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Idling law: is global legislation needed?

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 21, 2019 8:59:00 AM

Idling law: is global legislation needed?

If you are serious about saving fuel and cutting your operating costs, you must have at least considered how your fleet drivers can avoid idling on the roads. Despite it looking like a trivial strategy at first glance, the upside is it is actually something very positive to achieve at literally zero cost. You can do something as simple as communicating to your drivers the necessity of avoiding idling or draft an ad-hoc idling policy, and, if they fully commit to the proposals, you will see the results for yourself soon enough.

But what may very well be on the horizon is the prospect of an idling law, or, in other words, because of environmental concerns and emissions targets at a European and global level, idling may soon be sanctioned by police and local authorities with costly financial penalties. The UK environment secretary Michael Gove recently said he supported calls from some councils to introduce stronger measures to tackle idling engines, which can cause even more pollution than a moving car. The government, as a consequence, is evaluating proposals to give more power to police and local authorities to impose penalties on drivers who idle. As is stands, the only penalties in force are a £20 or £80 fine, which is triggered only if drivers ignore their initial warning and idle for an additional minute.

As Fleet News revealed, attitudes toward idling seems to vary according to county in the UK: the Westminster Council leader thinks authorities need to send a strong message in the event of persistent idling, and considers a successful deterrent for company vehicles caught idling ought to be somewhere in the region of a four-figure fine. Camden Council warned a total of 400 drivers for idling, but issued no fines despite enforcement officers invested with the power to do so in March last year. Eighteen local authorities in London have allegedly noted idling incidents and have engaged with drivers in order to ask them to switch their engine off when stationary. Islington council have also been taking anti-idling action, too, stating that 80% of drivers asked to switch off their engine actually did so if requested to in a friendly way.

Environment secretary Michael Gove told The Times that instant fines for repeated offenders should be considered a viable solution to the problem and this involves increasing the power of enforcement for local authorities so long as it is applied correctly.

This action taken by the Government is certainly going to have an impact and help ensure drivers turn off their engine when it is not necessary to keep them running, such as when parked, for example. Some of the fines proposed for repeat offenders, of around £1000, will become a major concern for companies and couriers.

If you haven’t looked into eliminating idling yet, you probably need to start. Not only because it is likely to become a legal requirement fairly soon, but for the sake of the environment and for the difference it can make to your fuel bills. If you don’t know where to start or do not have an effective and coherent strategy, contact us and we will show you how idling can become one less headache.

 

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Topics: Fleet Costs, Fleet Management, News, Stats & Facts

29% of fleet managers don’t know how many drivers they employ

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 16, 2019 9:01:00 AM

29% of fleet managers don’t know how many drivers they employ

Driving for Better Business—a UK initiative to assist employers in the commercial and public sector minimise the risks associated with work-related driving, reduce costs and keep up-to-date with current legislation—have shared some results directly from its online risk assessment database.

The data shared focussed on what you might expect to be a straightforward question for fleet operators to answer: “Do you know how many drivers you have?” Despite the question seeming simple enough, only 71% answered, “yes”, but that left 29%, almost a third, who didn’t know.

To be fair, answering this question is easier if a specific company vehicle is assigned to a single driver, which might be the case for some fleets. Though in other instances the same vehicle is used for multiple shifts and many drivers have access to the same van, for example. In companies using the so-called grey fleets or with staff utilising their own cars, the answer is anything but simple.

This apparently easy-to-answer question is a very important one. If companies do not know the number of drivers with exactitude, they cannot demonstrate that drivers are managed efficiently or are familiar with fleet policy, and not all of the drivers’ licences will have probably been checked, meaning companies are ultimately not 100% sure that their drivers are eligible to do the job.

When asked how many have checked licences directly with the DVLA, the answer was, again, 71% —probably roughly the same 71% that were confident how many drivers are in their employ. As most will know, checking licences highlights a number of potential issues, including the eligibility of drivers to drive different types of vehicles as well as any potential health problems.

It might surprise people to learn that only half (50%) of those answering bother to check any medical issues that could compromise driving ability, which would indicate that most of the checks are cursory and focussed primarily on penalty points.

