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Tuesday October 1, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday October 1, 2013 MYT 7:59:26 AM
by allan koay
Watchful eye: By monitoring driver behaviour and vehicle operations, telematics – the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics – can help transport companies better manage their fleets.
Company helps fleet operators reduce their carbon footprint.
ROADS everywhere are clogged up with all sorts of vehicles these days, depleting fossil fuel and puffing out billowing clouds of exhaust fumes.
If you are running a trucking or bus service company, then it is important to note that 20% of the world’s carbon emissions come from road transport.
One litre of diesel emits 2.4kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). The option for those whose business is on the roads is then to ensure that all their vehicles are optimally utilised in order to eliminate unnecessary carbon emissions, and to offset their carbon releases.
The technology of telematics may just be one of the major ways to do this.
MiX Telematics, a fleet management solutions company from South Africa, offers just that. It uses telematics, the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, to help companies optimise efficiency and at the same time, go green.
Richard Burgess, the company’s regional head of sales for Asia, is quick to point out the difference between telematics and GPS.
The global positioning system, which can be used to track a vehicle on a map, is indeed part of what the company uses, but Burgess explains that telematics does much more by obtaining relevant and important data about a vehicle.
“We extract information about a particular vehicle, for example, its revving, its speed, its location, its fuel,” says Burgess, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“Let’s say I have a lot of fleets and I’m using a particular truck for only three hours a day, and another one for eight hours a day. So, I can better utilise my fleets and analyse where I need to make changes, or change my routes.”
An important component for achieving efficiency is driver behaviour, which Burgess says is a really powerful catalyst for fuel reduction. Basically, it is about changing the way a driver drives.
MiX Telematics uses systems that are almost like onboard virtual driver trainers, which monitor the driver’s behaviour.
Certain key parameters such as revving, idling, braking, and accelerating are monitored and thresholds are set.
Points are then assigned to a driver on a monthly basis, based on him going over or under those thresholds.
Then, drivers’ scoring reports are provided from which the top drivers are given incentives and the drivers at the bottom will perhaps have to be retrained.
“Imagine if you drive your vehicle on the highway every day, as fast as you can go, and you brake and accelerate harshly,” says Burgess. “At the end of the year, your fuel bill is going to go through the roof. The wear and tear on your car, your brake pads, the engine, will cost you. Now, if you drive that car smoothly, you brake and accelerate properly, and you don’t over-rev, your fuel costs will come down. Your whole driving experience, if you’re a bus operator, is going to change as well. The run-off from that is you obviously reduce your carbon emissions.”
Reduced fuel consumption
After fuel consumption is reduced and operations are optimal, MiX Telematics then helps the company measure its carbon footprint and look into carbon offset initiatives.
This involves purchasing carbon offsets from accredited providers and globally-certified carbon reduction projects for alternative energy, biofuels and reforestation.
One example of such a project is the Tasma II bundled wind farm project in India.
“We can help companies offset just one particular vehicle, or offset a particular journey, or an entire fleet of vehicles,” says Burgess.
The company carried out an 18-month trial with German bus operator Sylter Verkehrsgesellschaft (SVG), where fuel efficiency was improved by 10%, while the reduction in fuel usage saw SVG’s carbon emissions decrease by 150 tonnes.
MiX Telematics itself, as Burgess proudly proclaims, is a carbon-neutral company. Its carbon emissions were reduced by 14.2% from the previous year.
There were carbon reduction campaigns for all its operations, and electricity usage was also reduced in its large South African operations with the installation of electricity-monitoring devices.
But in terms of changing driver behaviour, surely that must be a difficult task.
“It is,” says Burgess. “We know drivers can be difficult. They don’t want to be monitored or tracked. We don’t just put a system in a vehicle and walk away. We back it up with a driver induction programme or a driver training programme.
“We work very closely with the human resource department of a company. And the key to making this successful is driver education. And what we advise companies to do is look at driver incentive programmes,” he adds.
But how much does it cost a company to implement such a system?
“Depending on the fuel, the vehicle, that sort of thing, on average you’re looking at 1.5 Euro cents (six sen) per 100km to offset the cost of your CO2 emissions,” says Burgess.
“To purchase CO2 credits, that varies from between seven to €20 (RM30.80 to RM88) per CO2 tonnage.”
Clients also pay a monthly connection fee which gives them access to all the data and to MiX Telematics’ global patform which is all Web-based.
“If you have a team of drivers that is driving well and reducing costs and improving efficiency, the business is immediately in a better position in all aspects, from costs to the environment,” says Burgess.
“At the end of the day, everybody wins.”
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Environment, Lifestyle, MiX Telematics, telematics, carbon offset initiative
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