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Following up on fleet management

The South African fleet-management industry has kicked off 2018 with a bang. FOCUS finds out what the major players have to crow about

It seems as though the first six months of 2018 have been all about fleet management, with most fleet-management service providers having much to talk about. In the last issue we covered news from Ctrack and Autotrack – and here’s even more…

TomTom Telematics “Fleet Telematics Company of the Year”

TomTom Telematics has been named 2018 European Fleet Telematics Company of the Year by Frost & Sullivan. Its recent innovations in connected car and fleet management were both cited as crucial factors behind the decision.

TomTom Telematics was praised for “developing diversified solutions” that “ensure optimum driver efficiency and help maximise operational cost savings for clients”. The company’s recently overhauled Webfleet fleet-management system was given special mention.

“The success of TomTom Telematics is a direct result of its efforts to align products and associated services with the delivery of an exceptional end-customer experience,” says Sailesh Mohan, senior research analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

The company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, Webfleet, was significantly enhanced this year. Now equipped with customisation capabilities and updated architecture, it can develop core features and connected partner applications even faster.

Thomas Schmidt, MD, TomTom Telematics, comments: “The continued development of our service platform – and investments in our wider product portfolio – sets us apart in our ability to deliver value, efficiency improvements and bottom-line savings to commercial-fleet owners.”

Changing the essentials of fleet management

Cartrack’s Drive Vision dual on-board camera system has been introduced, bringing insight into how its clients’ drivers behave on the road and allowing them to achieve meaningful driver skills development.

The dual-camera system records video footage with a 120° exterior view of the road ahead, and a 160° view inside the vehicle cab. Fleet managers can actively monitor all the footage, while the system records specific events such as speeding, harsh braking, or an unforeseen action from a third party.

The footage is either buffered in the unit’s memory card for up to five days (and selected time slots can be downloaded by the user via a web interface) or automatically downloaded to the system when specific events occur, such as speeding or a collision. The captured footage is stored at a web address and is immediately accessible to the client at any time.

In addition, the data centre’s driver exception reporting mechanism can review the footage against a client’s pre-determined driver-behaviour stipulations, creating a balanced and flexible driver-performance assessment tool.

“Beyond simply gaining a more efficient means to discipline errant drivers, Drive Vision also empowers fleet managers to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement, while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and performance on the road,” comments Cartrack CEO, Andre Ittmann.

Moving on to added value

“Fleet-management systems are at a mature stage. This means that value-added plug-ins, or even new technology, are required to stay ahead,” says Clifford Solarsh, owner and founder of Soltrack.

“An example of this is fuel monitoring. The extremely high price per litre, and routing efficiencies to reduce kilometres travelled, have necessitated fleet management companies to introduce paperless management systems for more efficient deliveries,” he adds. To meet these demands, Soltrack has developed and enhanced its product and offerings according to the demands of the market. This has been done in house or by incorporating third-party products.

“The days of a dot on a map are long gone. At Soltrack we have identified the potential for value-added benefits for the end users,” Solarsh suggests.

Most recently, this has seen the introduction of the Soltrack Fuel Probe, which has joined other products including the Movon ADAS system, Mobileye and the standard Soltrack Skylink suite of products.

Solarsh suggests that weighing up the benefits and long-term cost savings afforded by such products, against the overall cost of running a truck and the value of its cargo, makes their purchase an easy decision.

“With that said, the add-on benefits need to be worked on continuously in order to get strategic value. This requires the cooperation of management and is where the Soltrack Bureau Service becomes invaluable,” notes Solarsh.

“A dedicated consultant is allocated to the client in order to manage the database and the reports and implement all necessary functionality in order for the client to get the full benefit from the product and services,” he explains.

“What defines Soltrack is the continual innovation-seeking aspect of our business, as well as our decision to embrace third-party products to be inclusive in our very vast tracking and fleet-management offering,” he concludes.

Boosting small, black-owned fitment centres

Beame, a brand of MiX Telematics, has announced plans to roll out its first enterprise-development-based mobile fitment centre. Three black-owned fitment centres were recently empowered with resources to help them develop their businesses into successful operations. Part of this support involved the branding of their vehicles, which Beame came on board to provide.

“Driving transformation in our supply chain is imperative for us as a brand. Therefore, we are always looking for ways to help support and develop small black businesses, and this initiative is one such way that we were able to do this,” says Mariette Myburgh: HR and transformation at MiX Telematics.

One of the businesses that has benefited from the support received from MiX Telematics is Nordatrax, a 100-percent black-owned fitment centre based in Gauteng that has been in operation since December 2016.

“I feel extremely honoured to have been selected by MiX Telematics as a supplier that they want to help develop and grow. While my business is still in its infancy, I have been able to make massive strides towards our long-term growth, largely due to the resources (including mentorship) that MiX Telematics has invested in our operation. I am very thankful for this,” comments John Makena, owner of Nordatrax.

“We are very proud of our enterprise development, which is an integral part of our business strategy at MiX Telematics. For us, it’s about continuously investing in our supply chain, by supporting them with the resources that speak to their existing needs.” concludes Myburgh.

Offsetting the impact of higher VAT 

Efficient and innovative fleet management can save businesses the costs of the recent increases in VAT and the fuel levy, according to executive head for Standard Bank Fleet Management, Derick de Vries.

“Fleet owners are facing a multitude of additional costs, as well as hidden costs of which they are not even aware. The solution lies in harnessing the existing data they possess to dramatically save costs and enhance business efficiencies,” he says.

A more comprehensive, managed plan can return various savings, but, says De Vries, most businesses are not yet realising the full potential in the “goldmine” of data on which they are sitting.

“Data analytics provides insights into an entire fleet and then granular detail on product prices, which can be way too high and need to be managed,” he says, adding that the vehicle sector is at a critical juncture, raising the bar for companies to understand and manage the emerging trends.

“There are some green shoots sprouting for economic growth – but these are not enough to drive growth forward in the fleet industry. Fleet companies will have to find other ways to expand. One of the best levers right now is to reduce as many costs as possible. Harnessing the tools and innovations based on big data is the best way to go,” he concludes.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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