Synovia Solutions Blog

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

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

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

How GPS Can Help You Make the Most of Growth in the Construction Industry

Posted by Bill Westerman on Thu, Apr 02, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

GPS for construction crewThe economic downturn that began in 2008 affected practically every industry, but the related problems in the housing market were an especially big blow to the construction sector. But this is 2015. Things are improving, especially when it comes to the housing market. And that’s good news for construction companies.

According to USA Today, contractors added 290,000 jobs in 2014, a nine-year high. Construction spending rose 9%, 6%, and 5.7% respectively in each of the last three years. Being able to hire is always a positive thing. But how can you take full advantage of the opportunities that an industry upswing presents? GPS fleet tracking is one important way to make sure you get the most out today’s economic recovery.

Reduce unnecessary fuel consumption and large equipment repairs

Saving money is a really good way to make money – the less you’re wasting, the better. But with a large fleet of vehicles and equipment, many construction companies see costs start to spiral out of control.

The data you obtain via GPS tracking will help you monitor and optimize equipment usage, leading to significant cost savings. You’ll lower costs by managing vehicle misuse and excessive idling. You’ll know when drivers aren’t operating vehicles safely and whether they’re risking costly damage. And when maintenance is needed, engine diagnostics will tell you before a minor problem turns into a major issue.

Manage larger teams with ease

A growing client list means more jobs for your team, and more jobs in different locations make growing your fleet a necessity. The logistics of managing a fleet are difficult no matter what, but as your fleet grows, the list of issues you must face increases exponentially. Managing fuel costs, regular maintenance and the location of your vehicles and equipment all become a massive chore.

The solution is data – the kind of data you get from a GPS tracking system. You’ll always know where every vehicle and every piece of equipment is located, no matter how large and ungainly your fleet may seem. A built-in battery means Synovia Solutions GPS tracking can be used on all equipment – even if that equipment isn’t powered by an engine.

The ability to manage your team and your fleet with ease, especially as it grows, will put you in great position to make the most of today’s massive construction boom. Fortunately, Synovia Solutions can help you increase cost savings, worker safety and customer service – all at the same time.

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

5 Ways Fleet Tracking Software Saves You Time and Money

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, May 27, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

synovia board v3 05

GPS tracking solutions, such as the ones offered by Synovia, provide you with the gift of information. To maximize benefits, it is important to use fleet telematics as a complete fleet management solution and utilize the information provided to guide your day-to-day actions. Below are five ways Synovia Solutions can help you reduce time and money spent managing your fleet. 

1. Decreased Fuel Consumption- Fleet management solutions from Synovia can help save on fuel costs by empowering you to monitor and subsequently manage and influence driver behavior. You can ensure your drivers are adhering to their assigned route, not burning fuel unnecessarily by taking “the long way back.” Synovia’s software can also monitor how much time your vehicles spend idling, so you’ll know if fuel is being wasted while a vehicle is parked. And by tracking driver performance, including excessive speeding, harsh braking, abrupt turning and sudden acceleration, you can make certain that your drivers operate your vehicles safely and efficiently.

2. Improved Operational Efficiency- GPS applications generate more efficient route planning and scheduling, helping you achieve noticeable cost savings. You’ll be able to consolidate routes, allowing your fleet to operate with the appropriate number of vehicles. And while most schools and commercial operations have a route planning system in place, there is no way to tell what is actually taking place out on the road without a tracking solution. For example, If one of your drivers were to stray from their assigned route, you would never know unless you actually witnessed it happening. Synovia software eliminates this uncertainty.

3. Reduced Vehicle Mileage and Wear- Every minute on the road is costly. By managing excessive braking, hard turns, speeding and acceleration, those costs can be greatly reduced. With Synovia, you can tell if a 20 mile route is taking longer than planned so you can put a stop to side trips, courtesy stops and other inappropriate use of your asset. Synovia Solutions also lets you monitor engine diagnostics. If a fault code appears, our software can inform you of the problem in real-time, helping you avoid costly repairs. What’s more, Synovia telematics gives your dispatchers the ability to see which vehicles are closest to a specific location, so they can send the nearest driver in the event of an emergency. This can be especially valuable if you are looking to better response times or avoid additional wear on high mileage vehicles.

4. More Control Over Your Payroll System- If your drivers are paid hourly and you don’t have a foolproof way of tracking their time, your payroll costs are likely higher than they should be. With Time and Attendance from Synovia, you can rest easy knowing the hours your employees log is correct. A web-based solution, Time and Attendance allows drivers to clock in and out from their vehicles rather than a central location or a paper timesheet, so you no longer have to wonder if time logged is accurate. Time and Attendance can also help you manage the number of hours employees work each week. If an employee’s hours are close to the full-time threshold, assignments can be shifted, allowing your department to avoid benefit-related expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act. In addition, Time and Attendance helps manage overtime costs, saving your department even more. And since Time and Attendance ties in directly to your payroll system, reports can be sent directly to your payroll department, drastically reducing time spent on manual data entry or re-keying information.

5. Increased Time Savings- Think about it – how much time do you spend dealing with day-to-day issues, like parents or customers calling wondering where one of your vehicles is located? All of those calls rob you of your time, forcing you to stop what you’re doing and investigate. Without GPS, you will always be in the dark. With Synovia, the light switch goes one and you’ll always know the exact location of every vehicle in your fleet, so you can take care of any issues quickly and stay focused on your daily responsibilities.

 

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Tags: fleet maintenance, route efficiency, GPS, fuel efficiency