4 key factors that influence the cost of transporting your goods

Whenever we make use of a certain service or company for the first time, we aren’t always aware of the cost factors that influence the amount we are quoted for. This could cause us to make decisions for our business that we otherwise wouldn’t have made if we were more informed on the matter.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when looking at the cost of transporting your goods:

1 – Fuel costs

Maritime and land transport costs are naturally related to the fuel price. As fuel prices decrease, container ships and trucks become cheaper to operate and transport prices fall – and vice versa.

Fuel prices are mainly influenced by the price of oil, and the value of the Rand next to the U.S. Dollar. With these two factors fluctuating, the price of fuel is unstable and is therefore easily changed.

2 – Insurance

Insurance is one of the biggest necessities when it comes to transportation and the handling of goods. If a company doesn’t have insurance on the goods they are transporting, their quote might be cheaper than their competitors. However, the loss you may experience if something had to happen to your products could be devastating.

Be sure to look at the insurance that is provided along with your quotation. Making use of a company that has the insurance you find necessary for your product would be the best solution for your business.

3 – The labour market for commercial drivers

Increasing wages and competition among carriers can have an upward impact on the cost of transport. With older drivers retiring, carriers can struggle to find new operators for their vehicles.

Recruiting new drivers is difficult. Finding people who are capable and willing to drive for hours at a time is one thing. The other is whether these people have the required driver licence for the position. Courses to certify new commercial drivers can take weeks or even months to complete, adding strain to logistics companies and their customers.

Furthermore, many logistics companies are struggling to compete with ‘in-house’ truck driving positions which tend to pay more and are less stressful.

4 – Demand for freight

Pricing depends on the volume of product being shipped by operators just as much as it depends on the actual, underlying costs.

If capacity is limited, businesses may be inclined to sell limited space at a higher cost. On the other hand, if business is slow, a carrier may offer a lower rate than usual, even if it’s short-term.

The above factors are definitely not the only influences on transport costs, but keeping these in mind when enquiring transport costs will ensure that you make the most informed decision for your business.

Trucker safety: A benefit to all

Even though the number of accidents caused by trucks and their drivers is less than that caused by light motor vehicles, the amount of fatalities and damage that result from truck accidents far exceed those caused by other vehicles. This is why trucker safety should be a priority for all transport and logistics companies.

The large number of heavy duty vehicles on our roads makes it imperative that measures are put in place to reduce the number of accidents involving trucks. Keeping truckers safe, not only benefits the truck drivers and their companies, but everyone else on the road as well.

Here are a few tips for businesses to implement to keep their drivers – and everyone else – safe on the road:

Identify risky drivers

It’s important to ensure that the drivers you employ don’t have a history of reckless driving.

Research into the history of the potential new hire is a must to ensure that drivers act responsibly behind the wheel. Obtain information about expired licenses, moving violations, and other traffic infringements.

Ensuring that the person you employ is fit to travel cautiously on the roads is the first step to ensuring everyone’s safety.

Ad hoc training sessions

Even though you find someone fit to travel upon employment, a lot of things can change over time, including their eligibility.

Regular training sessions on the latest traffic laws, as well as basic rules-of-the-road would ensure that drivers remain up-to-date on all vital information, and will give you as a business peace of mind knowing your drivers are fit to be on the roads.

Another factor that could affect the driving of an individual – put simply – is laziness. Let’s face it, after years of driving, we all get a bit lazy. We don’t fully stop at stop-signs anymore, and we quickly pass through that orange light even though we know we’re supposed to slow down. These all seem harmless – until it’s not. Regular driving tests could ensure drivers still abide to these simple traffic rules and could prevent future mishaps or accidents.

Regular health tests

The health of the driver must be one of the company’s first priorities before sending the driver out with an order/ delivery. If the driver is ill, it increases the possibility of an accident happening, potentially causing damage to the truck, the goods in the truck, the driver, the road, other road users and any pedestrians and structures close to the accident at that time.

Regular health checks need to be done to ensure that your driver stays as fit as a fiddle. If a driver is ill, it’s essential that he or she is able to take a sick day to get healthy. Otherwise, orders could be delayed due to the employee not fully recovering, or damage could potentially be done to more than just the company’s property. Is sending a sick driver out on the road worth risking that much? No, it’s definitely not under any circumstance.

