Waging war on fleet managers’ woes

Waging war on fleet managers’ woes

Theft of goods in transit, improving driver behaviour, safety and insurance claims … These are the things that fleet mangers’ nightmares are made of. JACO DE KLERK brings them some respite.


Fleet managers are plagued by a world of worries – needing to ensure that vehicles are running, on time, and delivering a profit … a headache all of its own.

But these coordinators have a few additional Freddy Kruegers (a deranged sadomasochist, and the primary antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, that terrorises the dreams of people) lurking in the dark through theft of goods in transit, the task of improving driver behaviour and safety and insurance claims – causing them some sleepless nights.

In the slasher film series, Krueger is defeated in a number of ways: the most practical being a good old-fashioned beating and decapitation (after being ousted from the dream world). But, for fleet managers, the respite isn’t at all as violent …

Decapitating crime syndicates

According to Mtrack, an asset tracking and recovery service provider, the logistics industry is under constant attack from crime syndicates looking to take advantage of the soft targets presented by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) while in transit.

“One of the reasons FMCG are popular targets for criminals it that they are easy to transport, offload, store and distribute once taken from legitimate companies,” says Deon Bayly, MD of the company. “The reality is, once the goods have been taken, the logistics company may well recover its vehicle and the driver may be unharmed, but it is almost impossible to recover the goods as they quickly vanish into the hands of unscrupulous consumers, who would rather not pay the full price.”

To prevent this vanishing act, Mtrack offers its Goods in Transit (GIT) solution – a system that makes use of the company’s wireless asset recovery unit, which has its own power source and can be installed in the trailer as well as in the cargo itself – allowing companies to track a rig’s contents and not only the cab.

It has all the normal fleet management bells and whistles, including real-time and historical reports on the vehicle’s location, speed, fuel consumption and maintenance intervals. And it monitors issues such as: excessive idling, harsh braking and speeding – audibly notifying the driver if infringements occur.

Additional benefits include driver identification, where the unit immobilises the vehicle until the identification process is completed and the person verified, and zone management services. The latter enables fleet operators to define geo-fences and no-go areas, customer locations and any other point of interest to the company.

Should the rig venture onto an unauthorised route or into a no-go zone, the operator can immediately follow up, via voice calls or an SMS, to determine the cause. The system can also be pre-programmed with messages, such as “arrived at destination”, which can be sent by the push of a button. When required, GIT can also be used for audio surveillance of the cab.

“The management of the entire system is web-based, meaning management can log into almost any web browser and gain a bird’s-eye view of their vehicles at a given moment in time, or call up historical reports,” Bayly points out. “Using a web-based solution also means that customers always have the latest version of the software without ever having to upgrade or reinstall anything.”

And, by using all the data gathered, Mtrack’s GIT solution can replay trips and enable companies to plan routes. It can also reconstruct accidents should this be required.

Beating insurance woes

Another fleet management and mobile asset management solutions provider, Mix Telematics, launched Mix Vision – a configurable video recording system that integrates with the company’s flagship fleet management solutions, FM-Web and FM Communicator.

The system comprises a tamper-resistant unit that is attached to the inside of the vehicle’s windscreen and houses two cameras: one facing the road and one the driver. This integrates with the FM Communicator and automatically uploads two, 15-second, low-resolution video clips from each camera when an event occurs (such as harsh braking, speeding or a collision).

Fleet managers have access to all footage at the end of each completed trip, with high-resolution versions being available at the touch of a button. The operators can also choose to download segments of high-resolution video clips recorded on a 72-hour rolling buffer.

“With this powerful solution, video footage of the driver and his view of the road are captured simultaneously, thereby enabling fleet managers to assess the circumstances at the time of an actual or reported incident,” explains Gert Pretorius, MD of the company’s Africa Fleet Solutions division. “Mix Vision places operators at the scene and will prove invaluable for those who want to enhance driver behaviour, improve safety and reduce costs relating to false claims.”

He adds that the system also helps to protect drivers in cases where they were not at fault.

“Notably, the event triggers are highly configurable, which means that our customers have the freedom to predetermine any driving event for which they would like to record video footage,” says Pretorius.

A peaceful night’s sleep

So, with these tools in fleet managers’ pockets, they can rest a bit easier as some of the troubles they have to face are covered … And with the constant development of fleet management technologies, defeating the Freddy Kruegers of the fleet world will keep on happening and the means will become all the more creative.

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