The theft of assets can adversely affect a company’s bottom line. Taking commercial vehicle fleets as an example, vehicle theft is often a burden on fleet managers and the police have recently warned commercial fleet operators of an increase in keyless vehicle theft specifically affecting vans. Popular models such as Ford Transits and Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are reported to be the most at risk of being stolen and London has been identified as the worst affected area for keyless vehicle theft.
Similarly, in the construction industry the theft of plant equipment is a huge problem and recent estimates indicate that the sector is now losing over £800 million a year as a result of plant theft. It’s been reported that more than £70 million worth of construction plants have been stolen from sites in the last year; despite government initiatives encouraging plant manufacturers to improve inbuilt security features. Additional costs include plant replacement costs, loss of business and increased insurance premiums. Thieves are attracted to plants because it traditionally has very low recovery rates (less than 10 per cent), coupled with the lack of identifying marks and registration documents, as well as single common key operation.
More and more businesses are now recognising the benefits of protecting their commercial vehicle or construction plant fleets with advanced tracking devices. At present, over £245 million worth of customer assets are protected with AMI Group systems, including several of the UK’s national plant hirers and construction companies. In recognition that thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated, we have developed the smallest, most covert plant tracking devices in the industry, making them far more difficult for thieves to locate.
As well as helping our customers recover their own vehicles or plant machinery, our tracking systems have also helped the police to recover thousands of pounds of equipment not protected with an anti-theft deterrent. In one recent example, a £15,000 valued 1 Ton Terex Dumper owned by one of our customers was successfully retrieved in Cheshire thanks to an AMI anti-theft system, and it also led the police to several other items of construction machinery stored in an isolated rural area, including a Bobcat Excavator, a Trailer and a Volvo Digger. Together, the haul of recovered plant equipment was valued at over £100,000 and was retrieved following a successful cross country operation involving AMI Group, a major plant hire company and both Cheshire and South Yorkshire Police.
One of our latest innovations is the AMI Nexis AT5, a self-contained, battery operated tracking device which utilises state-of-the-art GPS (Global Positioning System), GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and RF (Radio Frequency) technology. Reporting to and visible via the AMI Nexis Software Platform 24/7, the AT5 is lightweight, tiny in size (just 21 x 55 x 52mm) and it can be concealed almost anywhere on any asset. Through its advanced battery management software, the unit has the capacity to last up to 18 years and is backed by IP68 waterproof rating; ensuring it is robust and heavily protected. The device has the ability to be traced both outdoors and indoors even in very remote locations. In situations where GPS is unavailable, the device relays GSM cell site positions and the internal RF beacon can be activated to assist in locating stolen assets.
Our tracking devices are used in conjunction with AMI Nexis, a web-based platform whereby customers can logon to the system to not only use it as an anti-theft deterrent, but as a total fleet management solution. Customers can use the system to help reduce fuel costs, carbon footprint or enhance productivity – even remote immobilise equipment from their mobile phone. Following months of development work and consultation with customers, the AMI Nexis portal has recently been enhanced to empower AMI customers with more information than ever before, helping to locate and manage plant equipment and vehicle fleets more efficiently and safely.
A series of new high tech features have also been added to give organisations full control and visibility of their plant or vehicle fleets. For example, a new timeline feature has been introduced to allow users to see a quick snapshot of each asset’s activity over the last 24 hours, allowing rapid identification of any assets being used outside working hours or over the weekend. New features such as a new hours usage widget have also been added to enable users to identify the utilisation of plant equipment or other assets. This allows customers to identify under-use or over-use of plant and help ensure accurate charging for plant use.
The web portal can also be used to ensure legal compliance or to assist with environmental, health or safety requirements. For example, speed reports highlight any violations and the severity of the violation and service reminders highlight any pieces of plant or vehicles that are due for a service, MOT or insurance renewal.
Words by Gary Stockton, managing director at AMI Group Ltd