As mentioned before, keeping the drivers of your heavy vehicles (or any vehicles, for that matter) safe, not only benefits the driver, but so much more. There are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to the safety of your drivers, but these three tips should at least be your starting point.

5 top tips on ensuring cargo safety

According to recent statistics, truck hijacking has cost South Africa over R3 billion in the past year. This not only affects the trucking companies, but also the businesses that sent or were meant to receive the goods involved in the hijacking. This places cargo safety top of mind to most transporters and consumers who rely on their goods being transported.

However, when it comes to the safety precautions that are used in transport, older, more basic safety measures aren’t as effective anymore. Criminals are continuously getting better at doing what they do best, making the protection of different companies’ livelihood much more difficult.

While no cargo or package being transported is completely immune to the risk of theft, for transport companies, there are ways to reduce your exposure to dangerous scenarios with the following tips:

1. Develop a company culture of security

Firstly, ensure that the people you employ are trustworthy.

Where permitted, include background investigations and drug screenings when you hire employees to join your business. Conduct mandatory security and ethics training, so employees know what to look for and how to report suspicious events.

As long as your drivers are trustworthy, you already eliminate one of the possibilities of the occurrence of theft, and you have more peace of mind when sending a delivery out.

2. Pick-up and delivery protocols

If your protocols and procedures are efficient, the delivery process should be smooth sailing.

Make sure that drivers are always properly identified and that they know exactly where and when they need to deliver their loads. It’s also important for them to know exactly who the person is they should be dealing with when delivering the goods.

This tie backs to the previous point as well—employ people who can be trusted. If they know the exact details of where they should be going, there’s no possibility of miscommunication causing goods to go missing or damage to the cargo.

3. Keep moving

The longer a loaded trailer or container sits unattended, the higher the risk for theft.

Thieves prefer not to confront a driver, so they will look for times when a truck is unattended. Make sure drivers are clear on trip planning. This includes identifying fuel stops, locations to layover and safe, monitored rest stops.

Instruct drivers to wait until they’ve travelled at least 300 kilometres before they stop, unless there’s an emergency. Some thieves will follow trucks until the drivers stop, waiting for a moment when they might leave the truck unattended. However, the chances of someone following a truck for 300-plus kilometres is less likely.

4. Put together a security plan

In the case of an emergency, or if you know the cargo is travelling into a dangerous area, put together a security plan.

In high crime areas, for instance, you might identify alternate routes or transportation modes. It’s also important to have an emergency plan or security feature in the vehicle for the driver to activate if they realize that they’re in a dangerous situation.

5. Do the basics properly

Most importantly, do the basics. And do them right. Here are a few basic procedures that all transport businesses should ensure are in place:

  • Teach and equip drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to stay alert while driving or stopping to rest.
  • Educate them on hijacking hotspots and high-risk areas.
  • Use vehicle security cameras and/ or software. With new advancements in data storage and Wi-Fi, mobile video surveillance is now more accessible than ever to small and large fleet operators alike. These surveillance cameras can corroborate and help better ensure cargo safety.

By following these top 5 tips on ensuring the your cargo safety, you and your clients can rest assured that you have followed all possible safety measures for their shipments. There’s no way of ensuring that theft won’t ever happen, but these tips are at least the foundation of a business’s attempt to not become part of the country’s alarming hijacking statistics.

The top 4 challenges transport and logistics companies are facing in South Africa

Change is one of the only constants in life. With change, there are multiple challenges that you could face as a business owner. Just as you think you’ve got the hang of all the latest technology, you’ve improved on your administrative processes, and you’ve calculated the costs involved in all the segments of your business – everything changes. This is also true for transport and logistics companies in South Africa, who often face changes and challenges as they go about their business.

Here are the top 4 challenges the transport and logistics industry face in South Africa:

Fluctuating fuel costs

There are two main factors that determine the fuel price in South Africa – the price of oil, and the value of the Rand compared to the U.S. Dollar. With these two factors continuously fluctuating, the price of fuel is unstable and is easily changed.

As a business owner in the transport and logistics industry, sudden changes in the fuel price could mean a possible loss in profit. If a trip was budgeted for using a specific petrol price, and the price suddenly changes, the amount budgeted for would be inaccurate.

