A fleeting glimpse
Proper fleet management can reduce mileage and save fuel. Service providers need to structure fleet solutions to meet individual requirements, in order to meet the ever-changing needs of South African fleet operators. CLAIRE RENCKEN speaks to a few companies that are getting it right.
An increasing number of southern African mining companies are turning to asset management solutions; which are capable of improving fleet efficiency by locating multiple mobile assets, and then rerouting them to areas of greater importance by contacting the vehicle operator directly.
Asset management solutions provider, QCIC, is making significant inroads in this industry through its flagship QIC-FLEET global system for mobile communications (GSM) fleet management solution, which can be installed on all mining-related vehicles including forklifts, handling plants, bulldozers, loaders, articulated dump trucks, rigid dump trucks, cranes, as well as on transport vehicles such as buses used to transport labourers.
QCIC director, Brian McKenzie, says that QIC-FLEET enables fleet owners to effectively and affordably manage numerous variables related to the location and performance of individual vehicles and equipment. It does this by transmitting relevant data on the GSM network, via a preferred network partner.
“The system boasts an on-board global positioning system (GPS) that tracks vehicles and manages on-site productivity. A combination of labour unrest and financial constraints has led to an increase in demand for QIC-FLEET in local mining applications,” he states. Using a complementary CAN-BUS add-on, the system plots the data on a map with GPS positions to identify the cause of an incident, and the precise location where it occurred.
Another advantage of the CAN-BUS and QIC-FLEET combination is that it has the ability to warn of a potential engine failure or dangerous situation through an in-cab buzzer, based on the set-up of the device installed in the vehicle.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) also recognise the importance of effective fleet management. Theunes van der Westhuizen, connectivity manager at Scania South Africa, explains that Scania’s fleet management solution helps operators to reduce mileage and save on fuel, by offering customers access to information and reports on the fleet’s performance, as well as insight into the drivers’ activities and driving styles.
“Today’s transport industry faces many new challenges and we are committed to working with our customers to tackle them,” says Van der Westhuizen.
“Scania’s fleet management system utilises state-of-the-art technology and driver education. Customers benefit from improved fuel consumption and driver behaviour, live performance monitoring and reduced spend on repairs. This provides added value to our customers and gives us new opportunities to interact with them,” he adds.
Furthermore, the system is user friendly, easy to understand and there is no complex start-up or installation. “All that is required is a reliable internet connection with an email account. With the free Scania Fleet Management app, you get access to the fault-reporting function and your drivers can instantly report problems and supply photographs directly from the site of the incident,” explains Van der Westhuizen.
For more than four years, Engen has also been doing its bit to offer peace of mind and more control to fleet managers across the continent in the form of its 1-Card. This card system has been developed to offer a secure fuel payment system. What’s more, it is able to operate in areas where connectivity is not always optimal.
Administered by Engen, the 1-Card costs a fraction of bank-issued petrol cards and has no transactional fees or monthly administration charges. The system can be tailored to the individual needs of each fleet – whether a pre- or post-paid account is preferred.
Fleet managers have improved control over fleet expenses, as they can determine when and where each 1-Card can be used as well as how much can be spent on the card. In addition, fleet operating businesses are able to receive a monthly itemised report with an overview of fuel expenditure. Find more information about 1-card on page 51.
According to Intelligent Telematics operations director, Craig Lovell, the road transport, fleet and insurance sectors face huge losses each year, due to inaccurate and inadmissible evidence needed to defend or mitigate insurance claims. Therefore, there is now massive interest in forward-facing camera technology.
“Any camera will help to mitigate claims, but as the insurance sector becomes more technically aware, it will become critical to ensure that GPS accuracy and g-force measurement provides highly reliable data on impact speeds and forces, to prevent any challenges to the validity of data,” he explains.
Currently, many cameras capture data at only one second intervals, meaning that these solutions are often able to provide impact speeds only before or after an accident. Lovell says companies need to insist on cameras that capture data at ten times per second, to ensure impact speeds are identified at the exact point when an accident occurs.
“It is also essential that a camera is mounted perfectly square on both horizontal and vertical planes to have a zero g-force reading when stationary; something that is almost impossible to achieve through manual installation. Therefore, it is important that companies carefully consider any camera investment to avoid potentially spiralling insurance costs,” he says.
Steven Sutherland, sales director for MiX Telematics in South Africa and Africa, explains that a properly implemented fleet management solution can deliver an average of ten-percent savings on fuel costs alone. “Savings like this are critical when we consider the rising cost of fuel and the highly competitive climate in which these organisations operate,” he adds.
Yet, many operators are not yet taking advantage of such solutions. Sutherland believes that the initial expense of a fully fledged solution is the main reason. “This really shouldn’t be the deciding factor, as substituting true value for a low upfront cost will very likely cost fleet owners more in the long run.”
Eqstra Fleet Management offers its clients an integrated solution, which makes it simpler for fleet managers to set up effective controls to measure and manage costs.
“We have never come across a fleet budget that could not be improved by at least five percent,” says Murray Price, managing director of Eqstra Fleet Management.
“Most fleets are managed operationally. Very few companies consider the total cost of ownership when making fleet decisions. We assist our clients by offering them a total overview of their costs, benchmarked against researched norms. This enables fleet managers to make the most efficient decisions relating to the operation of their fleet.”