Observer fleet management system goes underground

May 2000 Access Control & Identity Management

The Observer on-board computer system is now certified by the SABS as an 'Intrinsically safe electrical apparatus'.

According to Irenco, manufacturers of Observer, "Various mining groups use the Observer vehicle monitoring unit in their underground vehicles to collect vehicle and driver information. According to the SABS 549:1993 (amended 1995) specification the equipment was tested safe to use in hazardous locations such as the underground mining operations where equipment might be exposed to ie methane gas."

In certain mining applications it is imperative that each vehicle must be washed every day. The washing of vehicles is a prerequisite from the manufacturer. Harmful grit collects on the vehicles and causes damage and rust to the body of the vehicle, reducing the lifespan. Irenco re-engineered special changes to the Observer to collect information at the wash bays.

Each driver will take his vehicle to the wash bay and insert a smartcard into the Observer smartcard reader at the wash bay to trigger the start of a wash. The vehicle and driver information is stored on the Observer at the wash bay. After washing, the driver will insert the smartcard in the vehicle to start the vehicle and information about the wash is transferred to the Observer in the vehicle. Management can print reports from the wash bay unit or the vehicle unit to monitor that each vehicle is washed daily.

Says Marihette Hattingh, Irenco Marketing Manager, "The Observer is the ultimate solution to enhance the total spectrum of efficient logistics management for all fleet managers." Key on-board computer features include:

* Driver and vehicle identification to pinpoint responsibility.

* Trip start- and end-times, as well as the date of each trip.

* Odometer readings and distance travelled (data collected electronically via gearbox sensor).** * Reports on driver exceeding the maximum speed (speed parameters adjustable).

* Reports on driver exceeding the maximum revolutions (rpm) (RPM parameters adjustable) p RPM green band (economy range).

* Reports on excess engine idling times, as well as harsh braking and acceleration.

* Fuel consumption.

* Time attendance.

* Reports on vehicle/fleet usage and productivity.

* Accident reports (date, time, speed, harsh braking and acceleration).

Smartcard or smart key interface

Observer utilises a smartcard or smart key to interface with the system, which has an open architecture, allowing reports to be customised to suit customer-specific requirements. The smartcard or smart key can be used to immobilise vehicles for the purpose of security and driver control. It can be programmed to allow access to the vehicles only on specific dates and times and therefore ensures that transport managers can keep tight control of fleet utilisation and prevent misuse.

Says Hattingh, "Downloading of data occurs through the smartcard or key, but a base station computer can alternatively be configured to automate the capture of data, using an in-house developed RF downloading device with guaranteed data integrity. A mass download unit can also be used to extract data from vehicle monitoring units."

The mass download unit is a storage device that is capable of storing up to 4 MB of raw on-board computer data. The data can be extracted directly from the Observer or from the card/key via the reader in the vehicle or via the RF download device. After the extraction of data, the data can be downloaded to the PC base station for utilisation and management reporting.

The unit can be concealed in the vehicle and is connected to a smartcard or smart key reader which identifies the driver and is the only part of the system visible to the driver.

Benefits of data collection and collation

The benefits of collecting such data is in the reduction of abuse, accident monitoring, optimisation of vehicle/fleet usage, calculation of fuel consumption, increase of vehicle lifespan, elimination of unauthorised vehicle usage and, ultimately, a saving on running costs.

"I am pleased that we can report the following savings in which the Observer played a major role:

* Reduction in major accident numbers - 22%. p Reduction in minor accident numbers - 65%. p Reduction in fuel usage - 7,7%.

* Reduction in kilometres travelled - 2,5%"- Selwyn Chettiar, Product Development and Support Manager, Eskom FME.

Ultimately, the system will stop vehicle abuse, increase the vehicle lifespan and provide excellent management information.

For details contact Marihette Hattingh, Irenco Marketing Manager on tel: (012) 671 1640 or fax: (012) 671 1637.





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