In some instances, where the price for fuel drops, you could score a bit or adjust your prices to better satisfy your customers, but with the fuel increases lately it wouldn’t have been the case for most businesses.

Rigorous business processes

A business will only thrive if the internal processes run smoothly.

With technology being ever evolving, the need for new business processes increase daily. Technology has given businesses various opportunities and applications to use to go from a manual administration process to a seamless, paperless process. It has made the administrative processes in businesses less taxing and more organised, which improves the flow of things within the business.

It has become an increasing challenge for the transport and logistics industry to keep up with all the latest technology that could improve their processes. And even if businesses did remain up to date on the latest procedures, how much is it going to cost the company, and who is going to ensure that it’s implemented successfully? Evolution is good and necessary, however it can also be challenging and costly if not approached and implemented properly.

Evolving customer service

If you heard that there’s a post about your company on Hello Peter, would you start jumping for joy?

Working with customers is always difficult. With such a variety of people in the world, trying to find the right way to please everyone is nearly impossible.

Customer service is one of the biggest factors in any business. Reviews – especially negative – spread like wildfire on all social media platforms. There is no way to prevent someone from posting something on their social media accounts, or prevent people from sharing or reacting to it, so the only thing a business can do is constantly improve their customer service and ensure that it’s always up to scratch.

People’s expectations change as frequently as their Facebook statuses, and so the level of service that was “good enough” a year or so ago, won’t be as satisfying now. Improving on the quality of customer service is a big challenge that has the ability to keep businesses on their toes, especially in the transport and logistics industry where competition is aplenty.

Stringent government regulations

Carriers face significant compliance regulations, and here in South Africa, larger fleet sizes are the norm, making the management of those fleets more complexed.

For example, transport and logistics businesses in South Africa need to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy, that they do not exceed the permissible axle masses, that drivers are trained and in possession of all applicable permits and that they receive regular medical examinations – just to name a few.

These businesses therefore need to ensure that their internal processes are in place to stay up-to-date with regulations and the implementation thereof. Staying compliant to all regulations can be costly and time-consuming, but non-compliance could result in fines and even shutting the business down for long periods of time.

Transport and logistics companies in South Africa face many challenges that are hidden to the consumer’s eye, and the way that they respond to these challenges often determines the level of service you can expect. However, knowing that you’re opting to partner with or make use of a company that understands and faces these challenges head on goes a long way in reassuring you that you’ve made the right choice.

4 Tips to help you choose the best mode of transport for your product

Whether it’s via truck, train, ship or airplane, choosing the right mode of transport for your product could drive you insane.

With so many different options to choose from when it comes to transporting a package or parcel, it’s easy to get stuck weighing up the pros and cons. For example, you may find yourself asking questions such as; What would be best for your requirements? Will it arrive when you need it to? What are the costs involved? And many, many more.

The truth is that each mode of transport has its time and place depending on your specific requirements. Here are 4 tips to help you choose the best mode of transport for your product:

Tip 1: Know your product

In order to know what requirements your product will have when it’s in transit, you need to know your product.

For example, the following questions may come to mind; How fragile is your product? Can your product be stacked on top of each other and still arrive in a perfect condition? If you choose to transport your product via air freight, will it stay intact at the higher altitude?

The more you know about your product and its specifications, the better your chances are at preventing unnecessary costs that can been avoided if you plan more accordingly.

Tip 2: Calculate the total landed cost of the shipment

When you decide on a mode of transport, the first thing you probably look at is the cost thereof. Even though shipping costs are important, what’s more important is focusing on the “total landed cost”.

For example, you might decide to choose to transport your product via a ship, because that is the cheapest option available. What you might not have considered is the amount of time it will take for the product to reach its destination, or the insurance involved for any unforeseen circumstances. Your shipment taking longer than expected could also mean a loss in business, which is also something you need to consider.

The total cost at the end of the shipment cycle could be so much more than you had planned. Choosing the cheapest option is therefore not always the smartest option, especially as the hidden costs add up.

Tip 3: Focus on value, not price

As mentioned, the mode of transportation for your product should firstly be according to your product’s requirements, and then it should be based on the value you will get from that option.

