The challenges of transport and logistics management across the African continent present significant opportunities for companies that can leapfrog traditional supply chain practices and adopt automation technologies.
Real time transport and logistics visibility is transforming the way transport organisations operate, providing them and their customers with live updates on the location and status of the vehicle fleet as well as the goods that have been ordered. Without this technology, companies do not have insights into deliveries, leading to inefficiencies and customer dissatisfaction, and an inability to keep up with competitors.
With the needs of customers in the region in mind, SEIDOR in Africa has developed a transport solution for SAP Business One referred to as Transport One that provides real-time, end-to-end transport visibility for SMBs that have implemented the ERP solution to automate key functions across their business.
Daisy Ndanyi, Head of Technical Account Management at SEIDOR in Africa, East Africa Region, says the Seidor Transport One solution was developed in consultation with SEIDOR’s large base of customers in the transport and logistics industry.
“What we have now is a seamless solution that integrates with SAP Business One and provides our clients with the information they need to optimise their transport and logistics operations,” she says. “Real-time visibility allows for accurate tracking and tracing of assets, and their location and status, throughout the supply chain.”
Ndanyi adds that any business that operates a fleet of commercial vehicles requires information about the whereabouts of any given vehicle at any time. Incorporating the latest GPS technology, SEIDOR’s solution is far more than just a tool to help commercial drivers to navigate from location to location. “It allows SMBs to monitor vehicle location, geo-fencing, vehicle speed, odometer reading and routes taken.”
As part of a modern mobile transport tracking software tool, the solution provides information that is critical to cost assessment, excellent customer service and improved efficiency.
Here are six key ways the solution can maximise ROI:
1. Tracking and calculating cost and profit per kilometre
Road-transport operators and logistics companies need to measure and control variable vehicle cost factors like fuel, tyres, maintenance, and repairs to gain accurate insights into actual costs and profitability.
2. Daily loading and delivery planning tools and reports
Labour planning and management is a challenge for many transport companies. Accurate and timeous reports make it possible to eliminate wasted time and spend while knowing what cargo needs to be loaded and delivered daily. Order delivery accuracy and on-time delivery are improved by planning tools that are part of the solution.
3. Monitoring fuel use
Fuel monitoring functionality reports fuel levels per vehicle, driver, and trip, recording important data from costs to consumption. This improves the company’s fuel efficiency, emphasising visibility around fuel spending and transactions at the driver level. This can result in significant fuel cost reduction and also eliminates fuel theft. A fuel tracking system also helps businesses determine if speeding is a common occurrence within the fleet.
4. Reduced downtime and increase asset availability
Preventive maintenance of vehicles minimises vehicle downtime, reduces costs and avoids breakdowns that result in safety and security risks. Alerts ensure that vehicles are serviced regularly, and parts are available when needed thanks to streamlined requisition systems.
5. Accelerated transactions and improved cash flow
By automating everyday financial tasks and integrating them with other business processes, transport businesses are always able to get the information they need when they need it. They can effectively track and access all customer-related information, for example, better servicing customers at every point of contact, helping ensure repeat business, and driving improved cash flow as a result of accurate monitoring and management of revenue and expenses. Timely billing based on real-time proof of delivery to maximise cashflow. This is enabled by the driver portal. An integration to mobile payments has eased the handling of cash to drivers and other payments.
6. Vehicle asset management
The solution enables automated tracking, vehicle details, licensing, tracking and reporting on vehicle values and costs, as well as annual depreciation as a result of distances travelled. The system also ensures that the business complies with all necessary regulations, enabling fleet managers to anticipate new regulations and avoid sanctions or fines.
“In addition to the many cost-saving and efficiency benefits, the solution is also affordable, quick to implement and integrates easily with SAP Business One,” says Ndanyi.
“The extremely positive response we have had from our SMB customers in the transport sector demonstrates just how beneficial this add-on is proving to be. We will continue to add features and functionality as the demand arises.”
Machine Learning for Predictive Fleet Maintenance
In South Africa, the logistics and transportation industry plays a massive role in the economy, connecting many parts of our diverse country.
