COMMERCIAL vehicle operators are spoilt for choice when it comes to fleet management technology available in South Africa, but Questek Telematics GM Clinton de Bruin says that there is still a misconception that fleet management functionality ends at tracking a dot on a map and monitoring drivers’ behaviour. However, there are numerous other facets to the discipline.
De Bruin says Questek Telematics, elevates fleet management to a new level with its focus on fleet efficiency, mechanical and predictive diagnostics, safety and analysis of drivers’ skills.
In addition to basic fleet management functionality, tracking incidents such as harsh braking, freewheeling, idling, speeding,Questek provides fuel consumption statistics live, over time or for specific areas. When it comes to driver behaviour, Questek goes the extra mile. For instance, it tracks the extent to which the accelerator is depressed to set the vehicle in motion (with foot-flat acceleration consuming more fuel than depressing the pedal halfway). It analyses how – and if – braking aids such as retarders are used (with retarders playing a crucial role in extending the life of service brakes).
De Bruin asserts that the value of the offering lies in the analysis it provides: while a fleet management system may amass data on harsh braking and acceleration, for instance,the value lies is identifying the problem and its cause, as well as a remedy.
“It’s not really the data that holds the value – the analysis does,” says De Bruin. “What sets Questek Telematics apart is not the amount of data it generates, but the analysis of the data. Operators need not analyse their data: Questek conducts the analysis and presents the outcome to the operator.”
Questek Telematics will visit customers and identify their ‘pain points’ or problem areas – such as brakes or turbos – then set up a scheme to report on that focus area, eliminating the need for the operator to sift through mountains of data.
One danger that De Bruin has encountered with fleet management systems is that the sheer volume of information delivered to the fleet operator can derail a project: because the prospect of analysing data amassed becomes too daunting, systems may instead fall into disuse.
The reports Questek generates serve as a basis for driver education and rehabilitation to rectify problem behaviour, continues De Bruin, rather than resorting to dismissing errant drivers. Drivers tend to modify their behaviour promptly, because they know what they’re doing wrong and also that they are being monitored.
While tracking functionality is one component in Questek Telematics’ offering, De Bruin also highlights the fact that there are several other equally important elements in the product portfolio. These include fleet management, profiling, fuel usage, fleet utilisation, and investigation.
Beyond straightforward vehicle tracking, Questek enables analysis of vehicle mechanics, providing insight into why breakdowns have occurred and what can be done to avoid failures. Questek Telematics has enabled one fleet to significantly curb fuel consumption by presenting a snapshot of each vehicle’s battery voltage to pinpoint any vehicles that need attention – instead of starting every vehicle in the morning and leaving the entire fleet to idle. The system provides information on brake lining status, damaging rapid starts or shutdowns, cost of idling and so on.
Questek Telematics generates concise, easy-to-grasp reports which inform operators of problems and also outline remedial action. Reports may be generated as frequently as operators choose. However, if an alert is triggered – rocketing coolant temperature, for instance – the relevant operator staff will be contacted immediately via SMS. In the case of an accident, an e-mail to relevant staff will be generated automatically, specifying location, driver and even the intensity of the accident. System data such as speed and rpm can be used in accident reconstruction. Questek also analyses the data is extracts to identify patterns in fleet and vehicle performance, serving as the basis for predictions.
the vehicle he is servicing. In addition, these are supplementedby reports identifying trends, which serve as the basis for
predictions on vehicle performance down the line. Reports are pitched at relevant staff, with managementreceiving an overview of fleet performance and trends (such as fuel consumption and safety events), as well as information on fleet utilisation, while operations and technical staff are targeted with information pertinent to their tasks. Questek Telematics connects directly to a vehicle’s CANbus system for vehicle information to relay to Questek Telematics. In the case of older vehicles, sensors will be connected to provide data. Immediately a unit is fitted, the customer can see all the information on the vehicle. The system may be purchased outright, with a monthly subscription for reporting and communication costs (communication is via the GSM network), or obtained on a rental basis for a set term. Reports are generated as frequently as customers choose, with monthly or weekly the norm. The system is accessible via the website, or through an app. An advantage of third party installation that De Bruin highlights is that fitment to any vehicle is possible, where as proprietary systems are restricted to their OEM brands.
Operators would also be dealing with a single platform. While the system is capable of cutting fuel consumption by as much as 10%, De Bruin says it’s essential that there is buy-in from the operator to ensure follow-through with drivers to attain results. “If you have the customer’s buy-in, you’ll have the savings,” he says, adding that it’s not solely about fuel consumption – the maintenance burden will also be eased.