Synovia Solutions Blog

Bill Westerman

Bill Westerman

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Making the Business Case for Asset Tracking

Posted by Bill Westerman on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Imagine finding out one of your Bobcats and its trailer has gone missing. This equipment is worth well over $100,000 altogether, causing instant panic. But then you remember you have asset tracking in place, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. You have a way to find exactly where your equipment is. And you significantly increase your chances of recovering your stolen assets instead of having to replace them.

This is exactly what happened to a client of ours. You can read more about the story here. Luckily, thanks to their Synovia asset tracking system they could rely on the signal from the equipment, allowing them to easily locate it. They then called the authorities with this information, and the two pieces were recovered seamlessly.

Stolen Equipment

Unfortunately, this type of scenario is all too familiar. A recent Dewalt study found that a staggering 97% of construction professionals surveyed are concerned about job site security. Even more alarming, a whopping 77% have experienced theft up to 5x per year for the last 3 years. And 50% of those surveyed have experienced theft in the last 12 months.



And it’s not just certain equipment that is at risk. All types are being targeted for theft. Below is break down of the different types of equipment stolen from jobsites.


Ultimately, these statistics prove that tracking equipment is more important than ever.

What is Asset Tracking?

An asset tracker sends out specific signals on specific frequencies. There are two basic forms: asset trackers for non-motorized equipment, and for motorized equipment.

First, tracking devices are used for non-motorized equipment such as dumpsters, portable toilets and trailers. The tracker can alert you when the property has moved outside of a pre-determined geo-fence. The tracking device sends a location signal at least 1x per day. This can also be adjusted to suit a company’s specific needs.

Additionally, asset trackers are used on motorized, complex vehicles and equipment. Examples of motorized equipment include backhoes, generators, lawn mowers and tractors. The devices send a signal every 30 seconds, at every right or left turn, and at every event. It monitors engine use hours which then can be used for things like billing.

Benefits of Asset Tracking

The benefits to asset tracking are numerous. First, as a business owner you will know the exact location of all your equipment all the time. You don’t have to ask, you know. It also allows you to keep a tighter record on the number of hours the equipment is being used. This in turn gives you tighter control over maintenance. It allows for preventative maintenance instead of costly repair work. And finally, it can lower your costs in ways you may not typically consider. As we mentioned, it can help prevent theft and lower equipment replacement costs. But asset trackers can also provide costs savings in the form of lower insurance costs.

The case for asset tracking is strong. If you’d like to experience the benefits for yourself, consider contacting us today. Let us show you what the best fleet operators are doing to track and monitor their assets.
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5 Trends Sparking Interest in GPS for Commercial Vehicles

Posted by Bill Westerman on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

How a GPS Tracking System Overcomes Common Challenges

Truck.pngMore and more companies are turning to GPS for commercial vehicles. They need to know exactly where their fleet is at any moment of the day. But what is driving their decision to implement a commercial GPS tracking system? We have identified 5 trends that are sparking a renewed interest in GPS for commercial vehicles.

#1 - The Need to Prolong the Life of Vehicles and Equipment

What is one of the most expensive aspects of your business? Your fleet of vehicles and equipment. Which means, as a business owner, you want to get the most out of each piece of equipment before replacing. Vehicle tracking systems are one way to do that. With these installed, you receive real-time data on things like usage hours, driving habits and more. You can better manage your vehicle and equipment lifecycle to determine whether it’s time to invest in new ones.

#2 – The Need to Improve Worker Safety

Another one of your biggest assets is your people. The company must ensure that employees are operating equipment and vehicles properly at all times. With a GPS tracking system, you can monitor for things like excessive speeding and reckless operating habits. You can then act on these insights to prevent any harm to your people. Or to your expensive equipment. Additionally, many companies have an emergency button installed which enables instant location information when an issue arises. 

#3 – The Upcoming ELD Mandate

Beginning on 12/18/17, a new electronic logging device mandate takes effect. Companies will be required by law to log driving time and hours of service electronically. Many companies are trying to stay ahead of the curve, and install the electronic logs, or Elogs as they’re often called, sooner rather than later.  The benefit of these systems includes a lower crash rate, and less time and manpower spent completing paperwork.

#4 – The Need for Better Theft Protection

Unfortunately, your equipment is a target for theft. In a recent Dewalt study, over 50% of those surveyed responded that they have experienced equipment theft in the last 12 months. Asset tracking can prevent this. Tracking devices can be installed on both non-motorized and motorized equipment. They then send out specific signals on specific frequencies. Non-motorized units usually send a signal at least one time per day. If you notice something wrong, this frequency can be increased to better serve your current situation. Motorized equipment send signals every 30 seconds, allowing for real-time location information.

