Vice president delivers truck personally

ERNIE Trautmann, the vice president of Hino SA, who recently obtained his Code 14 truck driving licence, personally delivered a 6×4 Hino 700-Series 2848, the latest addition to the fleet of Transvaal Heavy Transport (THT), to the company’s head office in Alrode. Trautmann is now actively encouraging his colleagues to follow his example and obtain a heavy duty licence.

THT, which has a total fleet of 65 bakkies, freight carriers and truck-tractors as well as more than 100 trailers, is a long-standing Hino customer, having bought the first Hino, a Super Dolphin, in 1986. There are currently 40 Hino trucks in the THT fleet, with the latest additions being two 6×4 700-Series 2848 truck-tractors supplied by Hino East Rand and finished in the company’s distinctive green and red colour scheme.

The company fleet includes the full range of Hino trucks, being six Hino 300-Series/Toyota Dynas, eight 500-Series, 20 700-Series and six Super Dophins. In addition there are 10 Toyota Hilux bakkies and eight Toyota Avanza panel vans.

THT must be one of the longest running privately-owned transport fleets in South Africa, having been established by GHJ Swanepoel in 1961 and registered as a company in 1967. Sampie Swanepoel, the son of the founder and present CEO, joined his father’s business in 1986 and has continued on the very successful path walked by his father from those early days.

THT employs about 160 people, with 60 of them being drivers and another 60 being driver assistants as the policy at the company is to allocate a driver to each specific truck so that he knows he is responsible for it in all aspects of its usage, from servicing to its appearance. The older and more experienced drivers get the latest trucks.

All the vehicles in the THT fleet are fitted with C-Track tracking and telematics systems for real-time monitoring which is proving an advantage for the operations team.

The company specialises in abnormal loads with a wide variety of trailers that can move loads of up to 100 tons. Most of the THT customers are in the mining and construction industries but over the years THT, with its versatile fleet, has undertaken transport contracts for companies and organisations in most sectors of the local economy.

THT operates not only in South Africa, but also in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique with some contracts lasting several months, such as one in Jeffrey’s Bay where THT was responsible for transporting all the huge components for erecting a big wind farm.

THT MD Sampie Swanepoel says that in view of the comparatively short distances travelled each day by his trucks he keeps them for between 10-15 years or one million kilometres, so durability and reliability over a long period are critical and this is one of the main reasons he is so loyal to Hino.

The THT senior executive says he has no trouble getting rid of his used trucks as they are well maintained and regularly serviced by the dealer during the warranty period and after that at the in-house workshop in Alrode. He also quotes good fuel economy and a low lifecycle cost as another reason for buying Hino trucks.

Swanepoel says that dealer support is vital in an operation such as his and on this front he has been dealing with Hino East Rand (previously Pat Hinde Toyota Trucks) in Boksburg since he bought his first Hinos and Toyota Dynas from them in the 1980’s. Swanepoel specifically singles out Garth Middleditch as one of the stars of the helpful Hino East Rand team. Middleditch has been working in the local truck industry for more than 40 years and interacts closely with the THT fleet.

“The relationship between Hino and Swanepoel is very special and includes on-going, two-way feedback on the products he operates,” explained Trautmann. “We take particular note of any criticism coming from THT and, if necessary, feed it all the way back to Hino Motors in Japan to ensure we have even better products in the future.”