KDG Logistics launches a “gamechanger”
Last month I jetted off to Durban to meet a new contender in the commercial vehicle sector. As we know, the South African roads are seeing more and more trucks as the rail network fails to deliver … This situation is only exacerbated by the fact that new trucks are driven on our roads from assembly plants to stockyards and dealerships
A company called KDG Logistics has imported a specialised trailer from LOHR in France … hooked to a Volvo FM 440 6×4, it’s capable of transporting three 6x4s. Incidentally, this trailer is a world first – and I got to see it being loaded for the very first time. The man who is in charge of the new division is an industry veteran by the name of Juan Lange. Operations manager of Truck on Truck, a division of KDG Logistics, he was at the port at 23:00 on a Thursday night when the rig was offloaded, and it’s clear that this new addition to the fleet is his baby. “Isn’t it just phenomenal,” he comments with a wistful sigh, when we arrive at a Volvo dealership in Pinetown, for the first public viewing of the rig.
Juan spent a considerable amount of time at LOHR in France, learning how to operate and load the trailer. “It’s very specific when it comes to loading dynamics,” he tells FOCUS. “That’s because it’s not like a car transporter, which has lots of steel supports. We will run to a height of 4,6 m and 23 m long – like a car transporter. But the width of the truck and the trailer are identical – with “no margin for error.”
So clearly the loading process requires much skill … and a fair dollop of chutzpah too …
KDG’s trailer represents a world first. “LOHR has previously built trailers to carry 4x2s, but this is the first time that LOHR has built a trailer to carry three 6x4s. So this trailer is unique in the world!” Lange tells FOCUS. Furthermore, KDG is the first company to bring the truck carrier to the continent of Africa.
Initially the company specialised in transporting cars only. Today it is the fifth-biggest car carrier in South Africa. It owns car transporters, pulled by Volvo, Renault and Volkswagen trucks, comprising of seven to eight car trailers hooked up to 4×2 truck tractors and ten-car carriers pulled by 6×2 rigids.
So why the move to transporting trucks? “Road safety is critical, and we are facing a dire shortage of skilled truck drivers. There are huge environmental benefits to moving trucks this way as well as other important points to ponder,” he contends.
KDG takes safety very seriously. “We have been awarded Road Transport Management System (RTMS) accreditation and future trucks will also be Performance Based Standards (PBS) compliant,” reveals Lange.
In its endeavour to make South African roads safer, KDG has taken cognisance of the following:
• Newly assembled trucks require a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) after delivery to a dealership. Steering alignment, brakes, engine functions, and so on, all need to be set up for optimal functionality.
• Jockey drivers are the current means of truck movement, placing more drivers on the road; leaving less room for motorists.
• The end user benefits with savings as he receives a truck with fewer kilometres. This means he has more earning kilometres afforded to him; more kilometres on his warranty (at present, kilometres driven before delivery with jockey drivers could be as high as 3 000 km).
• OEMs will reduce their cost of replacing windscreens and paintwork being damaged due to stone chips while the truck is in transit. The subsequent repairs also result in the end user waiting longer for delivery.
• Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can also reduce the risk of complete losses by trucks being written off in accidents by jockey drivers. KDG believes that, with a bulk load, specialised equipment and drivers trained for the specific truck-on-truck carrier function are the solution.
• OEMs are also susceptible to hijackings, which is covered by 24/7 tracking and monitoring of the truck-on-truck combinations.
• KDG Truck on Truck is dedicated to delivering a new truck – new to the OEM and end user, as well as making South African Roads Safer.
The decision to invest was a real leap of faith for Shabir Mansoor, MD of KDG. It represents fresh thinking in the transport space – and a huge investment (mum’s the word on the exact purchase price). But he truly believes in the project. “Finally the OEMs have a better solution!” he enthuses.
Initial interest has revealed much potential. “There has been huge interest in the trailer. The OEMs are very excited about it. That’s comforting. It’s a huge investment to make up front. It’s large enough to scare off most transport operators,” Lange notes with a grin.
Lange and Mansoor concur that local OEMs are being approached by their parent companies. “Overseas it’s unheard of for brand new trucks to be driven on roads,” Lange comments.
This policy is not limited to first-world countries. “This is even the case in India,” adds Mansoor. “New trucks in that country are delivered by truck. They are not driven on public roads.”
Now South Africa is able to follow in its international counterparts’ footsteps, with the advent of KDG’s truck transporter. However, it’s a lone voice in the wilderness. Surely it cannot satisfy industry demand? “It cannot,” concurs Lange. “It is our dream to expand on this Initiative by the end of this year and into the future.”
Lange will be taking personal responsibility for this heavy lifter, even delivering the first loads himself. “It’s my baby,” he says with a smile. “I cannot consider letting anyone else commandeer it!” Naturally, additional drivers will be sourced in future, and will receive specialist training.
Senior officials from LOHR will be travelling to South Africa for further training and to support the new initiative. In future, the French company will be assembling these units in Durban.
So watch this space … and expect to see our roads populated by KDG Truck on Truck in the near future!