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Sat 3 Sep 2005 04:00 AM

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GPS system tracks the delivery of readymix from start to finish

Delivering readymix from the plant to the customer during the summer is a race against time. If a driver takes one or two hours longer than planned, the concrete will be ruined. In a bid to keep tabs on the delivery process, Bahrain-based concrete suplier Eamco is installing MobiApps, a fleet management system which uses a GPS tracking system to monitor the trucks in near real time on a web-based map. Construction Week reports on how the system is shaping up.

GPS system tracks the delivery of readymix from start to finish|~|cement-mixer-truck-200.jpg|~|To overcome readymix delivery problems during the summer months, Eamco is installing a GPS-based system that allows the company to monitor the location of its trucks in near real time, using a web-based map.|~|Delivering readymix concrete at this time of year is a battle against the clock as well as the thermometer.

As the temperature starts to rise, any delay in the delivery of readymix to site can result in the cement solidifying and spoiling before the contractor gets to start the pour.

And with traffic congestion becoming an increasing problem in many construction industry hot spots throughout the Gulf, delivery delays are becoming more common.

But one Bahrain-based concrete supplier hopes that receiving angry calls from contractors demanding to know what has happened to their delivery will be a thing of the past, thanks to a new tracking system, which allows them to keep tabs on their trucks.

The Eastern Asphalt & Mixed Concrete Company (Eamco) is set to finish installing MobiApps, a fleet management system, on its 45 cement mixers and 15 pump trucks by the end of the month. The system will allow Eamco to monitor its drivers’ activities in near real time, which will then enable management to keep a better watch on staff and also to inform customers about delays as they happen. Eamco opted to install a fleet management system in order to enhance its communications with its drivers.

Previously, the company’s drivers were given mobile phones, but this was an expensive option, and the phones did not provide any data on the location of the vehicles.

As such, there was no way of knowing whether a delivery would arrive on time and what the real reason for any delay was.

“In the past, when a delivery was late, we would call the driver and they would come up with some excuse, but there was nothing that we could do about it at all,” says Danesh Brabhaker, logistics supervisor, Eamco.

“It was a real problem because the customer would be waiting, we would be waiting for the truck to return and everything would be halted… And, because we are a concrete firm, it is vital that goods arrive on time.

“If the driver takes one or two hours longer than they should then the concrete will be jammed, and if it is a special mix we have a big problem — the concrete is lost and money is lost,” he adds.

To overcome these problems, the company opted to implement a GPS system that will allow it to monitor where its trucks are in near real time on a web-based map.

The MobiApps system also alerts management to any delays, speeding violations or detours from the assigned route.
“Now when I send a driver on a job, I can monitor where they are, if there are any delays, and programme in the best routes for them to take whether that is the shortest or quickest route,” says Brabhaker.

The 45 minute-long installation involves attaching a GPS antenna to the outside of the cab and a putting in a GSM antenna on the inside, both of which need to be attached to the battery.

Once the hardware is in place, the software can then be configured to meet the customers’ specific requirements.

“There are certain options [to chose] like where the information is directed to and also the type of information that you want to receive, such as the speed of the vehicle,” says Brabhaker. “For us, it is all downloaded to the computer in my office and from there I can see everything and take actions.

“The information can also be sent to your mobile,” Brabhaker adds. “As such, we can set the alert speed to say 80 kph, and if a vehicle goes above this, I will get a message on my mobile saying that so-and-so with load number X is travelling over the limit, and is in a certain position.”

Eamco’s head office can contact the driver using the GSM element of the system. This unit allows incoming calls, but the driver is unable to make outgoing calls, except for sending an SOS signal to the office. “It is not a two-way process, but he can give me a missed call [on my mobile] and from that I know it is an emergency and I call him back,” said Brabhaker.

“The driver therefore cannot misuse the unit, as I can call him but he cannot make calls.”

The cement company is already starting to see some early
results from the system, and Brabhaker believes that it will
not be long before other companies in Bahrain roll out similar

“This is a new concept for the kingdom; however, once
other companies see the advantage of being able to track their trucks and the usefulness of this product, it will spread like wildfire,” he predicts.||**||

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