The application of Machine Learning (ML) for predictive maintenance in freight fleets has the potential to become a significant tool.
It offers potential solutions to unique challenges faced by the freight forwarding industry in South Africa, such as vast geographical distances, fluctuating fuel costs, and ageing infrastructure.
The Current State of the Freight Industry in South Africa
The South African freight industry is characterised by a mix of road, rail, and maritime transportation. The road freight sector faces challenges such as high wear and tear on vehicles due to long distances and often challenging road conditions. Predictive maintenance using ML can offer solutions to these specific problems.
Implementation of Machine Learning for Predictive Fleet Maintenance
Let’s begin with the fundamentals, to implement an effective machine learning solution for predictive fleet maintenance the following steps need to take place:
1. Data Collection
Installing sensors to continuously monitor various parameters like engine temperature, oil pressure, fuel efficiency, vibration levels, and tire pressure. These sensors must be suitable for the diverse climatic and road conditions in South Africa. This can be achieved through certain types of transport management systems or TMS which already place these types of sensors in heavy vehicles.
Integration with Existing Systems:
Ensuring that the sensors can communicate with existing fleet management systems to collect historical data, like maintenance records and past failures.
Developing a centralised system for aggregating data from different sources, including traffic conditions, weather information, and road quality, which may affect vehicle performance.
2. Data Preprocessing & Analysis
Removing noise and correcting errors in the data, such as sensor malfunctions or inconsistencies
Creating new variables that may be more informative for prediction, such as combining weather data with road condition information.
Utilising visualisations and statistical analysis to understand the underlying patterns in the data, specific to the South African context.
Handling Imbalanced Data:
In cases where failure data is scarce, techniques to handle imbalanced data might be required to ensure that the predictive model is not biased.
3. Customised Model Building
Identifying the most suitable machine learning algorithms, considering factors like data size, complexity, and specific predictive maintenance tasks.
Model Training and Validation:
Splitting the data into training and validation sets to build and validate the model, ensuring it generalises well to unseen data.
Adjusting the parameters of the machine learning model to optimise performance specifically for the conditions in South Africa.
Building models that provide insights into why certain predictions are made, enabling better understanding and trust in the system.
4. Real-time Monitoring and Prediction
Real-time Data Processing:
Developing a system for processing data in real time, allowing for immediate action to be taken based on predictions.
Creating a notification system to alert operators and maintenance crews of predicted failures or maintenance needs.
Integration with Mobile Technologies:
Ensuring that real-time updates can be accessed by relevant personnel, even in remote areas, via mobile apps or other accessible platforms.
Continuous Model Updating:
Regularly update the model with new data to ensure that it continues to make accurate predictions as conditions change.
5. Integration with Local Suppliers
Building partnerships with local maintenance and parts suppliers to ensure timely service and availability of required materials.
Implementing an automated scheduling system that coordinates with local suppliers to arrange maintenance at optimal times.
Understanding regional differences in South Africa, such as the availability of skilled labour or parts, to create localised solutions for maintenance.
By anticipating maintenance needs, South African freight operators can reduce downtime and enhance the efficiency of their fleet.
Predictive maintenance can lead to a reduction in maintenance costs by optimising service schedules and preventing unexpected breakdowns.
Adaptation to Local Conditions:
Customised models can account for the unique challenges of operating in South Africa, such as variable road quality and climatic conditions.
Supporting Economic Growth:
Improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the logistics sector can foster broader economic growth within South Africa.
Limited access to high-speed internet in remote areas may hinder real-time data processing and communication.
Implementing ML for predictive maintenance requires specialised skills that might be scarce in South Africa.
Ensuring that the implementation of new technologies complies with South African laws and regulations.
Machine learning for predictive maintenance in South Africa’s freight fleet is an exciting and promising development. It aligns with the country’s goals to innovate and modernise its logistics industry while taking into consideration the unique local challenges.
By investing in this technology and overcoming the associated barriers, South Africa can position itself as a leader in intelligent logistics solutions, promoting not only the growth of the freight industry but also contributing to broader economic development.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in warehousing and logistics
In today’s digital age, few technologies have been more talked about in a good and a bad light than artificial intelligence. There are many sectors that can benefit significantly from the use of AI in one form or another, one such is the warehousing sector. In this article, we will examine how artificial intelligence is used in warehousing, and what the benefits of AI are.
