The heavy transportation sector is the veritable lifeblood of South Africa’s economy, with goods transported daily by thousands of trucking fleets on the country’s roads. It is therefore the reliability and safety of these heavy transport vehicles upon which our nation’s future economic growth is predicated. Essential to this reliability and safety is the quality of the aftermarket components with which these vehicles are fitted.

A leading supplier of premier OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) aftermarket components to the heavy transport sector for the past 20 years, Johannesburg-based Transportation Components emphasises the importance of quality, safety and consistency of supply at all times.

“From the outset in 1998, we have never sacrificed quality for price. When we look at a new product to add to our range, there are three things we consider: safety, reliability and if there is a consistent supply from the OEM,” explains Transportation Components Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Andre Gouws.

Currently, Transportation Components’ four main focal areas and relevant OEMs are:

  • Cooling (Borg Warner, Kit Masters, Behr)
  • Suspension (SEM Lastik)
  • Friction material/brakes (Duroline, Eren)
  • Clutch systems (Eaton)

The business features a complete ‘parts portfolio’ offering in each of these focus areas, with products which are also considered the ‘gold standard’ in their sectors.

To ensure optimal availability and the shortest possible lead-times, Transportation Components has developed a comprehensive footprint of distributors and resellers throughout South Africa.

“Even away from the urban centres, wherever there is an aftermarket component requirement, we have someone who can order the part and have it delivered to the customer within 24 hours,” asserts Gouws.

To ensure consistent quality, Transportation Components’ international OEMs such as Borg Warner, SEM Lastik and Duroline carry out rigorous and routine quality testing, and are ISO-rated. In line with this quality ethos, Transportation Components also has an in-house testing facility and tests components on a regular basis.

However, the heavy transportation industry is very competitive and fleet procurement departments are under fierce pressure to save costs. Nevertheless, Gouws points out that when buying a part for a couple of thousand rand, for a vehicle costing R1.8 million, cost-saving should not be the sole consideration.

He explains: “In buying the cheapest component possible, fleet owners need to be aware that they well could be sacrificing quality for price. This not only results in a shorter product lifespan, but also a diminished interval between repairs and costly downtime.

Inferior quality parts fitted to heavy vehicles are a critical risk factor – as there is the real potential of costly damage to the vehicleas a result of a component failure – or worse still, an accident in which people are critically or fatally injured.”

Gouws adds that Transportation Components has a vital educational and awareness role to play in this regard, within the component supply and heavy transportation sectors.

“Fleet owners need to be made fully aware of the quality of parts that are being fitted to their vehicles; and that they could be paying a premium for lesser quality and safety in the long run,” he says.

Sometimes, it is very difficult to differentiate between parts supplied by a second-tier manufacturer from the genuine OEM component – as the second-tier manufacturer has used an OEM part creating the mould for their products, Gouws explains. Because the raw material used in the manufacture of second-tier part is often inferior, that part will have a shorter life span and may not perform as well as the original OEM part. “When it comes to heavy vehicle brakes, for example, this is a critical consideration,” he emphasises.

The reason that Transportation Components is able to offer original parts at competitive prices is that they effectively shorten the supply chain between the OEMs and the end-user. In the mainstream parts supply chain, there are a number of separate businesses involved.

“With Transportation Components, the difference is that we can supply directly from premier international OEMs such as Borg Warner, Behr and Duroline; and still retain all the original warranties and excellent after-sales support: for example, in the expediting of warranty claims,” he continues.

In addition, Transportation Components will examine the component to determine the cause of the failure.

“As we are very much the ‘face’ of our OEMs here in South Africa, we need to take responsibility for sorting out any issues to the customer’s satisfaction, effectively providing our valued customers with the shortest possible route to the OEM.

By taking responsibility, and handling any customer queries thoroughly and diligently, the company had been able to retain many loyal customers.

“We would never want to be seen as simply being ‘box-droppers’, as this would mean we were not providing premier quality to our customers, which is one of our key differentiators,” he adds.

“But even beyond quality, safety and consistency of supply, Transportation Components’ over-arching concern is ultimately to ensure the lowest possible cost-per-kilometre forevery heavy vehicle fleet operator in South Africa,” Gouws concludes.