This week saw the FleetWatch Brake & Tyre Watch team – as part of its contribution to Transport Month – staging two highly successful training days for truck operators at the Donkerhoek weighbridge and test station on the N4 just outside of Pretoria.
The first day saw us hosting 56 delegates from various transport companies around the country while the second day saw a group of transport operator clients from MiX Telematics joining us for the day – as well as a delegation from Labucon.
To be honest, we weren’t too sure how these days would work out as, up to now, the Brake & Tyre Watch project has been aimed at the training of traffic officials around the country. In this, it has been highly successful with just over 3 000 traffic officials attending the courses over the past ten years. This, however, was a different audience. These were transport operators and we weren’t too sure how they would respond.
What gave us confidence was a similar exercise held on October 3rd with Hino Trucks inviting some of its staff, its dealers and its customers to join us. Feedback from delegates who attended that day was extremely positive. We seemed to have added a lot of value to those who did attend.
One of those was Gawie du Toit, group transport manager for Shoprite, who commented afterwards that it was an eye opener and an extremely worthwhile exercise. “It showed me that it is imperative to keep our house in order and to have qualified people looking after our fleet,” he said.
The idea behind these events was to give transport operators a day of hands-on exposure to the realities of the condition of trucks on our roads by enabling them to get up close and inspect trucks hands-on – top and bottom from the pits – taken randomly off the road. It was also to expose them to the knowledge of our leading expert partners in the industry thus combining both a learning and a ‘fun’ day out with FleetWatch and its partners.
I must admit that there was also another intention. Many people have been skeptical when they hear the results attained over the past 10 years since we started this project. Our inspections of trucks – I stress again, taken randomly off the road – have revealed a failure rate of 68%, with 485 trucks being declared unroadworthy out of 679 trucks tested.
Some operators have thought this to be unrealistic and sort of ‘hint’ that we obviously target the real ‘dogs’ out there. Not so! The trucks selected for testing during these exercises really are ‘randomly’ taken off the road – and so we stand by our figures which are based on fact not fiction.
Well, all these intentions came to pass over the two days that we hosted this week. Both days were ‘stunners’ and although the second day saw us come across some really horribly unroadworthy trucks, the first day also brought in its share of ‘drek’ for the operators to inspect.
Being only a one day event, we did not get through many trucks. That was not the intention. It was rather to show the operators what we find as the most common unroadworthy faults found on rigs. Be that as it may, the first day saw two out of four trucks being suspended while the second day saw three out of five trucks inspected being suspended.
The one, on the second day, was so bad that the owner had to bring in a tow-truck to get it back to the depot. That particular piece of scrap will take more money to fix than is worthwhile. A box of matches would be far cheaper. See the video here where Terence Chinamhora of MBS Transport leads us through some of the many faults found. Listen to what others say as well.
And take a look at this one. The inner tyre on this set of twins was running on empty. This could result in heat build-up and the tyre disintegrating to smash into a family behind. It also, of course, puts huge load on the outer tyre. It’s all wrong. Other faults were also found which led to its suspension
The accompanying photographs give an idea of the activities on the days. The great thing is, as one transport operator told me, that the lessons learnt were such that they could be taken back and implemented in the operations. That’s what pleases us. Too many talk shops around these days. Not enough action and what we need to clean up our roads is more action.
Our huge thanks to our partners, without whom none of this would have been possible. Thanks to our trainers from Wabco, Bridgestone, BPW Axles, SARF, Standard Bank and our passionate trailer expert, Wolfgang Lehmann, who participated directly – and to our other partners who are such a part of all this.
And a big thanks to Gareth Hurley, manager of the Donkerhoek centre and his staff for their open armed welcome in allowing us the use of their facility. It is much appreciated.
Let’s keep on trucking – safely.