’s also advisable to have workers wear reflective vests when on a site with active vehicles and other equipment. Every little bit you can do to keep workers visible and protected from the equipment they work around will help

Getting stranded in a vehicle is not only more likely in icy and snowy conditions, but the cold makes it more dangerous than it would be in more pleasant weather. It’s important to train your drivers to know what to do in such situations. It’s instinct to want to seek out help, but that’s one of the worst things you can do. Drivers need to know how to stay warm, signal for help, and prevent maladies like frostbite and carbon monoxide poisoning. This way a stranded vehicle will be a temporary inconvenience, rather than something much more frightening. 

It’s also a good idea to track vehicles as closely as possible, so you know where vehicles are and can direct help to the right location without delay. A Synovia GPS tracking system gives fleet managers constant visibility into vehicle locations in real time, 24/7. Not only does this allow a manager to locate vehicles, but alerts and reports monitoring driver behavior can also help crack down on unsafe driving. This data is useful for route-building and other reporting year-round, but in winter when safety is at a premium it’s absolutely critical. 

Slick surfaces are dangerous for workers on foot as well as ones operating vehicles. Whether on the ground or on the framework of a building or on a scaffold, slips and falls are an issue in the cold. Again, training for your workers is important. Walking more carefully and wearing the proper footwear will protect against a lot of issues. Make it clear to your team that rushing will do more harm than good, and that safety is a priority over speed. It’s also important to clear snow and ice from walkways as much as possible.

PREPARATION WILL MAKE WINTER WONDERFUL

No matter what, careful planning is important before any winter construction job starts. You can’t get caught off-guard by a blizzard, with no contingencies in place. Your needs will differ based on the unique project you’re working on, but the principle – preparation – is universal.

Your business can’t afford to take the winter off. You also can’t afford to sacrifice safety or quality. With this advice and a telematics partner like Synovia, your construction company will thrive in the cold.

 

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Tags: safety, fleet maintenance, route efficiency, construction, fleet managers, GPS, fuel efficiency

School districts: As daylight fades, shed some light on bus arrival

Posted by Liz James on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 05:00 PM

November brings plenty of changes to American school districts. Leaves are falling, temperatuSYN School Districts Daylight Fades 290x226res
drop and Daylight Saving Time ends. Even though shifting our clocks back initially brings more daylight to the bus stop, it’s short-lived as we lose up to a couple of minutes of daylight each day until winter’s first day at the end of December.

Sending a child out to the bus stop can be stressful, especially over the next few months. Is the child late, or will they be waiting out in inclement weather? Are cars driving past the bus stop able to see children as clearly? Without question, getting to the bus stop too early this time of year isn’t ideal.

With these concerns in mind, let’s examine the high cost of students frequently missing the bus. Then we’ll consider how your district can help parents know exactly when their child’s bus will arrive.

Missing the bus can be costly

No parent wants their child to get to school late. However, even the best-laid plans can go awry, and before they know it the bus is here and gone, and their child is still at home. While that’s a frustrating way to start a morning, missing the bus can have far greater consequences.

The school bus is not just the safest way to get students to and from school; it’s also a school’s greatest tool to help prevent tardiness and absence. About 480,000 school buses nationwide transport more than 25 million students safely and on time every school day. A missed school bus often leads to a tardy arrival, or a missed day altogether. That can really add up.

Missing just two days a month will negatively affect a child’s academic performance. That’s chronic absence, and by sixth grade those absences become a good indicator that a student won’t finish high school. It starts off early in some cases. One in 10 students in kindergarten and first grade are chronically absent, and poor attendance can be the difference between reading proficiently and being held back by third grade.

Know exactly when the bus arrives

Fortunately, parents don’t have to choose between early and late. All they need is a tool like Here Comes the Bus® – the only app available in the U.S. that alerts parents when their child’s bus is near.

Here Comes the Bus enables parents to track their child’s bus in real-time on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. They can set up alerts to tell them when the bus is near – allowing them to choose exactly when to send their child to the bus stop. The Synovia app directly connects to the GPS tracking systems in your bus fleet, meaning it’s powered by our proprietary tracking data.

