Trailer Load Balancing

Trailer Load Balancing

Trailer Load Balancing For Safety

Trailer load balancing is important to understand because it is crucial to achieving a properly loaded trailer.  We have all seen an overloaded trailer rolling down the highway at some point. Tree trucks, roofing materials, carpets, rock or tile and large boats all come to mind for unsafe trailer loading.  Always remember, balance will make a huge difference in vehicle safety and stability and the end result is a safer, more comfortable ride.

 

Be safer by training employees to ensure properly loaded trailers.

Unbalanced loads are listed as the #3 towing risk according to the popular website How Stuff Works.  The #1 towing risk cited is swaying.  Sway primarily happens because of poor trailer load balance, so if you plan to tow, learn what you need to know about trailer load balance before you load.

 

Trailer load balance with Sherp

Fleetistics Sherp Properly Loaded on Trailer

 

This dramatic video shows the importance of properly trailer load balancing. The effect of placing the majority of the load behind the trailer axle can dramatically impact handling. One might think that putting the load forward of the trailer tires would spread the load between the trailer and the truck but the impact on steering handling is a dangerous consequence.

 

The video is great continuing education content and is only a few minutes long. It is a real eye opener to the impact of improper loading. At the same time you can review trailer inspections, tongue weight, DOT regulations and maintenance.

 

Learn more about GPS trailer tracking

For Crying Out Loud!  Where Can I Charge My EV NOW?

For Crying Out Loud! Where Can I Charge My EV NOW?

I need to know now!  Where Can I Charge My EV?

One of the biggest fears associated with a fleet deployment of electric vehicles is what will happen when things do not go as planned.  In other words, what if the unthinkable happens?  What if my driver needs to charge while on the road?  What’s more, what if my driver is far from familiar locations, facing a deadline?

The last thing you want your drivers asking is “Where can I charge my EV now?”

One of the greatest things about living in the 21st century is Crowd Sourced Open Data Initiatives. These are projects like Open Street Maps or Wikipedia, where individuals just like us contribute what they know to the greater community.  This allows the project to amass a great deal of usable data and serve it back to the public on the web.  In most cases, they will suggest users volunteer donations, rather than charging any user a fee.

Open Collective is providing the solution to “Where can I charge My EV?” through the Open Charge Map Initiative.

When you visit the site you will find it easy to navigate.  You are able to add the charging stations you have found, or search the map for a charging station near your location.  You can even check the map first, and plan your route based on the availability of charging stations along the way.  Information about the budget, expenses, and donations received are easily accessible on their project page at Open Collective as well.

It took me less than 5 seconds to find 2 charging stations!

Open Charge Map
Both stations are just across the highway from our corporate office.  Just click on the green charging station icons.  That will open a window with all of the details for what kind of chargers are available.  There is even a section to add details or comments if there is some detail you want to add.
Open Charge Map Charging Station Details
Now that your fears about finding a place to charge are put to rest, it is time to evaluate what fossil fuel vehicles to replace and what EV to replace them with.  That is the subject of an upcoming post on tools to evaluate, based on your current vehicle use, what are the logical choices for your fleet.

Are you using all of the resources that can take your business to the next level?

Navigating US Road Conditions and Gridlock

Navigating US Road Conditions and Gridlock

Gridlock is Slowing Us Down

Road conditions and traffic congestion or gridlock are a major factor that affects punctuality, productivity, and safety.  Unfortunately, driving in less than ideal road conditions, and stopping to wait in gridlock is something we must live with.  In any case, awareness helps us to avoid some of the worst situations and better cope with the rest.

Can We Eliminate Gridlock?

We all encounter it and we all hate it, but can anything be done about it?  Texas A&M recently released its annual Urban Mobility Report. It explains some of Road conditions - Gridlockthe WHY and offers a long list of potential remedies to avoid gridlock.  It is clear there is no one solution, but many small things that can be done to impact this problem plaguing metropolitan commuters and fleets.

What are some things a business can do?   Both small and large businesses can use remote workers where practical.  Another idea is to schedule services for off-peak travel hours by offering incentives to customers for scheduling their service in those off-peak hours. These simple measures are just starting points.  The Big Data that is available through the efforts of companies like Geotab, can be used to better understand and prevent the ongoing gridlock in the US.

