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To close the first edition of the Connected Fleets Conference, Nikola Vuckovic, Manager EHSS & IFMS, Philip Morris International gave an overview of how his company puts the connected fleet in practice. He was followed by Kevin Vandepaer, dispatch coordinator at roadside assistance company VAB.

Philip Morris International: saving lives

Philip Morris may be a leading tobacco company, it is committed to designing a smoke-free future. The company has a strong presence in all parts of the world through a capillary distribution system. This includes high-risk markets like parts of Africa, where Philip Morris is expanding. In all these markets, young, male drivers with a can-do attitude are the ideal salesforce but they are also a safety liability.

One of the strategies to improve safety at PMI is the introduction of telematics. Today, all vehicles purchased across the world include telematics. This produces large quantities of big data that can be used to improve and adapt fleet policies and to fuel employee trainings.

Today, 30% of the almost 25,000-strong vehicle fleet have already been equipped with telematics. There are strong differences between regions, though, with Eastern Europe reaching 84% and the EU only 13%. These numbers are determined by differences in workplace culture.

Having telematics in vehicles can literally save lives. In South Africa, almost two people of the PMI workforce were killed every month. Since the introduction of telematics systems, this number has dropped to “only” one every one to two years. In this case, guiding people to use safe routes made a huge impact on drivers on the road.
In Ukraine, where road safety is abysmal, telematics systems have also had a significant impact on mortality numbers.
Other benefits include fewer traffic incidents (savings in 96% of all equipped vehicles), lower fuel consumption (in 70% of all equipped vehicles), predictive maintenance (53%) and better vehicle occupancy and planning (33%).

VAB: predicting breakdowns

VAB, Belgium’s largest breakdown assistance provider, is also one of the most intense users of connectivity. But VAT is more than a roadside assistance vendor – their services include a driving school, towing services, tyre centres, second hand car sales (VAB is one of few breakdown assistance providers still operating an owned fleet)… VAB positions itself as a one-stop-shop for mobility services.

Kevin Vandepaer, the company’s dispatch coordinator and replacement vehicle manager, reminds us how things were in the past: manual dispatching and high logistic workload.
Nowadays, more than 830 replacement vehicles are equipped with a propriety telematics system. Even if the tool is essentially used mainly to locate the vehicles, provide for alerts and feed data into reports, its real use case goes much further.

Kevin shared with us the benefits that telematics have brought to VAB:
• Retrieving lost cars
• Optimise the spread of the replacement cars in order to make the best use of them
• Provide for odometer data, in order to optimise residual value and maintenance schedules
• Report bad drivers
• Detect crashes
• And some other additional benefits, such as reporting when the vehicles are cleaned in the carwash and have become available to be dispatched again

But most importantly, says Kevin, “telematics can help us prevent rather than react.” Deploying the latest technology, VAB can even predict where cars will break down. New clients and new tech is pushing VAB forward to the next level of connectivity: technicians will be able to read car data, including the car’s error messages. Shortly, VAB will be able to contact the driver before, before the car breaks down.
Kevin reminds us that transparency was very important when implementing telematics: every user is well informed that the replacement vehicles are connected and what data are used for.
Image: Nikola Vuckovic, Philip Morris International
Authors: Benjamin Uyttebroeck & Yves Helven

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