Africa|Botswana|Business|Explosives|Freight|Gas|Health|Industrial|Oil And Gas|Petrochemicals|Petroleum|Road|Safety|Systems|transport|Trucks|Products|Solutions|Environmental
Africa|Botswana|Business|Explosives|Freight|Gas|Health|Industrial|Oil And Gas|Petrochemicals|Petroleum|Road|Safety|Systems|transport|Trucks|Products|Solutions|Environmental

Company invests in driver, vehicle management systems

Unitrans chemicals and explosives transport head Bryce Varner and Unitrans business development: petroleum head Ray Singh discuss compliance and its fleet. Camerawork: Halima Frost. Editing: Nicholas Boyd. Recorded: 21.02.2024

15th March 2024

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer


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Specialist transport group Unitrans continues to invest heavily in various event-based in-vehicle management systems (IVMS) to ensure the safety of its drivers, fleet and cargo in its chemicals and petrochemicals bulk transport supply chain businesses.

“Owing to the significant volatility of its cargo, these two business units must maintain high health, safety and compliance standards,” says Unitrans business development: petroleum head Ray Singh.

Driver fatigue and safety concerns are major challenges in the oil and gas freight industry, he adds.

A Unitrans vehicle fitted with an IVMS will ensure that aspects from driver fatigue and irregular braking to speeding and even driver following distances, can be detected, all of which are correlated and monitored at the Unitrans control tower in Cape Town.

Should a driver experience fatigue, an alarm will sound, alerting the driver; this alarm is also sent to the control tower, where it is actioned and recorded for future assessments.

“This is also used when vehicles do not adhere to safe following distances, which could lead to an accident,” adds Singh.

Other macro factors that are monitored by the control tower include environmental situations and civil unrest or protests.

“If we are aware of any protests or civil unrest that may jeopardise our drivers or cargo, we can direct them to a safe place, until it is safe to travel again,” he explains.

In terms of regulations, Unitrans is subject to client- based and industry-based compliance, says Unitrans chemicals and explosives head Bryce Varner.

The company complies with all sector and Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences’ (AARTO’s) road ordinance requirements.

“And then, more specifically, when you operate in the chemical space, chemical sector assessment scheme Safety and Quality Assessment for Sustainability (SQAS) regulations must be adhered to,” he adds.

Varner says that, as a group, Unitrans is accredited by SQAS, and that some of its clients insist on SQAS accreditations or audits of their own, for specific compliance requirements.

Compliance and auditing are heavily emphasised in the industry, with multiple layers of regulations and customer- specific requirements.

Full Fleet

“Unitrans petrochemicals boasts a fleet of over 700 tankers that operate in six Southern African countries, transporting products such as fuels, both diesel and petrol, paraffin and heavy fuel oils, liquefied petroleum gas, liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and liquid argon,” says Singh.

The tanker fleet is used in transporting the fuel from refineries or port to the depots as primary, and then to final customers as secondary, destinations.

Varner says his business unit has a fleet exceeding 370 trucks, which currently transports cargo comprising 60% chemicals and 40% food or food-type products as well as explosives.

“We have 200 vehicles, maybe a bit more, that are focused on the bulk liquid chemical space,” says Varner.

Additionally, the range of products that Unitrans carries can include industrial lubricating oils, acids and polymers, while “transporting chemicals for one of the largest chemicals groups in South Africa is a very big component of what we do”.

These two units within the Unitrans business account for a major portion of Unitrans’ market share, providing supply chain solutions for companies in Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, Varner concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor




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