Still less, just over a third of companies (38%), carry out any formal assessment of driver competency prior to engaging them in work-related driving, with 14% looking to do so at some point. This is quite astonishing if we were to consider this statistic applied to staff who were expected to operate machinery in a factory environment or operate in an industry involving a degree of risk—in other words, why should operating commercially on public highways, in whatever capacity, be considered less hazardous than the aforementioned activities.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet compliance

N for No: why is disagreement the latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series?

by Eleonora Malacarne on May 9, 2019 9:01:00 AM

N for No: why is disagreement the latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series?

The latest chapter in our A-Z of fleet management series starts with something that definitely does not only apply to business, drivers and vehicles, but virtually to anything. Why then have we decided to associate the word “No” with fleet management? In this field just like any other, saying “No” might be seen as one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you are directing a fleet and need to cope with many different demands and requirements at any given time—but in the end it ultimately comes down to the outcome of fleet operations, how safely it is done and how much you can capitalize on your resources to bring projects to a successful conclusion while saving on your budget.

Saying “no” is defined as disagreeing or not accepting something and this is generally seen as the opposite of positive action. It is something that could cause individuals with low self-confidence to become anxious if pressed to say the opposite of what they really feel in a situation. In some cases this might be valid for the fleet industry, but when we talk about saying “no” we really want to focus on a list of practices that fleet managers need to avoid if they want to achieve a productive outcome.

What then should fleet managers say “no” to?

#1 Making impulsive decisions. When you have budget or time constraints or feel pressure from senior management or stakeholders, it is easy to feel rushed into making a particular decision even though in most cases it doesn’t lead to a great outcome. It is definitely better to have enough fact-based material upon which to make a sound decision, especially when it comes to your vehicles, their performance, the costs they generate and the way they are driven.

#2 Skipping important tasks for lack of time. We all know the same old story of always feeling pressed for time; while we can surely prioritise tasks depending on importance, we cannot simply skip some because they take time, as it might seriously compromise your safety or affect the legal status of your fleet. There might be faster and easier ways of doing things that allow your fleet to stay safe and meet legal requirements.

#3 Getting distracted. Fleet managers can easily get distracted by the amount of tasks they need to deal with, especially if they do not have the technological tools available to process them and help focus on the important things or on the real causes of a problem such as excessive fleet cost, for example. There are surely ways in which you can focus on what is really necessary and also decide how to delegate the less important things.

#4 Wasting time on useless operations. Quite the opposite of #2 but often confused with it, as tasks that are seen as time-consuming are often adjudged useless. But here we are actually talking about operations that are not necessary or can be done in a different, quicker way. If you spend a lot of time planning routes but do not have the tools to help you do it, then you need to look into doing it in a more modern and faster way to save time which can be devoted to other priorities.

#5 Being passive. Some things are just logical, aren’t they, as a matter of fact? Vehicles have so many sources of costs. First and foremost, vehicles need fuel to work. Yes, this is obviously not a revelation, but who said nothing at all can be done about it? You will be surprised how many potential savings might be hidden in your fleet budget that can be returned to the bank balance–just stop being passive when it comes to these issues and take positive action—we are always on hand to help you out.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

Sustainable procurement policy: how to strengthen sustainable fleet management

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 25, 2019 9:05:00 AM

Sustainable procurement policy: how to strengthen sustainable fleet management

Having a sustainable procurement and fleet policy (and adhering to it) is a safe bet for any type of organization. The progress of vehicle technology, of the different systems we use to communicate and the development of fleet management all offer the opportunity to run sustainable and responsible fleets that operate in a cleaner way nowadays, with improved use of vehicles and a consequent reduction of congestion, emissions and fuel.

Committing to sustainability is also a fantastic chance to publicise your wish to take environmental responsibilities seriously, by helping to tackle air quality and climate change, and this consequently enhances your reputation. For companies belonging to the public sector it can even be seen as an imperative, as detailed in the European Criteria for Green Public Procurement Criteria.