#5 – The Need to Cut Costs to Save Money

As a business owner, you’re always trying to save money and cut costs. GPS for commercial vehicles can do exactly that. First, it allows you to reduce fuel usage. By understanding things like acceleration, harsh braking, idling and routes better you can increase your fleet’s fuel efficiency. Additionally, many times it will lead to lower insurance rates due to a decrease in accidents and the additional theft protection provided by asset tracking.  

Ultimately, commercial vehicle GPS will help maintain your vehicles and equipment safely and efficiently. It arms you with the data and insights you need to optimize usage – there’s no need to ask, you know. If you’d like to learn more, consider signing up for a demo of Synovia’s Solutions here. Let us show you how to take your fleet to the next level.  

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School Bus Video Surveillance ­– Keeping an eye on our kids

Posted by Bill Westerman on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:13 AM

Overall Video Surveillance Benefits

Video surveillance for business has been available to fleet managers for a little over a decade. Prior to that recording devices, such as VHS tape recorders, were either too large or didn’t record enough SYN-Fleet-Management-Benefits-290x226.jpgcontent to be practically feasible. But now, with the addition of digital memory storage, the price is coming down and the benefits are becoming more and more clear.

In addition to video images helping bus drivers navigate difficult maneuvers, such as backing up, or bringing clarity to what were once blind spots, video also helps to deter negative behavior and plays a crucial role in helping to settle any disputes that may arise. By acting as a neutral third party, video surveillance can reduce a company’s liability by helping to disprove incidents or back up the claims of the drivers when they are not at fault.

Alongside improved safety and reduced liability, customer service can also be greatly improved by monitoring how drivers interact with customers.

Video surveillance is a valuable tool for business, but all the benefits it brings to fleet managers can also be translated many times over for a school district’s transportation manager. After all, what holds true for drivers hauling freight should be equally true for drivers transporting children to and from school, if not more so.

In a perfect world, each and every time a school bus shifts into reverse a second person would be on the scene to help out. Most school districts actually prohibit bus drivers from backing up without a guide, and some states even have laws prohibiting it.

However, many times it’s just the driver having to rely on what little he or she can see with their two eyes, both inside their 35-foot-long vehicle and out.

Keeping an eye on the kids

Rowdy behavior, if left unchecked, can get children in trouble on the bus. Since most school buses can carry upwards of 64 students at a time it is literally impossible for drivers to keep a close eye on all of them – especially when they are also being asked to safely navigate their vehicle.

With video surveillance cameras positioned all over the interior of the bus, drivers no longer have to have eyes in the back of their heads to keep the kids in check. Children will have to think twice about misbehaving when there is sure to be video footage of anything they do. While it may be true that in certain instances you simply cannot stop children from doing questionable or dangerous things, that doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with it.

Additionally, video surveillance for school district transportation directors can help identify bullying, vandalism, student discipline problems, and driver safety issues the same way it helps business fleet managers identify how their drivers behave with customers.

Keeping an eye on the surroundings

Outside the bus, it’s equally important to keep an eye on children, both when the vehicle needs to back up and to make sure kids have safely exited the immediate vicinity after being dropped off. After all, pick-up and drop off times are when most accidents occur.

Video surveillance can also be used to capture the license plates of stop-arm violators (yes, police can indeed send you a ticket if you are caught on tape running a bus stop arm) and exterior video can be used to make sure school bus drivers come to a complete stop when encountering railroad crossings.

Video doesn’t lie

With the ability to quickly and easily download video of a particular situation, video recorders allow fleet managers to remove the “he said, she said” aspect of confrontations and allegations. Video doesn’t lie, and the burden of proof in both criminal and civil lawsuits can often be taken care of with just a simple video sample from a legitimate video recording device or system.

Safety and more

There’s a reason school buses are painted bright yellow. There’s a reason why the consequences for violating the rules of the road surrounding school buses are so dire and fines are so steep. There’s a reason why we don’t just let anyone become a school bus driver. The reason is safety. 

As the largest form of public transportation in this country, more parents trust buses with their children than any other form of transportation. They need to be as safe as possible and video surveillance is only one of the latest tools that school districts can use to make sure our youngest and most vulnerable generation make it safely to school and home again every single day.

How Exactly Does Asset Tracking Work?