As the seasons change, parents don’t just lose daylight, or degrees on the thermometer. They lose degrees of safety for their kids once they send them out the door. They also risk tardiness or absenteeism if the timing isn’t right. When it’s something that important, every little bit counts. Protect children from danger and truancy. Make sure they get to the bus stop at just the right time – every time.

 

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Don't Wait Until Winter to Prepare for the First Snow

Posted by Bill Westerman on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 01:59 PM

It’s October, which means fall is here. In much of the country there’s a chill in the air, the leavesconstruction snow plow are starting to turn, and football season is getting into gear. But for fleet managers, the beginning of fall means more than anything else that it’s time to start preparing for what’s next – winter. There’s a lot to do. Vehicles used year-round have to be prepared for the change in weather. Equipment that’s only used in winter need to be retrieved from storage and prepared for a return to action.

You can’t wait until roads are already covered in ice and snow to change over. The process has to start now.

VEHICLE UPKEEP MEANS EVERYTHING

Winter means dangerous road conditions, which means that your fleet – no matter whether you’re managing for public works, sanitation, landscaping, or any other purpose – needs to be prepared for a struggle. Ice and snow mean more wear and tear on equipment inside and out, and without the proper care, that can lead to breakdowns. A vehicle out of commission takes an even greater importance when it means a neighborhood doesn’t get plowed, or a driver is stranded in freezing conditions.

When the weather turns, that means vehicles that haven’t been used in months are making a return to service. Snow plows, salt trucks, and other equipment all come out of storage, and it all needs to function perfectly. Proper pre-storage maintenance is critical, as is the proper storage procedure, but in October, it’s too late for that if you didn’t do it right last spring. So the work has to be done now.

The most obvious things are ensuring good traction and reliable use. Check the tread depth and wear on tires that have seen some use. Cold weather deflates a tire, so check tire pressure and make sure they’re properly inflated. Make sure the four-wheel drive is functioning, if applicable. And if necessary, change to snow tires or put on chains. Do a full engine check, and replace fluids like oil and antifreeze if needed. Check the charge on all batteries, and make sure fuel tanks remain at least half-full as it helps prevent residue from freezing in fuel lines.

The exterior is also critical to maintain. Check the windshield for any minor chips or cracks, as temperature changes can turn them into major problems. Visibility is an issue in bad weather, and slushy and salty conditions wreak havoc on a windshield – so check and replace windshield wipers if necessary, and always keep washer fluid well-stocked. Also, make sure front and rear defrosters are functioning, as well as mirror defrosters if you have them. A coat of wax will help prevent damage to the vehicle’s body from snow and salt, as will regular cleanings – especially of the undercarriage, where much of the contact between the elements and equipment happens.

This can’t be a one-time thing, either. It’s critical to keep track of how your fleet is handling harsh winter conditions on a regular basis, with frequent and detailed maintenance. Fault code monitoring and engine diagnostic tools give you a constant view into what is and isn’t working, and will help prevent your drivers from ending up stranded in the ice and snow.

PUT SAFETY FIRST

Even the best planning can go awry, though. Smart maintenance and the information you get from engine diagnostics will minimize problems, but a battery can fail at any time, and even a good driver can hit a patch of dark ice and end up on an accidental off-road adventure. And that’s not to mention what the other drivers on the road can do. In winter, anything can happen, and that can leave a driver or a team stranded and in need of help. Preparation is key.

Have a plan in place in case a vehicle is wrecked or otherwise stranded. Your fleet should have towing capacity, or if that’s not feasible, build a relationship with a towing company that you know is reliable, able to handle the types of equipment you use, and able to handle the elements. Additionally, it’s important to have a way to locate your vehicles. Detailed route information is one way – knowing where your individual vehicles might be is a great start to finding them. An even better way, though, is precise and granular GPS tracking of each and every piece of equipment in your fleet. With GPS, as soon as you get a call about an incident, it’s easy to know exactly where your people are, and what’s the fastest way to get there.

