Going sky-high?

Going sky-high?

From the humble tachograph to evolved methods of monitoring and managing fleets with GPS tracking, advanced data capturing and connected third-party solutions, fleet management has come a long way – and it seems the sky is the limit

Current industry trends include video telematics solutions and integration with telematics offerings from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“Integrating telematics with a camera system has created a host of new opportunities for fleets to enhance their safety, efficiency and productivity while reducing costs,” according to Geotab Africa (part of Geotab Incorporated, which launched in South Africa in 1996 and moved to Canada in 2000). “Integrating a camera system into telematics solutions offers a range of information as visual proof supported by telematics data. In addition to the data produced by the telematics technologies, fleet companies have access to video footage to back up the driving data about their driver.”

Geotab Africa, which designs and develops its own telematics hardware and software, notes that OEMs are increasingly offering telematics as a standard feature, with a broad range of benefits. These include vehicle monitoring, navigation, security, maintenance, hands-free cellphone and entertainment features. “However, due to varying company goals and fleet sizes, companies still require a tailor-made telematics solution to meet their distinctive fleet management needs.

“Furthermore, industries using fleets rarely have the same brand and model of vehicles as fleets. They depend on various vehicles or equipment to perform various jobs. And a successful fleet requires a synchronised workflow and comparable data.”

Geotab has developed an OEM telematics platform to help fleets manage and monitor multiple cars of various brands, in one place. “The OEM telematics system provides cloud access to vehicle data by integrating OEM application programming interfaces on the Geotab platform to allow secure OEM data transfer to Geotab’s fleet management software – removing third-party hardware requirements,” it explains.

A host of additional benefits

“Organisations that have equipped their fleets with telematics systems in order to streamline and digitalise their operations are at an advantage. These systems will enable fleet managers to digitally optimise routes, process and dispatch orders, and avoid unnecessary contact points as per the current restrictions and safety guidelines of lockdown.”

The industry is not without its challenges, especially in 2020

“As a result of lockdown, there has been a shift: people have been buying products online and more businesses have become dependent on last-mile deliveries,” Geotab Africa points out.

In his piece “Last Mile Delivery Innovations for E-commerce Industry” Lakshmi Narashimman, a content writer for Locus (a technology solutions provider headquartered in India, with branches in the US, Indonesia and Vietnam), explains the impact of last-mile delivery.

“A small glitch in the last-mile delivery leads to loss of customer satisfaction. Thus, maintaining efficiency standards is crucial to compete in the e-commerce market,” he points out.

He adds that companies in the logistics industry are looking to develop sustainable and affordable last-mile deliveries. “There are considerable challenges in last-mile deliveries, especially in the inter-urban delivery routes.” These challenges include:

• Traffic congestion;

• Delivery to remote areas;

• Hard-to-locate locations;

• Lack of nearby parking;

• ‘No one home’ to accept deliveries;

• Reduced delivery capacity; and

• Driver shortage.

Modern solutions for emerging tribulations

“Many companies have started to view delivery robots as a potential option for last-mile delivery,” he notes – adding that autonomous robots reduce costs of last-mile deliveries from $1,60 per delivery (for human drivers) down to $0,06 per delivery. “Autonomous vehicles will also contribute to a major chunk of deliveries in the next five to 10 years.

“Drones make speedy deliveries possible, especially if the destination is remote or the terrain is difficult to drive on. It directly addresses geographic challenges. Many companies have successfully experimented with medical deliveries using drones.”

Geotab Africa agrees: “In the near future, we will see a more autonomous, self-orchestrating supply chain – for example, drones shortening the process between ordering and possessing a product. Same-day delivery becomes same-hour delivery.”

In addition, 50% of all fleets will have a measure of autonomy, somewhere between being semi-autonomous to fully autonomous. “Transport volumes in warehouses will be reduced by 50%; warehouse sizes will be reduced by 30%, with smaller spokes closer to consumers as opposed to large, central hubs in city outskirts.

“Value-added services such as ‘trade facilitation’ will no longer exist, as blockchain enables all payments upon approval for letters of credit, and issues port payments upon custody changes. Supply chain becomes unbundled from ‘end to end’ and ‘point A to point B’, as business models shift from integration to aggregation.”

Some of the technologies and applications mentioned already exist, while others are not yet widely used, but this will change in the next five to 10 years as digitisation is implemented, says Geotab. “Companies embracing digitisation will have a huge advantage in improving efficiencies, and exploring new business models and revenue streams in the digital supply chain.”

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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