Posted by Bill Westerman on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 @ 06:07 PM

Where is it? Where was it? Where is it going? These are just a few of the many questions that can be answered with three letters – G.P.S.SYN-Leading-The-Way-290x226-1.jpg

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from 24 satellites in orbit and their respective ground stations. The system is mainly funded and controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense. What’s interesting is that today we rely on satellites to provide us all this information in order to track vehicles and assets here on Earth, but originally it was earthbound humans tracking a satellite in space that led to today’s Global Positioning System.

The basics behind GPS were first discovered back in 1957 when two American physicists discovered that by tracking the Doppler effect on the Soviets’ recently launched Sputnik satellite, they could precisely pinpoint where the satellite was in its orbit.

The U.S. military designed and built the original GPS, but today there are also many civilian GPS users. Civilians are allowed to use the Standard Positioning Service without any kind of charge or restrictions, while the military now maintains its own GPS. The accuracy of the GPS signal in space is actually the same for both the civilian service and the military service. However, civilian GPS broadcasts on one frequency, while the military’s version of GPS broadcasts on two, allowing the military to perform a correction technique that reduces radio degradation caused by the Earth's atmosphere. This allows the military’s version of GPS to provide them with greater accuracy. In both cases, however, accuracy has steadily increased over the years and today, the civilian version of GPS provides accuracy within 4 meters with a 95% confidence interval.

How Synovia Uses GPS

With GPS, Synovia is able to help our clients keep track of their vehicles and assets by simply installing our tracking devices on their equipment. Our tracking devices send out specific signals on specific frequencies so we can lock in on each one individually. This allows us to track thousands upon thousands of individual vehicles and assets all across the country. 

These tracking devices come in two basic forms: one for non-motorized equipment and one for motorized equipment. Trackers designed for non-motorized equipment have an internal battery that lasts 5 to 7 years. These trackers can be used as a more basic unit for motorized equipment, but they are designed to be used with non-motorized equipment such as dumpsters, portable classrooms, portable toilets, trailers, furniture, and computer equipment.

These tracking devices automatically send a location signal at least once a day, but can be adjusted to have a signal sent as often as you need. Sometimes it’s simply overkill to have a tracker send a signal too many times in one day, but other fleet managers want constant contact – and Synovia can give it to you.

You can even adjust frequency based on the situation. At Synovia we had one instance in which a client had a Bobcat worth about $40,000 go missing, and when they contacted us we increased the number of times the tracker “checked in” to every 15 minutes. More frequent signals allowed us to track down where the Bobcat had been taken and alert the local authorities, who then retrieved the Bobcat and were able to take several suspects into custody.

You can also set non-motorized asset trackers to alert you when your property is outside a predetermined geo-fence. Positional updates will then continue every five minutes until the asset is returned.

Asset trackers can also be used with motorized equipment. These trackers are connected to your equipment’s battery and send a location signal every 30 seconds. They also monitor engine usage for maintenance or billing purposes. They are weatherproof and will recharge their internal battery whenever the asset is active – so downtime is never an issue. These trackers work for all self-powered assets, such as backhoes, generators, lawn mowers, power washers, skid steers, snow blowers and tractors.

Asset tracking is a terrific tool for businesses to use. It's like having your own personal security guard right there on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it's all thanks to two American scientists who simply wanted to keep track of a beach ball-sized satellite that was flying around in outer space.

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Next Stop: The Electronic Logging Device Mandate

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 03:27 PM

Beginning on the morning of December 18, 2017, the trucking industry will be forced to embracSYN-Fleet-Management-Benefits-290x226.jpge the future, like it or not.

That’s because on that day, drivers who used to use paper logs for tracking their time behind the wheel will be required by law to start using electronic logging devices (ELDs) instead.

What is the ELD Rule?

The ELD ruling requires commercial motor vehicle operators to use electronic logging devices to record a driver’s driving time as well as their hours of service (HOS). Typically, these devices will monitor a truck’s engine and show whether the engine is running, whether it’s moving, how many miles were driven, and how long the engine has been on. Prior to this ruling drivers would use paper logbooks to track their hours, but obviously, since it was based solely on human input, there was a possibility that the information entered may not be completely accurate.

This new ruling requires that virtually ALL commercial vehicles maintain ELDs instead of paper logs. It’s estimated that the final rule will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. Electronic logs will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement when it comes to reviewing driver records. On a more important note, it’s also estimated that the new rule will save an average of 26 lives per year and prevent an additional 562 annual injuries. 

There are a few exceptions as to who must use ELDs, although anyone may still choose on their own to use electronic logs. Those exceptions include:

  • Drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers (transporting an empty vehicle for sale, lease, or repair)
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000 

Electronic Monitoring is Not New

Fleet managers began to use electronic logging devices to record hours of service in the mid-1980s. In 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) actually attempted to reform regulations and include the use of electronic devices, but the reform was blocked. 