It’s cold, it’s icy, it’s dangerous. Don’t leave your drivers stranded through lack of planning.

KNOW YOUR ROUTES DOWN TO THE INCH

No matter what your vehicles are doing once they get to the site, fleets of all kinds benefit from having better routes to follow. That’s true in all weather, but particularly when ice and snow enter the equation. With the elements already making every mile a little more taxing on engines and transmissions and more. Because of that, efficiency is key. The less your vehicles are on the road, the less likely it is that they’ll be damaged. Additionally, for plowing speed matters. The longer it takes, the more time citizens and community residents have to drive on dangerous roads, and the greater the chances that an accident can happen.

It’s also important to conserve resources as much as possible. Fuel and time are always at a premium, and that’s amplified when the weather gets rough. But when you’re salting roads as well, you also have to make sure that you’re not wasting an expensive – and very limited – resource. Ensure that vehicles are taking the most efficient routes, and that you don’t have roads getting salted more than once unnecessarily due to route mixups. GPS tracking tools give you the ability to make sure the routes you plan are the most efficient ones possible, and that your drivers are actually following them.

It’s especially important to assess planned routes if there have been major changes to local roads since last winter. Perhaps a new neighborhood means increased traffic in a previously-empty area, or road expansion and construction means getting from one place to another takes a totally different approach. Planning now means not only that the first snow can be dealt with, but also that if more and larger roads require more vehicles and more supplies, they can be acquired now rather than rushed into service at the last minute.

Where possible, all routes should also be inspected ahead of time, and whatever steps are available to prepare the route for plowing and salting should be made. This will likely be easier for corporate campuses and neighborhoods and other private areas where government money doesn’t need to be obtained, as it can be done more quickly. Fix potholes. Level raised manhole covers. Make note of any obstructions like speed bumps that need to be avoided. Find and mark all utilities and emergency equipment and anything else that has to be reachable. Look at where plowed snow is going to end up, and plan routes that prevent blockages in crucial places.

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE

All of this applies to any fleet that operates in winter weather, no matter what the circumstance. Many are municipal fleets, but private fleets also have winter work to do. If you’re a landscaping company, for example, you may need to be able to get out to neighborhoods and businesses to help clear trees felled by ice, or to do plowing on streets that aren’t under governmental purview. No matter who’s paying the bills, things like route efficiency, safety, and maintenance are critical when the weather turns. Take steps now to prepare, and don’t get left out in the cold.

 

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Sources: 

http://trucks.about.com/cs/winterizing/a/winterize_truck.htm

http://www.truckinginfo.com/article/story/2012/11/getting-your-work-truck-ready-for-winter.aspx

https://www.meyerproducts.com/header-nav/news-blog/october-2013/how-to-prepare-your-snow-plow-crew-and-have-the-be

http://landscapesolutionsllc.com/blog/winter-is-coming/

http://www.tyrepress.com/2014/10/ats-gears-up-for-winter-switchover-for-fleets/



Tags: fleet maintenance, equipment repairs, fleet managers, GPS

LEADING THE WAY: Jon King takes Synovia Solutions forward

Posted by Bill Westerman on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:25 AM

Jon King doesn’t stop. You wouldn’t know it to talk to him – the CEO of Synovia Solutions is aSYN Leading The Way 290x226 calm and considered man, speaking only after taking a beat to think and choose just the right thing to say. But in his work, King is constantly moving, and that’s just the way he likes it.

“If I’m going to work, I want to do something where you can impact change quickly,” King said. “I’m an action-oriented person, I like to look at things and analyze things, make a decision and get on with it.” 

That active style is something that he’s brought to Synovia since his arrival in 2011. He’s the kind of executive who’s not only participating in the actual business of his company, but who you’re excited to see involved in new projects. That’s not just because of his years of experience. It’s because the things Jon King gets involved in tend to be successful. 

ACTIVE LEADERSHIP, INSIDE AND OUT

King’s somewhat of an expert in management, both of a business as a whole and of people who work there. Part of that comes from a career that’s spanned a number of industries, businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, and a tour of military service. He’s experienced all kinds of different styles, and he’s worked in management at all levels since early in his career with Xerox. 

