November 2, 2016

Making Company Assets More Secure

The theft of commercial vehicles can cost companies thousands of pounds in terms of increased insurance premiums, the cost of replacement vehicles and lost business. Crime trends have revealed that company vans are a major target for organised crime groups using ‘keyless theft’ whereby vehicles are stolen by being hacked electronically so that they can be driven away without the need for a key. Gangs use simple devices which are often purchased online to bypass or hack into onboard electronic ignition systems.

Ford Transit, Ford Transit Connect and Mercedes Sprinters have been identified as the models most commonly stolen using the keyless method and London has been identified as a high crime ‘hot spot’ for keyless vehicle theft. It is seen by criminals as a low-risk, high-return activity and engines can fetch up to £1000 on the black market. Vehicles are sometimes stripped before being shipped abroad, with many being sold in Africa.

More and more businesses are recognising the benefits of protecting their commercial vehicle fleets against theft and telematics is now central to the operations of many businesses that run a fleet of vehicles, not only to help recover vehicles in the event that they are stolen, but to deliver essential management information for example to enhance driver safety and to help reduce vehicle running costs.

In the construction industry the theft of plant equipment is also a huge problem and recent estimates indicate that the sector is now losing over £800 million a year as a result of plant theft (Allianz Cornhill). Over £70 million of construction plant was stolen from sites in the last year, despite Government initiatives to encourage plant manufacturers to improve in-built security features. Additional costs include plant replacement costs, loss of business and increased insurance premiums. Thieves are attracted to plant because it traditionally has very low recovery rates (less than 10%), coupled with the lack of identifying marks and registration documents and single common key operation.

At present, over £245 million worth of customer assets are protected with AMI Group tracking 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, 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. Via its advanced battery management software, the unit has the capacity to last up to 18 years and it 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 their fuel costs, reduce their carbon footprint or enhance productivity – and they can 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 to help locate and manage plant equipment and vehicle fleets more efficiently and safely.

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.