Some options will be more expensive than others, however it’s important to see what additional services you will get that will be the most beneficial to your product and business.

If you choose to transport your product via truck to a location that might cross the borders of the country, does this service include assistance with getting your product into the next country? What type of insurance will be included in this option? These options are also determined by the service provider that you choose to assist in transporting your parcel.

For tips on choosing the ultimate service provider for your needs, check out this blog: 5 things to ask a transport and logistics company before hiring them.

Tip 4: Do some research

Other than knowing your product’s requirements and all associated shipping costs, it’s important to also ask for advice, recommendations and do some of your own research.

Read up on reviews from people with similar products as yours that have had to make use of different transport options. Discover what other people have experienced and what tips they have to assist in your decision when choosing the appropriate mode of transport for you.

Most importantly—ask the professionals! Once you’ve decided on the service provider you would like to use, ask their advice and take note of their recommendations. This will also help put you at ease knowing that they’ve worked with products similar to yours and know how to ensure the safety of your product.

Following these 4 tips could not only help you understand the process of transportation, but also make it easier for you to choose the mode of transport and the best service provider for your business.

5 things to ask a transport and logistics company before hiring them

Knowing exactly which company to make use of for the transport and logistics needs of your business can be tricky. You may even spend a lot of time weighing up the many options. And no one blames you. If you’re going to put your trust in a company to securely transport your goods to and from where they need to be, without a scratch, you’d want to know you made the right decision.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of goods being stolen while in transit or the transport vehicles being attacked and damaged while on the road. As a business owner, you want to know how to prevent this from happening to you – and if it does, what do you do?

Here are the top 5 things you should ask a transport and logistics company before hiring them:

1. What sort of insurance do they have?

If you’re going to trust a company to transport your goods, insurance should be the first thing on your mind. As much as we want to believe that things will go smoothly, we also know that anything could happen.

There are usually multiple insurance options to choose from, depending on the parcel or load that needs to be delivered and the business’s unique requirements. To ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, rather opt for a transport and logistics company that can offer you the type of insurance that will best suit your specific needs.

2. How will you be updated on the location of your goods?

Technology has made the tracking of your parcel or load’s location so much easier. Due to stringent security measures employed by good transport and logistic companies, you might not be able to get the exact, live location of your parcel. Your logistics company should, however, give you an update at certain points throughout the journey.

Whether it’s via email, SMS or phone call, a good transport and logistics company will let you know, without you having to nag them, when your parcel or load has passed a certain location and at least provide you with an estimate of its arrival.

Receiving regular updates at key points of the journey of your goods will give you peace of mind and help make communication with your own potential customer a lot easier.

3. Can you contact them after hours in case of an emergency?

Okay, maybe not an emergency. But let’s say the location of the delivery suddenly changed, or you need an urgent update on the whereabouts of your parcel, can you contact the transport and logistics company after hours?

Knowing that you’re able to contact your service provider whenever you need to says a lot about the personal relationship and customer centricity of the company. This is another advantage of using a smaller business instead of your large, well-known brands. To read more about this, go check out this article: Why hiring a more personal logistics company is better for business.

4. How often do they travel the route you require?

Let’s say your parcel or load needs to go to a location that not everyone is familiar with traveling, like Zimbabwe. Does this logistics company travel this route often, or not at all?

If the driver of the cargo is familiar with the route your parcel or load needs to take to arrive at their destination, your goods will be much safer—as the driver will have an idea of all the twists and turns that may come about. This lessens the possibility of surprise obstacles or unknowns that could hinder the delivery process, ensuring a smooth, timely and efficient journey.

5. What additional services are offered?

Except for just transporting your goods from A to B, what other services can the company provide? There are many transport companies out there, but not all of them offer a full-stack service that completely takes care of the entire end-to-end logistics process.

If your parcel needs to be delivered somewhere that crosses the country’s borders, do they help with customs and clearing to get your goods into the country, or is that completely up to you to handle? Can they provide additional advice or recommendations on the transportation of your goods, to ensure a smoother transit?

By asking these questions to the transport and logistics company you want to hire, you’ll be better equipped to make the best decisions for your business and ultimately ensure the successful transport and delivery of your goods.

If you have any other questions you think would be worth asking a transport and logistics company you may want to hire, feel free to comment them below!