Johannesburg Truck & Bus Show

Challenges, Solutions and Opportunities in the Transport Sector

Frank Beeton, Econometrix

Challenges met solutions and opportunities at the Commercial Vehicle Conference held at the Johannesburg Truck & Bus Show on 24 October, where delegates were able to focus on industry matters crucial to the ongoing viability of this vibrant sector of the South African economy.

Industry analyst Frank Beeton of Econometrix presented an overview of the SA Truck market from 1971 to date, indicating trends in sales of medium (MCV), Heavy (HCV) and Extra Heavy (EHCV) Commercial Vehicles and Buses, indicating how political and economic circumstances influenced the truck market during the past 42 years.

The growing share of EHCV’s in the truck sector is an indication of a change on the market structure underpinned by the development of long haul operations into Africa. Sales wise, the total truck market for 2013 is estimated to top at between 29 000 and 30 000 units with a forecast growth in sales for the next 3 years to 35 600 units in 2017.

With load optimisation, driver wellness, vehicle maintenance and productivity as the key focus areas of self- regulation through a voluntary accreditation process under the government-supported Road Traffic Management System ( RTMS) , Chairman of the Road Transport Management System Committee  Adrian van Tonder of Barloworld Logistics reported on the vast difference which this concept, launched in 2007 with only 74 accredited vehicles and now standing at 4 450 accredited vehicles,  has made to participants.

He quoted case studies to indicate how this unique system of voluntary self-regulation that was mooted in 2007 to assist fleet owners in legal compliance and optimisation of their fleet management requirements has contributed to efficient fleet maintenance and cited examples where fleets under the system have experienced a 50% reduction in downtime, accidents and huge improvements in fuel economy. The poor state of the secondary road network and the negative effects on road safety and maintenance costs were generally lamented.                

Dr Vaughan Mostert of the Department of Transport & Supply Management at the University of Johannesburg focused attention on the challenges facing public transportation, which was beset by uncoordinated planning efforts by local, provincial and national authorities and highlighted the need for a coordinated approach and the realignment of political will as key to any effort to improve the current unsatisfactory situation in the sector.

The extent to which research was being done on an ongoing basis to improve truck specifications and the manner in which the CSIR’s performance-based research is improving the design specification of truck bodies and trailers, resulting in safer and more economical operations of fleets, was demonstrated by Paul Nordengen, Research Group Leader of Network Asset Management Systems at the CSIR ‘s Built Environment Division.

Patrick O’ Leary, Editor of Fleetwatch Magazine stunned the conference with the realities of fatalities and damage resulting from truck accidents and the huge responsibility on the public and private sector alike to address the matter.

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