The decision in 2010 by the management of Vehicle Delivery Services (VDS), part of the OneLogix Group, to implement the self-regulatory Road Transport Management System (RTMS) is proving very beneficial for this highly-rated vehicle carrier which operates a fleet of 250 truck-tractors and a similar amount of trailers and has a complement of 330 drivers.
The company’s Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Assurance (SHEQ) Manager, Pierre van Schalkwyk, put it very succinctly in a recent interview in his office at the company head office in Kempton Park when he said: “We already had a number of systems and structures in place, but they were like a bunch of loose ropes. Revisiting our internal controls and management systems using the RTMS guidelines served the purpose of pulling all the ropes together.
“There have been a host of spin-offs with the most impressive being a reduction of 60% in high risk driving behaviour while the incidence of serious accidents has decreased by 49% from 0.813 incidents per one million kilometres to a figure of 0.472. System-based speeding infringements have fallen by 25% from 6.312 per million kilometres to 4.444. This translates into substantial cost savings as well as a significant decrease in risk.”
Van Schalkwyk said that what is important is that VDS and all its team members took the implementation of RTMS very seriously and were prepared to do whatever was required to meet the required standards. The first audit took place in 2011 and immediately showed up where corrective action had to be taken and certification was granted in 2012.
Van Schalkwyk is in overall charge of the process while two RTMS assistants have been appointed to monitor the programme at the depots in Durban and Cape Town.
The implementation of RTMS has resulted in the introduction of stringent monthly assessments of each driver and this is proving challenging but very rewarding according to the VDS SHEQ manager.
Currently the factors considered in the evaluation are fuel consumption, vehicle damage, traffic violations, DriveCam rating and a rating from the tracking system on driving style, while there is also a subjective rating from the line manager. Next year green band driving and excessive idling will be included in the parameters.
The driver evaluation system led to the setting up of an annual driving competition which will be held for the second time this year and involves drivers from the various companies in the OneLogix Group including VDS.
The finalists are decided after filtering a year’s performance, with the evaluation period running from the beginning of October to the end of September the following year. Not only will the best drivers per division be involved in the Driver of the Year competition, but also the worst performers. The worst performing drivers per division will have a separate programme, but the opportunity will be taken to inspire them to improve so they can also be ranked among the best.
Quarterly Imbizos are held as a communication platform with the drivers and they are also encouraged at this event to actively contribute to problem-solving and encouraged to make suggestions to improve operations.
VDS appointed driver coaches to accompany drivers with below standard records on actual trips to evaluate shortcomings and ensure remedial action.
Driver training is, of course, a very serious matter with VDS and all drivers have to undergo training using 13 modules. The company even has professional driving learnerships, where it takes on 30 aspirant drivers a year and puts them through a stringent one-year training course using a combination of the company’s driver trainers and the assistance of outside service providers.
At the end of the period VDS takes on those drivers required to fill the staff complement and any others are then released to the industry as trained drivers, which is an important service to the general trucking industry.
VDS, which started out as a cross-border car ferry company, is still very involved in this business and has 86 rigs running into Africa, mainly to Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with some trips taking two to three weeks.
VDS has storage facilities with 14 500 bonded/unbonded parking bays for vehicles destined for the local market and vehicles bound for export. It has depots in Kempton Park, Durban, East London, Harare, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with offices in Lusaka and at the Beit Bridge border post.
The company operates its own, approved workshops in Kempton Park, Durban and Cape Town and has a wide network of service providers in the case of a breakdown. OneLogix also has a body repair company, Atlas Panel Beaters, in Springs, which specialises in the repair of heavy commercial vehicles.
VDS runs a mixed fleet with Hino’s representation standing currently at 50 500-Series models and 10 700-Series truck tractors operating on the Johannesburg-Durban run and a further 10 Hinos will join the fleet soon. VDS is currently on an 800 000km truck replacement cycle.
“Hino is a staunch and active supporter of the RTMS system to improve road transport in Southern Africa and we are delighted that VDS, as one of our important customers, is gaining so many benefits from implementing the system in such a short time,” said Hino SA vice president Dr. Casper Kruger.
“Hino SA continues to be proactive in sponsoring ongoing RTMS seminars countrywide and a success story such as that of VDS makes our involvement very rewarding.”