The company’s Durban bakery received RTMS accreditation last year. Premier foods, being an FMCG company founded in 1820, operates 16 bakeries, 3 wheat mills, 2 maize mills, and a sugar confectionery plant. The company has 24 distribution depots across South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.
It operates in excess of 1 400 vehicles, of which the bakeries side comprises in excess of 1 200 vehicles. The company decided to pilot the Durban bakery to get RTMS accreditation at the beginning of 2015. This operation has a fleet of 55 vehicles, with bread delivered inland as far as Newcastle, up the north coast to Jozini and down the south coast as far as Port Shepstone.
The company received RTMS accreditation in July 2015, becoming the first bakery in South Africa to achieve such. Pretorius explains the road to accreditation, “To us, RTMS is the 101 of transport. It’s about us showing the public that we following the best practice of transport; that we care. The challenges we faced at Premier, in receiving accreditation, started with downloading the SANS document, which is daunting to read through. We had to understand the document completely and then look at the current processes employed by the company and align them accordingly. At the time, we believed our processes were on par and that we were measuring them properly. We thought we were doing everything 100% correctly until we started to dig into it and realised we had room for improvement.
“We had to ensure our staff bought into RTMS. We had to train some of the drivers and distribution staff on what RTMS is and how it works. Getting accreditation is not so difficult if you have most of the processes in place already, but living RTMS requires a relentless focus on daily execution; you cannot let anything slip – you have to measure, monitor and manage all the aspects of the elements.
“We didn’t become RTMS-accredited because we had pressure from customers or from the government. We didn’t do it to gain any new business, we looked at RTMS and all its criteria and realised it covers all aspects of transport. We decided to go with RTMS because it aligned with the company’s values and strategies. It also gave us the luxury of looking at Performance Based Standards (PBS).
“It is the right thing to do for any responsible transport company. It gives us better control over driver hours, speeding, vehicle maintenance, driver wellness, document administration, training, and improves under- and over-loading efficiencies, as well as risk management.
“We have seen a reduction in accidents, which is also important in terms of the company’s image. We have also seen a reduction in traffic violations and a small improvement in fuel consumption through improved driver behaviour. RTMS ensures a healthy vehicle lifespan, with minimal vehicle breakdowns, due to the stringent maintenance procedures that one needs to follow. It also ensures that we get our products to our customers on time. We are actively promoting skills development for both our drivers and management and reducing the amount of under-loading.
“The reduction in accidents comes mainly from improved communication with drivers, including newsletters and ‘Driver of the Month’ and ‘Driver of the Year’ awards. Every month, we get the drivers together and do a presentation and discuss the figures. We’ve introduced a ‘Safety tip of the Month’, which ensures that drivers remain focused on their driving behaviour. We also use a sticker on the back of the vehicles asking the public to report bad driving. We record and create reports from these calls, as there is a link between the number of calls and accident rates. Accidents always occur around the time when the number of calls received increases.
“RTMS will improve your business if you manage it well. Based on that, we’ve decided to use it as a framework across all our bakeries and depots. This will align our distribution personnel and allow us to move people within the company to meet operational needs. We aim to have the same standard across all bakeries and depots. Once this is in place, we’ll more easily be able to audit the different sites, based on how well they comply with RTMS,” Pretorius concludes.
Article first appeared in Transport World Africa: