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Week of October 30, 2019

Mobile device failures on the rise, LA fire department is embracing drones and more field service news

Mobile device failures on the rise

A B2M Solutions survey showed that half of participating workers had experienced a mobile device issue that hindered their ability to do their job per month. Over a third of respondents also reported an increase in such incidents within the last year and a half. With mobile connectivity a requirement for an increasing number of companies, the loss of service is damaging, as it results in lower productivity, morale, and higher costs. [Read more]

Renault releases hydrogen delivery van

Renault joins Mercedes and Toyota with its Kangoo hydrogen cell van at the end of this year, with plans to roll out the technology to other models next year. The move comes as pressure to meet emission standards in Europe is increasing. The technology isn’t new, but had struggled with high costs in the past. The vehicle allows for 5-10 minutes refueling and a range up to three fold that of its lithium battery-powered competitors. [Read more]

LA fire department embracing drones

LA fire department is buying more drones to assist its firefighters. The drones have become vehicles for other technologies, like infrared sensors that aid the department’s visibility in crisis situations. The drones will also be used to support those dealing with hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, and marine rescue. [Read more]

More layoffs in the trucking industry

Stevens Transport and Amazon contractors are affected by the latest trucking layoffs. Stevens Transport has laid off its tanker division due to decreased demand in hydraulic fracking. Amazon laid off several trucking companies it hired for deliveries, but the reason for this decision, and whether it is part of an impending trend, is unknown. [Read more]

Week of October 23, 2019

“Ubering” to go beyond driving, UPS is going green and more field service news

“Ubering” may not just refer to driving

Earlier this month, Uber launched Uber Works, an app intended to match freelancers with employers. This announcement comes on the heels of California’s law to limit the number of employees incorrectly classified as independent contractors. The app would allow warehouse workers, cleaners, and other independent workers to sign up for jobs based on pay, location, and working conditions. Uber plans to partner with Chicago staffing firms that handle worker pay and benefits to potentially avoid any issues with the platform.

[Read more]

25% of Field Service Organizations Plan to Implement AR [Research]

A GetApp survey has found that 25% of field service organizations plan to implement AR in the next three years. The survey also found that companys’ biggest challenge when implementing new tech is adoption by field crews. This article presents additional findings and offers recommendations for how to overcome the top implementation obstacle. [Read more]

Tesla inches closer to driverless-ness with DeepScale

Tesla is acquiring DeepScale, a computer vision start-up that could help the company go fully driverless. The technology uses low-wattage processors that work with sensors, mapping, planning, and control systems to pick up on the vehicle’s surroundings. The acquisition could fill the gap in the Autopilot group after the departure of 11 engineers in the past few months. [Read more]

UPS invests $450 million in CNG trucks and stations

UPS announced an investment of $450 million in CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles and stations. This investment will allow UPS to add about 6,000 CNG-powered transport vehicles to their fleet by the beginning of 2020. Does this mark a new trend in which more and more businesses will look for ways to reduce emissions? Only time will tell. [Read more]

UPS is going green…ish

UPS has announced that between 2020-2022, it will purchase 6000 natural gas-fueled trucks, an investment of $450 million. The vehicles would feature compressed natural gas (CNG) systems in a move towards alternative fuel systems aimed at reducing the company’s carbon footprint. UPS as stated that by the end of 2020, 25% of new vehicle purchases would run on alternative fuel. [Read more]

EU issues warning against single-supplier 5G networks

The European Union issued a warning to companies building 5G networks with parts from a single supplier, stating that these are more vulnerable to attack. The EU went further, stating that company’s should avoid suppliers with strong government ties, especially in countries that lack democratic checks and balances. CNN notes that while Huwawei was not mentioned by name, the announcement comes amidst the U.S’s campaign to discourage allies from doing business with the company. [Read more]

Week of October 15, 2019

U.S. gasoline prices fall, UPS gets approval for the first drone-based airline delivery business, and more field service news

