Stopping a high-speed truck thousands of kilometres away may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie – but technological advances enable fleet managers to do just this, without causing damage to the vehicle. JACO DE KLERK takes a look at new developments in fleet management

Fleet management has come a long way. Gone are the days of hand-written logs and drivers who wouldn’t be heard from between departure and return. It now covers vehicle financing, maintenance, telematics (tracking and diagnostics), speed- and fuel management, and the management of drivers.

Fleet management can reduce operational costs, improve customer service levels and enhance the safety and security of drivers, goods and the business itself. This has all been made possible by technological advances that are revolutionising the way things are done. However, the success of fleet management depends on choosing the right technology for your operation.

Vehicle tracking is one of the most important functions of fleet management. The ability to pinpoint the whereabouts of any or all vehicles using GPS technology is a boon for any fleet manager.

“It follows a very basic procedure,” says Brian Kally, managing director of Arrow Logistics. “Firstly, after the location of a vehicle is determined, its direction and speed are calculated. Additional tracking capabilities then transmit this information to the fleet management software – and that’s when the actual, real-time location of the vehicle becomes visible on a map.”

According to Gert Pretorius, managing director of MiX Telematics Commercial: “One can even track trailers through wireless devices linked to an onboard computer. Drivers may also use the system to sound an alarm if they consider themselves in danger.”

This enables a fleet manager to take steps and minimise any potential damage or delays that could result from unforeseen events. Kally explains: “The software can allow for functions such as driver or vehicle profiling, trip profiling, dispatch of help, and can also provide remote control features, such as remote vehicle disabling.”

Remote vehicle disabling (RVD) gives fleet managers the power to prevent a vehicle’s engine from starting – and can even stop a vehicle while it’s in operation. RVD allows an authorised person to gradually decelerate a vehicle by downshifting, limiting the throttle’s capabilities or applying the brakes. “Once a vehicle has been stopped, some systems will even lock the brakes or prevent the engine from being restarted within a certain period of time,” says Kally.

Read more: Taking charge of one's fleet