Despite small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) being a big driver of employment and economic growth in South Africa, many of these businesses face several challenges during the startup phase, especially in the automotive sector.
However, early implementation of credible standards and accreditations can accelerate the progress of a business and help to overcome these challenges.
International Organisation for Standardisation- (ISO-) and South African National Accreditation System- (Sanas-) accredited certification solutions company JC Auditors MD Oliver Naidoo says the most difficult challenge in the startup phase is accessing funding to buy vehicles: “It is vital for a transporter to have a client contract so that an asset financier can consider them.”
The emerging business would then need to consider the myriad of risks pertaining to technical, operational and human resource management.
“The lack of these essential frameworks often limits the fledgling business’ safety, efficiency, profitability and, ultimately, sustainability,” he adds.
“Accreditation to the Road Transport Management System (RTMS) promotes safety, compliance and efficiency in a commercial fleet – regardless of the size.
“Along with ISO standards, there are proven mechanisms, such as safety, health, environmental and quality, or SHEQ, which enable a business to not only manage legal compliance but also build processes that allow for business growth and sustainability.”
Naidoo says RTMS requires compliance with SANS 1395-1:2019, as the business would have to comply with policies and processes specific to payload management and the control of vehicle licences and permits.
The business will also have to conduct a transport risk assessment, including route risks, speed management, accident management and traffic fine management.
The benefits of accredited certifications include a likely reduction in operating costs and improved risk management, which allows for smoother operations that are aligned to meeting market requirements, Naidoo notes.
There has been a substantial increase in truck volumes on roads, especially over the past two years, says Naidoo.
One of the contributory factors is the global demand for mining products, especially coal. The increasing volumes of trucks on the road creates corresponding risks for all road users.
“The increased risks are further compounded by transporters who have scant safety systems and do not promote a culture of safe driving. It is usually one or more of these deficiencies that are the root cause of the high accident rates.”
RTMS certification has been shown to be an effective tool in addressing these road safety risks and can provide a solution for mitigating high accident rates, he adds.
Transportation service Mamoja Trading & Projects MD Annah Ngxeketo says the decision to implement RTMS from the start of the company’s inception delivered good unforeseen results for the business.
Based in Marikana, in the North West, the company has signed “some of South Africa’s biggest mining houses” since becoming RTMS- and ISO 9001-accredited within a year of starting its operations.
“As a business, we understood the need for standards and systems. The decision to align ourselves with international standards and accreditations has opened more doors than we ever envisioned,” enthuses Ngxeketo.
There has been a real improvement in the company’s efficiency and operating profits. Truck downtime has decreased significantly, as has the number of breakdowns, which, in turn, has led to proactive conducting of maintenance services, notes Ngxeketo.
According to Ngxeketo, RTMS has placed Mamoja Trading & Projects on an upward trajectory, moving the company towards its strategic goal of becoming one of the country’s largest platinum transporters.
Naidoo says SMMEs that can capitalise in the startup phase can grow their fleets into other markets, but only if they implement systems that are sustainable.
“JC Auditors have conducted more than 5 000 RTMS audits over the past few years and has a range of data and case studies showing the exceptional performance of RTMS companies.”
The quantifiable reporting requirements of the RTMS standard provide sound evidence that the transport operation is achieving tangible road safety gains