Striving for excellence

Striving for excellence

Motivating staff and assisting them in reaching their full potential can often be difficult, especially in an industry like transport that places high demands on workers. FOCUS examines Engen’s unique approach to developing staff’s talents and improving customer service.

Drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods – and indeed, all workers who deal with dangerous goods on a daily basis – are forced to shoulder a huge responsibility. One innocent mistake or momentary lapse in concentration can result in catastrophe, and for this reason, these workers have to be motivated and focused at all times. In the event that an accident does occur, they also need to have the skills and presence of mind required to deal with the situation quickly and responsibly.

Of course, this huge responsibility places tremendous strain on drivers. Operating within this industry isn’t easy. And because of the fact that workers must operate within a very demanding environment where the stakes are incredibly high, it is imperative that transport operators find an effective way of increasing employee morale and motivating employees to improve their performance.

One organisation that has devised a unique solution in addressing these issues is fuel retailer, Engen. For the last five years, the company has hosted an internal competition that gives the company’s drivers, depots, workshops and schedulers an opportunity to compete against their colleagues on a national level.

Called the FormulaE Operations Awards Programme, the event was developed in 2004 and implemented in 2005 as a rewards and motivation tool for what was then the distribution network for Engen – now known as the operations department. Now in its fifth year, the competition has become a massive success and has made a significant difference to both the morale and operational skills of Engen’s employees.

Striving for excellenceAccording to Llewellyn Snyman, national transport operations manager for Engen, the value of the awards programme lies in the high standard of excellence it demands of its participants.

“The benefits are felt by the staff themselves, our customers and the communities and environments that we come in contact with in our operations. It is this commitment to quality and added value that will guarantee Engen’s success in the years to come.”

Jeeva Chetty, Engen’s national operations manager, concurs, stating that the performance of the company’s operations department has increased markedly since the creation of the FormulaE Operations Awards Programme.

“There are four main aims with regards to this awards programme,” says Chetty. “We want to improve the standards and skills of our drivers; increase the focus on issues related to safety, health, environment and quality (HSEQ); continuously improve the service we offer our customers and, lastly, reduce operating costs.”

And the programme has been very successful in aiding the company to achieve these goals. “Since 2005, we have seen have seen a significant improvement in the performance of our bulk truck operators,” continues Chetty. “There is no doubt that the competition has motivated them to improve and expand their own skills. Moreover, we have also noticed an increased commitment from our depot and workshop staff to increase their performance levels in all areas of operations.

“The FormulaE Operations Awards Programme is undoubtedly a great tool to motivate staff members. Employees are very enthusiastic about the programme and always eager to participate. This is largely owing to the fact that winning an award isn’t easy. The road to victory is long and arduous, so winning the overall competition is quite an achievement. Engen’s employees realise that winning isn’t easy, and this motivates them to improve their skills.”

Indeed, winning a FormulaE award requires an extraordinary display of skill, dedication and perseverance.

Although the Driver of the Year competition is contested over two days, drivers have to perform exceptionally well for far longer than that. The Driver of the Year competition is the final battleground for Engen’s annual pick of bulk truck operators who have racked up top performance scores in comprehensive monthly tests and survived tough regional knock-outs on their way to the final.

The Driver of the Year competition starts at regional level. All regional candidates have to be Club 600 and Club 1200 members – a select group of drivers that have attained 100% scores in six or 12 consecutive months in 2009. Driver performance is monitored over this period through the use of Powertrack on-board tracking systems and is based on predetermined parameters. Also, if a driver does not attend all scheduled training courses during the period, is involved in any culpable accident or spillage, receives any customer complaints or receives any disciplinary sanction, he or she is immediately disqualified from the competition.

Striving for excellenceAt regional level, drivers have to complete a theory test, a track test and a road test. Based on these scores, all but 24 contestants are eliminated. The 24 remaining candidates make it through to the national competition. And the national Driver of the Year competition is even more demanding. Here, competitors have to complete a theory test, a pre-trip inspection, a road test, fuel economy test, customer service (mock delivery test), a fire simulation and a track test.

“To make it to the finals is special,” comments Snyman. “There is great prestige in competing, and our drivers always do us proud by showing passion, as well as close camaraderie.”

After the two-day Driver of the Year event, the winners receive their awards at a gala event hosted by the Engen Sales and Marketing’s operations department. But these aren’t the only awards that are handed out. Awards are also given to the year’s best workshops, depots and schedulers. And as with the Driver of the Year competition, winning an award is very tough.

