Transforming the transport business

A South African-based global fleet-maintenance systems company, Freeway, has developed a specialist cost-control system designed for the transport industry – which can be customised to cater to specific needs

Freeway, a supplier of fleet-maintenance systems, prides itself on being a South African success story. Started in the 1980s in Johannesburg, Freeway subsequently expanded its operations to the United Kingdom (UK), where it has become established as one of the leading suppliers of vehicle-maintenance systems, servicing 10 percent of the top 100 hauliers and bus companies in the UK.

Chances are, when you travel on a red bus in England, you are in a vehicle managed by Freeway systems. The company’s operations have since been expanded to Bahrain and Singapore.

Over the past five years, Freeway has refocused its attention on the southern African transport market, and close collaboration with clients has enabled the company to deliver bespoke programs which cater to specific needs. Recent advancements include a multi-currency module for cross-border logistics and salvage-parts management.

“Freeway’s commitment to research and development means that it provides clients with solutions while innovatively moving them forward to enhance opportunities for growth,” says Jonathan Rolando, a spokesman for the company.

He adds that southern Africa’s market includes Zimbabwe – which presents its own set of unique challenges. “The Freeway system is currently used by five of the top transport companies in that country – Swift, Unitrans, Biltrans and Dharwizi tankers and, most recently, Bakers Inn, Zimbabwe’s largest bread distributor.

“A recent client conference in Harare highlighted a number of important areas for software development, such as trip cost management and border-crossing document management.,” he says.

According to Rolando, Freeway’s specialist cost-control system is specifically designed for the transport industry, featuring exceptionally powerful analytics. Compliance – which has become integral to the management of a modern fleet – is a natural output of proven processes within the system.

“The innovative and dynamic features of the Freeway system include vehicle details and histories; defect recording; workshop control; job-card generation and timesheet allocation; comprehensive procurement management and stock control; warranty and returns tracking; sales invoice generation; comprehensive reporting facilities; and full integration with accounts packages,” he says.

Rolando points out that Freeway can be a desktop and paper-based system, or, depending on the level of sophistication of operations, it can be paperless – driven by mobile web apps or a combination of the two. “Some of our South African clients include Van Der Vyver Transport, Transvaal Heavy Transport, Bakers SA Limited, PMD Transport and Du Plessis Sand,” he says.

VR Cargo, a freight company based in Nelspruit with a fleet of 120 trucks – 30 of which are PBS smart trucks – racks up 1 500 000 km a month transporting a combined weight of 112 000 t of dry bulk around the country. The company has reaped the benefits of Freeway’s systems, with director Shaun van Rooyen commending the management tools for the solutions they have provided.

“Our biggest challenges involved managing costs of assets as well as stock controls,” Van Rooyen says. “Like most South African transport companies, for years we had relied on a manual system that was labour intensive and susceptible to mistakes. Truck maintenance schedules were not being followed and, as a result, vehicle breakdowns were a huge problem.

“Freeway has given our workshop a total solution. We now know exactly what our costs are per asset thanks to accurate cost-per-kilometre calculations. Also, our preventive maintenance programme is up to date and our breakdowns have decreased by 40 percent.

“In addition, we have the full history of any asset on hand at any moment, and our stock variance has reduced dramatically, never exceeding 0,5 percent.

“In all, Freeway is a powerful management tool and, if used correctly with correct dedication, it will help to transform a transport business into a sustainable entity,” he says.

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Focus on Transport

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