The importance of driverless tech and transportation

cars

It’s hard to say whether the next step in vehicles is the most dramatic mode of transportation we’ve ever made: But there’s no doubt it’s one of the bigger. The entire method of transporting will be different: where before we controlled what occurred, now we are giving over control to computers. This is the future and it’s one where instead of us driving robots on wheels, robots drive us.

An often overlooked area is that we also should consider self-driving trucks, considering their importance to the economy. As Wired notes:

“The large freight carriers have already started the transition, equipping their fleets with active safety features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings. The economic case for these technologies, the building blocks for autonomy, is clear. ‘Commercial vehicles are a safety issue,’ says Xavier Mosquet, head of Boston Consulting Group’s North America automotive division. ‘And therefore anything that can get commercial vehicles out of trouble has a lot of value.’ And the carriers wants more of it.”

This has enormous implications for insurers, fleet management, businesses, customers. In other words, everyone.

Getting trucks to transport without worrying about driver fatigue is essential, considering the health problems long-distance driving has. As The Huffington Post notes:

“According to a recent study of over 1,600 drivers published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, long-distance commercial truck drivers are more than twice as likely to have diabetes (14.4 percent vs. 6.8 percent nationally) and are more than twice as likely to smoke (50.7 percent vs. 18.9 percent). More troubling, 68.9 percent of drivers are classified as being obese and 17.4 percent as being morbidly obese, vs. 30.5 percent and 7.3 percent of the nation as a whole. Truck drivers are at increased risk of musculoskeletal problems, like back pain, as well as psychiatric illness. And, in terms of access to health care, more needs to be done — 18.3 percent have delayed or did not receive care and 80.2 percent did not receive a flu shot.”

Thus anything that can be done to help reduce these travel times could be essential to everyone – after all, fatigue from one driver doesn’t just affect the driver, but the good he’s transporting, the businesses dependent on that transport, other drivers, and pedestrians. If technology can help combat this, everyone needs to be supportive – if, of course, scrutinising, of it.

Driverless tech isn’t just fancy; it could prove vital and life-saving.

When Not to Outsource

officeThinking of outsourcing? There are many good reasons to do so. It can free up valuable resources, bring in additional skills and expertise, and importantly, save you money.

However, this doesn’t mean you can just go out and outsource everything to anyone. Knowing when and when not to outsource is key to reaping the benefits of outsourcing without suffering the potential disadvantages.

When you should rather invest in your team

The advantage of outsourcing is that you can save money. However, sometimes it is better to rather be investing in your in-house team. Even if you begin by outsourcing, sometimes it is better to eventually give your in-house team the opportunity and resources to upskill themselves so they can perform the duties themselves. This depends on many factors, including the reasons why you are outsourcing to begin with.

This is a tricky matter and one you will have to judge on a case by case basis.

When you don’t trust your supplier

One of the most important ingredients for successful outsourcing is a good relationship with your supplier. Remember that when you outsource you have less control over that particular business process or product. Can you trust your supplier with that? If not, you need to change your supplier. If the issue is simply that the particular component you are outsourcing is too sensitive to entrust to a third party then you may have to resign yourself to not outsourcing that particular area.

When it’s a core business function

A general guideline is that you keep your core businesses processes in-house and only outsource your secondary or nonessential business processes. For instance, if you had a delivery company, you wouldn’t outsource the actually delivery of goods, would you? On the other hand, you could outsource the fleet management because it is a secondary function of your business.

That being said, there are instances when it can be useful to outsource core functions. Zalmi Duchman’s catering company, The Fresh Diet, is a case in point. After he outsourced the actual food-preparation, the catering company grew by 400% because his team could focus on sales and marketing.

However, at some point he knew that for his business to expand he needed to take back control of the kitchen. This allowed them to adapt the recipe as needed and better monitor the quality of their product.

It’s not always practical or even possible to do everything internally, and so outsourcing is a beneficial thing to do. But if the growth of your business depends on the growth of a particular process, you probably want to be in control of that process.

 

Home security tips for South Africa

Protecting our homes is one of the most important things we can do, aside from acquiring it in the first place. Thus we should consider what precisely we’re doing in terms of protecting our homes – especially when it comes to living in a country like South Africa, which might not have access to the best or cheapest security.

There are all sorts of scenarios that we will be in that requires us to protect our homes for different reasons. For example, the most mundane might be how we protect our home at night. ADT security provides some advice on what smart responses mean to security.

“Always lock perimeter doors and close windows that are far away from where the family activity is centred.

At night always lock perimeter doors and securely fasten windows. When retiring to bed, lock inter-leading doors of those rooms that are not occupied.

