Connected VehicleIndiaVehicle Telematics

India is well-connected with Africa – can this lead to the development and export of connected cars and trucks?

India’s expanding automotive and telecommunications sector opens doors for the development and export of connected vehicles to Africa. This article will focus on two African countries that India already has good trade relations with; South Africa and Nigeria.

Pieter Smits, CEO & founding member, Globaltrack

India’s transporting industry and government are focusing on increasing the growth of the usage of automotive telematics. It is no doubt that the transporting industry in India will benefit greatly from the advantages vehicle and fleet telematics have in terms of monitoring driving behaviour, fuel consumption and from a safety perspective.

India is forecasted to be the fastest growing economy over the period of 2006 – 2020, this is according to Abdullah Verachia, CEO of The Strategist and faculty member at GIBS Business School Verachia stressed that South Africa enjoyed a special relationship with India, which included the fact that the great Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi spent many years in South Africa and fought for civil rights in this country, developing many of his ideas here… Whereas African/India trade totaled $1-billion in 2008….”

An article posted on Engineering News Online by Irma Venter, Senior Deputy Editor of Creamer Media on the 2nd of June 2017 wrote about the Indian truck brand Eicher that recently entered the South African market, in partnership with Volvo Group. Volvo Group is a global truck manufacturer based in Gothenburg, Sweden and is the world’s second largest heavy-duty truck brand. Volvo is a well-established and trusted brand in South Africa. This lays the ground work for India to manufacture and sell connected trucks in South Africa.

Connected vehicle -t'wire

According to Matthew Conroy, trade manager of Maersk Line Southern Africa, India and South Africa are increasing the use of direct trade and the benefits of reduced transit times will continue to stimulate new trade and business opportunities. Matthew further adds that the most common commodities that Maersk Group transports to India is scrap metal, ore and timber. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) released a statistic not long ago about India being one of the top countries that South Africa imports from and exports to.

As globalization increases where transporting companies are required to cross borders to deliver goods, it becomes pertinent to make use of cross border tracking solutions to increase the safety of shipments, drivers and trucks.

Telematics are a crucial part of the fleeting industry as it can improve maintenance and repairs, fuel efficiency, road safety and security.  According to an article written by Kim Alexander titled “Trucks Are Becoming More Interconnected”, telematics are becoming more important in the trucking industry.  Kim mentions in her article that a panelist from the Technology and Maintenance Council of American Trucking Association predicted that telematics could soon become a default standard for heavy trucks.

Non-profit organisations and cross border transporters operating in Africa are realising the importance of telematics to keep drivers and assets safe on the roadas well as keeping operational cost low. This is made possible with telematics that allows fleet operators to view information of their whole fleet at a glance.With fuel probes and driver ID tags that is packaged into certain telematic products; the fleet operator can analyze the driving behaviour of the driver and at the same time the fuel consumption. Harsh braking and accelerating are two examples of bad driverbehaviours, that lead to an increase in fuel consumption and vehicle deterioration.

Iridiumsatellites can alert fleet managers of the status of vehicles every movement.  The safety analytics function on telematics can help fleet managers identify drivers that practice safe driving and identify drivers that require additional driver training.

In South Africa, various insurance companies include vehicle telematics into their product offering, for example Discovery car insurance rewards drivers in the form of cash backon drivers’ fuel usage. If transporting companies have telematics to monitor their assets it can assist in bringing the cost down on fleet insurance; as it helps insurers price risk better. More companies, small and large, are choosing telematics to help with their fleet management every year.

A lot of transporting companies operating in Africa are seeing the return of investment of fleet telematics to help them in their day-to-day operations, measuring key performance indicators and to effectively make business decisions and increasing the profit margins by decreasing operational cost.

The fuel probes that come with some fleet telematics solutions are very useful for fleet operators to determine if fuel theft is a contributor to high fuel bills and to determine if the fuel has been contaminated. Some drivers sell high grade diesel for low grade diesel and pocket the profit from selling the high-grade diesel. Telematics make it possible to monitor fuel increases and decreasesand to determine if fuel has been contaminated with paraffin, old diesel oil or low-grade diesel. Fuel contamination leads to great damage in the truck’s engine.

Iridium satellites are a great cross border solution allowing fleet operators to consistently monitor the vehicles on the road especially in areas that do not have GPRS coverage.

Another way in which a fleet operator/manager can benefit is through telematics preventative maintenance feature that allows users to keep an eye on vehicle mileage and maintenance procedures. Fleet manager can easily schedule maintenance tasks ahead of time to keep a close track on costs or create trend analyses of trucks that are becoming a liability rather than an asset. The system alerts fleet managers of upcoming maintenance procedures like oil and tyre changes based on kilometers travelled, or driver behaviour, such as harsh acceleration and braking.

A fleet telematics company needs to be able to offer fleet management solutions that save clients time and money whilst at the same time ensuring that the fleet and drivers are performing at their peak.

Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner and according to an article written by Eromosele Abiodun from The Day Live India exports vehicles to Nigeria. With this long-term trading relationship and the economies of India and Africa to be similar in nature it provides an opportunity for India to invest in the research and development of automotive telematics for Africa.

In Africa we at Globaltrack have started to research and develop motorbike tracking units. The infrastructure for a lot of African countries do not allow for easy access with a vehicle or truck on certain roads. Some NGO organisations are using motorbikes to deliver emergency goods where trucks can simply not reach the people in need; motorbike telematics will ensure that the goods are delivered in a safe and timeous manner.

India and South Africa’s consumers and transport companies are increasing their knowledge and exposure for connected vehicles via the internet of things and telematics companies advertising the advantages of vehicle telematics. India holds a long-term, special relationship with both South Africa and Nigeria and already has market entry into these countries through the exporting of vehicles to these countries. India’s focus on the development of automotive telematics whilst receiving support from government and the transporting industry will accelerate consumers and public transporting companies to purchase connected cars.

About Author:

Pieter Smits is the CEO & founding member of Globaltrack.Globaltrack specializes in fleet management solution for transport companies and NGO’s operating in Africa.Pieter is an active member of Entrepreneurs Organization and served on the local board. Pieter has continuous interest in coaching and assisting entrepreneurs and has invested in some startup companies including an IT outsourcing company in the Philippines.

Campbell, 2013, Engineering News, Economic relations between South Africa and India blossoming)
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