Depot of the Year is awarded to the best Engen depots in the country, and is divided into two categories – primary depots and secondary depots. Each depot is given a score out of a maximum of 150 points and is graded in areas such as delivery operations, depot maintenance, driver appearance, customer relations, vehicle cleanliness, stock management and expense control.

As with the Depot of the Year award, the Workshop of the Year award is given to the Engen workshop that has shown consistent high performance in key areas of responsibility. Predictably, consistency and an excellent maintenance record are of particular importance and, because of this, evaluations are chiefly centred on the maintenance and service levels offered by the workshop. Other factors, however, are also important. In addition to service levels and administrative controls, workshops are also graded on their financial performance, overall appearance, housekeeping and HSEQ performance.

Over and above these existing award categories, the 2009 FormulaE awards programme also featured the inclusion of a new category: Outbound Scheduler of the Year.

“The FormulaE programme was implemented as a strategic initiative to extend the performance culture to all levels within the operations department and to recognise and reward top performers in all major areas,” states Chetty. “It is owing to this strategic intent that we felt it necessary to include an Outbound Scheduler of the Year Award. The centralised outbound scheduling team plays a significant role in providing optimal customer service and, because of this, we felt that they should also be included in the programme.”

In addition to the inclusion of the Outbound Scheduler of the Year award category, the 2009 FormulaE programme was also marked by a particular focus on issues related to safety, health, environment and quality.

“Each year we dedicate the FormulaE programme to a certain key performance area as a way of raising employees’ awareness of that issue. Last year, for example, the focus was on “Delivering the promise to the customer”. “With HSEQ issues being one of Engen’s key focus points for the past few years, we felt that this was the appropriate time to make it the focal point of the FormulaE programme,” asserts Snyman.

According to Snyman, Engen is committed to HSEQ excellence in all its activities and, because of this, employees are expected to take all possible steps in order to prevent incidents.

Striving for excellence“We aim to promote the health and safety of all stakeholders in all our operations. Furthermore, we also aim to take all necessary proactive steps towards conservation of the environment and minimising damage. With this in mind, we view raising awareness of HSEQ-related issues within the company as one of our most important challenges. Occupational health and safety should be a priority in day-to-day operations – it should be a way of life – and we believe that the FormulaE programme is a vital tool in reaching this goal.

“The FormulaE awards programme has bred a tradition of excellence, teamwork and ownership of our HSEQ objectives. While winning a FormulaE award is a remarkable accomplishment, there is more at stake than individual pride. As an exercise in continuous improvement of Engen’s HSEQ practices at the very coalface of its business, FormulaE keeps awareness high within operations.”

The Engen FormulaE Operations Awards Programme is not only an excellent way of recognising and rewarding employees’ contribution to the company, it is also a means of instilling the importance of key operational issues in the minds of workers. And few issues are more crucial than occupational health and safety, especially when operating in a hazardous environment. What makes the FormulaE awards programme unique is the way it uses healthy competition as a way of highlighting the importance of these issues within the transport industry.

2009 Engen FormulaE Winners
Congratulations to all the participants who took part in this prestigious event, particularly those who came out tops! Well done to the following winners:

• Depot of the Year (Primary) – East London Depot
• Depot of the Year (Secondary) – Rustenburg Depot
• Depot of the Year (Best Performance HSEQ) – Kroonstad Depot
• Depot of the Year (Best Performance Customer Service) – Hamilton Depot
• Workshop of the Year – Northern Region
• Outbound Scheduler of the Year – Rudy Van Greunen

Articulated Driver of the Year
1st place – Paul Turner (Milnerton Depot)
2nd place – Sanjay Dhookoo (Wentworth Depot)
3rd place – Aubrey Mbiza (Wentworth Depot)

Rigid Driver of the Year
1st place – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
2nd place – Deon du Preez (East London Depot)
3rd place – Marius Coetzee (Kimberley Depot)

Staff Competition Winner
Ismail Hassan – Durban Distribution Centre

Below are the various category winners:
Theory – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
Fire fighting (articulated) – Sanjay Dhookoo (Wentworth Depot)
Fire fighting (rigid) – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
Pre-trip inspection (articulated) – Paul Turner (Milnerton)
Pre-trip inspection (rigid) – Martin Kok (Kroonstad Depot)
Customer care (articulated) – Sanjay Dhookoo (Wentworth Depot)
Customer care (rigid) – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
Track test (articulated) – Andre Botes (Milnerton)
Track test (rigid) – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
Fuel economy (articulated) – Grayston Fourie (Langlaagte Depot)
Fuel economy (rigid) – Hans van der Walt (Kroonstad Depot)
Road test (articulated) – Paul Turner (Milnerton)
Road test (rigid) – Deon du Preez (East London Depot)

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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