Then in 2010, the FMCSA published a final rule, “Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours-of-Service Compliance.” It required carriers with significant HOS violations to install EOBRs in their trucks.

There were several back-and-forth legal proceedings with the courts, but after public comment periods and approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the final version of the mandate was released on December 10, 2015.

Obviously, as a manufacturer of fleet tracking devices and software, Synovia Solutions does stand to benefit from the ruling, but so do the trucking companies who have waited until now to attach ELDs to their vehicles.

Benefits of Electronic Monitoring

While ultimately safety is the driving force behind the government’s ruling, since driver fatigue is the leading cause of large truck accidents, there are ancillary benefits of using electronic monitoring of your fleet vehicles that fleet tracking managers can make use of as well.

Once an electronic monitoring device is installed, it’s really up to the fleet manager to decide just how much information he or she wants to collect. Examples of the kinds of information Synovia’s fleet maintenance software collects include:

  • Real-time location of the vehicle or asset
  • Speed of the vehicle vs. speed limit of the road the vehicle is traveling on
  • Hard accelerating and hard stopping
  • Whether a particular asset has left a pre-set geo-fenced area
  • What route a vehicle took to arrive at a particular location
  • The amount of idling time the vehicle experienced
  • Whether a vehicle is displaying any maintenance or fault codes

The information collected allows fleet managers to review timesheets and timesheet exceptions, compare planned and actual schedules, pay accurate wages, and avoid any unnecessary overtime. In addition, by allowing drivers to clock in and out while they’re in their vehicle, fleet managers know they’re actually tracking time spent in the vehicle – rather than time drivers aren’t spending driving.

The Sooner You Comply, the Sooner You Benefit

The more you learn about electronic driver logs the more you see that not only are the nation’s highways safer with them out there, but trucking companies will also be able to benefit from their existence. At Synovia we can not only help your company comply with the new regulations, but we can also help you take your fleet tracking to the next level by monitoring vehicle performance in real time to help prevent costly breakdowns, save on fuel costs, and so much more.

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7 Tips to Keep in Mind When Choosing Fleet Management Software

Posted by Bill Westerman on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 @ 03:40 PM

The development of fleet tracking software has been a real boon for the fleet tracking industry. Now, instead of driver logs or guesswork, fleet managers can know for sure jSYN-Leading-The-Way-290x226-1.jpgust where each and every one of their drivers are. They can look at actual facts and figures and adjust their fleets accordingly. They can also better manage driver behavior, watch fuel costs, and gain a better understanding of financials.

Fleet tracking software has grown to be so popular within the industry that numerous software solutions are now available, and more seem to be popping up every day. Any fleet manager considering purchasing a software solution will want to do his or her homework before settling on one.

That’s why we’ve prepared this checklist to keep in mind as you research potential fleet tracking offerings.

#1 Size vs Platform

Just because a supplier is the biggest doesn’t mean they’re the best. This holds true in more categories than just fleet tracking. Think about it. Did they get to be the biggest by developing a strong base of happy customers year after year? A big company could be more interested in size and growth than they are in the happiness of individual customers. On the flip side, a small outfit with no history to speak of could also be just as uncertain a choice. It’s important to find not just a software platform that meets your needs but a company you’re comfortable with as well.

 #2 Do they have a good safety history?

One of the major benefits fleet tracking can provide is improved safety – for the general public as well as your drivers and vehicles. So ask yourself, who uses the platforms you’re considering? The scrutiny that goes into a school system purchasing its fleet management platform is probably a lot higher than the scrutiny a local landscaping company uses when choosing theirs. What about public entities, especially public safety clients? Do any of them use the platforms you’re considering? If so, they likely researched and reviewed the vendors and contracts with fine-tooth comb, choosing the most reputable company to do business with.

#3 How easy is their software to use?

Every software system is different. If the design and framework weren’t researched and tested thoroughly before being introduced to the market, if the user interface is not user-friendly, or if the company doesn’t invest in improving their technology, you might not want to do business with them.

Is the provider willing to let you try before you buy? If so, then they’ve probably had quite a bit of positive feedback about how easy-to-use and robust their system is, and that’s why they’re more than happy to show you how their platform performs before you make any kind of commitment. A free demo is important because some companies hope that by charging you for their demo you’ll feel pressured into going with them, as you’ve already cut them a check. If a company is eager to provide a free demo, that’s a good thing.

#4 What’s the cost?

