Tyres take on new roles

As the march towards autonomous motoring steps up its pace along with efforts to make motoring ‘greener’, the car tyre is taking on a far more prominent role as an information provider to the unit as a whole.

At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), Continental presented Conti C.A.R.E., a comprehensive technology system.

Conti C.A.R.E. (Connected. Autonomous. Reliable. Electrified.) stands for the fine-tuned networking of wheel and tyre technology and the manageability of the desired performance characteristics. These characteristics are also closely aligned with the requirements of electric and autonomous driving in both individual and shared mobility scenarios.

In combination with the web-based ContiConnect Live application, Conti C.A.R.E. forms a flexible system solution that can provide a means of tyre management for modern robo-taxi fleets, for example, boosting performance as well as helping to optimize costs.

Conti C.A.R.E. tyres feature sensors that are built into the structure of the tyre. These sensors generate and continuously evaluate data concerning tread depth, possible damage, tyre temperature and tyre pressure.

This monitoring system, which goes by the name of ContiSense, transmits information on the condition of the tyres to ContiConnect Live, facilitating efficient mobility management for fleet operators.

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It can also actively adjust tyre pressures by means of centrifugal pumps built into the wheel. As the vehicle accelerates, the centrifugal forces within the wheel act on the pump to generate compressed air. This PressureProof technology keeps the tyre pressure constantly within the ideal range and helps achieve a sustainable drop in CO2 emissions. Any excess compressed air is stored in an integrated tank.

PressureBoost technology then uses this air to rapidly adapt the tyre pressures to various driving situations.

And, in the SilentWheel concept, Continental will be presenting a modified wheel rim that reduces the vibrations generated while driving and delivers superior ride quality.

However, it goes further than that and, like so many other industry verticals, fleet management is undergoing significant change as new technologies become commercially viable. These technologies are helping to streamline current operations but, more exciting, they promise to change the nature of fleet management altogether.

One of the most promising of these is tyre management which is already changing important aspects of fleet management for the better. But while individual technologies can be used effectively as standalone solutions, taking the ecosystem approach is actually the way to achieve new levels of value.

As an example, consider the growing use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips or sensors that allow the transmission of information from an object, such as a truck tyre, to a central point, like the company’s data centre.

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When vehicles typically return to a depot at regular intervals, a gate sensor can collect data using WiFi as the vehicles pass, ensuring maintenance teams know exactly which tyres need pressure adjustments.

For vehicles that are away for longer periods of time moving cargoes around the country, chips with mobile connectivity can feed information back to headquarters from wherever the truck happens to be.

Bridgestone introduced Toolbox, a cloud-based tyre management program, in 2017, which is available both as a desktop or mobile app. It’s designed to provide meaningful and actionable insights to fleet managers, enabling them to optimise overall tyre usage, selection and maintenance.

A recent development that has extended this ecosystem is the acquisition of the telematics division of TomTom. This means the system can be used to plan drivers’ routes, plot progress and immediately see all the tyre pressures of all vehicles. Using this platform thus enables the fleet manager to obtain visibility of all his or her tyre assets across the fleet — where they are, how they are being used and what their current state is.

The TomTom platform will integrate into Toolbox, providing the foundation for exponentially more sophisticated — and useful — ways of using the data, and acquiring more data.

For example, one day soon a fleet manager could monitor the full history of each tyre, including such information as how much it cost, how many times it has been retreaded, its tread depth at last reading, and begin to project when that tyre will need replacing—thanks to much improved algorithms and the use of sophisticated predictive analytics.

The final step is to integrate all of this operational information with the financial side of fleet management to obtain a truly holistic view of a whole fleet’s tyre assets.

All of this indicates that tyre and fleet management is very much at the forefront of the emerging Internet of Things. What is exciting is that as this builds momentum, we are approaching the ability to move from selling tyres to selling mobility solutions—the ‘as a service’ model that is revolutionising so much of business.

Bridgestone is already offering the option of leasing tyres to a small segment of the market, but as the range of data and ways to process it expands, will be able to roll this out to a wider market because both the risks and benefits will be more quantifiable — and transparent.

Operationally, tyres are one of key pain points for fleet managers — if the tyres malfunction, the whole vehicle is unusable with inevitable consequences for scheduling and overall profitability. Increasingly smart, data-driven solutions will serve to reduce downtime by pre-empting problems via preventative maintenance, and also maximise return on investment. It’s the future, and it will solve many of a fleet manager’s current challenges.

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Empowering tow truck drivers

The cost of entry to business is often simply too high for aspiring entrepreneurs and the Automobile Association has made decisive step in addressing this by introducing a programme in which its tow truck drivers will become business owners.

This is in response to the continued barriers of entry that prevent previously and currently disadvantaged new entrants to the towing industry, especially in the more lucrative urban centres.

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Sikkie Kajee, Chairman of the Automobile Association (right), and Noelan Vandayar: Executive Operations and Strategy (left), handing over the keys of a towing vehicle to Simon Ngwenya, one of the 60 drivers who will benefit from the Automobile Association’s new empowerment development programme. (Picture Credit: Supplied, Automobile Association)

The programme will empower 60 drivers around South Africa to become business owners with the assistance of the AA. This is one the largest empowerment deals within the towing and recovery industries to date. The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has been a part of the process since it began and has endorsed the programme.

“The programme will reach a large base of drivers who will, effectively, work for themselves. We will provide them with our existing vehicles through a generous interest-free repayment scheme over 36 months, and support them in a range of aspects including business management, administrative support, working capital, and other services, to ensure a smooth transition to business ownership and first-generation entrepreneurship,” says Noelan Vandayar, Executive: Operations and Strategy at the AA.

He says early feedback from the rural drivers who have embraced this programme, and the initial indications on its progress, are that it is proving to be successful. This part of the programme was launched in June.

“The drivers are certainly aware that the more they do, the more they earn,” explains Vandayar.

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Vandayar says the implementation of the programme is an important development in towing in South Africa. He notes through the programme the AA is investing in the future of businesses which would otherwise have struggled to secure finance and gain a foothold in this competitive industry.

From a customer perspective the trucks will remain AA branded. AA members and corporate customers will still receive the same seamless service.

“These drivers will be working with the AA, not for the AA, and will still be dispatched through our dispatch and monitoring centre based in Midrand. The technology we use is state-of-the-art and our customers will still be able to track the vehicle’s movements through the AA app when they request assistance,” says Vandayar.

He says the drivers have worked for the AA for many years and understand the company and its principles clearly, ensuring continued quality service to customers.

“We are more than comfortable that they will be excellent custodians of our good name with our client base being in tune with our ethos and values, and that is really key to making this programme a success,” he adds.

Vandayar emphasises that the current restructuring of the towing model within the AA will have no impact on the roadside assistance and patrol vehicles which will continue to operate normally as part of the Association going forward.

“This is a good business decision with benefits for the AA and our drivers. We believe offering these drivers the opportunity to own and manage their own businesses, will have a massive positive impact on their lives and the industry,” Vandayar concludes.

Be prepared

Despite the groundswell of objections against the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act and Amendment Bill that has now been signed into law, it is highly likely government will blunder ahead and enact the Bill – and corporate fleets need to prepare themselves.

“While there is no proxy system when it comes to the demerit system, companies are responsible for their company fleet, and need to ensure a system is in place for company drivers to comply with the Aarto Act,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

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Ferose Oaten, National Chairperson of the RMI’s Vehicle Testing Association (VTA), points out many business owners serve as the representatives of the company on behalf of their fleet.

“While the Aarto Amendment Bill is quite clear company representatives cannot lose points on behalf of company drivers, they have to ensure demerits accrue to the correct person,” she says.

Every company must have a responsible person who is ultimately accountable for dealing with licencing, roadworthiness, as well as traffic fines issues. Oaten explains that it will fall on the responsible person of a company to be answerable so as to ensure that all provisions of the National Road Traffic Act and the Aarto Act are complied with.

Where they are not, they will need to assign the blame to the natural person who was caught committing an infringement. The most common infringements are those received in the mail (a camera fine) and addressed to the company, with the responsible person’s name and ID number also on it.

Infringements or offences for which the driver is stopped for at the time of commission would be written up in the driver’s name at that time.

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Not keeping a register of the driver or person in control, while not specifically mentioned in the Aarto Act, becomes an infringement under the obligation that does exist of ‘failing to obtain the particulars of a driver prior to letting them exercise control over that vehicle’.

For the first time in traffic legislation in this country, companies and organisations are required by legislation to record these details. It is vital the address details on record with eNatIS are correct and up-to-date so that infringement notices are deliverable to the correct person. The Aarto Act deems all notices that have been posted to the last known address of the infringer to have been received ten days after posting by registered mail.

