Success in the transportation of specialised and hazardous freight requires a special relationship in which the vehicle supplier has a deep understanding of its client’s unique business circumstances.
This is something MAN Automotive – through its private-capital dealer United Truck Centre – has been able to accomplish with specialist transporter Infinite Transport, and why it has become the company’s vehicle supplier of choice.
Henu Cronje, COO of Infinite Transport, explains that the relationship began four years ago, after the company made the decision to move away from its model of employing subcontractors to transport its trailers, and to rather invest in the prime movers itself.
“Subcontractors are not always well managed and their service level is not always good. Our customers need a specialised service level and dedicated care,” he says.
Today, the company directly operates a fleet of 35 MAN and Volkswagen (VW) vehicles (it occasionally still uses the odd subcontractor). The fleet is made up of 18 TGS 26.440s of slightly differing specification, one TGS 26.480, two VW Constellation 24.250 6x2s, and the latest addition – a 26.480 EfficientLine on all aluminium wheels. While the MAN vehicles run tri-axle trailers, the VWs were fitted with cranes and drawbar trailers.
Dirik Vorster, divisional manager, United Truck Centre, explains that the trucks have to be just as specialised as Infinite Transport’s service is to its customers.
“ADR from MAN is an exclusive vehicle specification for dangerous goods. The trucks are equipped with metaflex wiring that cannot burn and the power cut-of switch works in conjunction with the vehicle’s ECU to prevent damage to the system. These emergency cut-off switches are located inside the cabs, which is important as some sites do not allow the drivers to get out of their vehicles.
“ADR vehicles are also fitted with electronic driver aids for added safety, such as adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and lane-guard systems,” he explains.
Cronje explains that MAN’s solution has proved to be ideal. “MAN’s full-maintenance contracts cover our vehicles into sub-Saharan Africa, but we haven’t experienced a breakdown yet.
“The vehicles have returned good cost per kilometre figures; fuel and maintenance costs are low. The trucks are also quite durable, and replacement parts are cost-effective, too,” he says.
Ryno Blignaut, sales manager at United Truck Centre, explains that this is the only independent MAN dealership that employs its own driver trainers. Naturally, they ensure Infinite Transport is able to provide its drivers with refresher driver training every six months.
The vehicles are now also integrated with on-board MAN Telematics to monitor driver and vehicle performance. Two MAN-trained diesel mechanics look after the vehicles at the company’s Vereeniging premises, as required.
“We keep track of all aspects of the vehicles’ performance, consumption and wear and tear. We’re very happy with their performance, so we’ll keep them well beyond their initial first economic life,” Cronje says, explaining that the vehicles were initially bought on a replacement cycle of four years or 700 000 km.
“The first trucks we bought are now registering about 620 000 km, and are still in good condition. After four years, we want our trucks to look like they did the day they arrived in the fleet,” he adds.
“I like to do things the right way – in transport you can’t have grey areas. We try to ensure that the factors that we can control are 110-percent correct,” Cronje concludes.
It’s this attitude that speaks to the success of the partnership between Inifinite Transport, United Truck Centre and MAN Automotive.