Do not leave curtains open at night as this allows observation into the house.

Do not go outside alone to investigate at night. Rather switch off all lights and open curtains to allow you to see what is occurring outside, once eyes have become accustomed to the dark.”

There are more hi-tech options that can be considered, alongside those available from, say, locksmiths in Johannesburg, South or Cape Town, north. For example, the Aurora camera from KGuard are an entry-level but highly efficient source of security for the modern home. As one reviewer noted:

“The range, which has individual setups for four, eight and 16 cameras, starts at R3 999. That R4k gets you a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), the software to run it, four cameras and 18m cables. Almost everything you need to set up surveillance for your home or business is in the box (you’ll need to buy your own hard drive), and installing it is as easy as installing a DSTV decoder. Even installing the hard drive isn’t difficult – simply unscrew the DVR’s cover, find the SATA port and plug it in. About the mst complex skill requirement is the ability to mount the cameras in the proper position; otherwise, it’s a plug and play affair.”

This can be used for big or small businesses and even homes. One of the most incredible aspects of this system is just how futuristic it is.

“The app also lets the user switch between any of the DVR’s cameras by simply choosing the right channel, giving the user a great degree of control over the system. So basically, as long as the system has internet access and you have a smartphone, you can see what’s happening wherever the cameras are set up from anywhere in the world that has internet connectivity.”

Security is of concern: we need to take our own steps – whether in locking doors or installing hi-tech security – to ensure it.

Copper theft a war on all fronts

 

coperAlthough there had been a slight decrease in copper theft in the early part of 2015, the level is again rising as theft of the metal continues to cost South Africa billions of rands.

According to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry Copper Theft Barometer: April 2015, the level increased by 7% to R13.6-million in April from R12.6-million in March.

 

“The April figure is 7.08 percent higher than a month ago, and 0.11 percent lower than a year ago. Bearing in mind that the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry Copper Theft Barometer is based only on theft from Eskom, Telkom and Transnet, and considering that it comprises only the cost of replacing the metal; this figure is but a drop in the ocean when the impact on the economy is taken into account,” SACCI acting CEO Peggy Drodskie told IOL.

 

It is now estimated that copper theft costs South Africa between R5-billion and R7-billion a year.

 

There are, however, measures being implemented to curb copper theft. Often these have been the result of public-private partnerships, which has entailed requests being made by national or provincial government for the creation of effective deterrent mechanisms.

 

One such product to have emerged is Cable Guard from Aberdare Cables, an offering that has proved so successful that it’s already been patented worldwide.

Cable Guard comprises a strong, corrosion resistant clamping system which clamps securely around the outer cable serving at 5 to 10 metre intervals. Its large projected area provides a resistance to pull against the trench and prevents long lengths of cable being pulled out of the ground by powerful vehicles.

In a number of tests to simulate cable theft, lengths of cable fitted with CableGuard were subjected to continuous full throttle pulling and deliberate jerking. A Land Rover, an 8 ton double–differential mechanical horse and a Caterpillar 427 front end loader all failed to remove the cable.

Durban-based security solutions concern Holomatrix has also created an innovation called Authenticable, a liner PET tape system with three unique identification mechanisms: a printed serial number or barcode, a nickel holographic microdot bearing a unique code and an invisible DNA taggant.

Explains Holomatrix CEO Kevin Peterson: “The microdots are embedded in the PET carrier and the DNA trace is imprinted along the carrier. The tape is applied into the core of the conductors while they are being manufactured and fits with existing production methodologies.

“The microdots and DNA taggant can survive exposure to fire. The result is unique, accurate identification down to 2.5 cm and cradle to grave traceability of every piece of cable.”

Metal theft is not only restricted to South Africa, however. Britain’s biggest water company, Thames Water, has also experienced tremendous difficulty in curbing the scourge, forcing it to take drastic action.

The result is a product known as SmartWater, a coded-water that invisibly tags its metal – and any thieves who steal it.

Once coated in the coded water, which only shows up under ultra-violet light, any metal can be traced back to its owner – and the thief can be linked to the crime scene.

The fact of the matter is that copper thieves are brazen, and not even warehouses are safe anymore.

Last year four men were arrested for stealing two 500 metre spools of cobber cable from Transnet’s warehouse in Germiston during an armed robbery.  For this reason it has also become imperative for companies to reinforce their security by employing mantraps, boom gates and other security measures.

Don’t underestimate fleet data security

fleetIt will come as no surprise that even the seemingly “physical” business of fleet management has been affected by digital considerations.

Knowing which driver is where at a specific time, or whether goods have been delivered timeously are important fleet data that need to be logged in highly effective systems.