“The first management job I had, I was no more ready to lead ten people than I was to land a man on the moon,” King said. “I learned lessons that have stayed with me throughout my whole career, and I’m thankful every day for the time I spent there.” It’s easy to see why. Today in addition to his work at Synovia, King is a guest lecturer at Butler University, IUPUI, and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

King also learned about the importance of direct involvement in a team or a company you run, and along with his natural tendency toward action, it leads not only to an active internal role, but also to hands-on interactions with customers. “If you buy a piece of software and you don’t know how to use it, it’s worthless, a waste of money,” King says. And that’s why training users is a critical part of Synovia’s sales and service process. “It’s pretty obvious, but it’s not as widespread in its application as you might think. At the end of the day, if we don’t make it happen, they won’t get all the value that they’re paying for.” 

That training isn’t something that gets handed off to an outside firm, or an online walkthrough. Synovia senior management – including Jon King himself – meet with top clients face-to-face twice yearly to review in-house training, software usage, and any other training and functionality issues a client may have. Clients know that Synovia buys into their success because the executive team buys into them. 

GROWTH THROUGH INNOVATION

That emphasis on openness means that Synovia has an ability to change and a flexibility that you just don’t often see in a corporate setting. King has the experience to know what works, know what doesn’t work, and build on that. In just a few years under King’s guidance, the pricing model Synovia Solutions – and now the industry as a whole – offers to school districts has been totally revolutionized. King has also helped to build partnerships with companies to get software to market faster, and he shepherded the debut of the game-changing Here Comes the BusTM website and app for parents, students, and schools. All major changes, and all have fueled the growth that Synovia has seen in recent years. 

The major source of that growth has been in school bus fleet management, in large part because of those innovative changes. The now-abandoned previous pricing model put a significant burden on the client, with large up-front charges that increased with the size of the fleet. Schools simply couldn’t afford it. Business wasn’t growing. So a change, spearheaded by King, was made. “You’re buying a service from us,” King said. “At the end of the day you’re buying information from us. We’re not a hardware provider, we’re an information provider.” So having clients pay for hardware didn’t really make sense.

Now rather than a large up-front fee, there’s no up-front costs at all. Schools pay only a monthly subscription per vehicle. Synovia changed how the product went to market, and also added partnerships with Verizon for data transmission and Blue Bird Corporation, who wanted to associate their new GPS accessory with a trusted brand. “It was a perfect marriage,” King said. “That model was embraced by the market, and it changed the whole paradigm.” 

Synovia’s growth in the K-12 market has been powered not only by those changes, but also by purely new innovation. The Here Comes the Bus app is part of the crest of that wave. “It’s another differentiator for us in that space,” King said.

Here Comes the Bus is a totally different thing from what other competitors are offering to schools, and that makes it a massive difference-maker for Synovia. But it’s not just the app itself that is making a difference – it’s the app’s audience.

NEW MARKETS, NEW CUSTOMERS

Until Here Comes the Bus, all of Synovia’s services have been aimed at businesses, not at individual consumers. But since Here Comes the Bus is an app for parents, rather than for school administrators, it’s a new audience for Synovia’s products. “It’s educational, we’re learning, but at end of the day we think it’s going to be a game changer on several fronts,” King said. It’s just another reason for schools to want to work with Synovia, and for the schools that work with us to continue to do so for years and years. “In the world we live in today, where security and safety are even more important to parents, it’s big,” King says, as it acts as part of a holistic set of tools for schools and parents to make sure kids get to and from school safely every day. 

That new experience for Synovia is part of what Jon thinks will help the company as it expands its role in other fleet management verticals. “The biggest opportunity [for Synovia] is in the private sector, in the specific verticals that don’t require changes to our technology,” King said.

King envisions identifying the private fleets that can use GPS technology and software to the greatest level of effectiveness and developing game-changing products and services for them to mirror the success of Synovia’s K-12 vertical. 

