Saturday, August 25, 2012

Electronic Technology And Fleet Management

With today's tight profit margins in the motor carrier industry, it is essential to utilize every tool available to minimize costs. Efficient fleet management is essential to control labor and other expenses. Advances in technology can help trucking companies to control labor and regulatory expenses.
Electronic On-Board Recorders are one electronic tool that is gaining wider acceptance within the trucking industry. Although their mandated use has been delayed due to Congressional wrangling, many motor carriers are voluntarily adding EOBRs to their fleets. Changes in hours of service rules for truck drivers necessitate accuracy in logging driver's work and rest hours to avoid penalties. EOBRs simplify tracking driver activity.
The use of EOBRs has many other applications in fleet management. Since the final standards for government-mandated logs have not yet been written, motor carriers are experimenting with various units already available. Software and applications are currently available to use with smartphones, laptops and other communications systems. One benefit is the ability to more accurately monitor driver behavior while cutting compliance staff expenses. The more efficient electronic data recording systems require less staff time to manage and analyze.
Computerized records also allow for better management of available driver hours. The real-time recording of driver availability allows for more efficient scheduling of loads and drivers. By matching available loads with free drivers, it is possible to increase productivity without violating hours of service rules.
Most EOBRs are also equipped with GPS and other truck-monitoring functions. With these devices it is possible to not only track driver location but also vehicle speed and fuel usage. Access to real-time metrics allows for better supervision of driver behavior and can help with evaluations and raises.
Because many EOBRs can be integrated with existing monitoring and communication systems, they can also be used to log vehicle inspections, fuel taxes and permit fees and surcharges. Integrated data is useful for creating IRP and other reports. Automated fuel tax reports save time and stress for both drivers and motor carriers.
Even the wide availability of 3G and 4G smartphones can help improve fleet efficiency. Thanks to the advancements in cellular phone technology, it is possible for drivers to be connected to the internet in huge swaths of the nation. Drivers on standby at pickup points or on mandated rest breaks can access the web and download files and records. Motor carriers can offer safety and other training videos online so drivers can use down time productively. Being able to easily contact loved ones by phone or online may help ease the aching loneliness of life on the road. Happier drivers are less likely to quit which helps control training costs for new drivers.
Thanks to innovations in technology, it is possible for motor carriers to more efficiently manage their fleets from afar. As federal standards are finalized, it is possible that even more of the complex paperwork requirements of trucking will be moved online. Simplified record-keeping is a good thing for both drivers and the transportation industry.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Office Equipment Auctions: What You Need to Know

If you are looking for a great deal on used office equipment, an auction might be the way to go. Auctions give start-ups, small businesses, or home offices the opportunity to purchase office equipment they might normally not be able to afford on a tight budget. There are several reasons an auction might be held, such as business liquidations, moving sales, fundraisers for non-profits, or government agencies selling surplus or confiscated items (e.g. GovDeals).
There are live and online auctions and each can be found by searching the Internet, reading the local newspaper, or subscribing to auction house e-mail alerts. Before you participate in an auction, find out of if the company hosting the auction is a legitimate company, licensed, or bonded. Next, make a general list of items you need and are willing to purchase used, e.g. a color printer, a laser fax machine, a desktop computer; then decide the max you are willing to spend on each. Often times, buyers can preview the office equipment going up for auction first via a catalog or in person. This will give you a chance to make a more detailed list of the office equipment you may want to bid on based on the description. If possible, inspect the items in person and "kick the tires" so to speak. If time allows, you can take it one step further and research the particular makes and models you are interested in online to check past ratings and current values. The past ratings may force you to eliminate some items from your list and the current values will help determine your spending cap.
If you decide to bid on an item, review the terms and conditions first. If the office equipment is sold "as-is", you will be responsible for any maintenance and repairs necessary to get the item up and running. It might be a good idea to verify if the manufacturer warranty is still active as well. While at a live or online auction, it's imperative to give it your full attention. Once a bid is placed, there is no turning back; so, you want to make sure that you are bidding on the correct piece of office equipment.
Have you ever purchased office equipment from an auction? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Please share the details with us, like what items did you buy, did you feel like you got a great deal, was it a smooth process, and will you ever purchase office equipment from an auction again?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Top Reasons Why You Need Temperature Controlled Express Courier Services