 

Road conditions - pothole

Road Condition in the US

According to The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report, pavement condition in the US has continued to decline over the years.  Some states do better than others when it comes to filling potholes and repairing deficient bridges.  It is interesting that the dollars we spend on construction projects to improve road conditions do not always correlate to the percentages of improvement achieved.

Heavy Duty Trucking, commenting on the report, posted, “The percentage of urban interstate mileage in poor condition increased in 29 states with one-third of the nation’s urban interstate mileage in poor condition being concentrated in just five states: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, and New York.”  “Massachusetts ranks low in the overall rankings but shows the nation’s lowest traffic fatality rate, while South Carolina reports the highest.”

 

Highway Safety

Safety awareness and training are key to every driver coming back safe every day.

There is a wealth of information available on highway safety in the US.  This information is provided by safety experts, insurance organizations, and fleet technology providers.  Understanding the safest and most dangerous places along your routes can save lives.  Here are a few resources you may find helpful.

Bad Weather = Poor driving conditions creating gridlock.

Snow and ice create a dangerous combination.  They cause causes accidents and endless gridlock.  Knowing when to avoid dangerous weather saves time, lives, and expensive commercial vehicles.  You can add forecast weather service to your GPS tracking easily. MyFleetView allows you a 30 day trial of our weather services.  The map displays where your vehicles are in relation to the weather conditions  and weather related roadway threats you select.  See how below.

Weather - Watches and Warnings

Weather – Watches and Warnings

Northeast Roadway Threats Overlaid on Watches and Warnings

Northeast Roadway Threats Overlaid on Watches and Warnings

Adding current and forecast weather to your MyFleetView map is easy!  Start your 30 day trial today!  Here’s how.

4 Steps to Adding Services

4 Steps to Adding Services

Adding Services step 1

Adding Services step 1

Adding Services Step 2

Adding Services Step 2

 

 

Vehicle Cameras for Fleet Management

Vehicle Cameras for Fleet Management

Vehicle cameras are becoming more and more popular as a fleet management tool.

Rosco vehicle cameraAs with any new tool, it takes time to understand the best ways to leverage camera use on your fleet vehicles.  When selecting and setting up your vehicle camera system, managing consumption to avoid data overage needs to be considered. Ask yourself some questions when you begin.  What information will be most beneficial to you in video format? How do you plan to use it? Who will be responsible for reviewing it?

There are several different types of camera systems, designed for different purposes, and it is important to select the system that will record and deliver the specific type of video record you need.  No longer are cameras just a risk management measure to have a record in case of an accident.  Forward-facing cameras monitor the road and potential hazards in front of the vehicle.  They can stand alone, or be used with peripheral cameras.  Some systems also have an interior view of the cab to record what the driver is doing.  Adding side, rear, and cargo area cameras can provide valuable information as well as security. Our camera systems  integrate with the Geotab tracking platform for fuller functionality.

Automatic Event Recording

Vehicle cameras designed to record events are primarily used to document the conditions an event occurs.  Events may be predefined by the camera system or you can define them yourself when integrated with your vehicle tracking system.  Being selective about how many of your rules generate email notifications helps to limit unnecessary email overload.  In the same way, be selective about the rules you choose to trigger video downloads to avoid data overage. Speeding is a common rule that you may want to trigger a video download, but if you have several speed rules, choose carefully the one that triggers the video. A rule like 5 mph over the posted speed limit can trigger often and use up your data plan in a hurry.

 

Vehicle camera

Cameras with AI

Other vehicle camera systems use artificial intelligence to identify events.  They can identify speeding, lane drift, following too closely, even road obstructions.  Combined with a smartphone app, these systems give feedback to the driver to avoid potential hazards.  With an in-cab view, cameras with AI can also identify and record cell phone use and smoking events.

 

 

Live Feed

Some business models such as the Security industry may benefit from live feed capability from vehicle cameras.  Supervisors can view live video to consult with and advise the field employee. Managers can view job site progress and several jobs without leaving the office.  Live feeds need to be used responsibly.  If you forget to turn off the feed and leave for lunch, extreme data overage is the likely result.

You can see examples of video from a variety of cameras as well as installation tips on our YouTube channel.

Monitor your Data Consumption

If your system offers a feature to monitor how much data you have used, check weekly to see that you are within your data plan limits.  Becoming familiar with how much data you are using will allow you to get the most out of your vehicle camera system without incurring costly overages.

data consumption

 

What’s New in MyGeotab Version 1903

MyGeotab Version 1903 Coming Soon to your MyGeotab UI

Let’s take a look at some of the newest features and revisions.