Sectors like construction fleet management are the next big targets for Synovia Solutions, and specifically King thinks that concrete and cement transportation are specific disciplines where Synovia can do a lot of good. It’s critical for vehicles to be able to make it from the mixing site to the construction site before the material sets, and GPS tracking allows fleet managers to plot the most efficient routes to guarantee that material isn’t lost needlessly. “That’s a big opportunity and we’d like to think we can provide a solution,” King said.

New growth has to be managed intelligently, though. When pushing Synovia forward, scalability was top of mind for King. That’s part of what prompted his search for partnerships in the K-12 sphere. “We were never going to have a sales organization big enough to get to the market quick enough,” King said.

Balancing growth against smart investments in infrastructure, and building partnerships to cover gaps rather than spending big to fill them, all fit together as part of an intentional strategy. “To [manage growth carefully] with a small business is extremely critical because you don’t have an unlimited checkbook,” said King.

When a company enters into a partnership with Synovia, whether as a client or as a service provider, you’re working with a company that reflects its chief. Expect action, expect innovation, and expect success. Expect that, like Jon King, Synovia Solutions will not stop.

 

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Tags: here comes the bus, construction, fleet managers, GPS

The 2015 State of the Beverage Industry Report. One sip at a time.

Posted by Bill Westerman on Mon, Oct 05, 2015 @ 11:36 AM


SYN State Beverage Industry 290x226From alcoholic beverages to energy drinks and even water, the beverage industry is doing quite well these days. Consumer trends such as healthier living, increased taste expectations, and a growing distrust of artificial ingredients are forcing greater innovation in product development across the board, which also blurs category lines.

Non-alcoholic drinks see big spikes 

Water According to the 2015 State of the Beverage Industry Report, national water consumption has increased by over 68 million 8-ounce servings in just a year, due in part to healthier lifestyle trends. Still, bottled waters account for the majority of sales, but sparkling water is fastest-growing segment and will continue to be so.

Juice Again, healthy lifestyles are driving this trend. The refrigerated juice and juice drink smoothies segment grew to more than $842 million, with Naked brand as a top performer. Coconut water is another healthy bright spot, doubling its sales every year since 2004.  Finally, Capri Sun showed a 26% increase in sales over the previous year.

Sports drinks Not just for hard-core athletes any more. In fact, this category’s traditional market is steadily declining, while more casual sports drink consumers is increasing. Nearly 50% of surveyed consumers aged 18-24 choose sports drinks when they are not working out. 

Protein drinks Another category that is seeing the positive impact of changing consumer attitudes, the ready-to-drink protein drinks market grew by newly 24 percent in 2014.

Energy drinks Yes, the overall energy drinks category was up 6.9 percent last year, but that pales in comparison to the double-digit increases experienced in years past. To appeal to health and taste conscious consumers, this category needs to innovate, and it knows it.  One example is developing energy drinks that are made with USDA-certified organic ingredients

Soda Still a leader, carbonated soft drinks face several challenges and decreasing sales show it. To appeal to the health and taste-oriented markets, this category is innovating with smaller portion sizes, using natural sweeteners, and through craft sodas. Much like craft beers, craft sodas give consumers something trendy, with greater variety, including flavors, kosher, gluten free, organic, vegan and variety packs.

Tea Consumer desire for convenient, better-for-you beverage options will continue to drive double-digit growth, especially as canned and bottled teas increase their presence in convenience stores and vending machines.

Dairy alternatives The U.S. drinking milk market is expected to decrease 2% annually, while dairy alternatives are expected to grow 52 percent over the next four years. When you consider the growth of almond milk and coconut milk, and the interest in fiber-based milk, this expectation seems highly realistic.

Alcoholic beverages. Changing of the guards.

Spirits “Brown is back; it’s the whiskey renaissance” declared Danny Brager, senior vice president of alcoholic beverages at New York-based Nielsen. “Over the past four years or so, whiskey has now replaced vodka as the No. 1 sub-category…”

Wine The market preference is changing here as well. While wine sales are up, champagne shows the most significant change. Nearly half of those surveyed, age 25 to 34, reported drinking sparkling wine or champagne at home.