If you are on the hunt for options to transport perishable goods that require optimum ambiance for preservation, then you should definitely opt for temperature controlled express courier services. This can be used for transporting a wide variety of goods that can't be shipped using the regular services. Maintaining an optimum temperature is very critical for these services. Therefore, they should have proper ventilation, refrigeration system, humidity control as well as temperature control.
In this age of cut-throat competition, companies simply can't afford to be complacent about their logistics. A lot of these companies deal with perishable goods that need to be delivered to their specific destinations in a timely manner. The market of such goods might be far away from the manufacturing site. It is not always feasible to maintain a private fleet of transportation services, since the business might not be that lucrative. Hence, they depend on logistics companies or courier services that can deliver the goods to various destinations in the most economical and viable way.
Unlike other goods that require normal delivery vans or similar facilities, perishable goods need customized vehicles and shipment facilities. There are not many companies that offer such services due to the sensitivity of the business. For instance, sea food businesses normally require such courier services to deliver their goods. It goes without saying that it has to be stored at optimum conditions and delivered within the stipulated time. It takes a highly professional and organized company to meet such high standards of client satisfaction.
Some of the most common industries that require temperature controlled courier services are the drug companies, vaccine manufacturers, seafood, fruits and vegetables, beverages manufacturers etc. Such companies always have a list of preferred courier services at their disposal. They can't afford to experiment with their logistics too often.
The uniqueness of such services doesn't end with the type of goods being transferred. It takes such high efforts and energy to maintain these vehicles, that it is uneconomical to halt operation even for a few hours. This is one reason why such courier services are often on a continuous run. It is feasible for them to load cargo at the same place where delivery was made. This ensures that these customized vehicles do not run empty for a considerable amount of time, which might result in losses for the company.
It takes trained workers to load and offload such cargo. Also, the people in charge of the courier van should be aware of the uniqueness of their vehicle and goods. Since refrigeration plays a crucial role in these vehicles, it is almost mandatory that the driver can perform basic troubleshooting.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Exploring Your Email Archiving Options

So, it's a business must: email archiving. Legal requirements mean that all businesses must be able to retrieve information - sometimes for up to seven years - whenever needed. And the financial fines of ill compliance are not to be scoffed at.
The obstacle here is storage. It's expensive, and because email grows exponentially, businesses are requiring greater storage functions.
So what's happening as a result of the increasing demand for storage? Organisations are buying more storage (EMC and Netapp reported a year on year growth in storage sales of 33% and 41% respectively). But their IT budgets aren't increasing. In fact, they remained nearly flat during the same period.
This means that organisations of all sizes are struggling to address:
-a unique and never-known-before growth in unstructured data
-the pressure to keep an ever-increasing share of that data
-the lessening benefit of traditional storage products
With the doom and gloom on the table, what's the best email archiving option for your business? Because, there are solutions - great ones, even.
Let's take a closer look at the 3 models you can choose from: on-premise, hosted, and cloud-based archiving.
Option 1: On-premise archiving
This is the traditional method of archiving emails, and is the most popular model for early adopters (particularly large financial services and customers in the early 2000s).
Under this model:
-The archive is entirely located within your business' data centre.
-Your business is responsible for the installation, configuration and operation of the archiving system, and its underlying infrastructure.
-The archiving software is installed on one or more servers (either as dedicated hosts or virtual machines).
In it's simplest form, your business would be in charge of its own computing needs, including obtaining the infrastructure to accommodate those needs as they arise. Because of the pressure for unexpected in-house IT solutions to be delivered and implemented by the business itself, on-site archiving has dwindled in popularity in recent years.
On-site archiving also requires a substantial up-front investment in hardware, software, ongoing operations and support.
Option 2: Hosted archiving
This is one of the two options if you wish to outsource your archiving.
Under this model:
-Archiving systems are housed within the archiving vendor's data centre.
-You aren't required to install, configure, or maintain the archiving system or its underlying infrastructure.
-You can focus on activities related to the archiving process and functionality.
-The only element you need to worry about is capacity management's impact on pricing; vendor fees can vary based on the volume of stored data.
Vendors benefit from economies of scale but are confronted with the same difficulty relating to capacity management, service availability and large capital expenses as customers with on-premise systems.
Option 3: Cloud-based archiving
Some vendors build applications that operate on top of cloud infrastructure from third parties (eg. Amazon or Rackspace) rather than operating their own infrastructure.
Under this model:
-Both you and the archiving vendor don't operate the physical infrastructure.
-The archiving vendor builds and maintains the archiving system that's operated on top of the cloud infrastructure - which is the software layer.
-You focus exclusvely on the archiving process and functionality: defining retention policies, searching for specific content, and exporting data for discovery.
That way, each party is able to focus on their strengths.
These features, advanced technology and cost-effectiveness contribute to the increase in businesses using cloud-based archiving. A great bonus is that it's not nearly as complicated as an on-premise solution. And who has time for complications?