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Vehicle tracking & fleet management– points for consideration by Checkmate

Capt. Sujeet Singh Rawal
Founder & CEO
Checkmate Cash Management Services Pvt Ltd

Capt. Sujeet Singh

Technology advancement in all fields is certainly keeping up with time and meeting expectations. Technology now  offers multiple possibilities and solutions to the users to work out the best combinations to meet end results. Caution is however to be exercised by users  to ensure  that ‘Solutions are NOT bigger than the problem’ and the applications are practical in execution. Technology support is to enhance overall efficiency by reducing manual errors, remove human biases and help mitigate risk by constant monitoring and timely releasing alerts for appropriate responses. It is thus of prime importance that the ‘triggers’ selected  for receiving ‘alerts’ are well thought of and are further supported by a  response matrix, which are well timed and adequate to address the exigency achieving desired results.

The entire system is to be worked out in direct relation to the activity and to its key priority areas of concern. The basic features to cover the administrative aspects like speed of vehicle, doors open or closed, average fuel consumption, servicing due, total mileage covered, dual door locking arrangement are more so preliminary or basic in nature for good fleet management. There is no strategy to it and thus of routine nature to support  administration.
The varying features in the applications should be selectively used to cater for various different scenarios having varying objectives as per the task and the ‘alerts’ and their timings to be in accordance to be perfect. To explain the point better we would take the example of the Cash in transit (CIT) services provided by service providers to banks to replenish ATMs, Door step banking or Home banking or Transportation of cash from one branch to another both inter and intra city. The ‘essential’ for good ‘operations’.

The similarities in ATM replenishments and door step banking services to monitor are time of ‘in and out’ and ‘halts’ which are specified in a route. Whereas, in CIT services it is majorly timings for safe delivery in time. While the features remain same in all three activities the application for alerts and monitoring would vary. Taking these three banking related activities as an example the suggested alerts and the desired response are as under:

Geo fencing- an alert which comes up when the vehicle moves out of its ‘confined area’ such as ‘city limits’ or ‘routes’. This should be in two stages wherein first one gives an alert to the monitoring team for action based on their decision after counter check, while the second one should be to ‘cut off the engine’ first. In both cases the same should not be declared to the crew. These is to be strictly on need to know basis only as remotely cutting off engine can also be restored  remotely. This in any case is not abrupt, which can result in an accident but sluggish as the fuel line is cut off which gives enough warning to the driver of vehicle stalling.

Defined halts & opening of cash compartments- in pre-designated routes and halts like ATM, branch, currency chest, customer location the ‘coordinates’ with first alert to be when the vehicle halt is not at a scheduled location.

Cash compartment opening attempt to open the cash compartment at locations, which is not pre-designated,  would be an alert with further sealing the cash compartment or cutting off the engine. The latter is preferred as it can cater for genuine issues of fire or assault, which the monitoring team may not be aware off.

Radio communication- it is an essential part that keeps the monitoring team in communication with the vehicle crew on occurrence of any eventuality and appropriate response and guidance.

CCTV monitoring- it is good to keep the crew conscious and alert for adherence of processes and a detailed post incident  investigation. Live monitoring is not at all a practical and feasible solution for many reasons and to be treated as a tool for subsequent analysis.

Tracking- we have presently limited our scope to tracking of van which has many limitation of networking, reach, proximity, power source, validity; renewal before expiry or worse will full tampering. These are the aspects which need to be made fool proof and tamper proof  with an alternative that comes into effect when the primary has failed. These could be the RFD buttons with their internal power source with minimum 2 weeks of sustainability and capability of detection within a reasonable distance of at least few hundred meters. (Leave it to the level where it is cost effective). These could be in use in the vehicle as well as containers with high value cargo.

Monitoring alerts- it is not an easy task to monitor vehicles on a screen and further worse when you are not sure for each vehicle what to monitor, its movement or its halt, its direction or it change of route, unless you have specific details of each van on the screen and also have the authority to take decisions. It is thus important to have the processes well defined, alerts well worked out, for  an action, which is auto generated. Of course, reversals are possible but with an authority.

We should have the above in place, primary for administrative support and secondary for operational efficiency and mitigating risk. Secondly, our response matrix on an auto trigger generated action set after due diligence the alerts should be immediate on occurrence for desired results. It is not just about technology but more about its use customised to cater for eventualities that matters.

About Shaivi Tyagi

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