Before working on a draft for a sustainable procurement and fleet policy, companies should consider goals, do some research and establish appropriate actions to ensure their sustainability targets can be converted into reality and help minimise the impact on the global environment and reduce traffic—ultimately for the benefit of their business, but also in order to spend more wisely on resources.

What then are some of the points that need to be considered in a sustainable procurement and fleet policy?

Here we detail some of them:

#1 – Consider actions aimed at reducing fuel consumption. There are different strategies to consider in order to reach this goal, like replacing vehicles with more efficient substitutes, looking into alternative fuels, reducing idling, reducing mileage, improving driver habits, adopting planning tools able to set a goal for fuel consumption reduction.

#2 – Working on rightsizing. Determine whether every unit is necessary to the fleet. Are there any gas guzzlers that you could reasonably replace with more efficient models? Make a plan for rightsizing the fleet imminently and down the line

#3 - Set purchasing rules. Think about purchasing rules that favour efficient vehicles, technologies that improve operational performance, cost savings and fair social policies.

#4 – Create an incentive program for greener driving. Measure driver performance on the basis of sustainability, low fuel consumption and efficiency targets, plan proper training in order to improve in these areas and encourage drivers to follow the example of the best performers.

#5 - Use telematics as a fleet intelligence tool. Telematics and fleet management solutions can help identify ways for fleets to take measures which reduce spend, fuel consumption and emissions.

 

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet management sustainability

7 common challenges related to the decision-making process in fleets

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 23, 2019 9:01:00 AM

7 common challenges related to the decision-making process in fleets

Making effective decisions is vital in any business. Every business comes with a set of challenges related to this particular aspect, and the same goes for fleets. Having a sound decision-making process means solving problems by examining different solutions and deciding on the way to go, though very often the way is not necessarily smooth and there are often pitfalls. With this post we would like to explore the main ones faced by those of you holding management-executive positions in fleets—what then are the key challenges when it comes to the fleet decision-making processes?

#1 – Information overload. Having a lot of information is often viewed as beneficial, but if that information is not collated properly or only available via a multitude of methods, processing it all can become overwhelming. You should be accustomed to accessing the kind of user-friendly data that is key to your decision-making options, or you might feel misguided and confused.

#2 – Not having enough information. Of course extremes are never good: not having enough information to support your decision is not good either; and you should definitely be up to speed with all the relevant information in order to come up with the best solution for any issue.

#3 – Misidentifying the problem. In many cases, the issues surrounding your decision will be obvious. However, there will be times when the decision is complex and you aren’t sure where the main issue lies, as the actual cause may be elusive. Being able to conduct thorough research, receive useful data and speak with internal experts could be ways to mitigate this situation.

#4 – Overconfidence in the outcome. We are not by any way devaluing the importance of positive thinking, but rather that you should identify realistic, viable, achievable options rather than ones that are overly optimistic and unrealistic.

#5 – Impulsiveness. Stress, time constraints or any other circumstance such as the pressure to decide upon a course of action can compromise the desired results if decisions are taken too quickly. You might inadvertently skip important data or forget about the impact of some action or other on the team.

#6 – Opinions and objectivity. It is natural to involve other people in the decision-making process, but you need to avoid falling for something similar to the halo effect (preconceived ideas and prejudices based solely upon appearances). Try and be coolly objective in your decision-making—compliance, safety and the business should be the priority—that’s something you can only achieve with objective data.

#7 – Not a one-off. If you make a decision, you will have to follow-up on it to understand if it has really been the correct one; it could be a way to improve your decision-making process and set a useful precedent if you have to take a similar step in the future.

 

Having an objective source of fleet data, as provided by any of our fleet management systems, can really help in overcoming the kind of challenges that all those who manage vehicles experience at some point—do let us know if you want to learn more.

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

A-Z series: M is for Maintenance—a key element of fleet management

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 18, 2019 9:03:00 AM

A-Z series: M is for Maintenance—a key element of fleet management

If you are reading this, you are probably more than aware just how essential vehicles are to your business—hence why M is for Maintenance in our A-Z of fleet management—and chances are a business could not function without them or at the very least some of your daily tasks would be impossible to complete. That’s why keeping your vehicles in sound running order through proper maintenance regimes ensures you have an efficient and healthy business. Not only are well-kept vehicles required to pass regular inspections, but they also help keep employees confident in their equipment. The alternative is an unreliable fleet that lets customers down, costs you money in repairs and alienates staff—something you hopefully want to avoid like the plague!

