The 27% increase in domestic vehicle sales in South Africa in October last year, compared with the same period in 2020, has resulted in more vehicles being transported across the country.
As a result, attention is being drawn to safety concerns related to the transportation sector, particularly in how various road and transport safety standards ensure efficiency and safety, among other benefits.
The movement of motor vehicles from original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) facilities to the dealerships is handled by the auto logistics, or the car carrier industry. There are various carrier trailer configurations ranging in capacity from 4-unit carriers up to specialised 11-unit carrier trailers.
Therefore, road transport related risk needs careful consideration, especially considering the poor road safety record in South Africa, with about 14 000 reported fatalities yearly.
The road safety risks of this sizeable auto carrier footprint have been effectively mitigated by the self-regulation initiative Road Transport Management System (RTMS) standard. RTMS is a South African National Standard that has achieved commendable road safety and efficiency gains across the South African road transport sector.
The RTMS is an industry–led, government-supported, voluntary, self-regulation scheme that encourages consignors, consignees and road transport operators to implement a management-systems standard with outcomes that contribute to preserving road infrastructure, improving road safety and productivity, explains auditors and compliance professionals JC Auditors MD Oliver Naidoo.
Numerous case studies presented at RTMS workshops by certified operators indicated some of the benefits that have been observed. Benefits include reductions in overloading and speeding incidents, breakdowns, crashes and fuel consumption.
There has also been an increase in fleet availability and a reduction in downtime. Improved driver skills include a reduction in harsh acceleration and braking as well as improved attitude and motivation of drivers. There has also been a reduction in chronic illnesses in drivers, improved general health of drivers and a reduction in absenteeism.
The RTMS can be viewed as a tool for transport operators and consignors to improve fleet management and sustainability as well as reduce logistics costs.
Over the last 15 years, JC Auditors has conducted RTMS audits on all the major players in the auto carrier sector to verify that the requirements of the RTMS standard have been adequately implemented.
“The team at JC Auditors are road transport experts who apply the International Organization of Standards (ISO) 17021 certification audit standard, thus ensuring that the audits are aligned to practically achieve the road safety and efficiency outcomes,” explains Naidoo.
The auto logistics sector has also embraced the innovative Performance Based Standards (PBS), or the Smart Truck project, which makes provision for carriers that are safer than baseline vehicles and offer increased payload. It functions as a road map for the car carrier industry implemented by the Abnormal Loads Technical Committee (ALTC) which is governed by the National Department of Transport.
Under this road map, and subject to compliance with the Smart Truck rules, the car carriers are permitted to operate PBS vehicles at a maximum load height of 4.6 m and laden vehicle length of up to 23 m. This allows the highest capacity carriers to transport 11 cars at a time, which has a significant cost saving benefit and contributes directly to South African automotive manufacturers’ ability to compete with global competitors.
The Smart Truck project for heavy vehicles is currently being run as a pilot project in South Africa to evaluate the potential benefits of using the PBS approach for the design and operation of heavy vehicles. RTMS certification, ensuring a minimum standard of fleet management, is required for a transport operator to participate in the PBS project. The PBS approach allows for higher capacity vehicles to operate on pre-approved dedicated routes and is ideally suited for primary distribution road freight transport operations.
The measured benefits of the PBS pilot project include reduced road wear, reduction in vehicle trips, lower fuel consumption and emissions per tonne-kilometre, and a significant reduction in crashes.
There is an increasing demand worldwide for transporters to be safer, greener, and overall offer a premium customer experience. To achieve this, end companies are relying on internationally recognised ISO certifications to demonstrate their governance and business sustainability practices.
“We are certainly seeing a shift with a rapidly increasing demand for ISO certifications in various sectors, notably in the transportation, or logistics, sector,” says Naidoo.
Corporate shareholders and stakeholders are focused on corporate governance, which requires that suppliers, including transporters, comply with the various governance pillars. These governance and management systems are intended to ultimately create resilience and sustainability in supply chains.
The most popular standard is ISO 9001, which has the primary aim of promoting a process approach that is focused on delivery of client expectations. ISO 14001 promotes the implementation of a structured environmental management system that makes provision for the prevention of pollution, responsible waste management and requires a commitment to improve environmental performance.
Preventing pollution is vital for the logistics and transport sector, which is one of the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, explains Naidoo.
All the ISO standards require that an organisation identify the applicable legal requirements and address those relevant to the business. Naidoo explains that this is a contributing factor to the global trend of ISO certification, particularly ISO 9001, being a common prerequisite for contracts and tenders.
This global trend has also taken root in South Africa with many sectors following suit, such as automotive manufacturing, mining, chemical manufacturing, and general engineering, to mention a few, concludes Naidoo.