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11 May, 2014

Plant, Machinery and Vehicle Fleet Management Round Table discussion participated by Johan Albert, GM Corporate Transportation

PMV Middle East sits down with seven fleet management experts to discuss recent advances, current trends, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Fleet management is a fluid art. No matter where in the world you operate, equipment will evolve, technology will advance, and fresh challenges will arise. Of course, the Middle East is no exception.

Unprecedented growth in the region has only been made possible by large numbers of commercial vehicles and construction machines. However, fleets are all but worthless unless managed effectively. Without expert supervisors and skilled operators, the best kit in the world will be neither safe nor productive.

Participants in the PMV Middle East roundtable on effective fleet management were acutely aware of this fact. A diverse range of experts attended the event, with representatives from the fields of construction equipment, commercial vehicles, lubricants, technology, and fleet finance. All of those present were in agreement that fleet management in the Middle East is in the throes of significant change.

The panel began by discussing how fleet management has advanced during recent years. The main topic of discussion during this segment of the roundtable was the advent of telematics.

The ability to analyse a unit’s performance and operation in minute detail is continuing to transform the face of fleet management in the Middle East. It seems that the region has entered into the era of information.

Participants agreed that the benefits offered to fleet operators by telematics are both numerous and significant. They extend far beyond the ability to track machines and vehicles; as one panel member pointed out, there is no point finding out where a vehicle is going unless you know what it is doing.

Fortunately, the spectrum of available information is expansive. From diagnostics, to fuel economy, to the number of emergency stops that a driver has performed, supervisors now have a plethora of data at their fingertips.

Moreover, this information is far from trivial. Participants were keen to point out the reasons why one might want to know such details. Firstly, telematics data provide concrete evidence to support claims made by manufacturers.

Whether discussing the fuel savings offered by a newly developed transmission system, or the longevity provided by the latest lubricants, telematics deliver cold, hard data capable of proving or disproving a product’s worth.

Of course, if the benefits offered by telematics were limited to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their partnered dealers, this technology would be of little interest to end users.

Fortunately, the data collected by such systems are invaluable to fleet managers, as they can be used both to inform operational strategy and to improve the skills of drivers. The bottom line, according to the panel, is that in today’s market, telematics represent a crucial weapon in the ongoing battle to reduce the operational costs.

Despite the universal acclaim for telematics, participants agreed that technology itself should be viewed as a tool, rather than as a silver bullet. Indeed, the panel went on to identify a broad array of challenges facing the Middle East’s fleet management sector.

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