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Leading transport operators are not born they are made

AN increased demand for road transport, largely driven by the rail service challenges South Africa has faced, has left many local supply chains heavily reliant on road fleet operators. This increased demand has led to growing pains as the industry adjusts.

“The factors that will determine the leading transport operators in the near future are very different to those that have traditionally been accepted as benchmarks for success,” says Erik Bergvall, MD, Scania Southern Africa. Historically, transport businesses have been considered easy to replicate. Transport operators had access to the same trucks, trailers and routes. Now the transport industry is on the brink of a significant transformation driven by technological advancements, sustainability measures and evolving consumer demands. The operators who lead this shift will gain a competitive advantage that slow adopters will find difficult to match.

Simply adding more trucks to a fleet is no longer enough. Transport operators need to increase efficiencies too. The adoption of innovative capabilities is allowing progressive operators to move faster than competitors, introduce differentiated services and adopt new systems. Increasingly, the ability to collect, understand and apply data intelligence, from vehicles and other assets, will mean the difference between operations as usual and operational transformation.

“Leading transport operators aren’t born,” says Bergvall, “they are made”. Technology is playing a pivotal role in supporting transport companies to adapt and thrive. The potential for fleets to harness intelligent insights from diverse data sources is revolutionising fleet management. Real-time tracking, data analytics and predictive modeling are enabling transport operators to respond efficiently to disruptions, while staying ahead of the curve.

Data sourced from sensors and cameras is enabling significant cost efficiencies. By tracking factors such as vehicle idling, route planning and driving styles, fuel saving improvements can be made. Data-led predictive maintenance supports cost savings by identifying issues before they cause downtime. Long-term data tracking can measure these improvements, so operators can accelerate their efforts. Transport operators who win at cost efficiencies are made.

Data is also playing a significant role in helping transport operators to reach their sustainability goals. To reduce the environmental impacts of transport operations, real-time data insights are key. Data can support operators to decide how and where to start their transition to sustainable vehicle solutions. Metrics include lifetime usage and average daily utilisation rates. Sustainable vehicles are designed to maximise fuel economy and total cost of ownership, while reducing harmful emissions. They have a significant role to play in assisting transport companies to optimise efficiencies that will deliver a competitive advantage.

Growing pains can be overcome with a supportive relationship between transport operators and OEM’s. Customers are seeking value for money and trusted relationships for the whole life cycle of a truck or bus. The ability to make product advancements work for customers, coupled with a deep understanding of how value-added services, that leverage data, can optimise fleet operational efficiencies, will position OEM’s as valued partners in building South Africa’s new transport leaders.

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