“It is my recommendation company representatives take the time to familiarise themselves with Aarto,” says Oaten.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Freight Association, says companies need to include an Aarto clause in employment contracts for all employees who will be exposed to the demerit system. This must include company reps, delivery drivers, and so on.

“This clause must allow the employer access to the employee’s demerit history. The reason for this is once someone has received 13 demerit points they are no longer allowed to drive a vehicle. The employer can be held responsible if the employee drives after that,” he explains.

He believes a system needs to be put in place where employers can monitor and collate drivers’ and vehicles’ activity data on a daily basis.

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Image: Arrive Alive

“Unfortunately, currently there is no such system available from authorities where demerit points accrued can be monitored in a real-time live database.”

Olivier adds while opinions still differ on whether the Aarto Amendment Bill will be a solution to South Africa’s road safety woes, the fact remains the road death toll is unacceptably high.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own driving and improve our driving behaviour whether a demerit system is imposed or not.”

Along with that, he says that nobody should lose sight of the fact even with poor driver behaviour being the immediate cause of an accident, in many instances the underlying reason remains the un-roadworthy state of the vehicle.

Oaten agrees” “The RTMC Crash Report of 2018 identifies drivers between 25 and 44 (peaking between 30 and 34) experiencing the highest level of fatalities. While 80% of these accidents were attributed to driver behaviour, following some transgression of the rules of the road, the reality is that while driving an unlicensed vehicle is not in itself the cause of an accident, smooth tyres, for example, may be.

“Consequently, the focus on driver behaviour is all good and well, but needs to be accompanied by an increased focus on vehicle safety and vehicle roadworthiness. Maintaining a roadworthy vehicle by going for regular checks will equally have a positive impact on the number of road crashes.”

Fuso ups it range offering

Four new trucks join the Fuso Trucks stable in the construction and delivery segments of the market and five existing models gain facelifts and new features.

Fuso Trucks is a part of Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa and it is hard not to get caught up by the infectious enthusiasm of CEO, Jasper Hafkamp, who feels the truck market will pick up in the remaining months of this year.

“Our goal is to increase sales to claim a 10% share of the market by the end of 2020,” he says. “I am confident sales will pick up in the next 12 months and we are seeing growth in the various African regions, albeit off a small base.”

The new models are the FI12-170, the FJ18-280S (short wheelbase), the FJ18-280L (long wheelbase) and the FJ26-280.

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“Fuso Trucks are not only committed to expanding its product offering with new models, but is also strongly committed to ensuring the existing product offering is constantly improved to meet changing customer demands,” says Ziyad Gaba, Head of Fuso Trucks Southern Africa.

Collaboration between Fuso and Mercedes-Benz adds further dimension to their shared technologies. For example the FI12170 is fitted with the Mercedes-Benz FIG85 transmission, while the FJ18-280 and the FJ26-280 share the same Mercedes-Benz engine and transmission.

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With the introduction of the new models Fuso has introduced a number of fresh features including an E-viscous fan with intermittent operation that improves fuel efficiency by reducing the load on the engine.

For the ease of operation of the driver there is a differential lock buzzer, cruise control, a solar windshield that prevents excess sunlight and avoids increase in cabin temperature along with additional cabin roof storage provides more space for the driver’s convenience

Also new as a standard item is a music system with USB port and FM radio, while LED lamps have been installed in the cabin for better illumination and improved aesthetics. It is also a safer option to have a bright interior during night-time stops.

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On the outside, the bumper is coloured similar to the cab with a grey coloured fender and footstep  and for better visibility during night-time driving the new dual chamber headlamp with daytime running lights (DRL) also adds to further improved safety.

Ziyad Gaba says: “We continue to grow in the various market segments in which we compete as a result of constantly being in close contact with our customers. This means we know one of the major challenges that customers face is the inherent complexity of operating in the current transport industry.

“Simplicity applies to providing vehicles that are flexible, allowing for a wide number of applications. Superior trucks are crucial to all the market segments. Customers also demand we provide them with simply better trucks in order to achieve their objectives.”

Currently, all the new trucks are driven through a six-speed manual gearbox but Gaba confirmed Fuso was looking into the possibility of introducing an automatic option at a later stage.

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“These new models underwent more than 50 000 kilometres of testing in local conditions as part of the global Fuso test programme,” he says.

Dash cams – more than just fun

Anyone with social media access has been exposed to the sometimes funny, sometimes tragic video clips of motorists misbehaving taken by dashboard cameras – but, these go way beyond amusement and are vital for fleet managers looking to stem the tide of rising costs.

