Managing the Realities of Freight

Managing the Realities of Freight

It is unrealistic for the local freight industry to rely on government alone to police bad trucking practices and maintain major freight routes. By following certain best practices, RTMS-accredited companies are seeing huge benefits for themselves, as well as the for the transport infrastructure. ASTRID DE LA REY reports

The Road Transport Management System (RTMS) is a voluntary self-regulating organisation run by the industry itself. The goal of the RTMS is to improve road safety, preserve road infrastructure and increase productivity by implementing a set of standards adhered to by all members – including stakeholders from consignees and consignors to transport operators.

It’s a known fact that non-compliance with transport regulations can result in an unfair competitive advantage. This might sound great to unscrupulous operators, but it is short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive.

Overloading, for example, can result in increased profits in the short term, but the very real dangers of truck damage, accidents and damage to roads (leading to delays, further accidents or vehicle damage) will no doubt cost a lot more in the long run.

According to the RTMS, overloading causes road damage valued at roughly R400 million every year. That’s money wasted that could be used on upgrading and expanding major freight routes.

The RTMS, is a voluntary organisation made up of stakeholders who are serious about improving the transport industry in South Africa. By implementing the RTMS, companies commit to following the Department of Transport’s National Freight Logistics Strategy, as well as the standards and best practices set out within the RTMS.

The RTMS committee, which consists of industry leaders, set out three separate documents pertaining to operators, consignors and consignees, each with their own regulations and best practices. The focus areas are:

• Overloading;

• Speeding;

• Vehicle maintenance;

• Driver hours;

• Reckless driving;

• False licences (vehicles and drivers);

• Securing of loads; and

• Bribery and corruption.

A big plus is that the RTMS standards have been compiled by people with a lot of experience in this industry. Companies that adopt these standards gain access to a wealth of knowledge and real-life experience to help them optimise their own operations. The proof is in the numbers.

According to Adrian van Tonder, chairman of the RTMS steering committee: “In 2007, the RTMS consisted of a handful of companies and only 74 accredited trucks. Today we have 209 accredited companies, which translates into 8 245 RTMS-accredited trucks and 1 891 RTMS-accredited buses on the road. The reason we’ve grown so fast and continue to expand our membership is because our system makes sense. It benefits all stakeholders.”

The number and calibre of the companies that have adopted the RTMS standards prove that this system works. Van Tonder says: “Members see tangible results within the first year of applying this system. By following the guidelines and preserving the infrastructure that we all use, RTMS members reap the rewards of operating in a responsible environment.”

The RTMS concept also offers companies plenty of tools and guidelines to help them implement the system effectively. Manuals and implementation guides help companies new to RTMS, while data sharing among participants and a dedicated information website provides all the latest and most relevant information in the industry. There are also regular workshops, conferences and networking opportunities.

Logistics company Barloworld Transport is one example of how companies can benefit from adhering to the RTMS standards. In 2009, Barloworld Transport adopted the RTMS standards as the formal framework for its existing operational and technical protocols. The company reported the following improvements:

• Lost time injury frequency rate – reduced from 4,9 in 2008 to 0,3 in 2012;

• 0,58 percent reduction in driving hours;

• 100 percent compliance in maintenance practices;

• Over 90 percent score in internal risk audit;

• Received contracts due to good internal risk and operational procedures;

• Cost saving in all areas of daily operations; and

• Recognition for commitment to responsible business.

These results hold a lot of value in terms of reduced costs and reputation.

Companies that are considering RTMS accreditation need to keep in mind that it’s a long-term commitment and not simply a piece of paper. The system needs to be implemented in such a way that it can be sustained and improved upon over many years.

Companies set up their own goals and plans in accordance with RTMS. It is then up to them to ensure these are met. Accredited companies undergo annual surveillance audits to ensure they’re maintaining the RTMS standards.

Last, but not least, RTMS branding means that certified members will be recognised by road authorities, the public and customers for being committed to safety, good business practices and the preservation of South Africa’s transport infrastructure.

That sort of recognition can go a long way in building an excellent brand image.

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