However there is an additional element that has arisen as a result of the increased alliance on digital administration: security.

Business intelligence is an incredibly valuable commodity in this day and age, arguably as much as cash, and with fleet management  now so dependent on data it is important to safeguard what information has been stored.

Irvin Gray of TomTom Telematics paints a telling picture of why this is so important.

“If the safety and security of fleet data is compromised, the fall out can be catastrophic. At best it can mean business interruption, at worst it can mean handing over business-critical intelligence to cyber criminals or unscrupulous competitors.

“Fleet data provides a wealth of information about your mobile world – valuable insights into your drivers and where they’ve been. This data can reveal the identity of the customers you’re visiting and, if you’re tracking sales operatives, can divulge sensitive details about your client prospects. The implications of this fleet data falling into the wrong hands could be considerable.”

In South Africa, protecting this information is particularly important given the high crime rate and the sophistication of criminals in accessing data.

Following the release of South Africa’s crime statistics last year, in which it was revealed that truck hijacking incidents had increased by 5.1% on 2013, Jerry Pierce, operations manager at Cartrack, told FANews that small fleet operators were being particularly hard hit.

“It is not so much having to replace the vehicle and its cargo, but the reputational damage that comes with it. Clients will often cancel a contract with a fleet operator due to a lack of confidence, which could be a death blow to a small operator, costing them their business and the livelihood of all the staff members employed by the business.”

Fleetwatch’s Richard Macaskill has noticed that even with the implementation of high-tech tracking systems, fleets are still under threat.

“One might feel that with the wide-spread penetration of tracking systems into fleets over the past years, hijacking would have diminished. Not so! While tracking companies continue to improve their systems in a number of ways in order to make hijackings more difficult, tracking systems are still vulnerable and are often removed from vehicles when stolen.”

It therefore cannot be emphasised enough that safeguarding every aspect of the fleet is paramount, from the files storing information to the vehicles on the ground.

Supplied By: Wesbank

Tel: 0861 888 272

Email: service@wesbank.co.za

Website: www.wesbank.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bakkie theft in Africa

Bakkies are popular in Africa, of that there can be no doubt.

However, their appeal as industrious workhorses traversing the great African plains (and admittedly these days, stylish urban warriors) is also having an adverse effect on South African crime levels.

Earlier this year, police revealed that 70 bakkies were stolen over an 11-day period in Gauteng. Unsurprisingly, many Toyota Hiluxes featured among that number.

According to SA Promo magazine, “as soon as they [bakkies] are stolen they are taken over the border to Mozambique where they are either stripped for parts or taken further north into Africa.

“Many say police at border posts are being bribed because so many stolen vehicles are taken through the Lebombo border post without a hitch.”

While there has not been much research on the subject, another, more sinister reason why bakkies are so popular in Africa has come to light.

In a highly insightful article, entitled “The Toyota Pickup is the War Chariot of the Third World”, author Kyle Mizokami explains why the rugged vehicle is so often the choice of brutal warlords.

“Pickup trucks’ mobility makes them ideal for Third World warfare. Four-wheel-drives can tackle almost any terrain. Light trucks don’t weigh much, allowing them to cross weak bridges and fragile roads that would be impassable to armored vehicles weighing tens of tons,” he writes.

“The speed of a pickup is handy on the battlefield, helping fighters overcome those other hallmarks of Third World warfare: bad intelligence, weak leadership, poor planning. Pickup trucks require no special logistical support; any country with gas stations—that is, every country on Earth—can support them. If a pickup breaks down, parts probably can be found. And if they can’t, well, it’s just a pickup truck. Park it. Walk away.”

Mizokami refers to Somalia as a prime example of how bakkies can be used in battle.

Referencing the notorious “Black Hawk Down” incident, he explains how the Toyota bakkie and others earned the name “technical”.

“The term is thought to be short for ‘technical assistance’, a service bought from warlords by aid organisations, often in the form of armed Toyota trucks to ensure that humanitarian aid reached its destination.

“Friction between peacekeepers and Somali warlords sparked repeated skirmishes. American forces battled the Somali technicals, the heaviest firepower the militias could muster.”

Ultimately, with the proliferation in bakkie theft in South Africa, it is apparent that there is no telling where a bakkie may end up. Suffering the loss of a vehicle is heart-breaking, but knowing that it may be used for the purposes of slaughtering thousands is more so.

That’s why it is even more important that every precaution is taken to protect the vehicle. For example, a bakkie fitted with a canopy may not be targeted as much, as thieves with ambitions to punt the vehicle on to African countries will have no need for it.

It’s a small but important point in the prevailing climate of criminality.