Whether for educational purposes to demonstrate how hijackings occur or for laughs by documenting ‘instant karma’ incidents, dashboard cams have become a fixture inside many vehicles.

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However, this technology was originally and still is implemented to ensure drivers, particularly those employed by logistics and transport companies, have proof of incidents such as hijackings, road rage incidents and motor vehicle collisions.

Although, dashcams today are used for light-hearted humour, there is a more serious side to this technology. Logistics companies need to make sure they have a complete solution that allows real-time driver monitoring and event notifications as they happen, providing vehicle owners and fleet managers with greater visibility and control over their vehicles from the minute they leave the depot, until they return.

Several companies, especially those dealing with truck fleets, Right Track for example, offer setups that show in-cab footage of the driver as well as a forward facing camera recording the road ahead.

“When most people think of a dash cam, they think of a simple set up with a recording device that saves to an SD card which must later be removed from the dashcam so that footage can be downloaded,” says Laurence Smith, Executive at Graphic Image Technologies.

“This might be sufficient for individual use, but when dealing with a fleet of trucks or vehicles, such a simplistic set-up is ineffective. However, this is no longer the case now that dashcam technology has advanced to the point where it has become effectively an off-site vehicle DVR (Digital Video Recorder) system, combined with front and rear dash cams built with multiple sensors and 4G connectivity to provide real-time cloud-based vehicle tracking and monitoring.

“Add easy scalability to the mix thanks to a cloud platform, and today’s dashcam system is everything logistics companies, shuttle services, taxi associations and car hire corporations have been waiting for, and more.”

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Like all other industries, the transport and logistics sector is under huge pressure to reduce the risk involved in moving goods and people, and that is where modern dashcam solutions shine.

Now fleet managers and operational managers have access to a live stream on any device, as well as the ability to view multiple vehicles on a single screen. The latest dash cams are equipped with smart sensors that are capable of registering and recognising trigger events, such as sudden stops, sharp acceleration or collisions, to automatically send a 10-second video clip of the event to be stored in the cloud, while simultaneously sending email or SMS notifications, allowing operators to respond directly to vehicle incidents timeously.

“When it comes to post-event investigation, no longer will fleet managers have to trawl through reams of footage to isolate an incident because all events footage will be easily managed through a central events dashboard that logs events by description, date, time and type,” says Smith.

“This also means such footage cannot be tampered with or destroyed. This makes dashcam footage exceptionally useful for evidentiary purposes in insurance claims and criminal cases. Fleet managers are now able to see exactly what is happening inside their vehicles and with access to hard evidence of driver behaviour, they are better able to monitor fleet performance and driver safety.”

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Today’s smart dash cam solutions will offer full GPS tracking of single or multiple vehicles, in real-time, to deliver total transparency into each vehicle’s trip with deep contextual information. For example, point-by-point location information, time, and travelling speed, all of which make it simple for the operator to locate the necessary footage relating to a specific event.

Such solutions have a distinctive edge in that they offer intelligent analytics and automated reporting for true visibility into driver behaviour and vehicle treatment, which is exactly what fleet managers and car rental companies need.

“To get the most out of such cloud-based dash cam systems, fleet operators must look for offerings based on low upfront hardware costs and affordable annual subscription fees. Such solutions provide scalable, reliable vehicle monitoring and tracking services that will be ideal for everything from small applications (such as security-conscious families) right through to large-scale applications like fleets of trucks, taxis and buses.

“Useful for so much more than footage to share on social media for a laugh, today’s cloud based dash cam system is a game-changer, giving business owners and fleet operators the peace of mind that comes from complete visibility into every driver, every vehicle and every trip made.”

Africa pays attention

The increased activity by local automakers and importers in developing African markets is being reciprocated by unprecedented interest in Automechanika Johannesburg from other African countries this year.

MIAZ, the Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe, is planning on bringing a delegation of buyers to the show this year, as well as at least 30 buyers from Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya.

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Automechanika Johannesburg will be opened officially on Wednesday, September 18, and will then continue with the awarding of the various, highly valued Innovation Awards.

Many organisations and some companies are also using Automechanika as the venue for meetings, conferences, and workshops. Among those who have already booked events of this kind are: Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), Engine Remanufacturing Association (ERA), Collision Repairers’ Association (CRA), Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA), Fuel Retailers’ Association (FRA) and Safer Connected Mobility.