 

UI Enhancements

Report Download

 

In MyGeotab version 1903 the changes are subtle but very effective.  The “View” button has been more appropriately named “Reports” and you can download reports without first viewing them in the browser.  Surely that will save lots of time and help new users to get around more easily.

A “My Location” button has been added to the menu.  This will help users visualize where vehicles are in relation to where the user is and can be used much like the “Nearest” selection available from zones.  Now I am here.  Who is closest to me?

 

 

Trips HistoryThe Trips History report in browser view has been revised to separate driving and stopped time in separate rows for clarity.  You will find that this improves readability because critical data is now set apart.

Other report revisions you will welcome are on the Vehicles report.  Additional columns can be added or hidden and rearranged in the order you prefer,  Your newly created view will automatically save for future use.  The group name is now shown under the vehicle name, and a red icon identifies vehicles that have not reported.  No way to miss that!

 

More Cool Stuff in MyGeotab Version 1903

When editing zones or geofences, the zone editor window now has 2 tabs, one for properties and one to view the zone on the map.  This will make zone edits faster and easier.  There are also some new reports coming to the Marketplace.  If you have “feature preview” turned on in your user settings, you will find the Purge feature is now accessible as well.  You can set the system to automatically purge data older than a specified time frame.

So watch for the changes and be sure to call us if you have any questions.  Follow this link if you want to see the full list of updates included in MyGeotab Version 1903, including updates to the SDK.

 

Required in Cab ELD System Documents – How to Stay Compliant

What is required?

Beginning on December 18, 2017, a driver using an ELD must have an ELD information packet onboard the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) containing the following items:

 

FMCSA allows electronic documents

  1. A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD;
  2. An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official;
  3. An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and
  4. A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of 8 days.

The problem with a paper manual is keeping it up to date as the rules and technology changes.  FMCSA has acknowledged in their FAQ that electronic documents meet their requirements.

What’s the Solution?

ELD Info add in from Geotab

Never worry about having the required in vehicle documents, updates, and training again.  Just install the free ELD info add-in from the Geotab Marketplace.  You drivers can access it from their dashboard in Geotab Drive.  The add-in includes direct links to the latest versions of the required documents listed above (except for the paper logs required in the event of ELD malfunction).  It also has training videos, important contacts, announcements about updates to the app and workflow documents.  The add-in is absolutely free, but you must access the Marketplace from your MyGeotab account to install it.

 

National Safety Council Training

National Safety Council Training

Do you have a suspended out of state license?

 

Have you recently moved to Florida but had your license suspended from the previous state you lived in? If so, you may be required to take an in person Defensive Driver Course. The good news is that we are certified to teach the National Safety Council 8/6 Defensive Driving Course (NSC DDC).

We understand this is not on the top of your priority list, so we make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. We help you acquire the skills and knowledge you need to drive defensively as well as recognize the common hazards in the driving environment and how to react to prevent collisions. Did you know that the single most common cause of motor vehicle collisions is improper driving and of that, 53.5% of crashes are due to driver error?

The “What If” Strategy that we cover helps you stay mentally alert by recognizing a hazard and having an appropriate defense against it. Driver physical conditions are covered as well including age, mobility, hearing, vision, illness/use of medication and fatigue/drowsiness. Did you know that 90% of your sensory input is vision?

You can view more information regarding the course by clicking here. We are conveniently located in the NE corner of the Tampa Bay area. You’ll receive your certificate of completion the day you take the course. If you have any questions, or would like to sign up, feel free to give us a call between the hours of 8am-5:30 pm, Monday through Friday at: 877-467-0326, option 4.

Class Schedule & More Details

Covert Tracker Placement

Covert Tracker Placement

Covert Tracking Device Placement

 

It is important to think through where you place a GPS tracker on a vehicle or asset for covert tracking. The location may vary depending on the goal being

GO Rugged Asset Tracker by Geotab

GO Rugged Asset Tracker by Geotab

vehicle recovery due to theft or cover tracking for investigative reasons. Covert tracking may be tracking the vehicle or tracking a package in a law enforcement scenario. Covert vehicle tracking is likely focused on recovering an expensive piece of equipment such as a bulldozer.