Of course price will always be a concern. You probably have a set budget and you probably had to fight hard to get it. As with anything in life, the phrase “you get what you pay for” tends to be true. The cheapest systems may be the most difficult to learn or work with, and customer service may be lacking. Remember, for example, that if an expensive piece of equipment goes missing you want as much help as possible getting it back.

Some platforms will allow you to work with a more stripped down version of their software at first. This way you can get comfortable with the software before you decide to commit to a more expensive and robust version of their platform. A good provider will be willing to work with you to get you the most bang for your buck.

#5 Develop a list of what you need.

As we just mentioned, some systems are more robust than others. They may have bells and whistles that could benefit a very large company with hundreds of vehicles to monitor, but you may not need something like that. On the flip side, the more robust the system the more likely it will pay for itself in a shorter time span. The better platform providers will not try to force their customers into a one-size-fits-all option, but can offer their services on an a la carte basis. Develop a list of must-haves and would-like-to-haves before you go looking, and don’t settle for a platform that doesn’t meet your needs.

#6 What kind of insurance do they offer?

The 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 warrantees? 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 you'll be happy with their services.

#7 Look for flexibility in pricing.

No two companies are the same, and the same should be true for fleet tracking software contracts. Some companies prefer to pre-pay for their services up front, while others like to spread things out over a month-to-month, quarterly, or yearly basis. Government entities have their own organizational red tape they need to deal with and more leeway is probably necessary for them when it comes to obtaining funding. So try to find a provider who can work with what works best for you.

Also, because the fleet tracking industry is relatively new and software improvements tend to be numerous and frequent, you should not have to pay for technology upgrades during the term of your contract. All upgrades and updates should be included in your negotiated price.

In the End, Do Your Homework

Like with any important purchase, rushing in without fully exploring all the options is an unwise decision. Look around. Talk to people you trust. Ask for references and case studies. Finding the right provider is key to not only landing on a product that you’re happy with, but one that can provide you with the insights you’re looking for. After all, if you buy a product you never end up using because it’s either too complicated or too poorly designed, then you really would be better off having never bought the product in the first place. Sadly, you’d be missing out on the many advantages fleet tracking software can provide.

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The Benefits of Electronic Logging Devices

Posted by Bill Westerman on Fri, Oct 07, 2016 @ 05:11 PM

The History of the ELD Mandate

SYN-Fleet-Management-Benefits-290x226.jpgEver since 1938 drivers of commercial vehicles have been required to keep track of their hours of service (HOS.) The idea being that by tracking a driver’s hours you can limit the number of companies, and individuals, who stay on the road for too long. By doing this you are keeping fatigued drivers off the road and limiting the risk of serious accidents that could harm both the drivers as well as others who share the road with them. These logs have been called “paper logs.”

Accident investigators and safety advocates, however, have long complained that it's easy to change the paper logs or keep two different sets of records to evade restrictions on hours. This is why we now have a new federal mandate that will be taking effect December 18th, 2017 which will require all drivers to electronically record their hours behind the wheel, and electronic logging devices (ELDs) to be installed on all trucks built after 2000.

Those opposed to the ELDs say the companies that hire them to haul freight will be able to access the electronic logs and pressure drivers who haven't reached their limit of legally-allowed hours to stay on the road even if they want to rest.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), whose mission is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses, says that there are procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by the devices.

As a company that provides electronic fleet tracking we admittedly may be slightly biased, but we see numerous benefits of electronic logs and feel this new rule is one that will pay off for the industry and general public for years to come.

Are the Benefits Real?

On April 5, 2010, the FMCSA published a final rule that required motor carriers with significant HOS violations to install ELDs in their trucks. The final rule took effect on June 4, 2010. But then in June, OOIDA filed a lawsuit with U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit challenging the final rule and the Court cancelled the final rule.

Part of the reason for the court cancelling the rule was that the court noted that the FMCSA had not estimated the safety benefits of ELDs currently in use and how much ELDs increased compliance. So if you can’t prove that the benefits of ELDs are real, then you can’t mandate them.

2013 FMCSA Study

In 2013 the FMCSA completed and published a study on the potential safety benefits of drivers using ELD on a mandated basis. While smaller owner/operators were not included in the study, the results proved that FMCSA had been on the right track when they first sought to have ELDs mandated:

Trucks with ELDs had an 11.7% lower crash rate than non-ELD equipped trucks, and they also had a 5.1% lower preventable crash rate than trucks without ELDs.

With these figures the FMCSA estimated that by simply having electronic logging devices installed in trucks 26 lives can be saved every year and they can prevent over 560 injuries as well.

That’s each and every year.

