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Vehicle owners are always concerned about the cost of servicing and maintaining their vehicles, which is where reliable warranties come in. However, that is no longer the only problem facing fleet owners. CLAIRE RENCKEN investigates.
As perhaps one of the most obvious transport solutions, warranties should stand as a promise that the vehicle and its parts are not defective.
According to Wade Griffin, director of commercial vehicles at Hyundai Automotive South Africa, for any business owner who cannot afford vehicle downtime, ensuring that a proper warranty is in place is one of the most important things to do when purchasing a new vehicle. “Business owners and fleet managers must identify what the warranty covers, and, equally importantly, understand what it does not include,” says Griffin.
A warranty should provide extended financial security. “Service and maintenance plans usually cover only the items required by the manufacturer to keep the vehicle working, and to prevent major damage from occurring. When considering a vehicle warranty, it is important to evaluate the inclusions and exclusions – whether it is a full manufacturer’s warranty or simply an extension that is backed up locally,” he explains.
“Full manufacturer’s warranties tend to be more valuable, as the cover is more comprehensive, which means part failures are accounted for, thereby reducing maintenance costs,” he adds.
Businesses need to check whether the warranties provide built-on value that reduces warranty claims. As an example: many commercial vehicles have turbocharged engines which are prone to frequent maintenance.
“Hyundai offers a standard turbo-protector to ensure there are no turbo failures. Through this, the fleet vehicle may never need maintenance, depending on driver behaviour of course, and built-on value decreases the need for warranty claims in certain instances,” Griffin says.
The manufacturer’s warranty should cover a number of vehicle components, and the full extent of the warranty should always be discussed in detail with the relevant fleet vehicle supplier, before a vehicle purchase. The right warranty can contribute to reducing the overall cost of ownership for any fleet owner, and is a welcome relief for companies faced with increasing costs.
Unfortunately, warranties are no longer all that fleet owners and managers need to be concerned about. Preventing theft in transit with cargo tracking devices is just as important.
Furthermore, as an increasing amount of merchandise is transported across the country by road, the risk of truck hijackings increases too. Fleet managers can combat this scourge with innovative cargo tracking devices, such as those available through QCIC.
Brian McKenzie, QCIC director, notes that a QIC-LOC device can be discretely placed in the cargo without the driver or other personnel knowing its location. “This ensures that the device is secure and cannot be easily found if the cargo is stolen. Once the cargo has reached its destination, a preselected employee will know where to find the device in order to remove it and turn it off.”
QIC-LOC can be used for tracking of cargo inside trucks through a global system for mobile communications (GSM) network with a GPS. The device features a car alarm, an electronic log-book function, flexible asset management, and flexible driver and staff management.
It also boasts a 24-hour system health check, a panic button for emergency and alarm notification, and an intelligent internal power supply and management system. An incorporated GPS provides a location accurate to within three metres, and the “mark-a-position” button allows the user to record their position at any time.
“The device comes with three programmable modes – power-saving, normal and high power. These eliminate the need for additional guarding of cargo and are monitored through a call centre, which works together with a recovery unit, should there be a hijacking in progress,” explains McKenzie.
High power mode is commonly used on short-haul applications. This provides near live positioning, and buffers seven positions to within a packet of positions to be sent when the buffer is full.
The power-saving mode is more suitable for long-haul applications, owing to the fact that the device is able to remain partially dormant until the vehicle reaches its destination, or comes to a stop for a certain period of time.
Even though the GSM capabilities are offline, the GPS remains active, continuing to record the trip of the vehicle the entire time. McKenzie highlights that it is important for tracking technology to be made smaller and more difficult to find, as it is no longer sufficient to simply track the vehicle or container.
“Thanks to jamming technology, criminals have the ability to block the transmission of the tracker, which enables them to drive the vehicle to a location where the cargo can be offloaded onto another vehicle or into a warehouse. After the truck is abandoned, the cargo cannot be tracked,” he adds.
By placing a tracker in the cargo, the cargo itself can be tracked and recovered. McKenzie reveals that the smaller size ensures that it can easily be placed in amongst the packages. “For expensive cargo, companies may decide to place multiple QIC-LOC devices into the cargo, in case one of the trackers is discovered. This provides fleet managers with the peace of mind that they can monitor their cargo at each stage of the journey,” he continues.
QIC-LOC also consumes minimal power, as it is only active when in motion, thanks to a movement sensor. The device will automatically shut down if it has not moved for a predetermined period. On average, it can travel approximately 2 500 km before needing to be recharged. In a situation where the device is not in motion, the battery can last up to six months without being charged.
“For added convenience, QIC-LOC is fully rechargeable via USB, a wall socket power supply or a cellphone charger, thereby allowing the user the freedom to charge the device wherever is most convenient.
“It is also remotely configurable, and provides the user with near real-time asset status and position. A durable, high-impact plastic and splash-proof casing ensures that the device can withstand even the harshest environments,” McKenzie concludes.