Covert tracker placement for tailing a vehicle or determining movements generally means accessing a vehicle very quickly in a public place. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a vehicle for a longer period of time in a private setting, you have a lot of options for GPS tracker placement. Since this is the exception, this post will focus on the covert tracker placement in a public setting. Learn more about covert tracking devices here.

All vehicles are made differently but most newer vehicles contain a lot of plastic which allows for good GPS reception. Metal will block a GPS signal from getting to a GPS tracker but with a little thought, this is not an issue. Modern GPS antennas work significantly better than antennas 10 years ago. Testing placement on your car(s) is the best way to get a good idea of what works and what does not. Since you have a limited time to place a device covertly, consider these variables.

  1. Place the unit where the driver or maintenance people are not likely to go. If the car is a piece of junk with bad tires, place the GPS unit near the spare tire may result in discovery.
  2. Do not place it where a mechanic may easily see it. If you place it near the oil drain plug, a technician may find it when doing an oil change.
  3. If the vehicle is low to the ground, do not place it on the bottom of the frame or a surface where it may be scrapped off going over a speed  bump.

One of the best places to locate a covert GPS tracker is on the vertical edge of the frame about mid vehicle. There are not any parts in this area that would prompt the driver to look in this area or go to this area for a maintenance issue. Another place is on the inside lip of a plastic bumper. An all metal bumper may cause issues because it is metal on three sides. You should be ready to place the device in a location that may not work with a magnet. This means a strap of some type to hold it in place. Do not count on wedging in place and it staying put. With a vehicle vibrating thousands of times per mile, the GPS tracker will always come loose.

If you have more time to install a tracker for vehicle theft recovery you have a few more options but challenges still persist. The good part is you can test the tracking performance before the equipment or asset leaves the shop. “Yellow iron” is called such because of the general steel and durable construction. This construction means there are fewer locations to place the GPS unit. In general look for soft spots or plastic to hide the GPS device. The drivers cab is a common place to start. The cab may offer a soft seat or plastic instrument panel where the tracker can be hidden. The goal is to make it hard enough to find that a thief cannot find it easily at the job site and remove it before leaving. Once the vehicle is off the site, the clock is ticketing to recover the equipment. A lot of equipment ends up at a chop shop where it is disassembled quickly, put into cargo containers and sold for parts in other countries.

To learn more about covert vehicle tracking click here.

 

Covert Tracker for Assets

Creating A Support Case

Creating A Support Case

Initiating a Support Request

Fleetistics has been hard at work looking for ways to improve customer service. To improve communication and reduce customer time reporting an issue, Fleetistics has developed a custom and fully integrated case management system. The goal is for customers to report and issue online and then walk away knowing Fleetistics will research the issue and get back to you with more answers than questions. 

The case management system is not just for GPS device. You can request billing help, training, make portal recommendations and a lot more. 

*Note – anytime a GPS device fails the fastest way to determine if it is a device issue or a vehicle issue is to install it in a vehicle that is working correctly. If the unit reports, the vehicle has an issue. If the device does not report, it is a GPS device issue.

Opening a Support Case

  1. Click the flag shortcut from any location in the MyFleetistics portal
  2. Go to the Device Status Table under the Analytics>Device Status menu
  3. Click the Create Case icon on the Device Status Table

 

Click image to enlarge

Select The Issue

Case Details

Manage Cases

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Fleetistics is now offering a rechargeable battery powered covert vehicle tracking solution. This new asset tracker can be recharged in a few hours and tracks for days. The update frequency can be selected to 10 seconds for law enforcement or specialty applications or every 120 seconds for less sensitive situations with a longer battery life.

To learn more about covert vehicle tracking click here.

 

Mobile App Access

Conveniently follow your GPS tracker from the mobile application. From the mobile app you can see the battery status and GPS signal quality of the covert GPS tracker.

 

Covert Vehicle Tracking Solutions

 

 

Covert Vehicle Tracker Placement

Every car, asset or package is different so it takes some testing. In general, putting the GPS tracker under the car where it cannot be seen will provide track data as shown in the image above. The higher under the car you place it, the lower the reception quality. The higher the vehicle and less metal in the vehicle, the better the overall performance. Do some testing to see what works before deploying covertly.

 

Fleet Tracking

If you are a small fleet with a very limited budget, moving one GPS tracker among vehicles is a way to get started. As your fleet grows you can move from a covert tracking scenario to a more permanent installation of a fleet management system such as the Geotab platform.