As markets for South African goods open up in SADC countries and beyond, transport by road plays an increasingly important role as barriers to entry are relatively few. But rising operating costs mean that effectively managed fleets, will be all-the-more important for companies to maintain a competitive advantage. Asset management and consumer solutions provider QCIC Asset Management Solutions Qic-Fleet offers companies improved fleet management control and significant cost savings “if implemented and managed correctly”.
This is according to company marketing and new business development manager Brian McKenzie. The Qic-Fleet system has a CANbus interface for the controller area network.He highlights that 90% of the system’s revenues comes from the localmarket, while 10% is from companies operating in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia.
The constantly rising input costs of running fleets, such as fuel and labour, are placing “intense operational pressures on companies”, McKenzie points out. “Badly run transport companies are finding it progressively more difficult to stay afloat; however, those embracing technology and making a concerted effort to implement and manage new technologies accordingly, currently have the edge in the market place.”The system includes the Garmin navigation device for routing and expected time-of-arrival scheduling, cold chain system monitoring and input/output data transfer to and from a computer, as well as ‘door open’ and ‘door closed’ alerts.
Qic-Fleet is also equipped with complete J1939 CAN-bus and J1708 CANbus integration, as well as power line communication.
“The programmable logic controller enables QCIC to send relevant data through the Qic-Fleet platform using a vehicle’s power harness or loom, ensuring easy installation and affording the end-user the opportunity to connect to various data pickup points on board the asset,” McKenzie explains.
He adds that Qic-Fleet’s CAN-bus platform enables users to report on a fleet’s true speed and mileage, the fuel used for the selected period, fuel tank levels and vehicle abuse caused by excessive braking.
SMS service monitors fleet transactions
Standard Bank Fleet Management, a division of financial services provider Standard Bank, reports that its messaging service, will keep fleet operators up to date on transactions that involve their vehicles, improving logistical efficiencies.
The SMS service alerts fleet managers every time a transaction is approved or declined at point of sale. It also provides information pertaining to where the transaction takes place, value of the transaction and the registration number of the vehicle on the forecourt. It provides real-time service with its primary use that of keeping operators’ fleets moving.
In the event of a transaction being declined, the manager can access the transaction authorisation website to find the reason for the decline and then take the necessary remedial action at any time, 24-hours a day.
In addition, the client has the ability and flexibility to designate who receives the SMS messages. Rather than loading one individual with all the information, the customer can route messages, which means that one designated person could receive all approved transactions, another, all declined transactions and a third person could receive approved and declined transactions.
Standard Bank Fleet Management head Dr David Molapo notes, “Fleet managers will know that we are able to manage open road toll fee payments as part of our offering. In addition, they will also be able to increase their personal mobility
within their businesses knowing that they can be constantly in touch with their operations through our new SMS service for fuel, oil and repairs and maintenance transactions”.
The bank’s fleet management offers the product at no additional charge to users of its fleet service products. “All that is required is that they register,” says Molapo. The request is processed immediately and reporting commences with the next transaction.
Backing this new service is the transaction authorisation website that will help with the efficient management of costs.
“Online authorisations may have brought the fleet industry into line with credit card technology, but already the industry is looking forward,” says Molapo, who predicts that the debate over the use of ‘chip and pin’ technology will continue to be a point of debate within the industry this year.
Molapo notes that the most asked question is whether the ‘chip and pin’ system commonly used in credit cards is best suited to the fleet industry. “Whether this technology will further advance the controls and benefits available through the real-time transaction approval system is still open to debate,” he says.
Weighbridge solution assists in mitigating rising fleet costs
Software developer Dariel Solutions MD Malcolm Rabson identified the bottlenecks that had hindered accurate documentation of freight transportation. The company developed the Weighbridge
solution (WBX), which is linked to the back-end of fleet management to not only track the vehicles but also eliminate fraud, increase productivity and allow for smoother processes to be implemented.
“WBX is a proudly South African solution and was developed in 2009.”
Rabson says WBX allows for the instant electronic monitoring of fleets and the goods that are transported.
“The system can easily be integrated into existing software, and with other weighbridges anywhere in the country, using the Internet. Previously fleets were tracked manually, but technological advancements now allow for fleets to be tracked in real-time, eliminating any irregularities during the process,” he points out.
“The advantage of customised software is that the system can be changed and modified to suit the user’s specific fleet requirements. Business processes are always changing and WBX adapts with the changes that occur in the business,” he explains. Rabson adds that Dariel Solutions has extensive expertise in the mining, logistics and manufacturing industries and that WBX has all the features needed to meet the requirements of the receiving and dispatch processes concerning weighbridge goods in these industries. “Therefore, it should come as no surprise that WBX is used widely in South Africa in several sectors such as mining and food distribution chains. The system is ideally suited to companies that have large fleets of vehicles and undertake the
receiving and dispatching of goods.”
Rabson says fraud is a major challenge in the industry, as enterprise resource planning management (ERPM) systems are not directly connected to weighbridges, resulting in up to 70% of exceptions, such as goods not matching the orders.
“Most current systems are not flexible enough to deal with such variances, delaying the logistical process, as the goods need to be physically accounted for or checked by slow, outdated computer systems.
“Managing freight for the fleet industry is fundamental not only to maintain a competitive advantage but also to increase the profitability of an organisation and reduce fraudulent activity. As goods can sometimes be in transit on the road for days, it is essential to ensure that they are managed correctly,” he emphasises.
To deal with these challenges, Rabson states that the WBX system functions as a link between ERPMs and weighbridge systems.
“The system matches the order to the goods being delivered, but it can also identify exceptions, such as discrepancies among orders and the actual tonnage variances in the scales of the weighbridge,” he states, emphasising that one of the main objectives of WBX is to eliminate fleet fraud.
Moreover, Rabson notes that WBX can be directly integrated into closed circuit television (CCTV), which enables managers to monitor the CCTV footage.
“The CCTV footage can also be intelligently searched and tagged with transaction data from WBX and integrated into all major ERPMs, systems applications and products and java development environments. Ultimately, the system allows for direct integration into the client’s systems for seamless transfer of shipment data and transactions.”
Rabson adds that WBX captures all the necessary information, which creates a strong audit trail and the supervisory
management of exceptions. – Ilan Solomons