Many of the exhibitors will be taking the opportunity to announce new products and services during the show.

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One of these is Gulf Oil, who is demonstrating interest in Africa, by launching the brand in South Africa amongst others in Africa. Gulf’s in-country resource, Godfrey Rajool, is a qualified metallurgist with more than 15 years’ experience with a major oil company in South Africa.

Rajool comments the new company is already operating in the lubricants market, with warehouses holding stock in Jet Park, Gauteng, as well as in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Gulf has appointed a national distributor, Shakti Lubricants, which is headed up by Donovan Ivemperumal, previous technical manager at one of the leading oil companies.

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Godfrey Rajool (left) and Donovan Ivemperumal

Joshua Low, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt South Africa, says he is pleased at the positive response from both exhibitors and the rate at which visitors are registering.

A big draw card for this year’s event is the major focus on skills development by the organisers. There will be a free-to-attend, 3-day programme aimed at sharing knowledge and upskilling attendees.

There will also be a variety of interactive elements such as a tyre changing competition, the Automechanika Body & Paint World Championship which already took place in the United Kingdom in June and will continue in many other countries before the grand finale in Frankfurt in 2020. Also, there will be an all new virtual reality zone where visitors can explore the latest technology through VR.

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“This enthusiasm shows the importance of the world-renowned Automechanika trade fair for the automotive aftermarket in a period of subdued new vehicle sales and the growing importance of the correct maintenance and repairs for motorists and transport operator,” concludes Low.

Transport and logistics need to change

The way in which the world does business is changing dramatically and fast, affecting a wide range of spheres, not the least of which is the transport and logistics industry that needs to adapt swiftly to stay in contention.

A very simple example of this change is the switch by consumers to online shopping, necessitating a whole industry revision of warehousing, packaging, labelling and delivery.

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The logistics and transport industry is currently on the verge of a digital shakeup, which will dramatically transform it. With the evolution of digitisation, platform-based business models will connect new entrants, eliminate inefficient old ones and harness the cloud.

According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, the rising volume of global trade will increase existing supply chain pressure. The logistics services sector is estimated to reach a value of $16 445-billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 7%.

Digitisation is needed to offer more streamlined end-to-end services, in order to steer the logistics industry into the direction of becoming more resource efficient, faster, and more responsive to customer needs.

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The annual FIATA World Congress 2019 will take place in Cape Town from October 1-5, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The event will bring together the international freight logistics and transport industry, it will be an occasion for industry leaders from across the globe, to gain insights into industry challenges and present sustainable solutions.

FIATA President, Babar Badat says the event will host more than 1 200 industry stakeholders and decisionmakers for discussions on issues in the logistics industry, the developments, the possibilities, new technologies and its influence on the industry.

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Babar Badat

The meetings will also provide thought provoking ideas as well as opportunities for the sharing of best practices from international industry heavyweights.

“We are hosting this year’s event jointly with our Member, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) and this year’s theme is ‘Where Technology and Logistics Meet.’

The Congress programme will focus on new technology, disruptive innovation and how this affects the logistics and freight forwarding industry worldwide,” Badat adds.

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He explains exciting new concepts, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain and big data all give people a closer look at life in the future.

“The rise of technology start-ups is redefining the industry’s business models, pushing traditional practitioners to rethink what they have become used to in the past and what to change in the future.”

More than 90% of experts are convinced digitisation will add value for the international logistics industry, however, Badat says as with everything, digitisation comes with both pros and cons.

“Businesses have to ensure they have wireless networks and digital support infrastructures in place, there is cyber security and data protection. Good examples of this are the recent cases of cyber pirates targeting logistics and transportation companies.”

Badat is confident the existing supply and value chain, along with international logistics service providers, will rise to these challenges, saying: “The logistics industry continues to prepare itself, together with its customers, for digital transformation.

“Some leading enterprises have been testing and commercialising various kinds of autonomous vehicles, driverless robots, blockchain platforms, digital trade documents, and so on.”

He adds small and medium-sized enterprises with limited resources should embrace these changes instead of fearing them and advises they start upgrading their operational systems gradually with new technology, while keeping an eye on advancements in the industry.

According to Badat, participation from Africa has been on the increase in FIATA and the global logistics and freight forwarding industry, which signals positive economic growth and increased international connectivity.

“The annual FIATA World Congresses continue to be platforms which showcases our commitment to update our members on technological developments in the industry and to help prepare them for new changes,” Badat concludes.