IFS announces the acquisition of Astea software

IFS, a field service management software vendor, announced the acquisition of Astea software, another software vendor working in the same space. This acquisition will help IFS expand its customer base and increase market share in the field service management space. [Read more]

TomTom adds asset tracking to its offering

TomTom, a fleet management software vendor, announced the addition of GPS-assisted asset tracking functionality to its offering. This functionality will help fleet owners track the real-time location of their vehicles and assets. Will we see more fleet and field service management solutions adding this feature? [Read more]

Gasoline prices dip

Despite September attacks on the Saudi Arabian oil processing facility, Armaco, gasoline prices have declined across the United States. This reduction comes as a result of Armacao regaining production levels back to its pre-attack levels. California, however, has seen a rise in gas prices to over $4 per gallon due to refining issues. [Read more]

UPS invests $450 million in CNG trucks and stations

UPS announced an investment of $450 million in CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles and stations. This investment will allow UPS to add about 6,000 CNG-powered transport vehicles to their fleet by the beginning of 2020. Does this mark a new trend in which more and more businesses will look for ways to reduce emissions? Only time will tell. [Read more]

UPS gets approval for the first drone-based delivery airline in the U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved UPS’s drone business by granting a Part 135 certification, meaning it is a full-fledged airline business. This will enable UPS to set up drone-based delivery stations at any location in the U.S. Is your field service business ready for the drone trend? [Read more]

Week of October 7, 2019

Drones to automate last-mile delivery for retail businesses, Amazon purchases 100,000 electric trucks, and more field service news

Amazon to purchase 100,000 electric trucks from Rivian

On Sept. 20, Amazon announced a bulk purchase order of electric transport vehicles from Rivian, an automobile manufacturing startup based in the U.K. This could be an effort by Amazon to embrace the new trend of electric transport. How is your business preparing for the fast-emerging electric vehicles trend? [Read more]

Attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities could result in fluctuating gas prices

On Sept. 15, airstrikes destroyed two large oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia. One of these facilities, Buqyaq, is considered the largest crude stabilization plant in the world, processing 7 million barrels of crude per day. This could impact the supply side of crude, and has the potential to push the price of gasoline up by 15%. Is your business prepared for the fuel cost hike? [Read more]

Truck tonnage increased by 4.1% in August

According to American Trucking Association data, seasonally-adjusted trucking tonnage rose by 4.1% in August. With the increase, the total year-to-date growth comes out at 4.3%. The increasing demand for trucking indicates a consistent growth in consumer demand, and therefore could push the prices of transportation higher. How are you preparing your business for these situations? [Read more]

TruSimple raises $120 million to speed up development for self-driving trucks

TruSimple, a tech startup based in San Diego, has raised $120 million to work on self-driving technology for long-haul trucks. The company also ran a pilot project with the U.S. Postal Service in May and aims to build 50 such trucks by the end of the year. Like self-driving cars, will self-driving trucks also make their way into the market? Only time will tell. [Read more]

Google collaborates with FedEx and Walgreens on drone technology

Wing, a drone company supported by Google, is collaborating with Walgreens and FedEx to develop drones capable of last-mile delivery. This collaboration will make Walgreens the first U.S.-based retail business to offer drone-based home delivery service. With time, these drones are expected to lower demand for less-than-truckload (LTL) and pick-up-truck-based delivery services, thereby causing a price reduction. It’s good news, but field service businesses might need to wait for some time to see reduced transport costs. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 23, 2019

California legislation throws a wrench in owner-operator contracting, car batteries may fuel the power grid, and more field service news

Truck drivers: Your jobs aren’t going anywhere

With several companies already piloting self-driving trucks, there’s been a lot of concern that up to 3 million driver jobs could be automated in the coming years. But the reality is that this technology is still years away from full implementation, and drivers aren’t just drivers—they secure cargo, fix flat tires, update logs, and manage customer relations.[Read more]

Will car batteries fuel the power grid?

