CFAO Equipment SA expands its telematics team to support growth

CFAO Equipment SA has expanded its fleet management support team in anticipation of significant growth of its telematics systems over the next few years. Specialised technicians and telematics administrators have been appointed in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, with a dedicated telematics expert joining the national technical support team at the end of October.

The telematics specialist will report to CFAO Equipment SA’s National Technical Manager, Stephen Mostert, who says the bolstering of CFAO Equipment SA’s team with additional expertise is expected to drive growth of its Toyota I-Site fleet management system, which was first introduced in South Africa in 2008.

“Today, the use of fleet management systems – or telematic systems – for forklift management in warehouses is a critical step towards optimising material handling operations and providing insight into performance trends, productivity and utilisation.”

Forklifts are fitted with data handling units (DHUs), which allow for 24/7 live communication about each machine. This allows managers to see and manage all machines from their desks or cell phones, with automated daily, weekly or monthly reports and warnings that allow them to troubleshoot issues immediately.

The system monitors where, when and how the machine is being used. With the resultant data and analytics, warehouse managers are better prepared to enhance their operations, identify safety issues, make sure machines are operationally check, compare sites, establish the running costs of their machines, deal with breakdowns or accidents faster, introduce driver training where necessary and prevent theft.

“It is difficult for warehouse managers to have oversight of all machines on the floor, especially if they have hundreds of machines at different sites throughout the country or, in some instances, across the continent. Each I-Site DHU is fitted with GPS and a wireless connection that allows them to be constantly monitored,” adds Mostert.

He cites the example of the widespread unrest and looting at numerous warehouses and factories in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last year. “We were able to remotely disable forklifts that were stolen from our customers’ premises and pinpoint their locations for retrieval.”

CFAO Equipment SA’s dedicated technicians install I-Site on each forklift and field service technicians respond to issues in real time. Telematics administrators handle portal queries and provide customer support.

“Of course, some customers require more intervention than others and our customer relations officers (CROs) handle face-to-face interactions and conduct training. While most functionality is automated, customers need to load driver information on their side, with each driver being provided with a unique pin number,” adds Mostert.

He says CFAO Equipment SA is exploring the possibility of offering driver management to its customers as well. “This would be an add-on for customers who would like this part of the process handled on their behalf.”

With a small percentage of the approximately 24,000 forklifts operating in South Africa today having implemented fleet management systems, Mostert says there is an enormous opportunity for CFAO Equipment SA to grow its telematics footprint in the country.

“We did our homework to see where and how we could drive growth in this part of the business. That’s when we decided to start a fleet management department in each region to sell, implement, maintain and repair systems. Now we’re taking it a step further to see what add-on services we can provide and how we can enhance our aftermarket service,” explains Mostert.

He says I-site is a Toyota branded system that is specifically designed for Toyota forklifts, resulting in better performance. “This is not a retrofitted system. I-Site is aligned with our Toyota range of products. They are linked to ‘smart tile’ user interfaces with a user-friendly, customisable dashboard design and access to in-depth data a mere click away.”