Note from FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary to President Cyril Ramaphosa: “We’re way ahead of you. The trucking industry is already a global leader in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) space – and has been for some time.”
I refer to the President’s keynote speech given at the 4th Industrial Revolution SA Digital Economy Summit held recently where he urged South Africa to embrace the 4IR. Ramaphosa pointed out that a 30-member Presidential Commission on the 4IR had been appointed earlier this year and is expected to deliver a blueprint and plan to deal with the 4IR and determine areas of development in the short, medium and long-term.
“This plan comes with the embedded ambition of positioning South Africa not just as an adopter but a leader of 4IR in the world,” said Ramaphosa.
FleetWatch has always contended – and has the facts to back it – that South Africa led the global telematics arena in terms of vehicle tracking and fleet management using telematics tools to connect individual trucks remotely and transmit data to control centres for various vehicle tracking and fleet management purposes.
Perhaps if the Government paid more attention to the trucking industry rather than viewing it as a Cinderella, it would realise it has a sector which can boast of being way ahead in the application of the Internet of Things (IoT).
One example of this is where MiX Telematics Africa and Apex BI have, together, demonstrated how it is possible to manage an ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) environment. The IoT sector is much hyped but few realise that one of the most challenging aspects of a world of connected devices is how to manage the sprawling IT network it will create.
A vast number of smart devices, including in-vehicle telematics devices, connect to the Internet via the GSM (Mobile) networks and each one requires a SIM card in order to transmit data creating a significant management challenge. With several hundred thousand SIM cards in use across Africa, MiX Telematics found itself at the sharp end of IoT long before the term was even invented.
MiX Telematics is a leading global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Their range of solutions and services is sold in more than 120 countries worldwide with over 750 000 subscribers to date – and growing. The company’s products and services provide enterprise fleets, small fleets and consumers with solutions for safety, efficiency, compliance and security. These solutions rely on telematics devices to collect and transmit data to the MiX Telematics data centres across the globe.
According to Operations Director of Apex BI, Regan Erasmus, MiX Telematics Africa wanted a platform to efficiently monitor, control and manage the vast number of SIM cards in its diverse environment.
“The solution was what we refer to as ‘the power of knowing’ – essentially a way to integrate all the data into a single software platform where it can be analysed in order to provide real, meaningful business intelligence for the client,” he says.
Apex BI deployed its proprietary telecommunications expense management platform, Clarity. Clarity aggregates the data from the total universe of MiX Telematics SIM cards – issued by a number of different mobile network providers across the continent. The platform helped to eliminate manual processing of information and made the automated analysis of this information attainable in order to provide critical operational and financial insights.
Clarity makes it possible to implement smart rules – in terms of voice, data and SMS usage – for different customers according to their specific operational needs. In addition, MiX Telematics has a more efficient system to consolidate and process on-billing charges to the client.
“We’ve been using Apex BI’s Clarity platform for more than four years and for me, the greatest benefit is not just the ability to control and manage our sizeable and increasing number of SIM cards but also that we have the capability to retain that control into the future,” says Gert Pretorius, managing director of MiX Telematics Africa. “Clarity is helping us to drive down costs while delivering a better and more cost-effective service to our clients.”
So there you are Mr President. You don’t have to wait for a leader in the 4IR to be created in South Africa. You already have one. It resides in the trucking industry and the telematics companies which operate in this arena. If you want to do some catch up, give us a shout. We’re there for you and we’ll get a couple of the reputable and established players to bring you up to date and make you proud of the South Africa trucking sector as a global leader.
But a quick warning: The catalyst to the development of this telematics expertise didn’t emanate from a ‘good news’ platform. It started many years ago – prior to the 1994 elections in fact – and then took on a new urgency as a result of a huge surge in truck hijackings after the elections. It was only later that the more positive input of fleet management made its entry. And those hijackings continue to this day – in fact they have, over the past two years, again escalated so crime still needs your highest attention. But take heart, these tools definitely help. In fact, they have served to help mitigate truck theft and hijackings over the years. Let’s talk.