The growing adoption of fast, reliable connectivity has the potential to transform South Africa’s truck industry, as digital disruption begins play a major role in transforming the country’s wider transport sector.
Always-available in-vehicle Internet connectivity can:
- Generate new value-added services
- Streamline work processes and improve operational and asset management capabilities
- Improve productivity and fleet security
- Give staff on-the-road access to essential real-time information
But transportation presents some unique connectivity challenges not found in traditional environments. Travelling along bumpy roads, traversing service areas, and powering devices using a vehicle battery are just some of the issues that require special consideration and planning.
Determining which mobile connectivity solution best fits your organisation’s needs requires careful evaluation of a number of factors.
The digital opportunity
With dependable in-vehicle connectivity in place, you can use on-board telematics to transform your maintenance schedule and keep vehicles on the road for longer, monitor fleet movements in real-time, deploy digital signage, and use video-streaming for real-time security surveillance.
Now it becomes possible to monitor stops, use geo-location to identify unnecessary trips and mileage or service delays, and recognise safe drivers. Utilising advanced bi-directional messaging you can enable smart navigation for drivers, updating them on route changes due to heavy traffic or unexpected incidents, or deliver automated arrival times that transform the customer experience.
Using this data, operators can map out travel patterns or identify where potential new services targeting underserved areas or time slots could prove profitable.
Deploying mobile connectivity
Fleet operators deploy network connectivity in vehicles for a variety of business functions, so decision-makers will need to think strategically when deploying a mobile connectivity solution. This means ensuring the network integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructure and systems and achieving full control, visibility and security of the branch network on the road.
For optimal operation, wireless routers require regular software and firmware updates, configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting. However, many organisations can’t afford to dock their fleet several times a week to install updates, fix issues or transmit data. The answer to this challenge is to deploy a software-defined cloud-based remote management platform that enables automatic firmware updates, configurations, security patches, and the maintenance of wireless devices from a remote location.
Since mobile routers on a cellular network use dynamic private IP addresses, fleet managers will need a management platform that does not require a static IP to connect to the route. To maintain reliable connectivity, the router and antenna will need to be correctly placed and the use of ruggedized routers will be key.
Keeping sensitive data safe
Many organisations use virtual private networks (VPNs) to give mobile employees access to important data and applications housed in the data centre. However, for fleet employees, connecting to a VPN can be a time-consuming and frustrating proposition if the vehicle needs to reconnect every time the LTE signal temporarily drops.
Instead, consider deploying a software-defined virtual overlay network that can function as a local area network (LAN) – keeping vehicles authorised on the network even if the LTE signal is interrupted.
Towards a more connected future
The fast paced urbanisation of South Africa represents a major incentive for initiating smart fleet solutions. In-vehicle digital connectivity represents an opportunity to deliver services more efficiently and with greater automation.
Today’s 4G LTE networking solutions represent the most reliable, secure and cost-effective means of ensuring always-on connectivity for vehicles. Simple to implement and manage, a full solution can include cloud management, network security, and be purpose built for harsh on-road conditions like vibration and splash. This gives fleet operators the ideal framework for managing vehicle, people and device connectivity, while ensuring control and security on the road.
Article Author: Mervyn Byleveldt from Cradlepoint