What defines artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is, in essence, computer-simulated human-like intelligence which allows for complex problem-solving abilities i.e., the ability to take in information, analyse any given piece of information and make intelligent rational decisions with a focused end goal in mind.
The true strength of AI
The greatest strength of AI lies in its ability to take vast amounts of data, recognise patterns, make informed decisions, and adapt and improve its performance based on experience. AI systems are designed to understand, learn from, and respond to their environment, enabling them to perform complex tasks, automate processes, and provide intelligent solutions.
How is artificial intelligence (AI) used in warehousing?
AI is currently used in warehousing in three primary ways these can be broken down into the following.
1. To create predicted demand forecasts
AI is used to forecast demand for stock within the warehouse. This is achieved by the AI using historical data and algorithms to analyse large volumes of data for trends, and correlations. This allows the AI to make accurate demand forecasts for items and can be taken one step further by analysing seasonal trends, and consumer buying behaviour for deeper connections to determine future demand.
2. To improve inventory management
Expanding on forecasting demand, AI can be used to manage inventory levels. For example, AI can make suggestions on exactly which items to stock up on, and at which dates to stock up based on the initial forecast demand and live data. This helps reduce out-of-stock events and allows the warehouse to optimise its inventory for events such as seasonal buying changes. Essentially there is less uncertainty involved when restocking the warehouse.
3. To optimise transport logistics
AI algorithms optimise logistics operations by analysing various parameters such as order volume, delivery locations, traffic conditions, and transportation constraints. By considering these factors, AI-powered systems can generate optimal delivery routes, minimise transportation costs, and improve delivery timeframes.
This streamlines logistics operations and enhances customer satisfaction.
Transport optimisation normally takes place on routes to and from the warehouse, however, if your warehouse takes advantage of automated guided vehicles or AGVs, AI can also be used to optimise the paths these robots take within the warehouse, to ensure the fastest route is taken.
The use of AI in warehousing and logistics has become increasingly popular and beneficial. We can forecast demand for stock, improve inventory management, and optimise transport logistics. These applications help reduce out-of-stock events, optimise inventory, generate optimal delivery routes, minimise transportation costs, and improve delivery timeframes. As technology continues to advance, more AI applications will likely be implemented in the warehousing sector, leading to even greater efficiency and customer satisfaction.
RFA calls for 5l water donations and community drop-off points
The Road Freight Association (RFA) is calling on its members and all industry stakeholders to support the call to provide desperately needed water and other essentials to communities devastated by the floods in KwaZulu-Natal. “Whether you are a large trucking operator or operate bakkies, vans, motorcycles – or someone who would simply like to support our ‘Truckers Making a Difference’ campaign – you too can help those who have been devastated by the floods,” says Gavin Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Road Freight Association.
“There are a number of ways in which people and organisations can assist our ‘Truckers Making a Difference’ campaign,” explains Kelly. “Everyone can make a donation – even a 5-litre bottle of water will bring relief to those in need. Although food, blankets and shelter are also needed, water is the overwhelming need for communities right now. KwaZulu Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala indicated earlier today that it could take months to repair flood damage to the Tongaat Water Works – the RFA would like to do what we can to make even a small difference in making the lives of flood victims easier.”
For those wishing to donate water or other essential items for flood victims, there are two drop-off points: Airport Lodge Guest House, 6-273 Koppie Ave, Kempton Park, 1619, and 309 Malcolm Str, Garsfontein, Pretoria.
More drop off points will be announced on rfa.co.za and @RFA on Facebook as they become available
The Association is also calling on its members – and any other stakeholder – who have depots and storage facilities, to open these facilities as community drop-off points.
The communities of Tongaat, Umdloti and The Bluff have appealed for urgent assistance and have been targeted as the initial priority areas.
Organisations and individuals wanting to make donations or facilities available to “Truckers Making a Difference” can contact Charlene on [email protected] or call 074 490 0974.