High-tech solution for speed limiter tampering

Photi Mandicos is a director of MyFleet, a Newcastle-based company that provides vehicle monitoring services for many of Australia’s leading fleets, including Australia Post, Toll and Mountain Industries.

Q: MyFleet was established 1999. What was the motivation?
A:
National organisations had depots spread across the country and their head offices were unable to see performance figures because of the limitations of moving the data. Around 2000 came the ability to move this data over the Internet, and that’s when we developed MyFleet.

Q: What was the next step?
A:
Along the way came GPS, which allowed them to know where the vehicle was at any point in time. Then came the ability to move that data in real time over GPRS (mobile phone) networks and that’s what has really changed our industry. It’s now become a very standard solution that transport organisations have some form of fleet management or GPS tracking.

Q: Looking at your client list, it’s not quite the Who’s Who, but it’s a large portion of it.
A:
We’ve been dealing with some of those companies for more than ten years. So they trust us because we’ve been providing them with this information.

Q: Is it a big investment?
A: Basically from as little as a couple of dollars a day a system like this can be installed in a fleet. And what you get out of it is more than just “where is my vehicle at any point in time”. We now have the ability to detect any speed limiter tampering and to report it immediately to the responsible manager. On the road. As it happens.

Q: How does that work?
A: It is because we use two independent speed sensors in order to have one checked against the other, so the moment that there is a variance between the two we detect that and notify management immediately.

Q: Who receives that information?
A: Management, operators and also contractors of transport companies will know immediately if the vehicle has been tampered with. Under Chain of Responsibility regulations the whole chain can know.

Q: How quick is the alert sent?
A:
MyFleet can immediately alert the organisation to a potential instance of speed limiter tampering. We compare the two speed sensors and the moment they vary we send an alert. That gives management the peace of mind that their vehicles are operating within the law. And it can be implemented to any fleet from a national fleet with 100, 200 vehicles to a small operator with two or three vehicles.

Q: But it’s more than just preventing tampering, isn’t it?
A: Once you’ve tackled the speed and the compliance you end up having a safer fleet with less accidents. So immediately there’s a reduction in costs. We can reduce fuel costs by improving driving habits of the drivers. And also increase their vehicle utilisation. As a result, they’ve got a better fleet, a more efficient fleet and they’re increasing their profits.

Q: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think that it is heading in the right direction?
A:
I think there’s a large portion of the industry that is doing the right thing.

Q: Is there a future for electronic work diaries?
A:
MyFleet has had all of the features required for an electronic work diary for 15 years. We need to electronically log in when the engine starts. We need to log the driver, we need to know when the vehicle starts and stops. Our customers use that as a check against the drivers’ diaries to make sure that the two coincide.
We also have driving hour exception reports so the moment a driver exceeds his driving hours, whether that be standard, BFM or AFM, we can send the driver and/or management an alert. As a result, our clients don’t really have to sit down and analyse logbooks, they can just look at the alerts that have come through.

Q: In the case of a mixed fleet, are you able to generate similar reports regardless of the manufacturer?
A:
Whether it’s a European vehicle or an American engine we are able to deliver the same quality of information across the entire fleet. Whether it’s a Scania or Volvo, a Kenworth with a Cummins or Western Star with a Detroit.

Q: What about metro trucks?
A:
You are talking about the Japanese market. We are finalising work with Isuzu and have developed an interface into the Isuzu where we can extract that same information from their vehicles.

Q: Is the system cost effective?
A:
It generally pays for itself. We can also provide a report that assists them to measure reductions in fuel consumption. The results have been substantial for some companies. However, the main variable in the vehicle is the driver. When going up through the gears, how hard is he revving the engine? Are they are driving the vehicle harsher than they need to? That costs fuel and can lead to accidents. The average prime mover spends about six litres of fuel per hour idling. You have 100 vehicles it quickly adds up if they idle for an hour every day.

Q: Any other advantages?
A:
The other important thing is that there’s no software. It’s all web-based.  Hence there is no IT infrastructure cost. So it doesn’t matter if you’re at home on your smart phone device or sitting at work on your laptop, everyone in your organisation can access the information. We can notify a driver if they are speeding via email or via SMS. Finally, when they’re going for contracts themselves, they can show their client that they are serious about compliance, helping them win more business.

Q: Do you offer on-going support?
A:
Absolutely. And training. Our guys have 20+ years of industry experience so there is a wealth of knowledge there to be shared.

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