• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Citracks partnership with Ascenz to provide ship owners with competitive way of doing business, says Ayoola

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Citracks is a subsidiary of C & I Leasing PLC. The company has entered into partnership with Ascenz, a Singapore based company to introduce a new fuel management solution for ships known as coriolis-based marine fuel meter. While highlighting the modern development in telematics business, Ayoola Olaitan, chief operating officer of Citracks, said the new device will help to save cost for ship owners and oil majors. He spoke with AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE.

About Citracks

We are into the telematics business meaning, we provide remote solutions to business problems. Our solutions enable companies to monitor and manage their businesses from their offices using telephones and computer. 

We have Fleet Management Solution popularly known as tracking but we not only track cars but we also track generators, truck etc. Our niche in the business is fuel monitoring. For instance, if you have 50 cars and your drivers and suppliers are dishonest, the solution will enable you to know the volume of fuel your vehicle in Sokoto consumes and how much was stolen.

Secondly, we also have the Marine fuel Management Solution, which helps ship owners to put an end to pilfering of fuel on boat. The biggest cost for a ship owner is fuel. When people charter your boat and the crew are stealing your fuel, you will not be making money. Therefore, the solution enables you to monitor your fuel on the bunker to know how much is consumed and how much is remaining onboard.

Citracks and Ascenz partnership

Ascenz is one of the biggest fuel monitoring company in the world and they are based in Singapore. They developed a new system of monitoring fuel on bunker called coriolis-based marine fuel meter, which gives a more accurate way of measuring fuel on boat as opposed to the standard fuel meter that people use on boat today. The standard fuel meter is open to tapering, wear and tear, which means that it spoils every now and then. Coriolis is designed for African ship owners because the high cost of operations in this part of the world demands solutions that provides cheaper cost.

We have gone into business with Ascenz to provide African ship owners with a more competitive way of doing business. Our partnership with Ascenz will make us the first indigenous company that will be providing this type of service. We have Memorandum o Understanding (MoU) in principle and we are finalising the process in less than no time. We will be launching the product by August.

Ascenz is basically our technical partner while we are going to finance the project. Another thing we will be doing with Ascenz in Nigeria is the installation, upgrading and maintenance of ‘Dynamic Positioning Solution’ in vessel. This enables the vessel to stay in one position in situation where there is no space for the vessel to drop anchor. It also eliminates the need for the ship owner to pay for tug boat to help anchor the ship.

Modern development in telematics business

Telematics has gone beyond tracking of vehicle. Presently, it involves the advent of software and applications such as fleet solution that enables one to monitor fuel, speed of the driver and everything that can be done with the vehicle. When you merge that with fuel management solution, it will help you to work smart by bringing the overhead cost.

For instance, if you have a vehicle leasing company, the money you make is the difference between what it cost you to operate the vehicle and what you charge. If you have a high operational cost, it means that you need to bring down the overhead cost. This means that you need to work smart with telematics solution that will help you to monitor the speed, fuel, know the wear and tear of the vehicle. The solution also tells you when to renew your licenses and when your vehicle is due for service.

In the aspect of the marine industry, chevron and other oil majors have insisted that company that is going to charter vessels to them must have a fuel monitoring device to save cost. With our partnership with Ascenz, we now provide a cheaper alternative at an affordable rate of $50,000 and $75,000 for big boats while small boats cost about $15,000 and $25,000, which is much cheaper than what it goes for abroad.  Our new meter, which is more accurate and reliable, is going to be standardized in Singapore. Singapore does not produce oil but they have the biggest oil servicing companies in the world.

Fleet management solutions

We run one of the best fleet management solutions in this part of the world and we work with a company called Galiloo. Our relationship enables us to produce a tracker that is CCTV enabled and gives a whole security solution. For instance, if you have a tanker to load fuel, every compartment of the tanker can be monitored to ensure that the product is not tampered with. So, between Apapa and Shagamu if somebody tampers with the fuel, you will get an alert that certain amount of fuel has been dropped from your tanker. This helps in removing the argument between the buyer and the seller of the petrol.  All these are telematics that makes your business work smarter.

We also have an application that is telematically equipped to alert a vehicle owner in a situation where a trailer carrying load is detached from the truck head, and make away with the load to another location, leaving the trailer head. The system will tell you the location of both the trailer and the load, which will help in recovering the load. We are trying to get an insurance company to come onboard to offer discount to people who are interested in buying this telematics solution.

Reception of telematics solutions in marine industry 

It is a welcome product but the problem most Nigerians are having is the affordability but it is a needed product because the expensive nature of fuel increases the cost such that you end up spending more than necessary if you don’t use fuel management solution.

If Nigeria is a country that supports its industries, the government could come up to support indigenous ship owners to acquire these solutions. For instance, Singapore government gave grants to all ships that are registered in their country to enable them convert to the modern fuel meter.

Targets

Our target is anybody that owns ship because it saves cost. In ship, the crew under report the volume of fuel in the bunker, which they selloff to short-change the ship owner. Oil majors that are the upstream people also need to have fuel monitoring devices on their ships and they are also our main target.

Government and private sector partnership

I think is more of government awareness. For instance, DPR has mandated that every trailer that comes to pick fuel must be registered. The major problem in the depot is being able to determine the actual amount of fuel that leaves. The government can enforce that every player must have a fuel monitoring device.

Challenge and future plans

The major challenge in this business is access to fund because this is a foreign exchange driven business and high cost of foreign currency has been posing serious challenge to our business.

Moving forward, we are thinking that it is high time we start producing our own devices here in Nigeria. We have to build the infrastructure and we already have the brain in Nigeria. Most of this equipment is built in China while the countries they build them for now assembles the devices. We want to set up a tracking device assembly plant in Nigeria.