Leading concrete materials producer, AfriSam takes its responsibility towards the road-going public extremely seriously and has put various measures in place to ensure that its extensive fleet of readymix trucks takes both safety as well as the environment into consideration when on the road.
Although AfriSam predominantly uses a contracted fleet, the company takes full accountability for these trucks on the road. With a national fleet of 310 readymix trucks, AfriSam is committed to ensuring that this part of its business demonstrates its commitment to environmental best practices. For this reason, AfriSam has installed chute covers on all its readymix trucks to eliminate concrete spillage on roads while the product is in transit. The chute covers are mandatory for all its trucks even when returning to the plant with an empty drum.
It is significant that AfriSam is the only concrete materials producer to enforce chute covers. This solidifies AfriSam’s position as the leader in environmentally responsible business practices in the construction industry. “We challenge the rest of the industry to follow suit to reduce concrete spillages on the road as these could potentially damage vehicles or cause potholes to form”, says Avi Bhoora, AfriSam’s construction materials executive.
To ensure the safety of other road users, AfriSam also invests significantly in driver training and drivers are well trained and competent in dealing with the latest truck technology and all manner of driving conditions.
Bhoora says the main feature of the training is to familiarise drivers with some of the hi-tech features of its trucks, which include engine brakes and power reverse functions. Such knowledge not only lets drivers foster good driving habits, but also allows cartage contractors, in particular, to reduce the running costs of their vehicles.
“AfriSam is aware that profit margins are under pressure, and driver training such as this stands to benefit both our cartage contractors and the construction industry,” Bhoora says.
To date, over 220 AfriSam drivers have successfully passed a five day driver certification course managed by Brian Kerr & Associates, the former principal driver trainer of commercial vehicles at MBSA.
The successful drivers receive certificates that are lodged with the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA), whereupon they are entered into the national database as trained drivers.
The certification course combines classroom theory with on-the-road training, at the end of which the drivers are required to produce a portfolio of 100 hours of mixed driving including wet, highway and night driving. “We take the driver training extremely seriously,” Bhoora says.
One of AfriSam’s proactive measures to engage the public is its Drive Report system through which every single vehicle in the company’s fleet is fitted with the 0860 555 999 ‘How Is My Driving?’ number. “The public plays a vital role in allowing us to gauge the performance of our drivers on the road,” Bhoora says.
Another development is that all vehicles in the fleet have been fitted with Tom Tom GPS navigational devices customised specifically for AfriSam’s requirements. This includes monitoring speed curves, harsh acceleration and unnecessary braking. “We also use this as a performance management tool to help our drivers improve their skills levels and to monitor our on-time delivery to our customers,” Bhoora says.
By using this device a readymix order, including a detailed route map, is transmitted automatically to the driver’s vehicle. The system, using GPS coordinates, will advise the control room when the truck arrives at a customer’s site, and when the delivery is completed the control room will automatically be notified of the truck’s departure using the GPS co-ordinates, and by detecting movement of the truck. “Our control room at AfriSam monitors our trucks at all stages of their operation,” Bhoora says.
AfriSam’s high standards extend not only from its products but encompass its driver training as well. “Our take-on process of a driver is intense. We do not allow just anyone in our trucks,” Bhoora says.
An induction interview is followed by a two day hands-on training course. “This is all about the AfriSam standards and includes aspects such as how a driver should approach a customer when arriving on site and how an accident scene should be handled,” Bhoora explains.
Only after this comprehensive assessment is the driver allowed to undertake the full five day certification course. Any infraction means that the driver in question is pulled from the fleet and, after undergoing a counselling session to discover the root causes of the infraction, has to undertake the training again. “It is essential that the vehicle owners are included in this process, as unsafe driving affects everyone, from AfriSam’s customers to cartage contractors and the general public,” Bhoora says.
All AfriSam’s branded vehicles undergo a comprehensive check-up in its state-of-the-art workshop every three months. “Every truck is subjected to a 45 minute, bumper-to-bumper safety check. We have highly qualified personnel that conduct these checks. If we are not satisfied with the condition of any vehicle it is parked pending any necessary repairs, whereupon it is inspected again,” Bhoora concludes.