Global fleet and mobile asset management solutions provider MiX Telematics now offers a smartphone application (app) and Web front-end development services, which provides the fleet management industry with oversight mobility for its field workers.
This development was aided by the company’s acquisition of local technology start-up company Mobitech for an undisclosed amount last month.
MiX Telematics’ South Africa and Africa sales director, Steven Sutherland, tells Engineering News that the Mobitech solution will be available in South Africa by the end of this month, but it is also working on the international roll-out of the app for later this year.
“MiX Telematics is aware that small, medium-sized and micro enterprises (SMMEs) play an increasingly important role in South Africa's economy, contributing significantly to income generation and job creation. In line with this, the Essential MiX offering was launched in October as a specialised and cost-effective track, trace and recovery solution, which caters to the needs of SMMEs,” he says.
Sutherland states that the Essential MiX bundle combines the best technology that MiX Telematics has to offer.
“It comprises an on-board computer for the secure recording and transmission of vehicle data; FM-Web, which is MiX Telematics’ online tracking and information portal for access to vehicle and driver data, and fleet reporting and analysis tools; and Beame, which is the company’s wireless stolen-vehicle recovery device,” he explains.
Sutherland notes that in June last year, the company launched MiX Vision, which is a highly configurable video recording system that integrates with the MiX Telematics fleet management solution.
“MiX Vision simultaneously captures video footage of the driver and his view of the road. It places fleet managers ‘at the scene’, enabling them to assess the circumstances at the time of an actual or reported incident.”
Sutherland adds that the company’s video solution includes a tamper-resistant camera unit that is attached to the inside of the vehicle’s windscreen and houses two cameras – one facing the road and the other the driver.
“When, for example, sudden braking, over-speeding or a collision occurs, the system triggers the automatic upload of two 15-second low-resolution video clips, one showing the driver and one showing the road,” he explains, adding that the integration of video brings telematics data to life, as it illustrates MiX Telematics’ awareness to the principle of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
Sutherland highlights that the company’s solutions provide fleet operators with reliable and innovative tools that boost the overall performance of their fleet.
“Customers save on fleet-operating and maintenance costs, fleets are managed more efficiently and they can significantly increase the safety standards of their fleets,” he asserts, adding that this is achieved through the company’s real-time view of the vehicles and drivers, tracking and route planning, 24-hour access to fleet information through MiX Telematics’ online tracking and information portal, driver-behaviour monitoring and the fuel management system.
Sutherland says the company’s case study findings indicate that its customers achieve an average saving of 10% on their fuel costs and notable reductions in motor vehicle accidents, as a result of customers using a MiX Telematics solution.
Moreover, he notes that, by reducing a fleet’s fuel consumption, carbon emissions are also lowered.
“MiX Telematics technology measures fuel consumption and converts this to a carbon emission equivalent. This enables fleet operators to act more responsibly and accurately offset their carbon emissions.
“In partnering with our customers, the results become long term. Within 9 to 12 months, their return on investment, in a comprehensive fleet management solution, is achieved,” Sutherland highlights.
Confronting Industry Challenges
Sutherland believes the most significant challenge for fleet operators is finding a way to keep costs down.
“Fuel costs are by far the highest cost for operators, so saving 10% is a definite way of boosting the bottom line. Other costs include assets, vehicle maintenance, repairs and insurance.”
He notes that another key challenge for fleet managers is the safety threat and associated costs of motor accidents.
“Human error is reported as being responsible for up to 80% of collisions, so monitoring and training drivers is a high priority for fleet owners.”
Moreover, Sutherland stresses that, from a driver-safety point of view, monitoring and training is key.
“A high-quality fleet management system provides timely information and key reporting data, as well as analytics tools that indicate how each driver is performing, for fleet managers. This enables operators to implement highly effective and targeted driver-training programmes, which, in turn, results in improved driver behaviour. Motor accidents decrease and fuel costs are significantly reduced. Fleet drivers, across numerous industries, develop safer driving habits and feel supported in their roles.”
He adds that the company’s in-cab driver aid, the RIBAS, integrates with on-board technology, which provides audio and visual alerts for drivers, should they over-rev the engine, idle excessively, brake harshly, accelerate harshly or speed.
“If the poor driving patterns are not rectified, our solution records them and notifies the fleet manager,” he notes.
Sutherland explains that fleet managers, who are equipped to plan and execute targeted driver-training and incentive programmes, can identify trends in driver behaviour. “Drivers feel supported, as improved driver behaviour is something that becomes acknowledged and rewarded.”
Education and Training
Sutherland states that all their clients’ technicians, channel partner representatives and relevant employees undergo extensive training by MiX Telematics to ensure they can efficiently use all the company’s solutions.
“Classroom training is carried out in various geographic regions, and a comprehensive set of e-learning modules is available through MiX Telematics’ online learning platform, the MiX Learning Centre,” he points out.
About MiX Telematics
Sutherland points out that all the company’s products and services are developed at its central services organisation in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape.
“MiX Telematics delivers world-class products and services to customers in 112 countries, which are delivered as software-as-a-service. Our fleet solutions provide enterprise fleets, small fleets and consumers with solutions for safety, efficiency and security,” he adds.
MiX Telematics was founded in 1996 and has 428 500 subscribers. The company’s fleet management solutions are offered to customers directly, but primarily through an international network of channel partners.