Fiat is setting up a fleet of 700 electric vehicles that will connect to the grid (V2G). The technology is to allow the power grid to access surplus energy stored in car batteries when demand is at its peak. Fiat signed an agreement with Italy grid operator Terna to jointly test the technology starting this year, through 2021. [Read more]

Video technology to improve driver performance

Drowsy driving has the same effect on the driver as having a blood alcohol level of .05%. Pulsar’s Trucking Fatigue Meter helps managers identify risks and measure fatigue risk. Algorithms analyze video taken of the drivers according to level of risk, and used to develop coaching and mitigation strategies for drivers. [Read more]

California independent contractor legislation will put a wrench in owner-operator contracting

Last week, California passed legislation that will reduce the number of employees classified as independent contractors. Assembly Bill 5 will prevent employers from contracting with workers that have the same job function as the company itself—including owner-operators hauling cargo for fleets. What can businesses do about this? Working through a brokerage firm that brokers loads to owner-operators is an option. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 16, 2019

Detention affects driver efficiency, self-driving cars may have a short lifespan, and more field service news

Detention time affects driver efficiency

According to a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), most U.S. truckers run out of available hours-of-service (HOS) due to detention. While 44% of truckers faced an average detention time of more than two hours in 2014, about 49% of truckers faced detention of more than two hours in 2018. Are detentions also slowing down your field service vehicles? [Read more]

Housecall Pro ventures into financial management with its ‘My Money’ app

Housecall Pro, a home service software vendor, has launched a My Money app to help businesses manage their finances. The app will allow businesses to receive payments from customers using credit cards, Stripe accounts, and company cards. It will also allow users to track these payments, enabling home services to better gauge the financial health of their business. Will we see more field service management software vendors moving into the financial management domain? Time will tell. [Read more]

Federal government proposes HOS policy revisions for truckers

After a lot of deliberation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed long-awaited changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) policy for truckers. The proposed changes include a flexible 30-minute break for truckers during their 8-hour shifts, expansion of short-haul air miles from 100 to 150, and extending the short-haul duty period from 12 to 14 hours. The changes, once in effect, will make drivers’ schedules and workloads more flexible. Is your field service business ready for these changes? [Read more]

Ford executive predicts self-driving cars will only last four years

John Rich, operations chief at Ford, predicts a short life for the self-driving car—merely four years. Field service businesses planning to replenish their aging fleet with autonomous vehicles need to watch out for the impact of vehicle life on their businesses. [Read more]

Increasing trucking shutdowns across all regions in the U.S.

According to transportation industry data from Broughton Capital LLC, three times as many transporters closed down in the first half of 2019 as did in the first half of 2018. The reason for this large-scale closure is weak customer demand. The declining demand is resulting in lower prices for transport, forcing transportation businesses to absorb hefty losses in order to keep the business running. How is your business responding to the falling cost of transportation? [Read more]

Week of Sept. 2, 2019

Drones could be delivering cargo by 2020, Bestmile raises $16.5 million, and more field service news

Drones could be delivering cargo by 2020

Elroy Air’s 1,215 pound drone completed its first test flight in August. Unlike other recent small drone delivery pilots, the company plans to begin using these drones to deliver larger cargo by 2020. The hope is to use these for disaster response, medical supply delivery, and eventually, partnering with FedEx or UPS for package delivery. [Read more]

Software for AI-driven fleets raises $16.5 million

Bestmile has developed fleet management software that manages the balance of supply and demand for transportation. The product stands out because it is intended to serve fleets with human drivers and autonomous vehicles alike. Future application could even include managing urban mobility. [Read more]

34% of field service business are preparing for 5G

Searches for 5G have doubled in the last year, but it’s still hard to separate hype from reality. While full 5G may still be a few years out, there are incremental improvements that businesses and can take advantage of now. This article discusses where we are with 5G and what steps your business can take to make the most of the latest wireless technology. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 19, 2019

Tesla gets beat out by Daimler, Salesforce acquires FSM software, and more field service news

Move over, Tesla, Daimler is coming through with the first all-electric semi.

