Zimbulk adds 15 Scania trucks to cross-border fleet

Zimbulk adds 15 Scania trucks to cross-border fleet

Bulk liquid transporter Zimbulk took delivery of 15 new Scania G460 trucks at its Pomona, Johannesburg facility in late February to early March, with the trucks slotting straight into the cross-border fleet. ROWAN WATT-PRINGLE spoke to Zimbulk’s managing director, Mark Thomas, about his experience with the trucks so far.

Zimbulk’s regional fleet consists of 150 trucks, of which 100 are South Africa-based. The fleet operates throughout Southern Africa, into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, focusing predominantly on liquid fuels, oils and chemicals, as well as sulphuric acid.

This diversity helps to keep the fleet busy at all times. “We are also considered an essential service, which has helped during this difficult period,” says Thomas. “The weakening of the rand during the pandemic somewhat offset losses caused by significant border delays, because a lot of cross-border business is conducted in dollars. The strengthening rand is great for the country, but with shocking border delays still ongoing, it is certainly a challenging time.”

The 15 Scania trucks are being used across the spectrum of the company’s cross-border operations. While they have only been running for a short time, Thomas has been very impressed. “Scania has been great so far, very prompt and helpful,” he says. “Even though it is still early days, so far they have come up trumps at every level. I’m looking forward to that level of service hopefully continuing long into the future.”

Thomas decided to approach Scania after running an in-house exercise comparing cost of ownership for all trucks on the market. “What we’re really looking for is good backup and support of the product,” he notes, adding, “Scania were right up there in this regard – for me it’s not so much about a brand as about finding the best, most cost-effective tool for the job.”

While this is the first time Zimbulk has dealt directly with Scania, Thomas previously ran a few second-hand Scania trucks in the fleet, which he purchased from another transporter.

“I already knew from those vehicles that Scania is a great brand,” he says. “There were some cheaper options, but Scania were really on the ball. We were impressed by their approach and efficiency.”

Thomas is also excited about the trucks’ fuel performance, noting that they run at 2,8 to 3 km/litre in the fuel fleet, compared to 2,42 km/litre for his next-best vehicles. “We monitor fuel consumption extremely closely; these Scanias are significantly outperforming everything we’ve got. We’re actually quite blown away,” Thomas enthuses. “Obviously if you extend this across the fleet over time, with the distances we’re travelling, it represents a major saving, especially because fuel accounts for about 38% of our costs.”

Thomas is optimistic about Zimbulk’s relationship with Scania. “For us, it’s all about backup and longevity. This creates sustainable business in the future,” he explains, noting that when there was a failure on one of the trucks, Scania was extremely responsive in resolving the situation, getting the truck back on the road in the blink of an eye.

“Time will tell, but certainly the start-up has been phenomenal,” he says. “I’ve got a really good, fuzzy feeling about this. If they finish off the way they’ve started, I’ll definitely be a Scania man for years to come. These are people I can see myself dealing with over the long  term.”

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