 

What is fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance is the process of keeping your vehicles operating in a good enough condition so that they are safe, reliable and can stay on the road longer. Developing a preventative maintenance program is an integral part of managing a fleet and helps businesses reduce operating costs and improve vehicle inspection outcomes, among other benefits.  

 

What types of maintenance do we know?

In general, maintenance has two approaches: reactive and proactive. While reactive maintenance focuses on repairing an asset once failure occurs, proactive maintenance, on the other hand, focuses on avoiding repairs and asset failure through preventive strategies that anticipate possible issues (in some cases following recommendations from the manufacturer and establishing a routine series of checks) and predictive methods (complementary strategies based on a database of maintenance checks for those specific vehicles). Both reactive and proactive maintenance might seem to have advantages, but reactive maintenance, relating to minimal preparation, is not necessarily conducive to a positive outcome: downtime is often inconsistent and unpredictable; it is associated with inefficient use of labour and/or higher costs deriving from mechanical issues that could have been tackled more easily and cheaply earlier on or maybe avoided altogether.

Is it better to have a maintenance department or to outsource?

There is actually no answer to suit all types of fleet and business. Small fleets might through necessity have to rely on an external maintenance provider due to their size and available resources, while bigger fleets might find it better to have a structured maintenance department in-house. But nothing is written in black on white. The important thing is fleets are aware of the maintenance needed and of the responsibilities of providers or upon themselves in case they decide to outsource.

 

Which technological solutions can boost fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance today is no longer something relegated to a spreadsheet. The more modern fleet management software comes with an entire maintenance section, which has at least three very practical features:

  • Scheduling—a maintenance calendar with alerts for servicing events and regular maintenance to be carried out;
  • Vendors contacts—a system that records all of the relevant data of your maintenance providers and serves as a database;
  • Vehicle checks—a real game changer if you manage a fleet, as you can so easily plan for vehicle inspection checks to be carried out by your driving staff via an app that stores all the relevant data for compliance and auditing purposes.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet maintenance

The A-Z series of fleet management: L is for Logistics

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 9, 2019 9:01:00 AM

  The A-Z series of fleet management: L is for Logistics

The latest chapter of our A-Z series of fleet management brings us to the letter L, which we naturally associate with logistics.

Logistics and fleet management are strongly connected, although the immediate association of the two might lead you to consider logistics is the sole preserve of fleet management and that it applies mainly to the technological side of transporting things. While logistics is a fairly obviously component of fleet management, it is also applicable to other sectors whose aim is to efficiently organise vehicles to carry out relevant conveyancing tasks. The science of logistics, for example, is inseparable from any military endeavour, where a miscalculation could easily mean the difference between victory and defeat. And it is out of military campaigning, stretching right back to antiquity, that logistics emerged. The modern term in fact derives from the ancient Greek word logistikos and refers to someone who is skilled at calculating.

What is logistics?

Logistics is responsible for the planning and implementation of systems whose fundamental aim is to transport goods from a point of origin A (which can be a factory, for example) to a point of consumption B (which could be a shop, a department store but also, especially if we think about the advent of e-commerce, directly to the home of the customer).

The movement of products is usually the focus of logistics, while the transport is what people commonly refer to as the vehicular or multimodal ways employed to deliver the product to its distribution channels. Goods or products transported might also include tags or identification systems that can help monitor their progress and constantly improve the integrity of the supply chain. The flow of such goods is ultimately the responsibility of the fleet manager, who exercises control over the work assigned to drivers and who is also involved in the safety of vehicles.

It is crucial that logistics is managed properly in order to avoid disruptions, late deliveries or goods arriving in an inappropriate condition, which may lead, as we all know, to the dreaded dissatisfied customer Which isn’t quite as catastrophic as a military logistical failure, but could still lead to liquidation. 

Which parts of the logistics process do rely on vehicles or transportation?

In the supply chain organisational machine, vehicles are not only present in the final part of the process but in all the other phases:

  • Storage – products are transported to warehouses
  • Distribution – products and goods travel all the way to distribution centres, depending on the sales channels of the business
  • Operations – vehicles are an essential element of it and proper organisation of the resources available to meet the customer requirements must be developed
  • ERP – the integration of sales, purchases, warehouse and vehicles are unified in the enterprise resource planning methodology, allowing communication between internal and externalisation parts of the process.

 

 

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Topics: Fleet Management

The most memorable April Fool’s pranks that might make fleet managers laugh

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 4, 2019 9:02:00 AM

The most memorable April Fool’s pranks that might make fleet managers laugh

The beginning of the week marked the beginning of April, or April Fool’s Day as it is known in many countries.

If you are a fleet manager, don’t worry, we don’t want to play any nasty tricks on you—quite the opposite. As the week reaches its conclusion, have a look through this light-hearted article: relax and have a good chuckle at this collection of vehicle-related April’s Fool pranks and ‘wind-ups’.

#1 – Vauxhall’s... ‘Clockwork Adam’

The most memorable April Fool’s pranks that might make fleet managers laugh-1

In April 2016, Vauxhall surprised us all with the incredible new Adam C, where ‘C’ stands for Clockwork: A brand-new, environmentally friendly, wind-up car that could realise the age-old dream of transportation with zero running costs... absolutely no fuel needed. The ‘wind-up’ was in the *ahem* wind-up: a ginormous key positioned at the rear that required incredible upper body strength to twist it enough times to propel the vehicle for up to 125 miles in one go. It is perhaps the fantasy of every fleet—but it is pity that this technology will have to make huge strides if we want to achieve anything remotely resembling a full size clockwork powered vehicle!

#2 – A real classic: the invisible car

The most memorable April Fool’s pranks that might make fleet managers laugh_2

Now you see it, now you don’t. Imagine your fleet was the only one comprised of invisible vehicles... no risk of theft, increased security for your team and probably a huge bunch of other advantages, some of which might be tempting but illegal. For example, speeding without the risk of prosecution and avoiding parking tickets. This is an April Fool’s classic and probably another one of those fleet manager fantasies, not to mention a great idea for an April 1st prank. So good in fact that it has been exploited in a few different news stories of late: see the new invention of a Birmingham researcher in 2009 or the new high-tech MG model of 2016.

#3 – Click to Fly by Hyundai

In today’s fast-paced society where everything is done at your fingertips and all you have to do is click to get anything delivered to your door in a matter of seconds, Hyundai capitalised on this very idea for their April 1st special in 2017 and produced this video which shows drones delivering a new car model in a giant cardboard box. This hydrogen-powered airborne delivery service could supposedly carry up to 2,000kg and deliver your new vehicle to you in just two hours...

 

We hope you enjoyed reading this little collection of mostly harmless pranks. We certainly aren’t suggesting that the demands of managing a fleet are a barrel of laughs or a joke a minute. It would definitely be something if technology was so advanced that some of these fanciful ideas could be put to practical use. But there is still the opportunity available through technology to manage your fleet in an efficient way, make employees safe, vehicles secure and achieve your last mile delivery challenges—talk to us and we will show you how. And, no, this is definitely NOT a prank.

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet manager

Driving after Brexit and deadline update: latest news and useful resources

by Eleonora Malacarne on Mar 26, 2019 9:02:00 AM

Driving after Brexit and deadline update latest news and useful resources

As it stands now, April 12th will probably be Brexit day in the event of a no-deal scenario; but if a deal is agreed, Brexit will take place on May 22nd. In the face of such unpredictability it is proving extremely challenging to prepare for all the eventualities, as even the prospect of a second referendum or an alternative plan is a possibility. But if Brexit is still going to be a reality, as it is looking like now, there is quite a sensitive topic that hauliers might now need to engage with: driving after Brexit.

With this short post we would like to summarise three important points you might wish to consider accompanied by a list of relevant resources.

