Numerous challenges for transport and logistics

Issue 6 2022 Transport (Industry), Surveillance, Security Services & Risk Management, Logistics (Industry)

The local transport and logistics sector is facing numerous challenges, from volatile fuel prices to a continuing recovery from Covid-19 related chaos, as well as environmental concerns. Security is another area of serious focus for this South African industry, and one that is pervasive across the supply chain.

“Looking at our railways, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) announced recently that it spends R1 billion per year to protect its infrastructure, with the local freight rail network being massively impacted by theft and vandalism,” states Glenn Noome, director at Smart Integration, an Ulwembu Business Services organisation.

“Transnet advised last year that it had laid out R1,6 billion on security, having seen an increase in theft and damage of 177% on its lines, an issue that has severely affected its ability to move critical export volumes.

“And this is not the only area of transport and logistics under fire in South Africa,” Noome continues. “In June this year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) presented the country’s latest crime statistics, which covered the fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year (January to March 2022). Truck hijackings saw the second biggest increase in statistics, increasing at an almost unthinkable 700%, quarter on quarter.

“With these sobering statistics and figures in mind, it makes sense then that transportation and logistics organisations are increasingly turning to technology to safeguard both their drivers and their cargo. Not only can these smart security solutions help with supply chain security, but they are also critical to employee health and safety and performance improvement.”

The role of smart video in transport and logistics management

According to Hikvision South Africa’s solution director, Eric Zhang, logistics operators are making significant investments in automation and digitalisation in order to address security concerns, improve loss prevention as well as efficiency, and reduce unit order costs.

“And a key technology for next-generation logistics management is smart video, an evolution of the cameras that companies have already been using in their warehouses, distribution centres and yards for decades. While traditional cameras were used for security only, smart video solutions use AI, machine learning and other advanced technologies to enhance security measures at the same time as boosting efficiency, productivity, and even worker health and safety.”

The deployment of smart video solutions as part of a logistics management environment can deliver the following benefits:

• An increase in site security: based on perimeter protection solutions that provide clear video footage, even in zero-light environments. Radar and dome cameras can also be combined to detect any unauthorised people or vehicles entering the site, and to trigger automated alerts for any suspicious movements. To further increase efficiency, remote patrols can be enhanced with AI, which enables regular security checks without having to manually review video footage. In this case, only video images that identify a potential security threat are sent to site security teams, dramatically reducing staffing requirements and costs. Fire risks can also be reduced by combining thermal cameras and smoke detectors, which can detect abrupt temperature changes that could indicate a fire and alert security teams of potential fires before any damage is done.

• Improving goods and order tracking: by providing the ability to create an automated, secure and fully trackable goods management process. This supports the secure flow of goods at one site (or across multiple sites) and includes solutions for accurate, secure goods scanning, tracking and delivery. • Enhancing personnel management and health and safety: with AI algorithms that automatically send alerts if employees are not wearing the required protective equipment, or if they get too close to dangerous machinery, for example.

• Optimising vehicle and dock management: with dashboards that display the status of each loading dock in real time, which allow vehicles to load and unload more quickly and help to maximise efficiency and throughput.

• Improving fleet management: for logistics companies, the truck fleet is one of the most important assets, and protecting the safety of drivers and goods becomes a crucial topic. A mobile onboard video system is designed for easier and smarter supervision, scheduling and emergency response for logistics fleets. The system enables real-time monitoring of vehicles’ interiors and their surroundings, along with high-precision positioning of vehicles. The system also features a powerful software platform for live-view, video playback, GIS map, device health monitoring, fuel consumption checking, goods quality monitoring, emergency alarms and more. It can help digitalise the road freight industry, with improving efficiencies and reducing costs.

“The use of smart video technology is critical to helping the transport and logistics industry to protect their goods, restricted areas, people, and the entire transportation process from start to finish. This sector really has a lot to gain from the use of these types of solutions, and it extends beyond security and efficiency gains to include a smoother supply chain process and even traffic flow management,” Zhang concludes.

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