This story is not a waffle punt for Manline Energy. Rather it acts as an example of an approach which FleetWatch wishes all companies would follow when it comes to driver recruitment and on-going training and backing of those drivers for overall safety.
What made us sit up and take real notice when we came across this story is the fact that only 3% of truck driver applicants who apply for a job with Manline Energy make the grade after being put through a rigorous recruitment process. That’s amazing but understandable given that the company is a bulk vehicle operator of fuel, chemicals and other hazardous cargo. It therefore has a high responsibility towards safety in all spheres of its operations – and it starts with the drivers.
“High emphasis is placed on recruiting drivers with a positive attitude and ensuring they are well versed with the safety values of the business. Also critically important is our strong focus on employee training and skills development,” says Justin Blythe, managing director at Manline Energy, which is a subsidiary of Barloworld Transport
“Our bulk vehicle operators are more than just drivers. As highly trained specialists, they are well equipped to confidently deal with various situations they may encounter on their journey, especially considering the environment in which we operate and their responsibility for the hazardous cargo.”
Drivers receive specialized training on an annual basis related to safety, health, environment, risk and quality which includes TETA (Transport Education and Training Authority) accredited courses in handling Dangerous goods, First Aid, Fire Fighting, Defensive Driving, loading and offloading procedures, to name a few.
New drivers joining the business are only signed off by the training department and permitted to get behind the wheel on their own after five weeks of intense training, evaluation and mentorship.
This emphasis on stringent selection and on-going training of truck drivers to achieve excellence has been in place since the company was launched in 2008 as a specialist dangerous goods operator. Starting with a fleet of just five fuel tanker combinations, it now owns and operates 175 vehicles from strategically located depots on major Southern African transport routes.
But it is not only the drivers where emphasis is placed on achieving the highest standards. Manline Energy also bears the ISO 39001 standard of certification, a road transport specific which draws on ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 with the specific aim of reducing road traffic collisions.
The fleet is also 100% compliant with HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment) standards and carries CAIA (Chemical & Allied Industries’ Association), SQAS (Safety & Quality Assessment System) and RTMS (Road Transport Management System) accreditation. All vehicles meet, and even exceed, the compliance to legislated safety standards.
The company’s SHERQ (Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality) management system was developed in-house and forms the core part of Manline Energy’s day-to-day operations, resulting in excellent safety performance.
The company also backs its drivers further by sparing no expense in vehicle maintenance and invests significantly in modern, advanced technology to ensure the continuous monitoring of the fleet via in-cab telematics and customized software applications that enable real-time fleet, driver and on-road risk management.
In addition to dedicated fleet controllers and trackers at the various depots, state-of-the-art monitoring systems such as DriveSmart and DriveCam record specific events and risk management data such as driving hours, mandatory breaks and rest periods, vehicle speed, distance travelled and defensive driving metrics.
The company’s in-house developed, web based operating platform MAX, also comes into the picture as a transport management system which incorporates all aspects of operational and commercial fleet performance, including real-time tracking of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and customised notifications to clients.
“The benefit of embracing technology of this calibre is evidenced by, among other factors, a realisation of the company’s SHERQ objectives which is to attain a measured, substantial reduction in road incidents and product spillage,” says Blythe.
“At the end of the day, we want to execute our business in a manner that ensures we cause no harm to the public or the environment and most important, that our drivers come home safely to their families,” he adds.
Now that’s the approach needed in this industry towards drivers. It’s an holistic approach that starts with the selection process and continues through all spheres of the operation. It’s the way to go.