Tricky tracking and marvellous management
The art of keeping tabs on your fleet, drivers and cargo, as well as making sure things happen when they should and how they’re supposed to – is fast becoming a science. FOCUS cracks out its pallet and protractor.
The spheres of fleet management, vehicle and cargo tracking and recovery, and driver management are all interconnected. While some argue that tracking systems can never provide the aspects required of fleet management, and vice versa, a good, wholesome system should bring together the best of all worlds. Whether this is done by employing multiple systems or one “wonder kid”, the benefits of properly implemented systems to make life easy for the fleet manager and drivers (and the insurance companies) will show in savings at the pumps, the longevity of vehicles, the happiness of customers, and on the bottom line.
Here is a look at some of the most recent developments in this fast-paced, technologically driven arena:
In an age where everything is monitored and reported on, the plethora of information bombarding those running a modern day business can be overwhelming. It seems that the more technology we employ to make life easier, the more we get bogged down because of it. But software maker BMC is moving things into the clouds.
“The biggest challenge facing companies is taking the financial plunge that usually goes hand in glove with investing in a new IT service desk,” says Kerry Evans, managing director at Quintica, the local distributors of BMC software. “However that needn’t be the case as when adopting a cloud-based solution like BMC RemedyForce Service Desk you can contain costs while unlocking exponential functionality in your organisation.”
The RemedyForce system is cloud based; in other words it is a network application. This allows it to be easily rolled out internally as well as to others in the logistics chain if needed. As it’s web-based, requests can be logged into the system anywhere, at any time.
“The insight that can be gleaned from implementation allows proactive assessment of business hotspots, permitting resources to be diverted where and when they are most needed. In addition, the fact that it is a cloud-based solution, means that BMC RemedyForce can be scaled up quickly and cost effectively, in order to meet rising demand as businesses continue to grow,”
The days of the traditional logbook are numbered, as TomTom – the company renowned for its GPS navigation units – has launched a new mobile device application that makes it easier for drivers to keep an accurate log of their trips. Available for Android and iPhone users, the Webfleet Logbook app works in combination with the in-vehicle TomTom Link tracking device which reports the trip information.
The driver simply selects whether a journey is for business or private purposes and validates the journey information on his mobile device. Company trip records are simultaneously updated in TomTom’s Webfleet fleet management system.
The app enables additional information to be added by the driver, including the specific purpose of the journey and customer contact details. It also learns from previous journeys, automatically suggesting trip information for faster and easier logbook handling. Employees can also register themselves as the drivers of specific vehicles, allowing fleet managers to easily identify who is driving what, where and when.
“By working in conjunction with the in-vehicle Link tracking device, the Webfleet Logbook app minimises driver involvement, maximising accuracy and reliability to mark a significant advancement from existing GPS smartphone apps.” says Daan Henderickx of TomTom South Africa. “Simplified and automated processes for companies and their drivers free up valuable time for improved productivity,” he continues.
The eye in the sky
Running a fleet of haulage vehicles presents the double whammy of protecting the vehicle itself and the cargo loaded up at the back. Truck hijackings usually occur with the load as the target, but traditional tracking systems are usually only effective in recovering the horse, as these systems are usually wired into the horse, drawing power directly from its battery.
“As far as the trailer is concerned, generally the lack of a reliable power source in the trailer has meant that such tracking devices have been largely ineffective, essentially leaving the trailer untracked – which is often where the value and the interest of thieves lie,” notes Deon Bayly, MD of MTrack. “Criminal gangs know this, and have even started driving their own trucks to pull the untracked trailer unit with its full load.”
MTrack’s smaller wireless devices with internal power sources can be more easily hidden, even inside packages being transported, and remain independently active. They can also be set to detect movement and use cellular networks for location tracking; not as easily blocked in garages, for example, making it harder to hide stolen goods and vehicles as is often the case.
“In terms of asset tracking and recovery, there is no doubt that the most effective systems are wireless, meaning that they can be embedded anywhere in the vehicle, trailer or cargo and there are no wires or antennas to trace,” Bayly concludes.