Article published in Logistica Moderna magazine Nº 1
The first vehicle fleet management system lauched around 1993/1994, provided simple vehicle location, and represented the state of the art at the time. Systems evolved, however, in step with technology, and today, far from being a simple vehicle location tool, is a powerful management tool.
Actually, the new mobile fleet management systems are true integrated management tools, based on the needs of transport operators, providing them with a wealth of essential information.
“Transport operators began by installing corporate information systems at their offices, but subsequently found they did not have control over their core business, which are the fleets out on the road”, states José Maria Moniz, managing director of Tecmic, and adds “the key to transport operators is knowing how to use information technology to control information in their favour — supply from producers, information on purchases by retailers and consumers, payment methods procurement, and the needs of physical distribution of goods.”
“But what exactly does such a system consist of?” Is what must be asked. XTraN consists of a central information system connected to corporate back office systems to guarantee reliable information flow in both directions, and at the vehicle by means of an on-board information system”. Our speaker states that “the on-board computer is deigned such that the driver can receive on a console all the information he needs to carry out his tasks. At the same time, the office can track all his movements, providing assistance when needed, and finally but no less importantly, know the result of the activity as soon as it is complete”.
Centrally, there is management software that can communicate with all the units, whether they be 500, 800 or 1000. On the other hand, the on-board system can use several kinds of communication system (satellite, TETRA, GSM), and is a robust computer, much simpler than a PC. “The driver of the vehicle must concentrate on just that, driving, therefore the interface must be simplified for the job at hand”; says José Maria Moniz.
Know more to better manage
“Basically, XTraN is able to extend the corporate information system to outside the office, right up to the vehicles on the road. This greatly facilitates business,” adds José Maria Moniz, “it is possible to determine where resources are being stolen, if from a particular vehicle, with a particular driver, at the same customer premises, on a particular route, in a particular country, and based on this data improve business.”
With these new fleet management systems, the transporter can make use of this information to improve management of his company’s resources, controlling up to 80% of operating costs with transport and personnel, provide more personal customer service, make use of customer information (type of delivery, payment modes, preferences), integrate information concerning vehicles, drivers, tours, and customers into corporate information systems, and above all, improve efficiency.
The application of this concept for fleet management is vast. Within Portugal, Tecmic has developed this at various levels, “working together with companies such as Carris in the management of passenger transport, Grupo Luis Simões in the goods transport market, the Bank of Portugal for transport of valuables or the Portuguese Post Office for mail transport,” concludes our speaker.