Beer Gone are the days of the cheap 6-pack, as more consumers buy imports and craft beers. Domestic beers are capitalizing on this movement, adding super-premium sub-brands.

Distribution technology trends. GPS helps competitors gain ground.

Throughout the course of a day, a delivery driver will make a multitude of stops while racking up the mileage quickly. So when trying to increase service while cutting costs, wouldn’t having the most information possible make the most sense?

Tracking Delivery Routes

By utilizing GPS tracking services such as Synovia Solutions, delivery routes can be mapped and tracked, then fine-tuned to the smallest details. This offers all sorts of benefits:

  • Pinpoint the safest routes for your drivers

  • Decrease the chances of accidents

  • Limit lost or damaged goods

  • Greater accuracy for delivery time

  • Increase customer satisfaction

  • Increase cost efficiency

Safeguarding Your Fleet—and Time

GPS solutions do more than tracking. Engine diagnostics can lead to greater fuel efficiency, less vehicle downtime, and longer vehicular life. Time and Attendance can eliminate time-consuming, inaccurate paper time sheets and click in devices. 

See For Yourself

We offer a free, no obligation trial. If you decide we’re exactly what your company needs, we’ll get you started with no upfront costs. 

To learn more about Synovia Solutions, visit www.synoviasolutions.com or call 1-877-796-6842.

 

 

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Sources: http://www.bevindustry.com/articles/88556-state-of-the-beverage-industry-report

Tags: Time and Attendance, beverage distribution, GPS

Stay ahead of the curve: Synovia Solutions helps offset rising fleet costs

Posted by Bill Westerman on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 @ 05:14 PM

As a fleet manager, keeping your vehicles and drivers safe is a primary concern, especially with accident management costs risingSynovia Solutions Saving Money 5% from 2013 to ’14.

The fact is, companies are now paying more to get their vehicles back on the road. There are a variety of reasons for this, such as technology installed in vehicles and the use of alternative manufacturing materials like aluminum, carbon fibers and plastics. Because of this, more parts need to be replaced rather than repaired and those repairs require more sophisticated equipment. Even safety features have caused a spike in repair costs in recent years; air bags, sensors, and seat belt retractors can add thousands of dollars to an accident repair job.

How GPS tracking can help

As the price of repairs continues to rise, fleet managers are taking notice and looking for ways to avoid costly accidents. GPS Tracking technology from Synovia Solutions can help you protect your fleet and minimize repair costs.

With our GPS, fleet managers can track vehicles, map routes, and create more meaningful traffic reports. By using this information, fleet managers can more accurately account for their vehicles and reduce risks to their fleet.

Fleet managers can also review the driving habits of their employees, so you’ll know who is driving safely or not. By having the safest drivers on the road at all times, you’ll limit the chance of an accident, lower repair and insurance costs.

Keeping your fleet in top-driving shape can also increase safety and decrease repairs. Our Engine Diagnostics feature allows you to be proactive about fleet maintenance, instead of reactive. You’ll know in real-time when a vehicle needs some work, or is due for maintenance. This helps you better manage your fleet, and keep you from getting caught off guard by repairs.

But that’s not all you can do. Through Engine Diagnostics, you’ll know how many miles per gallon your fleet gets, and how to improve fuel efficiency. You can even set regular reports so you can review components like engine hours and fuel usage. 

Should a truck break down, GPS tracking makes it easier to find, reach, and replacing. Helping you keep your delivery schedule—and satisfied customers. 

Start reducing fleet management costs today. 

Getting started with Synovia Solutions is simple. We offer a free, no obligation trial so you can experience the benefits first hand. We’ll send you a device to plug into your vehicle so you can starting learning how to view vehicle locations, engine idle time, speed, driver behavior, diagnostics, and more in real time.

After you decide Synovia Solutions is right for you, we’ll provide installation on your entire fleet with no upfront costs. To learn more about Synovia Solutions, visit www.synoviasolutions.com or call 1-877-796-6842.

