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When clients used to call Mr Tan Jian Ming ever so often to check on where his trucks were, the director of Ming Fa Rental Services would have to call his drivers over the radio and check in on them, before updating his clients. However, his clients today can simply go online to do this. At a few clicks of a mouse, they are able to track the real-time progress of their deliveries. 

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This is all made possible by an intelligent fleet management system that the two-year-old transportation company recently installed. With a few taps on a smart phone, Jian Ming and his clients can find out where exactly the company’s fleet of seven trucks are. “Some customers want to know where their goods are headed, where they are now, and if they are safe,” explains the 31-year-old. “Our clients can now log in and track for themselves where our vehicles are. They don’t have to call us anymore.”

Convenience, however, was not what prompted Jian Ming to invest in such a system at first. Instead, he wanted to give himself and his drivers a peace of mind. Having encountered disputes over goods going missing during deliveries and dubious accident claims made by fellow road users, the former truck driver saw the importance of having a camera as a neutral observer to resolve such disputes.

“Most cars nowadays come with built-in cameras, so why not on lorries too?” He asks.

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At first, he tried installing consumer cameras for cars but realised they were not built for heavy duty usage. As his vehicles were on the road around the clock, consumer cameras often ran out of memory or simply malfunctioned in less than a year. Having seen similar systems installed on public buses and other lorries, Jian Ming found Smartcomm Electronics which offered its Intelligent Vehicle Monitoring System, a fleet management solution consisting of Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers, video cameras and software. Fortunately for Jian Ming, the cost to install this technology was subsidised through iSPRINT, an initiative by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to help SMEs use technology to boost productivity. 

Jian Ming found the upgrading exercise worthwhile. “It’s a costing, but we save a lot of trouble,” he says. Besides monitoring for traffic incidents, the additional cameras and monitoring system allowed for his drivers to check for blind spots and look out for hazards while driving – something his drivers appreciated. “If any of my vehicles get into an accident, you can forget about doing business,” he says. “Our clients would lose their confidence in us too.”

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Having used this system for almost a year and his drivers giving him positive feedback on it, Jian Ming is convinced to install it for all his vehicles in the future. While the technology is still relatively new, he believes it will become an industry norm in time to come. Notably, some of his multinational clients have started requesting for such services in their contracts, and his competitors are also adopting similar systems. 

“As technology improves, our customers’ demands have also gone up,” he says. “If I were to install this only after my customers ask for it, then it would be too late.” 

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Want to go digital? The SMEs Go Digital programme by the Info-communications Media Development (IMDA) matches companies to the appropriate tech solutions and offers financial subsidies too. Get started at https://www.imda.gov.sg/smesgodigital

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