RAM Hand-to-Hand Couriers has added another 44 new Ford Transit Custom panel vans to its nationwide fleet. This was the second delivery to RAM this year with the company already having taken ownership of 30 Transit Custom panel vans earlier in the year. In fact, since August 2016, RAM has added 138 units to its operations with the total Ford Transit fleet now consisting of 207 vehicles.
“We have a long relationship with Ford and choose the Ford Transit Custom panel van not only because it drives really well but also because the driver has better visibility all round, it looks good and its reputation suits our brand,” says Sampie Bosman, RAM Hand-to-Hand Couriers fleet manager.
RAM Hand-to-Hand Couriers is one of South Africa’s most renowned courier companies. Founded in 1988, the family-run company has grown in size and stature with the company now having more than 27 hubs across Southern Africa, a modern fleet of 1 500 vehicles and a team of around 2 809 employees. Since 2013 – in partnership DHL Express – the company offers delivery services to over 220 countries and territories worldwide.
The new Transit Custom panel vans join RAM’s already extensive fleet of Ford vehicles. Bosman says RAM currently has 776 Ford vehicles in operation – making up just over half of the company’s entire fleet. RAM modifies all its Ford Transit Custom panel vans to ensure they meet the requirements needed to perform as fully-fledged courier vehicles.
“We fit several additions to the vehicle once we take delivery,” explains Bosman. “We install a custom made cage in the cargo area to secure packages and parcels. We install our track and trace equipment, built-in and handset radio communications, as well as the BP FuelMaster system for easy fuel tracking. The vehicles are also resprayed and fitted with our branding.”
RAM will use most of the Transit Custom vans for local deliveries within towns and cities. Bosman says these vehicles typically cover up to 200km to 300km per day, which may not sound much when compared to the Ford Rangers the company uses on the line between Cape Town and Johannesburg where these vehicles can cover up to 10 000km a week.
Reliability and durability are crucial for courier vehicles. Ford designed the Transit Custom with this in mind. It features powerful high-mounted headlights that are located higher up on the body – out from harm’s way. According to Bosman, dents and bumps are some of the most common issues for courier vehicles. Because of this, the Transit Custom is fitted with smart multi-piece front and rear bumpers, which keeps repair costs down.
During its development, Ford put the Transit Custom through an extensive testing that replicated what courier vehicles endure. Ford test-drove the Transit Custom for hundreds of thousands of kilometres. This included a two-month maximum speed test and demanding low-speed city drive cycles to imitate typical unforgiving delivery schedules. Ford also opened and closed the doors and bonnet of the Transit Custom over 300 000 times in real-world conditions to ensure durability.
Perhaps the Transit Custom’s most valuable asset for couriers is that it is much bigger than it looks. The short wheelbase (4 972mm) model has 6m3 of cargo space and can carry items up to three meters long or three pallets, whereas the long wheelbase (5 339mm) can carry even more.
Performance is also important. With demanding schedules, couriers need a vehicle that is powerful while remaining economical. All Transit Custom models come with a fuel-efficient 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine that is available in three power levels: 74kW/310Nm, 92kW/350Nm, and 114kW/385Nm.