Fuelling up for better efficiency
Uzuko Carriers was started as a joint venture in 2010 – between JSE-listed supply chain specialists Cargo Carriers and Caltex Eastern Cape Marketers – to create a dual-owned company to handle the last-mile delivery of Caltex-brand products to dealerships around East London, including isolated outlets as far away as Mthatha.
Within three years, superior cost-efficiency and reliability had caused the Uzuko Carriers contract to expand south, to include distributors around the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, and west, into the Karoo.
Fast-forward to the present, and Uzuko Carriers has seen its contract with Caltex renewed and expanded yet again. The haulier now covers 101 Eastern Cape forecourts for Caltex, travelling more than 1,3-million kilometres, to deliver 274-million litres of petrol and diesel, per year.
“Part of the success of Uzuko Carriers is down to the joint-venture nature of the operation,” says Cargo Carriers director of marketing, Andre Jansen van Vuuren. “Cargo Carriers has spent many years gaining expertise in managing a transport business, and we’ve developed several intellectual properties that help cut costs and boost profits. Uzuko Carriers can apply those IPs and our management practices to deliver the same levels of service and affordability.”
Jansen van Vuuren sees Uzuko Carriers’s on-going relationship with Caltex as testimony to the reliability of their service, and the ability to use innovation to lower costs. “To that end, in line with our vehicle replacement policy, we have just purchased seven Mercedes-Benz Actros 2641 trucks to replace some old Actros 2644s,” he says.
“Some of those trucks have covered more than a million kilometres!”
Jansen van Vuuren explains how the capital expenditure paradoxically results in cost savings.
“The new trucks are 400 kg lighter than the old ones, with greater power efficiency. So they not only use ten to 15-percent less fuel to haul a load, but they also handle the mountainous terrain better – and we can carry an extra 300 l of fuel per load safely, thanks to the reduced weight. Over a year, that adds up to a lot, for a distributor.”
The trucks are purchased on a three-year buy-back guarantee, with a Mercedes-Benz maintenance contract, which means costs are fixed. When it comes time to cycle these vehicles out of service and replace them, there’s no danger of the book value being higher than the market value. Further, service intervals are dramatically extended over the old Actros 2644s.
“All these advantages add up to lower costs for the customer, while our driver training programmes and load-tracking software enhances predictable, reliable delivery,” Jansen van Vuuren concludes.