There’s an old and very apt saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link,” says John Valentine, Director at Real Telematics.
“There are just so many links in a typical Supply Chain that maintaining the integrity of the product/process becomes a full time job in itself. The slightest deviation not picked up early enough can have catastrophic consequences at time of delivery, with the supplier not being paid, the customer not getting stock, the distributor not getting a load and everybody knocking on the insurance company’s door.”
“Taking the above scenario into account, Real Telematics undertook an exercise within the FMCG/Agricultural industry and analysed the whole crop to table supply chain. On consultation with various players in the industry, we learned that there can be very high levels of ‘spoilage’ in certain crop types, particularly amongst soft skinned fruits and vegetables. It is not unheard of for a farmer to lose 15% to 50% of his crop before it even gets to your table, it’s simply the nature of the beast. In hardier crops the losses can be 10-20%.”
“So serious is this problem, not just in monetary terms but also in food supply sustainability, that the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions in 1975 that focussed on enhancing Supply Chains to mitigate the potentially devastating effects. This in part was the origin of the industries today which specialize in the various steps of the Supply Chain.”
“Despite incredible advances since the original resolutions were passed, spoilage levels are still one of the most important factors receiving attention today,” says Valentine.
“It is in the transport and handling of the product from one process to another that much of the damages occur. The product is often machine or hand- picked, put into large bins that compress the product at the bottom, then transported via tractors and trailers, normally on un-tarred roads, so the product gets bumped about quite a bit. Then forklifts move the bins and pallets into the processing environment to be cleaned, again normally on fairly rough surfaces, then the product is dumped into the cleaning tanks, belts or tables, often again bruising. Once processing is completed the product is packed, and then once again moved by hand or forklift to be stored in fridges or racks. Then finally the product is once again moved by forklifts or by hand onto trucks and then transported to the first Distribution point and once again offloaded by a forklift or by hand. This process may still repeat itself several times before the product gets to the end consumer. Looking at all the handling points it is easy to see why spoilage rates can be so high.”
“At Real Telematics, with our comprehensive range of Modular Niche Features on our Real FMX and Real Track products, we believe that ‘spoilage’ can be significantly reduced, from the Tractor to the Forklift to the Truck. Contrary to popular belief, a ‘one stop shop’ in terms of fleet management is not always possible. Simply because niche industries have requirements not always met by the standard plug and play systems that currently proliferate. This is further exacerbated by unscrupulous sales people selling products not suitable for the application, either because they do not understand the operation or have not done site inspections. Even worse, pushing the wrong product purely to get the Commission. It is this behaviour that tarnishes the entire industry,” comments Valentine.
“There are however, still Fleet Management companies who operate with integrity, and who truly put the customer focus front and centre. We trust our customers feel that Real Telematics is one of those companies.”
“We have put significant effort into offering the right product for the right application. The Real FMX product which we use on Forklifts was designed specifically for the Materials Handling industry and is not a former Car or Truck system pressed into service with some changes. Our Real Track product, although also used for Cars and Trucks was actually originally designed for ‘yellow goods’ such as Bulldozers, Excavators, Skid Steers, TLB’s etc., machinery that can take the punishment of rough usage. Of late either Real FMX or Real Track can also be used very successfully on Tractors as well.”
“All of these products offer typical Fleet Management features, but also offer features that are application driven, such as Refrigeration and Door Points on Real Track, like Engine Protection and Idle/Battery Cut Out on forklifts and tractors and of course also Impact Detection. Impacts can very easily show you the trends of rough handling in the processes that cause much of the bruising and because these Impacts are sensitivity configurable, you can set the Impacts you want to see based on application from Tractor, to Forklift to Truck.”
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