Telematics help protect SA trucks against expanding risks

Issue 6 2023 Logistics (Industry), Asset Management

The global geopolitical climate, as well as the South African socio-economic situation, have contributed to a rapidly advancing inflationary environment. Electricity and fuel are both contributing to higher prices at the tills. Transporters can use fleet telematics systems that monitor fuel consumption in real time to reduce the cost of operations and ease the impact on the total cost of production.

The road and freight industries have encountered hideous challenges in the past few weeks, with 21 trucks being set alight in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo. Not only do these attacks put truck drivers' lives in danger, but they also affect the country’s economy. With the ongoing truck vandalism, Telematics systems can be used in such instances to expand their data source to flag crime hotspots, or areas of anticipated social unrest along a regular route, and redirect fleets to avoid any potential damage to assets or injury to drivers.

Protecting against breakdowns

Keeping up to date with maintenance schedules is vital in extending the life cycle of vehicles, and doing so manually leaves too much room for error. Not only does a commercial-grade telematics system provide regular reminders of upcoming scheduled maintenance for each vehicle, but it also monitors mechanical components in real time to flag any repairs that may need to be done, thus avoiding larger workshop bills down the line.

As national and provincial road agencies try to expand and refurbish ageing road networks, there is a concern that this may lead to congestion or tyre damage (or worse) along routes with potholed roads. To address these issues, telematics capabilities are expanding to notify drivers and their dispatchers where significant road works are taking place that might cause congestion. This allows them to take caution or reroute entirely, depending on the severity of the damage or disruption.

Improving driver behaviour

Powered by artificial intelligence, telematics systems draw from an exponentially growing repository of data related to historical car crash data, driver behaviour and other risk factors. Most importantly, they monitor the drivers themselves and help them to improve by reminding them to take regular breaks and advising them on driving habits to correct, such as over (or under) steering, taking corners too fast, overall speeding or excessive revving.

Over time, advanced telematics systems enable transport operators and their customers to gain much better control and visibility of their fleets and valuable assets. This not only helps reduce the cost pressure on consumers, but also ensures safer roads for drivers and other road users in South Africa, even during economic crises.

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