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Revolutionising African fleet management

Pravar Gautum, Vice President EMEA and Asia at Scope Technologies.

This piece is by Pravar Gautam, Vice President EMEA and Asia at Scope Technologies and featured in the January issue of African Review

Telematics is revolutionising fleet management worldwide, but the technology has become particularly important for international and local fleet managers across Africa. In the US and Europe, the awareness and penetration of telematics is relatively high, however in Africa there are a number of underlying constraints that hinder the successful implementation and effective outcomes of fleet telematics. Recent estimates suggest penetration rates will continue to rise across all major African economies including South Africa, where the penetration rates in 2020 are expected to increase to around 32 per cent from the current levels of around 21 per cent.

Fleet owners are aware of the advantages of adopting fleet management solutions to optimise their profitability. But a number of factors pose a challenge towards the implementation of fleet telematics solutions. Quality of infrastructure is varied and the telecom connectivity between many countries remains a challenge. The poor road infrastructure significantly increases the risk of accidents and damage to humans and vehicles, ultimately increasing costs and complexities for fleet operators. Rampant fraudulent transactions and vehicle theft also impact this emerging and diverse market, and inefficient fleet monitoring systems restrain recovery of these vehicles. Yet, most notably, the scale of fuel theft is propelled from minor incidents to cartel driven operations. Fleet owners and operators are seeking robust tools to monitor, detect and prevent fuel theft. The cash- for-fuel business poses a significant threat to organisations' operating profits across Africa.   

Without proper fleet management systems, it is challenging for fleets to effectively deal with these issues to optimise operational efficiencies. A feature-rich fleet management system and associated big data analytics not only allows fleet managers to keep a close eye on their vehicle’s ongoing costs, including fuel and maintenance spends, but also introduces much needed checks and balances into the operations on an ongoing basis. 

A Case Study: Reducing costs and improving efficiency with telematics

For over 17 years, Scope Technologies has partnered with a number of varied fleet owners through reputable service providers and in-country partners globally. Through our patented technology and domain experience, we provide end-to-end, technologically advanced monitoring tools, adopting the best global practices for our fleet customers. Scope, through its professional and technically skilled partner network across Africa, has made numerous inroads to fleet customers with effective fleet management solutions. One of our recent inter-country African projects includes work with a multi-national oil and gas Company, with operations in Cameroon, Uganda, Equatorial Central Africa, Chad, Ethiopia and Ghana, which achieved significant improvements across various KPIs. This included a 50 per cent reduction in vehicle accidents, a 30 per cent improvement in route compliance, and a 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption across their fleets.

Why was this needed and how did we do it?

The multi-national firm in question runs a large fleet across the continent with several thousand vehicles. A number of these fleets are based in economically or politically volatile markets, which increases the complexity from an operational perspective. The high accident rate in these environments, coupled with the transportation of dangerous flammable liquids, required a technically advanced solution architecture linked to a robust scalable end-to-end telematics solution. Scope was able to deliver on all aspects of the customer requirements such as adherence to route plans and time management, which previously led to customer delays and had a direct impact on productivity. Fleet operating costs were reduced considerably with driver behaviour monitoring. Once introduced, the customer immediately identified improved driver behaviour, which resulted in fewer road accidents. 

The adoption of the Scope solution to the firm's planning tools provided real time reporting and alerts, which improved its route and order management process. This enabled the fleet team to monitor vehicles in real time across different countries. The customer is able to monitor vehicle maintenance-related issues and theft straight away. The collection and tabulation of relevant data and information about routes and orders, provided the company with an opportunity to analyse the routes to fulfil their goals to drive less and deliver more. Unlike traditional track and trace solutions, our solution has also enabled real time accident reporting and reconstruction of vehicle accidents as they happen – a feature that simplifies the investigation process. Significantly, the firm were also able to monitor driving behaviour to rank their drivers against a benchmark. Those failing to meet standards could be retrained or reassigned. 

With profit margins, security and safety records under pressure, there is a growing consensus among fleet managers around the world that the time for utilising telematics technology is now. Not only can this technology bring in significant operational benefits to fleet managers in Africa, it can also result in enhanced safety and profitability for their fleets.