I attended a Safety Indaba at a company selling parts for trailers. That sounds like something anybody would like to do for a Saturday morning. I had no clue…

First of all: The company (TSE BigMax. Google it) is the biggest trailer spare parts company in SA. And we are talking these things: ….Not these things.  So, it is B2B and not for people like me and the Venter.

 The main thing about this Indaba was that the audience (minus me!) knew what it was all about. But I will try to convey some of the messages, and some of it is scary.

First of all:   At   any given road   block, looking at trucks only, there   might be a failure rate of up to 67%. That means that only 1/3 of all trucks and trailers on the road are fully in order. Some are even  pulled off the road. Right there. Imagine the bill for a tow truck for one of those 18-wheelers we see in American movies. Yes, that is a cost factor.

What is the major problem then? It is about costs. If there are fewer things to transport, the transport companies will fight for the same client. And that means: Who has got the lowest price. Exactly. So the transport company might get into cost cutting and sacrificing safety. Not all do, OK. But it is a problem within the industry.  So, a trucking company might look at replacing the coils (those coily things from the truck to the trailer, yes, red and yellow things). It is like a hose, but it is a pressure hose. Some are replacing them with something from a watering system for the  garden. Looks the same, BUT hey it will break and then the brakes are gone. And people die in accidents.


Tyres. Obvious. But how many are worn out? Or just ‘wrong’ for the job. Here is another pearl. A tyre
for a trailer or truck is all about ‘heat management’ and ‘roller resistance’. Makes sense if you think about it. So it is not about just a tyre. It is about money.  and   then   the   scary   part   arrived. Failures because of parts failure.  The company had a table full of horror stories. Broken brake pads, broken nuts and bolts, things I didn’t even know existed.

But what was the message really? Except making me jump whenever I am behind a truck and trailer, that is. The message was really something even I can understand: Money. I am a simple person.   I   understand   the   concept   of money and that is what it was all about. One thing is that if you cut costs and your trailer is causing the accident, YOU as the transport company are liable. That can be
very costly. That is so obvious that it hurts. The real story is that if a transporter is going to use inferior parts, it will be more costly in the long run.


Here is an example:

Brakes from company A                  Brakes from Company B

Price                            R650                                                   R750

Durability                     20,000 km                                           40,000 km

Time to replace           4 hours                                                4 hours

Earnings per hour       R5,000                                                R5,000

Now, clever students, who can do the maths?

Example 1: The cost

I pay R1,300 for 40,000 with company A, but only R750 with company B. BUT they are nominally more ‘expensive’. Yeah right?

Example 2: The saving

If I have to use 8 hour per 40,000 km for replacement with company A, but only 4 hour with company B, I have just ‘sacrificed’ (4 * R5,000) = R20,000 for a ‘saving’ of R100. That
makes business sense. Let me phone the cheap one’s.  Can you see the message? ‘Cheap’ may be more expensive. You have to look at multiple factors, not just the pure cost. This is called a Return On Investment (ROI) calculation.

… if this is applied to spare parts for trailers, I might not jump in the seat if I am behind a truck and trailer anymore.