What will happen with driving licences?                                                                           

If a no-deal Brexit comes into effect, a UK licence will no longer be recognised within the EU. The advice is to exchange a UK driving licence for an EU/EEA driving licence. After Brexit, and in the event of a no-deal, a UK licence might not be recognised as valid in order to drive in the EU and drivers might be required to pass a driving test.

If you need to exchange your driving licence, have a look at these resources:

Exchanging a UK driving licence into a EU/EEA one
Exchanging a UK driving licence into an Irish driving licence (through the NDLS)

Will my CPC still be effective?

After Brexit, CPC qualifications issued in the UK will no longer be recognised in the EU. You should be able to complete international journeys if you have an ECMT permit.

Drivers with a UK licence and CPC card who are resident in Ireland or working there are recommended to exchange both licence and CPC card for Irish ones before Brexit. 

What happens with digital tachographs?

If you hold a UK or Northern Ireland driving licence for a truck or bus, are a resident of Ireland, and obtained your digital tachograph driving card from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), it is important to understand that in the event of a no-deal Brexit you are advised to exchange your UK driving licence for an Irish one. In order to qualify for an Irish Digital Tachograph card you must hold an Irish/EU driving licence and have a PPS number as Irish resident.

Once you have exchanged your UK or Northern Ireland licence, then, you need to apply online for a new/first time digital Tachograph Driver card.

More resources

For additional driving after Brexit information, you can consult the following resources:

The RSA’s detailed FAQs on Brexit and Digital Tachograph

The NDLS’FAQ on Driving Licences

The GOV.UK special section “Prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit”

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, News, Stats & Facts, Brexit

4 more fleet management KPIs your fleet should capture

by Eleonora Malacarne on Mar 21, 2019 9:04:00 AM

4 more fleet management KPIs your fleet should capture

In the latest chapter of our A-Z series of fleet management we dealt with ‘K’ for Key Performance Indicators that are typical in fleet management. With this follow-up article we want to focus once again on KPIs by adding some more into the mix that are not directly connected to financial aspects but do have an impact on your fleet budget.

#1 – Productivity. Any utility that provides insight into how much a vehicle is used is clearly valuable, but it is definitely essential for those who manage a fleet to also gain insight into actual productivity. There are a number of parameters you can apply in order to measure the productivity of your fleet, some examples include journeys and job completion, time spent on site and the activity of your vehicles in general. If you are able to track these metrics you can see whether it is possible to squeeze more out of your fleet, minimise waste and even improve on deadlines and deliveries.

#2 – Safety. Thanks to technology today it is possible to collect different metrics that can be used to improve the safety profile of drivers, the overall safety of the fleet as well as use the safety alerts to adequately train and advise drivers on ecodriving and safe practices. Fleet managers can generally have access in real time to this type of data so that it can be addressed quickly with scope for rapid improvements.

Some of the KPIs related to fleet safety that can usually be tracked by fleet management systems are speeding, rapid acceleration, harsh braking and harsh cornering. These appear to be not only the unsafest driving behaviours but also those that consume more fuel. When talking about driver behaviour there is another metric, idling, that is also generally measurable and really avoidable just by sensitising drivers to the costs of this habit.

#3 – Incidents frequency. Something that is associated with safety—the more accidents the company has, the greater the expense and the lower (most likely) the level of safety. Why accidents? Why not just the costs related to them? This isn’t to say the latter should be ignored. There are costs related to accidents that go far beyond just the cost of repair or the net loss when a vehicle is totalled. However, using this metric is simple, and provides a bigger picture of how efficient, for example, a fleet safety program is.

#4 – Fuel economy. Fleets cannot simply skip over the tracking of fuel economy as it is probably the top expense that motivates fleet directors into constantly seeking out reductions, which is also essential to minimise environmental impact. Also related to fuel economy—you can look at the consumption of your vehicles in either mpg or l/100km, double-check purchases carried out by drivers and establish targets in order to gradually lower consumption so long as your drivers avoid certain driving styles.


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Topics: Fleet Management, GPS & Tracking

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