Cost Savings

For an industry where efficiency is key to profits, ELDs are a great way to increase efficiency, as well as boost profits. Based on assumptions stated by the FMCSA, paperwork savings per driver, per year, alone are estimated to include:

  • Save $487 in drivers filling out Record of Duty Status.
  • Save $56 in drivers submitting Record of Duty Status.
  • Save $120 in clerks filing Record of Duty Status.
  • Save $42 via the elimination of paper books.

That works out to be a total of $705 per year in just paperwork savings alone – and that’s a conservative estimate. All told, the safety administration estimates the electronic devices will provide a net savings of $1 billion a year, mostly through paperwork reductions.

With fewer accidents on the road, insurance claims also go down, and costs are further reduced.

Increased Safety

While the ELD is going to be a requirement when it comes to your drivers logging their HOS, if companies institute a complete GPS fleet management system from Synovia you can up your safety and savings even more.

With a complete GPS fleet management system, you can see in real time if your drivers are driving the most efficient routes. You can also tell if there are cases of hard accelerating, or excessive idling, which can lead to increased fuel costs. Maintenance can be monitored so that vehicles get the right amount of scheduled and preventative maintenance, keeping them on the road making money.

Trucks that are in good working order also don’t break down on the side of the road, creating issues on the highway that can lead to accidents, or put your driver’s safety at risk.

Together, the right ELD tracking system and complete GPS fleet management system can keep drivers and trucks safely on the road as well as boost dollars going to the bottom line. If one of these arguments isn’t enough to justify ELDs the other sure should be.


Tags: Time and Attendance, fleet managers

Asset Tracking from Synovia Solutions

Posted by Bill Westerman on Tue, Oct 04, 2016 @ 09:32 AM

If there’s one thing businesses like to do, it’s maximize profits.

This can be done in several different ways. One of them is to maximize your uptime and minimize your downtime. If your employees are busy working, they’re busy making the company money. Another way to increase profits is to limit what your company spends. The less money that goes out the door, the more that goes to the bottom line.

With asset tracking from Synovia Solutions, you can do both.

First, let’s focus on keeping your employees working. 

When you have an asset such as a shutterstock_127728257.jpglawnmower, a backhoe, or a portable storage unit filled with equipment your employees need to do their jobs, you want that asset to be available when you need it. Because if it’s not, your employees can’t work, and they can’t make you money.

With asset tracking from Synovia you can know exactly where all your pieces of equipment are at any hour of the day. If an asset goes missing you no longer have to spend valuable employee time tracking it down, and you don’t have to have an employee sitting idle because they don’t have the equipment they need to do their job.

With asset trackers you are also able to keep a tighter record on the number of hours a particular piece of equipment may have been used, which means you can keep tighter control over maintenance. Just how long has it been since the Bobcat you use for landscaping work had its oil changed? Knowing information like this allows you to do preventative maintenance instead of costly repair work. All of this leads to increased productivity, and increased profitability.

So asset trackers can help keep employees working, and that helps keep money coming in. But the most impressive thing about asset trackers is how they can help boost the bottom line by helping to keep the money from going out.

To begin with, there is the obvious: asset trackers help prevent theft. If a company is known for putting trackers on its equipment, it’s less likely that thieves will be tempted to try to steal it. It’s also less likely that employees will “borrow” equipment from the company without approval – equipment that may just end up in the back of that employee’s garage for years to come.

It is estimated that the cost of equipment theft to companies can range between $400 million dollars and upwards of a billion dollars per year, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that only about 23% of all equipment that gets stolen ever gets returned.

With an asset tracker, if you unfortunately are the victim of theft, you won’t just know it was stolen, you’ll know exactly where your stolen piece of equipment is – and the authorities are far more likely to be able to assist in recovering your assets when you can tell them exactly where to look.

Finally, many insurance companies are willing to drop your insurance rates if you have asset trackers attached to your equipment, so there’s a cost savings associated there as well.

So why use Synovia’s asset trackers?

Since asset trackers can save you money, what makes one asset tracker different from the rest? In our case it’s the company that supplies them and supports them.

Why does Synovia say you’ll have a better experience with our trackers? The answer’s two-fold.

First of all, there’s ease of use. In the time it took you to read that last sentence you could have probably installed one of our trackers. And once they’re installed, you can begin tracking your assets right away. There’s no need to get back in touch with the company that sent them to you and ask that they, “turn them on.” They arrive at your door ready to go.

Secondly, as a customer you will also have access to our online support center, which we call the Customer Portal. Synovia’s Customer Portal lets you search for solutions, create a case, or check on the status of an existing case. You will also have access to live customer support 24/7.

