Johan van Wyk, SARMA

Johan van Wyk

The use of GPS tracking devices to assist ready-mix concrete suppliers have been hailed by many to be an effective way to improve the efficiency of a fleet, yet there are others who feel the exercise is not worthwhile.

Johan van Wyk of the Southern Africa Readymix Association (Sarma) suggests that this is because different companies have vastly different operating models and what is valuable information to one company may be a complete waste of time and money for another. In order to decide whether fleet tracking is viable for your operation we have compiled the following 7 points to help you decide whether to track, or not to track:

For: Knowing where every truck in your fleet is affords you the ability to predict delivery times and maximise payloads per day.

Against: Staff may become angry at the fact that “Big Brother” is watching their every move and may push back to block moves to track them thereby causing labour disputes.

For: As a management tool it pays to know what the drivers are up to, how much time they are spending on the road and on site, whether they are speeding or idling in traffic (or at the shop)

Against: It takes manpower to monitor happening effectively all the time and the setup of systems can be a painstaking and lengthy exercise.

For: In order to guarantee the freshness of concrete or uphold delivery times and service level agreements on site, one needs to be in control of the situation and know the whereabouts of each truck. If necessary, this means rerouting trucks to avoid delays etc.

Against: Manning and rerouting trucks requires dedicated and knowledgeable staff. When lumped onto an existing person’s responsibility it is sometimes seen as a hassle and is not given the right level of attention.

For: A good quality GPS management system can save money in many ways including optimisation of routes, time and better management of driver activities such as speeding or preventing non-work related activities.

Against: The cost of the system needs to be carefully weighed up against the will to effectively use such a system, the potential benefits and the requirement to appoint somebody to man the system effectively.

For: Modern systems can generate information on a wide range of parameters from locations to routes to ETAs and even driver behaviour etc.

Against: When dealing with tens or hundreds of trucks the associated data that is generated can be massive and has a tendency to bury the user in useless information.

For: Time is money and fleet managers can save both by using the data to streamline their fleets and do away with manual operations. In many instances, data can be logged and used for historical purposes such as log books, incident reports etc.

Against: Not all fleet managers are tech savvy and may prefer manual operations.

For: There are many systems on the market from cheap and cheerful mobile phone App driven systems, to vehicle manufacturer standard options and specialised systems from professional fleet management companies.

Against: Not all systems are created equal and although there are many options out there it pays to do your research thoroughly upfront and ensure that the system you chose is right for the operation. Failure to do so may easily result in wasteful expenditure.

“These are just the starting points to consider if companies are contemplating whether to track, or not to track their trucks. Every sales person for every potential system will have a hundred reasons why you should choose their systems, but in the long run, it pays if you can give them your 100 requirements and asking them if their system is able to fulfil your requirements,” van Wyk concludes.

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