By Neil Henderson, CEO, Barloworld Transport

In order to sustain efficient businesses and an industry that is beneficial to the country, transport companies need to find ways to work with the changes that are inevitable. The role of the trucking industry in South Africa is becoming one of flexibility and adaptability. The companies that are agile and flexible to change are the ones that will stand the test of time.

Skills shortages

The biggest challenge we face in South Africa is the lack of skills in the transport industry. The skills shortage is felt across our entire business but the most critical area is definitely the shortage of professional truck drivers. Coupled with this, regulatory changes (with regard to labour as well as tolls, truck bans etc.) together with a strained labour climate put further pressure on the industry. And then of course the slow economic growth, the drop in commodity prices and a slowdown in China have all contributed towards a tough transport market. That being said, it was very positive that wage negotiations were concluded this year without an industry-wide strike.

Risk management

“On-road” risk is a challenge that the transport industry face 24-hours a day. Un-roadworthy vehicles, unlicensed drivers, difficult road conditions, speed and fatigue, hi-jacking and theft all contribute to the risks encountered daily on our roads. Companies that do not value operational excellence and adherence to risk-avoidance protocols further tarnish the image that many are working hard to keep positive.

Perceived threats to the industry

While rail can be seen as a threat, we choose to see it as an opportunity. We believe that rail revitalisation is very positive for both the South African economy, the users of roads and the environment. Barloworld Transport is part of the Barloworld Logistics group, an integrated logistics business which is ‘mode agnostic’, enabling them to continuously seek out, design and develop optimal logistics solutions for our customers, whichever mode is to be used; road, rail, air or sea.

Barloworld Transport and Barloworld Logistics’ ability to provide smart supply chain solutions and to integrate road with rail is going to be key in ensuring that efficient road and rail systems are developed and can peacefully co-exist.

The way forward

Barloworld Transport remains committed to staying on the front-foot and we are constantly working out ways to improve our business. We do this by connecting with the right talent, cultivating that talent through advanced training and development, and conserving talent through our rewards, recognition and wellbeing programmes. With the right people, the right thinking and the right attitude, there are very few challenges that can’t be overcome.

Fleetwatch (Digital)
Volume 34, page 26
01 November 2015