Something else that we feel needs to be said about our company, is the history of the clients we’ve worked with. Because we’ve worked with so many different companies, we have the experience and knowledge to understand what customers want and expect from an asset tracking company. School systems trust us to keep track of their school buses. Construction companies depend on us to keep track of their equipment. Municipalities rely on us to keep track of their public utility vehicles.

So if you think that saving money with GPS asset tracking is something that your company might benefit from, why not ask for a demonstration from a company that shows what true customer service is? Reach out to us here at Synovia Solutions.


Tags: fleet managers

Five Things to Bear in Mind When Considering Fleet Tracking Software

Posted by Bill Westerman on Fri, Sep 02, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

As technology progresses and makes its way further and further into our daily lives, advancements that at one time might have been considered a “nice-to-have” business advantage have now become a “mu
st-have” to remain efficient and competitive.

For many companies, fleet tracking software has crossed that threshold. In order to stay competitive with other contenders in their field, or to simply protect themselves from a legal perspective, many firms have realized that by allocating a certain percentage of their budget to fleet tracking they find the service pays for itself – sometimes within a matter of months.

But is fleet tracking right for your company? Before you decide, here are five things you might want to consider. While this isn’t a complete list of considerations (what list ever is?), it should give you a better idea of whether fleet tracking for your company is more of a nice-to-have bonus or a day-to-day necessity.

#1 If you suspect you need tracking software, you probably do.

Every fleet manager has a pretty good idea as to whether his or her drivers are operating their vehicles in a manner that reflects positively on the company. So if you’re wondering whether your drivers might require greater supervision when it comes to their job, then you’ve probably already answered that question.

That said, with fleet tracking software managers can now know for sure, and adjust accordingly. If drivers are driving too fast through neighborhoods, part of the problem may be that the company isn’t giving them enough time to get the job done safely and correctly. It’s not always the drivers who need re-education.

#2 Does your industry deal with regulatory compliance?

For example, in the construction industry there are numerous rules about how many hours a worker can be on site, as well as when working hours need to come to an end (so as to not bother residents when they’re home from work, or getting ready for bed). 

The transportation industry is finding itself with newfound regulation with the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that will come into effect in December of 2017, requiring companies currently using paper log books for maintaining hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted. 

So if your industry is one where compliance hangs heavy on your fleet of vehicles, fleet management software is an easy fix to know just which of your drivers are where, and when; as well a valuable tool for maintaining a history of their driving behavior – and managing it. 

#3 “What’s it going to cost?”

Of course, this is probably the first thing most managers are going to want to know. It’s only natural. Like all companies, you’ve got a budget that only allows for so much. But have you ever considered turning the question upon yourself and asked how much it’s going to cost you to NOT have a tracking system?

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 all together 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 actually let you know in real time (as it’s happening) if your drivers are exceeding the set speed limit, and by how much, to help prevent things like this from happening.

In addition, you might want to ask yourself how much it is costing you in fuel to not have a tracking system in place. There have been reports of larger trucking companies saving upwards of $500,000 a year on fuel by simply being able to keep better track of truck idling and speeding on the road. 

In the end it’s a decision that the company will have to make, but before the answer is no, you might want to ask a potential supplier if they offer a free demonstration. If they do you’ll be able to see for yourself, for free, if there’s money to be saved that you never even knew about. Most tracking plans actually end up paying for themselves.

#4 How much does your company depend on its vehicles for profit and customer satisfaction?

Does your business model require a lot of repeat customers? If so, you should ask yourself just what would happen if any of your vehicles were stolen or out-of-service thanks to maintenance issues. National Insurance Crime Bureau figures show that 77% of equipment stolen never gets recovered.

Sure you’ve probably got insurance to cover the loss, but there’s the deductible as well as the downtime to consider when factoring any lost revenue. Would all of your customers understand, or would any of them be forced to look into working with your competition?

Also, with fleet tracking software you can keep a close eye on the health of your vehicles and with routine maintenance avoid costly repairs and extended downtime. Should the vehicle throw any fault codes you can be instantly notified, and the number of hours or miles in between routine oil changes can also be closely kept in check.

#5 What kind of timecard or payroll system do you have?

Enough about tracking vehicles. Let’s talk about tracking hours. Does the day begin for your drivers the minute they get to work and clock in? Or does the day begin the minute they get in their vehicles and actually start to do work for you? With the ability to have drivers check in when they enter their vehicles you could be saving up to 15 minutes per day per driver. That may not sound like much, until you figure five drivers per day working five days per week, at 50 weeks a year (we’ll be nice and give two weeks off for vacation) and you’re talking over 310 hours in saved time. If you pay $35 per hour that’s almost $11,000. Per year.

