Standard Bank has joined forces with the South African road transport industry in a concerted industry led initiative supported by government to promote best practice and standards.
This initiative is based on an ISO 9000 standard, known as the Road Transport Management System (RTMS). RTMS compliance requires that companies give due consideration to road safety and compliance, while ensuring that vehicles pose a minimal risk to road infrastructure, the environment, other road users – and their own drivers.
This comes as fleet managers face an enduring round of fuel price adjustments, the recent interest rate rise and the escalating cost of imported vehicles and components due to the weakening Rand.
Kathy Bell, Senior Specialist: Transport Solutions for Standard Bank, says that implementing the RTMS system will enable fleet operators to become more efficient and to plan their routes and payloads effectively, without overloading or compromising on vehicle durability or safety.
“We place a huge reliance on road transport in South Africa given that the capacity of our rail network is not sufficient to handle the amount of goods traffic,” says Bell.
“About 5 500 trucks and buses currently operating on our roads are RMTS-certified. Transport operators who have implemented these transport best practice guidelines have experienced significant reductions in fuel costs, increased productivity and a reduction in kilometres travelled. Furthermore, efficient transport operators who have the appropriate clauses for statutory adjustments included in contracts with their customers, are better placed to manage fuel price increases. Diesel is not regulated and thus not a statutory cost. Diesel cost adjustment clauses need to be incorporated in all agreements.”
Bell says that the underlying principle is to have a well-structured contract. “Transport operators should ensure that they deliver on the back of a service level agreement, with escalation clauses in place, so that they can continue to render good service, while consignors know that goods are transported in a vehicle that is roadworthy, well-maintained and with a well-trained driver.”
She points out that whereas smaller operators can make use of various fleet management offerings for local fleet distribution – specifically fleet cards issued by banking institutions – professional hauliers or operators in the 56-ton capacity range will need to use an “operating benchmark,” based on the types of routes driven and cargoes transported.
This calls for strict monitoring of kilometres clocked up and litres of diesel used, with drivers paying cash or using a pre-approved funding instrument at the fuel loading point.
“It is all about effective fleet and fuel management with professional hauliers typically making use of dedicated teams of logistics controllers, while diesel consumption monitors match up fuel consumption to the distances travelled by vehicles.
“All parties concerned, the consignors (goods producers), consignees (customer buying goods) and the operator need to be aware of their obligations and duties. This is essential in order to implement a best practice operation.
“Given that about 47 cents in every Rand spent on operating costs goes to diesel, makes fuel the single largest transport operational cost. In what is a highly-competitive operating environment, transport operators who fail to run an efficient operation will face challenges around business profitability. Becoming a best practice transport operator is therefore a business imperative,” says Bell.