Daimler’s Freightliner eCascadia semis will be the first all-electric semis to be in full-time use. The company used a $16 million grant to develop the vehicles. They will operate in southern California to test how well they function in large-scale fleet conditions and to answer remaining questions regarding their range. [Read more]

Salesforce acquires field service company ClickSoftware for $1.35 billion.

The move may be intended to help Salesforce compete with Microsoft, which acquired FieldOne in 2015. It signals a recognition that field service and customer service units are not so different. Your field service team provides the opportunity to differentiate your business by offering excellent customer experience. [Read more]

Your business needs to take a closer look at the security of connected devices.

A study involving 83 million IoT devices found that in North America, two-thirds of homes have IoT devices, and many of these were found to have weak security. As IoT becomes a more central approach to field service operations, businesses are advised to focus on the security posture of their client’s in-home and in-office devices. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 5, 2019

Drones take on undersea repairs, maps to get an AR update, and more field service news

Undersea drones to inspect and repair oil and gas platforms

FlatFish, an autonomous undersea drone powered by batteries, will use AI to inspect oil and gas platforms. The 3-foot long, 12,000 ton drone will be able to identify potential issues and call in other drones to make repairs; all while navigating the intense deep sea pressure and debris that can cause oil spills [Read more].

Crowd service can help your business deal with technician shortage

36% of Americans are doing some amount of freelance work, and industries that rely on field services such as construction and maintenance make up a large portion of self employed workers in the U.S, so why not tap into this workforce? If your business is looking to expand to other geographies, experience fluctuating demand, or has encountered a shortage of technicians, tapping into the crowd might be the way to go [Read more].

Driving will change forever as Apple AR brings maps to real life

Apple is working to patent an AR device that could superimpose route and navigational information to the images/video that the device captures—in other words, drivers will see the road ahead with street names, directions, etc, simultaneously. Using built-in AR devices, AR glasses, or an AR-enabled iPhone field teams can get detailed assistance in getting where they need to go, reducing errors and distractions [Read more].

[PODCAST] Data is your business’s most valuable resource; use it wisely

Businesses used to live by the adage “no news is good news,” but with the ubiquity of data came the expectation of constant connectivity and increased visibility. This podcast from Future of Field Service discusses why your business can’t ignore the importance of data any longer. To harness the power of data, first define success, establish a business need, and identify key KPIs [Listen here].

Week of July 22, 2019

Musk and Bezos ready for 5G, new funding for technical education, and more field service news

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are preparing for 5G

Amazon’s Kuiper Systems has plans to launch 3,236 low-orbit satellites to offer broadband connection around the world. This initiative joins Musk’s Starlink, which plans to launch 12,000 satellites—60 of which were launched last May. In the short term, these projects would increase connectivity in remote and rural areas, helpful to field workers on the move. The long-term plan for these satellites is to enable 5G—the key to sky-rocketing the potential of predictive maintenance and other IoT-enabled processes. [Read more]

Field service’s last mile gets the Uber treatment

Customer experience relies heavily on transparency. Localz, a last-mile communication solution, aims to fill that gap in field service, providing day-of-service assistance. Instead of providing a suite of functionality, its solution is meant to complement existing solutions to offer location-based tracking and notifications. Customers can see where a technician is and when they will arrive, and technicians can more easily collaborate with colleagues. [Read more]

Will funding for technical education programs address technician shortages?

On July 1, states began to implement the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, also known as Perkins V. The act increases funding for technical education with the goal of giving more students access to high-quality programs. The program has only just approved transition plans, so its effects remain to be seen. But field service businesses may stand to gain from a new generation of skilled workers. [Read more]

Dip in oil and natural gas job openings

According to an analysis conducted by Thinknum, leading oil field services companies have slowed hiring, reaching a 12-month low. Oil prices have slumped in recent years, and although there’s been some rebound, U.S. companies haven’t seen the benefits. Concerns of oversupply have led companies to pull back job postings, reducing these by a third. [Read more]

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