Must-Have or Nice-to-Have?

In the end it will finally come down to whether you really do consider fleet tracking to be a must-have or a nice-to-have business capability. Some businesses do just fine with their current fleet management. It’s only when they progress beyond the “mom and pop” stage that they really need to take a serious look at their fleet tracking system.

 But even businesses like those may one day discover that as the options out there for fleet management increase, even they might benefit from some kind of basic fleet management package – if only for peace of mind, or to get a break on their insurance rates.

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What is Commercial Fleet Tracking?

Posted by Bill Westerman on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 @ 09:35 AM


 While fleet managing has been around practically since the invention of the automobile, it’s only been since the invention of modern technologies like the cell phone and global positioning satellite that fleet managers have been able to take fleet tracking to the next level.

Modern Fleet Tracking

Modern fleet tracking is so much more than just managing the time a vehicle is supposed to leave a loading dock or parking lot and knowing what time it’s expected to arrive on the other end of its route. With modern fleet tracking software systems, fleet managers are now able to amass and manage a whole host of information about their fleet vehicles as well as driver behavior.

Beginnings In Space

The history of modern commercial fleet tracking dates back to the birth of GPS (Global Positioning System) when two American physicists, while tracking the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 satellite back in 1957, realized that by monitoring the Doppler effect on the satellite’s radio transmissions they could precisely pinpoint where the satellite was going to be in its orbit.

From that discovery evolved today’s much more sophisticated system (we’ll spare you the technological details). GPS tracking remained the property of the U.S. military until 1996, when the U.S. government realized the potential for civilian applications and President Bill Clinton issued a directive to develop a dual-use system – one for military use and one for civilians.

Historical note: It was actually President Ronald Reagan who announced in 1983 that GPS would be made available for civilian use after it was completed. This was done after the tragedy of civilian airliner KAL 007, which was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet after it had strayed into prohibited airspace because of navigational errors. President Reagan said the reason for his decision was to avoid similar navigational errors in the future.

Skipping ahead to today, you’ll find that current commercial GPS fleet tracking systems are about as similar to tracking systems of the past as current smartphones are to the bulky cellular flip phones of the past.

Modern commercial fleet tracking can use either satellites or cellphone towers to collect information about the location of a vehicle or other asset. That information is then used by fleet managers to reduce costs, improve safety, increase customer satisfaction and more. This information is drawn from a tracking device, which is attached to the company’s asset. These devices can be powered by the battery of the vehicle they are attached to, or if the item has no battery (such as a trailer) the device can be powered with batteries lasting approximately five to seven years.

The Information That Can Be Gathered

Once the tracking device is attached it’s really up to the fleet manger to decide just how much information he or she wants to collect, which makes today’s fleet management software a great asset no matter the size of your fleet. Examples of the kind of information fleet maintenance software provides today’s fleet managers include:

  • Real-time location of the vehicle or asset.
  • Speed of the vehicle vs. speed limit of the road the vehicle is traveling on.
  • Hard accelerating and hard stopping.
  • Whether a particular asset has left a pre-set geo-fenced area.
  • The route a vehicle took to arrive at a particular location.
  • The amount of idling time the vehicle experienced.
  • Whether a vehicle is displaying any maintenance or fault codes.

In addition, many GPS fleet maintenance systems also allow drivers to clock in and out while they’re in their vehicle. The information collected allows fleet managers to review time sheets and time sheet exceptions, compare planned and actual schedules, pay accurate wages, and avoid any unnecessary overtime. 

Recent Government Ruling

Along those same lines, a recent development in GPS tracking for commercial fleets was announced in December 2015, when the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted a Final Rule that they believe will “improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.”

This new ruling requires ALL commercial vehicles to maintain electronic logging devices (ELDs) instead of paper logs by December 18, 2017. It’s estimated that the Final Rule will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement when it comes to reviewing driver records. On a more important note, it’s also estimated that the new rule will save an average of 26 lives per year and prevent an additional 562 annual injuries.

The Future of GPS Tracking

But what about the future of commercial GPS tracking? It’s come so far so fast. So what’s to be expected next? That’s a bit like asking what the future holds for cell phones. Every year there seems to be faster, quicker, more powerful versions hitting the street. Just take one look at the modern smartphone and compare it with the enormous military-like behemoths of the past and it’s clear that the sky’s the limit. Information will only become more detailed and accurate, and systems are likely to become easier to use for both the driver and fleet manager, giving tomorrow’s fleet managers ever greater opportunities to streamline and improve their fleets’ overall performance.

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