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Gaining in the grain game

September 11, 2018

Van Tonder Transport is a family owned and operated company that started with one truck in Kuruman, Northern Cape in 1988. Since finding the ideal business partner in MAN Automotive, it has grown to be one of the largest, and most efficient, bulk grain transporters in South Africa.

The Van Tonder Transport fleet consists of 57 MAN trucks paired with custom grain trailers, which have a capacity to carry approximately 39 t. This enables the operator to haul 44 000 t per month over long distances, or 100 000 t over shorter distances.

Van Tonder was introduced to MAN trucks only one year after opening its doors and today its fleet is exclusively MAN. Since then the transporter has covered 150-million kilometres with 110 MAN trucks. Flippie van Tonder, director at Van Tonder Transport, says: “Since the start MAN has stood behind its product, listened to our suggestions and assisted where possible. This formed the foundation of a long-standing business relationship, which places cost efficiency at its core.”

An optimised product

The transportation of grain is weight sensitive and reducing the tare weight of vehicles results in the ability to carry bigger payloads. Johan Mackay, sales representative at MAN Truck South Africa, says: “With this requirement in mind, we were able to make changes to the chassis to reduce weight. Various specification options have been introduced over time. More recently, we went as far as altering the size of the compressor in the 11 MAN trucks delivered earlier this year, to make them more suitable for the environment in which they operate.”

Danie van Tonder, director at Van Tonder Transport, says: “MAN ProfiDrive driver training is another strategy that we use to drive cost efficiency at our company.” Drivers are sent to this tailored programme that covers the latest MAN in-cab technology, as well as when and how to use it. The course also includes coaching that applies specifically to MAN trucks, in order to increase efficiency and longevity.

Stringent maintenance

A core part of the transporter’s business philosophy is to keep its rigs on the road and not in the workshop. This requires a rigorous maintenance schedule and addressing problems immediately when they arise.

As such, Van Tonder Transport has a MAN-approved workshop on site. Its mechanics are well equipped and regularly attend MAN training to keep them abreast with the latest information and technology.

Danie van Tonder says: “Having MAN approval means that all services can be performed on site, minimising downtime, while retaining our manufacturer’s warranty. Over and above that, identifying and rectifying any issues immediately helps to ensure the safety of our drivers and other road users.”

Three times the life

By the time MAN trucks at Van Tonder Transport are sold, they are more than ten years old and have covered a distance of approximately 1,5-million kilometres. Flippie van Tonder says: “Since our finance is arranged over three years, our trucks provide more than another seven years of service after being paid off, which enhances our return on investment.”

MAN buys the used trucks back from Van Tonder Transport and sells them through its TopUsed division. Danie van Tonder notes: “From cradle to grave MAN stands by its product and ensures the lowest overall cost of ownership.”

Professional partnerships

“It is an absolute pleasure to have had such a long-standing relationship with Van Tonder Transport,” enthuses Markus Geyer, MD of MAN Automotive South Africa.

“The Van Tonder family sets an incredibly high standard for customer service, professional transport and hands-on management of the fleet. We value their input into current and future product ranges, and take on their suggestions because we know they are well-researched and will optimise cost efficiencies across the fleet, over time. We are proud to be associated with this company,” he concludes.

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

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