Modern day trucking challenges the status quo
Transport is an essential service that drives the economy and impacts everyday life. It is, however, a tough industry that often struggles with poor public perceptions.
While the transport industry has seen some necessary change over the past two decades, road transport remains the dominant way to move large volumes from A to B in southern Africa. However, it is both capital- and labour-intensive, and – unless you are passionate about trucks – there is nothing glamorous about it.
That said, sections of the industry have seen radical transformation and increased innovation has made transport smarter, more efficient and, critically, safer. In effect, transport has entered the information age where technological advancement, mobile data and analytics are enabling a new connected world of transport
“Technological innovation in the transport industry presents an opportunity to challenge the status quo of risk management and operational efficiencies,” says Neil Henderson, Barloworld Transport chief executive.
“For example, the availability of data from telematics helps to monitor and analyse our fleet and our drivers in real time, providing superior journey management for greater efficiencies, enhanced safety and, ultimately, cost savings for the customer,” he adds.
While innovation is critical to modern transportation, people and risk management remain as important as ever to a business such as Barloworld Transport.
Drivers are a central cog in the transport industry machine and even though modern trucks are technologically advanced, they still require professional drivers with the necessary skills and experience to operate them. “Looking after our drivers and protecting the lives of all road users is not negotiable,” Henderson notes.
Customer collaboration and supply chain integration is another positive aspect of the industry today. With the amount of real-time information now available, there is also greater data sharing and collaboration with customers, making supply chains more transparent and efficient.
“As an industry, we have opened ourselves to innovation – to improve operational efficiencies and better serve our customers, but, aside from vehicle innovation and changes in technology, we are also confronted by change-inducing risk.
“For instance, the South African road statistics are shocking. In 2015, there were close to one million accidents and about 43 percent of professional drivers in South Africa have expired professional driving permits,” Henderson adds.
“The more risk-averse a company is, and the better the innovation that is in use, the more efficient and safe the operations will be. However, to survive and grow in the transport industry, solutions are needed – not just ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” says Henderson.
As such, integrated transport solutions are key to addressing a customer’s full transport requirements. Transport works best when the customer’s needs are understood, expectations and challenges are taken into account, and solutions are specifically tailored to suit each customer’s needs.
“So, while accepting the status quo may mean resisting change, which hampers innovation, it depends entirely on how you define this. Barloworld Transport believes a combination of embracing innovation and being driver-centric should always remain the priority areas in the transport industry – it is a pivotal means of ensuring safety on the roads,” Henderson concludes.