A huge volume of cargo enters the UAE through Dubai and is also shipped to other Gulf countries via the emirate Image Credit: Corbis
As one of the world’s busiest trade hubs, there is robust demand in the Middle East for advanced solutions in fleet management. Delivery and transport companies need products such as vehicle-tracking systems given the high volume of goods transported within and outside the UAE. This has driven the growth of specialised fleet management vendors in the UAE, and they are under constant pressure to innovate and evolve to stay ahead of the competition.
Trakker Middle East is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group and TLP Trakker, Pakistan’s largest vehicle tracking and fleet management service provider. The company offers tracking products from DigiCore, a South African manufacturer and services the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. The Sharjah City Municipality has awarded Trakker Middle East a contract to provide an enterprise-level vehicle tracking system for its fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles. “Fleet management and vehicle location-based services are an essential part of any business and the demand for top-end products is increasing,” says Naim Abdul Hadi, General Manager, Trakker ME.
Al Futtaim Logistics, a provider of supply chain solutions, is also experiencing double digit growth in the fleet management business. Tom Nauwelaerts, Managing Director of Al Futtaim Logistics, told GN Focus, “the fact that so much cargo is entering the UAE market via Dubai or is being transshipped via Dubai into other Gulf countries has created a strong demand for road transport capabilities.”
 
Markets on the rise
Al Futtaim Logistics, besides handling a massive volume of goods for the Al Futtaim Group, is also a preferred logistics partner of many blue-chip companies active in the Gulf, according to Nauwelaerts. “Markets are definitely on the rise again and road trucking is the preferred mode of transportation of a sizeable quantity of goods. The UAE, Qatar and Saudi are strong markets,” he says.
“Good fleet management is essential in a professional transport market. The technical features of modern fleet management will allow for a much stronger monitoring of performance and compliance with procedures and operational controls,” he adds.
Nauwelaerts expects features such as real-time monitoring of trucks, GPS tracking, dynamic planning and pre-emptive maintenance planning based on truck usage to become standard features in the market. He also sees integration of fleet management with transport planning software being standardised. “This will result in increased productivity,” he explains.
Gargash Enterprises, general distributor of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, has recently opened a fleet management department. Its portfolio includes products and services ranging from small company finance packages, to complete fleet management solutions for larger companies.
Heiko Selzam, Director, Sales and Marketing, Commercial Vehicles, at Mercedes-Benz Middle East, says, “The commercial vehicles industry is changing — it is no longer just about selling a truck, but providing a solution.”
Another company offering GPS-based tracking solutions is Dubai-based Bluvalue. Its devices help manage a company’s vehicle fleet including commercial motor vehicles such as cars, vans, buses, and trucks. It allows tracking of the fleet and monitoring its usage in real time from anywhere in the world over the internet. The movement of any fleet vehicle can be monitored via a special internet website through a GPS tracker installed in the vehicle.
 
Key drivers
Alexander Borg, regional director of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), Middle East, explains why sophisticated solutions for fleet management are of growing importance in the region. “The logistics and transportation industry has become one of the key drivers of the economic activity in UAE and the GCC. The recent boom in trade activity in the UAE would not have been possible without modern transportation networks and warehousing facilities,” he says.
Borg adds that for nations such as the UAE, Oman, or Bahrain, logistics is also far more than just a facilitator for other industries. “It constitutes a major industry sector and contributor to the GDP in its own right,” he says.
Another player in the fleet management market in the UAE is global car rental company Hertz. Currently, Hertz UAE, operates fleet management services comprising over 9,000 vehicles for more than 250 corporate customers, ranging from large government entities to major international corporations as well as small and medium enterprises. Hertz also offers fleet consultants as part of its 80-strong team.
Another prominent player in the region is Trinetra Wireless, an India-based company with an expertise in GPS solution and vehicle tracking in transportation and logistics, corporate fleet management, school bus tracking and oil and gas logistics. The company has recently signed a long-term contract with one of the largest transportation service providers of petroleum and chemical products in the GCC region.
ArabIT, a Dubai-based fleet management company and distributor of products of US-based fleet management solutions provider Telargo, has equipped Mirak Group, a major producer and distributor of fresh flowers, fruits, and vegetables
in the UAE, with fleet management and tracking solutions.
The system was installed not only to track the movement of the delivery trucks, but also to monitor the drivers’ behaviour. “A driver score system monitors and assesses the driver providing an index that evaluates the driving pattern of each trip,” explains Chris Wiener of ArabIT.
“In addition to helping improve driving behaviour and safety, the initiative can also cut down on fuel wastage and increase efficiency,” says Wiener.
Other benefits include the reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions, optimisation of the fleet, and streamlining administrative functions which reduce the total cost of ownership, he adds.
LeasePlan Emirates, a vehicle leasing and fleet management specialist based in Abu Dhabi, is currently on an expansion drive across the UAE and has just opened a new office in Dubai. The company, a joint venture between Mubadala Development and LeasePlan Corporation, intends expanding further into regional markets in the coming years.
The company projects aggressive plans for 2012, starting off with the addition of new units to its fleet to meet the rising demand of corporate and government entities.
“We take care of fleet management matters such as maintenance, repair, fuel, purchasing and selling of vehicles, accident management, infringement management, vehicle replacement, insurance cover and reporting,” says Hicham Boueri, Commercial Director, LeasePlan Emirates.
Fleet management companies also cater to government departments. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority uses Sigtec‘s dispatch software system to manage thousands of its taxis.
Another provider for taxi fleet management solutions in Dubai is Fleet Management Systems. Enoc’s and Eppco’s fleet management cards also allow fleet managers to monitor fuel expenses in commercial fleets.