More than tracking

Issue 6 2021 Transport (Industry)

Fleet management has never been an easy job, especially in South Africa where many innovations have been developed and exported to deal with the challenges we face. If one considers the increase in crimes ‘on the road’ over the past two years, one would think that fleet management companies are in the pound seats when it comes to revenues.

Gary Wels.

Unfortunately, when one factors in the poor local economy as well as the impact of the pandemic on business, these companies have had, as Gary Wels, managing director of iCAM Video Telematics puts it, “A stressful last two years.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Wels notes that the market, while under pressure, has realised it needs more than just a tracking mechanism to manage its fleet. More transporters are looking for a full solution that incorporates video telematics as part of their fleet management system.

Due to advances in AI and the IoT, there are many services fleet management companies can offer to add value to their clients, which incorporate tracking and telematics to cover security as well as safety. Previous solutions were able to identify risky behaviour by drivers, such as hard braking, for example. The current set of solutions iCAM offers, however, goes much further.

Security and safety

Using AI and cameras in the vehicle, driver safety is enhanced. Most people have heard of cameras in the cab that warn drivers if it looks like they are falling asleep, but Wels says the same cameras can also check if the driver is distracted (on a cellphone, for example) or even if he is smoking. A sound or even a verbal warning can be issued automatically to encourage safer driving practices, or to get a fatigued driver to pull over for a rest.

Other cameras can be used to issue potential forward collision or following distance warnings, and if the roads have decent lane markings or speed limit signs, these can be relayed to the driver to prevent swerving over lanes or speeding. Other cameras can be used to prevent tyre or diesel theft, while still others can be located inside the cargo bay to oversee the cargo while in transit or when loading or unloading.

The road sign detector is something iCAM will be releasing later this year, along with other products that make use of the latest AI developments to enhance safety. Wels expects video telematics to be as popular as traditional GPS tracking (or even more popular) because of the additional functionality it can provide, which will also provide companies with more data to optimise their businesses and individual drivers’ performance.

A recovering market

It’s no surprise that Wels says transport companies are being conservative in their spending these days, but he does see light at the end of the tunnel. After a flat 2020 as a result of the economy and the pandemic’s impact, this year has seen an uptick in spending as iCAM customers realise they can’t be left behind, understanding that enhancing their security as well as safety capabilities will result in optimised operations across the board. The difference in fleet management requirements now is that companies want multifaceted solutions, not only the basic tracking service of the past, which is where video telematics will make all the difference.


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