Growing a small business in the increasingly difficult global economic climate is not easy. Despite the small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) industry being a big driver of employment and economic growth for South Africa, many of these businesses face several challenges during the start-up phase.
Oliver Naidoo, Managing Director of SANAS-accredited certification body JC Auditors (JCA), says early implementation of credible standards and certifications can accelerate the progress of a business overcoming some of these challenges. “Certification to the Road Transport Management System (RTMS) promotes safety, compliance and efficiency in a commercial fleet -regardless of the size. Along with ISO standards, these are proven mechanisms that enable a business to achieve safety, efficiency and cost gains,” he says.
RTMS is an industry-led, government-supported, voluntary, self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignors and road transport operators to implement a set of standards that demonstrate compliance with road traffic regulations and contributes to preserving road infrastructure, improving road safety and increasing productivity. ISO standards are internationally agreed upon by experts and manage various systems within a business, with the core goals of risk mitigation, continual improvement and promoting business sustainability.
Annah Ngxeketo, Managing Director of Mamoja Trading & Projects, says the decision to implement management systems from the ‘get-go’ delivered unforeseen results to the fledgling transport company.
Based in Marikana in the North West Province, Mamoja has signed some of South Africa’s biggest mining houses to its books since becoming RTMS and ISO 9001 accredited, within a year of starting its operations.
“As a business, we understood the need for standards and systems. The decision to align ourselves with international standards has, however, opened more doors than we ever envisioned. The JC Auditors integrated audit approach was most efficient and instead of 2 separate audits, we had a single audit, which made the process so much smoother,” says Ngxeketo. “It has proven to be critical for our growth, as it has placed us alongside some of the biggest transport companies in the country: we now ‘tick the same boxes’ as they do.”
Not only has the accreditation delivered more work to the business, but it has also delivered a host of other benefits such as reduced downtime, improved fuel consumption and operating efficiency.
“Ever since becoming accredited, everyone in Mamoja has ‘lived the systems’. We have seen a real improvement in our efficiency and operating profits. Our truck downtime has decreased significantly, as has the number of breakdowns. This goes hand-in-hand with maintenance that is now far more pro-active.”
Other benefits include a reduction in traffic violations and traffic incidents. Driver behaviour has also seen a major improvement, adds Ngxeketo.
“The health of our drivers is far better, as we are now keeping track of the number of hours they are behind the wheel. RTMS has also made a difference in their confidence levels. Our drivers are proud of sporting the RTMS yellow badge on the trucks they are driving. This, in turn, has resulted in improved driving.”
According to Ngxeketo, RTMS has been worth the effort and the investment – putting Mamoja on an upward trajectory moving it toward its strategic goal of becoming one of the country’s largest platinum transporters.
According to Oliver, JCA has been conducting RTMS certification audits since 2007 and has witnessed first hand the performance improvements in companies such as Mamoja. “RTMS certification involves a two-stage audit process as per the ISO 17021 standard which is the international standard applicable to all certification bodies. The audits are based on a sample population of trip data, vehicle history, driver information, telematics data, policies and procedures,” he explains.
Compliance requires that a company demonstrates that it manages its transport operations with due consideration to road safety, compliance and operational risks. The RTMS processes are developed so that procedures are compiled and consistently implemented to minimise the risks identified.
“A fundamental RTMS requirement is the need to incorporate a safe culture within the operation. This often requires a change in attitude, mindset and driving behaviour. This culture change is crucial considering South Africa’s unacceptably high crash rates, especially of recent times. It is thus very encouraging to see the emerging transporters actively embrace good governance in their businesses.” concludes Oliver.