 

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Sources: http://www.automotive-fleet.com/channel/safety-accident-management/article/story/2015/07/accident-management-cost-continue-modest-increases.aspx

Tags: fleet maintenance, route efficiency, fleet managers

5% Guarantee: You save 5%. Or we pay 25%.

Posted by Bill Westerman on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 09:24 AM

Managing a fleet of 75 or more vehicles can be a cumbersome and costly task. Synovia SolutSYN 5 Percent Guarantee 290x226ions can make your job more time and cost efficient, and we have the guarantee to prove it.

Here’s how our 5% Guarantee works:

To get started, customers are asked to record up to a 60-day baseline for fuel consumption and payroll inefficiencies.

Then, you’ll start using GPS tracking from Synovia Solutions. When you do, we fully expect you’ll see some meaningful improvements such as:

  • Reduced fuel consumption by limiting engine idle time
  • Improved driver behavior
  • Reduced excess mileage
  • Reduced vehicle wear and tear
  • Improved customer service
  • Increased number of calls in a day (depending on industry)
  • Reduced payroll inefficiencies
  • Smoother processes

In addition, our seasoned sales professionals have lots of savings tips and ideas.

If monthly audits from Synovia Solutions don’t show a 5% savings on fuel consumption or payroll over the first 12 months of use, you get 25% off your invoice for the balance of the term.

Get started with Synovia Solutions

To experience how Synovia Solution can make a difference in your business, we offer a free, no obligation trial. If you decide we’re exactly what your fleet needs, we’ll get you started with no upfront costs.

To learn more about Synovia Solutions, visit www.synoviasolutions.com or call 1-877-796-6842.

 

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Tags: transportation directors, fleet maintenance, fleet managers, GPS, fuel efficiency

Here Comes the Bus® Makes Customer Service Easier and Smarter

Posted by Liz James on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 04:47 PM

here comes the busWhen a bus comes early or late, it’s a major issue for parents and for students. If it’s early, a child is more likely not going to be ready in time and will probably end up missing it. If the bus is late, waiting for it can be dangerous for students due to extreme weather conditions. Either way, a bus that’s not on schedule can throw a wrench in the works for a parent’s day, and make a child’s morning miserable. And it can mean angry phone calls or emails for administrators and staff to deal with. 

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Giving parents more information – and having that information for yourself as well – can solve a lot of problems before they happen. And if a bus schedule does go sour, you have the tools at your disposal to solve the problem, and to explain to parents exactly what happened.

What’s Here Comes the Bus?

Here Comes the Bus is the only mobile device app available in the United States that alerts parents that their child’s bus is near. It launches nationwide for the start of the new 2015-16 school year. It offers two levels of access – basic and full. With basic access, parents can see the real-time location of their children’s buses on the Here Comes the Bus website on any device for no charge. Full access includes that, as well as a smartphone app, email alerts and push notifications, historical information, and an adjustable alert radius so they can decide when they’re notified that their child’s bus is near. 

How can Here Comes the Bus help with customer service? 

According to Suzanne Rothenberg, director of public relations and community outreach at the MSD of Decatur Township in Indianapolis, improving customer service is one of the main benefits of Here Comes the Bus. “From the district point of view, we want to focus on the positives – improving customer service, safety and communication with parents,” Rothenberg said. 

When parents know the exact location of their child’s school bus, they’re less likely to need to call. When a parent calls transportation, it’s usually for one of two reasons. Either the bus is late, and the parent wants to know where it is and when it will arrive, or the bus already came and the parent wants to vent their anger since their child missed the bus. Here Comes the Bus gives you the ability to help parents help themselves.

Utilizing Core GPS tracking and Comparative Analysis from Synovia Solutions, Here Comes the Bus allows parents to see where the bus is with pinpoint accuracy. With full access, they don’t even have to remember to check – parents will be automatically notified when their child’s bus enters a certain perimeter, so they’ll know when to be ready. 

If a parent, for whatever reason, still needs to call, it’s much easier to answer a question quickly and correctly. If a bus isn’t where it should be, a staff member can simply take a screenshot of GPS data and email that to the parent. According to Scott Denton, assistant superintendent for Durham Public Schools, “The ability to do this has curbed the number of what we refer to as repeat callers…those parents who tend to find a reason to call every day about a particular bus.” Denton says that Here Comes the Bus was able to placate even some of the “most vocal critics” of drivers. 

Here Comes the Bus will reduce the number of phone calls, and make it easier for you to respond to the ones you still get. No matter what way you look at it, the app delivers for parents and administrators alike.

Interested in Learning more about Here Comes the Bus? 

Contact Us

Tags: safety, k-12, here comes the bus, school bus

Synsurance™ Ensures Your Success with Fleet Management Technology

Posted by Bill Westerman on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 @ 01:40 PM

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For most fleet managers, implementing a GPS tracking system isn’t a matter of choice. Rather, it all comes down to budget. And since many GPS-technology providers require a sizable upfront investment just to get started, it’s no wonder so many fleet management professionals are forced to forego the benefits of a proven fleet management system.

At Synovia Solutions, we decided to solve the cost and service-related issues that keep so many fleets from adopting GPS tracking technology by introducing Synsurance™. 

Available exclusively from Synovia Solutions, Synsurance is an all-inclusive, turnkey service plan that represents the ultimate in customer protection. With Synsurance, there are no upfront costs, so you can start experiencing the safety, savings and service benefits associated with Synovia Solutions GPS tracking technology right away. The program also includes performance guarantees (we pay if we don’t perform) that will also ensure success.   

With Synsurance, you get: 

No Upfront Costs

With Synsurance, there is no need to delay the implementation of fleet telematics due to budgeting or appropriations hurdles because it costs absolutely nothing to get started. 

Everything You Need to Track Your Fleet 

Synsurance provides all that is necessary to begin using Synovia Solutions GPS tracking technology, including hardware, software, installation, implementation, maps, hosting, replacement spares and more.

Price Protection

Choose Synsurance and your service plan is guaranteed not to increase in price for the entire length of your service agreement. In addition, you will never pay any hidden or extra costs – guaranteed.  

A Comprehensive Hardware Warranty That Never Expires

Every Synsurance service plan comes with a hardware warranty that lasts the duration of your service agreement. If Synovia Solutions-supplied vehicle hardware fails to perform, you’ll receive a replacement at no cost to you. 

Exceptional, Highly-Accessible Customer Support

With Synovia Solutions, you can track your fleet using an intuitive dashboard, complete with unlimited access to live customer support, online training, educational videos and on-site assistance as needed.

99% Uptime Guaranteed or We Pay

Should you experience downtime relating to the functionality of your software, Synovia Solutions will get you back up and running within four hours or you will be credited one day’s charge for your entire fleet.*

First Occurrence Fix or We Pay

Any support call you make related to Synovia Solutions software is considered a first occurrence until it is resolved. If the same issue requires another support call within the next 30 days, you will be credited one day’s charge for your entire fleet.

2% Spares on Site with Spare Replacement within 48 hours

If a piece of hardware fails, you’ll have the ability to replace it with a spare unit immediately. Afterward, just send us the defective unit and receive an additional spare within 48 hours.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Benefits

Because all Synovia Solutions GPS tracking tools are built on Silverlining™, our user-friendly web-based SaaS platform, we host the entire solution for you. What’s more, all software updates and upgrades are included. 

Flexible Payment Options

Pay monthly, quarterly, yearly or pre-pay and receive a discount. Government entities can take advantage of special municipal terms that allow for the cancellation of a Synsurance agreement without penalty if necessary funds are not appropriated.**

Synsurance – the simple, all-inclusive solution

With a highly scalable and affordable service plan, many Synovia Solutions’ customers have found Synsurance to be self-funding within 90 days! Contact Synovia Solutions today to learn more.

 

* An extraordinary event involving our data carrier would not qualify for this credit

** 36 or 60-month term agreement required 

 

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Tags: transportation directors, fleet managers, Synsurance