HandsOn Systems has won a competitive public transport tender to provide GPS tracking and fleet management services to the Azienda Siciliana Trasporti SpA (AST), which operates a fleet of around 500 buses across the entire Sicilian region.
Work has started immediately and is being coordinated through a subsidiary company, HandsOn Italia SRL, that HandsOn Systems has set up with offices in Palermo, which has trained technicians who will be installing the technology in the buses in five depots spread around Sicily. These are located in Palermo, Catania, Messina, Trapani and Syracuse. Some 120 buses have had their tracking systems installed with work on schedule to install the balance by the end of July.
“HandsOn Systems has been exploring opportunities to penetrate the Italian market for the past two years and is already tracking almost 2,000 vehicles, ranging from ambulances to commercial and leased vehicles,” CEO Geoff Farrugia said. “According to our market research, Sicily was a region where the major national and international players were least active.“ What was a bone for them is the meat for us. We are very much in a David and Goliath situation, with HandsOn Systems being the David. Yet, from the five bidders for the AST contract, we came first, both in terms of price, and in terms of features and capabilities.”
One of the many reasons AST wanted tracking was to ensure that the buses employed on some 120 routes across the island cover the full route, to make punctuality more transparent, and to ensure that their drivers are paid for the amount of distance they covered on the ground, ensuring a fairer system for those owner-drivers who have the longer routes. AST will be monitoring all this from its control room in Palermo, where all the reports and all the data coming in is to be processed and any action taken accordingly.
The Sicily office is to become an extension of the Malta operation since locally HandsOn Systems is experiencing huge growth and needs to maximise on the resources available. “In software, certain projects can be managed and developed remotely. So, we are not only using our Italian subsidiary to serve the market there but also to serve our market, which is close by – same region; same time zone,” Mr Farrugia said.
The Sicily contract is part of HandsOn Systems’ internationalisation drive, which has led to the opening of offices and subsidiaries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. “We’re using this project as a launch pad, to continue making a statement that we are capable of penetrating the Italian market with a practical case study,” Mr Farrugia added. “We are now reaping the fruit of our investment over the past three years. It proves that Maltese products, our technology, and our products and services, are competitive in the international market. Also, despite our size and maybe our limited track record, we have demonstrated that we can succeed to land contracts in different countries, especially in Italy, which is quite a developed European country with quite a number of players.”
Aktuaris, a system of usage-based insurance using HandsOn Systems technology, is being introduced in various parts of the world. The company is working closely with several insurance companies in Bolivia through a local partner Gianfranco Gipponi Pessoa and has plans to launch Aktuaris there later on this year. “Since this concept is new to the country, we have to take our time to design marketing and educate the market and the public,” Mr. Farrugia said. “We were not only technology suppliers but also consultants.”
Aktuaris team recently went on a three-day road show visiting seven companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), based in Dubai. There was plenty of interest and the visit had a positive outcome. A number of pilot projects are also in the pipeline there.
A plug-and-play solution is being launched in the UAE since theft in this market is minimal. “It is in the interest of whoever takes out this type of insurance policy to use Aktuaris to be able to claim prizes. Although Dubai has the latest technology, many companies did not know about this concept and means of insurance,” Mr. Farrugia
added. However, most insurance companies are run by ex-pats who have heard of this type of insurance and Mr. Farrugia sees an opportunity in this region. The company has also found a strong partner there. Sivan Said, who is Maltese, runs RISC Insurance and has been successfully developing his insurance related business for quite some time. Mr. Said is also going to represent the company in its negotiations with a number of insurance companies.
Mr Farrugia was invited to give a Master Class during the recent international conference organised by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation. The subject of his presentation was on how RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology can be used in the tourism sector to improve the tourist’s experience and increase the operator’s efficiency – both those working in hotels and restaurants and in the sector of tourist accommodation.
The Master Class was well attended, and Mr Farrugia received valuable feedback. Among those who attended the conference was the King of Ghana, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Since HandsOn Systems have strong business interests in Ghana, they took the opportunity to present a portrait of the King, executed by local artists Maris Zammit. “This helped to show that we want to continue to strengthen our presence and dedication towards the Ghana market,” Mr Farrugia said.
In fact, HandsOn Systems have recently attracted investment from a Ghana businessman, Nicky Wilson of Cape3, in their subsidiary company in Ghana. “In this way, we are continuing to strengthen our presence and persist in our efforts to succeed in Ghana. Through this conference, we strengthened both the cultural aspect of Ghana in Malta and the commercial relations our company has with Ghana,” Mr Farrugia said.
As from last month, the system of driving licence penalty points has been applied to all drivers in Malta and not just for those who recently obtained their licence. By accumulating 12 penalty points over the period of a year for various traffic contraventions a driver will lose his licence for a period of two months. The suspension will be lengthened if a further 12 penalty points are accumulated over another period of 12 months. At the start of each year, the 12-points system will start anew.
Many fleet owners have multiple vehicles registered in their name. Fleet owners are ending up with 12 points because of their drivers. HandsOn Systems has the solution to keep track of who was driving a particular vehicle at any specific time.
HandsOn Fleet GPS Tracking and Fleet Management Solution offers a driver identification system through Ibutton or RFID technology. Through our driver identification, the vehicle can be immobilized until the driver presents his Ibutton or RFID card system.
Get in touch to learn more about how your company can benefit from our driver identification solution.