With its diverse fleet capability, customised equipment and highly trained drivers, the Alexander Group is trusted to transport hazardous goods across New Zealand’s transport networks every day. They’re responsible for some essential services like getting oxygen supplies to our hospitals, to delivering the CO2 that keeps our milk factories operating. The group celebrated 50 successful years in the industry in 2021, and they’re in full growth mode as they enter 2022. What’s the secret to their success?
Navigating supply chain disruptions is all in a day’s work for Transport Manager Damon Bryant, “It's a little bit like being in a boxing ring. You've always got to be on the front foot”.
For Damon, the key to making it work is keeping his customers up to date “to do that, and do it well, you need to inform them to the best of your ability so that they know what's going on.” MyEROAD is vital, providing full fleet visibility so Damon can see where any of his trucks are at any time and when they expect to arrive – helping him provide up to the minute information to his customers where needed, “there's so much in there at your fingertips and it’s really well thought out.”
The nature of what they transport means that Alexander Group’s drivers have to go through rigorous training, with a significant focus on safety, “it involves between four to six weeks for each driver and they all have to be signed off through vocational training”, says Damon.
It’s a whole different world when you’re hauling tanks of inert gases around the country, “driving a truck is probably only about 40% of the job. The rest of the time it's actually being a scientist behind the back of the trailer” adds Damon.
Although transporting hazardous goods might sound challenging, Damon has no doubt that his drivers are extremely capable, “we've got a really good team, they are very, very good at what they do and they know a lot about what they do”.
In fact, the drivers are so good at Alexander Group that sometimes it’s hard to determine who’s the top driver in the fleet for the Alexander Advantage Awards – an internal reward program that recognizes excellence, customer service and safety. They use EROAD’s Leaderboard to rank the safest drivers, which Damon says can be tricky with so many excellent drivers “When I look up the leaderboard, it blows me away. We have just got so many five star drivers it gets tricky to actually say, well, who we gonna rank as the top performing driver for the month.”
When your trucks are speed limited to 90 kmh, it’s easy to say there shouldn’t be any speeding alerts anyway but as Damon says “there would be nothing stopping them doing 70kmh in a 50kmh area. But these guys are doing 50kmh in a 50kmh area. We don't see any infringement. This is just the way it is, it's great.” And that’s not all. The drivers at Alexander Group take huge pride in the trucks they drive too. Damon is constantly impressed, adding “these guys have almost an in-house competition to see who's got the cleanest truck. It's just really neat to see that they take a lot of pride in what they do”.
Our roads can be dangerous though, even for five star drivers. Having the data to quickly exonerate drivers is invaluable in the event of an accident. Something Damon knows too well after one of their drivers was recently forced off the road by another truck, brushing the side of a bridge and putting a couple of dents in the trailer.
Together with the truck’s camera footage, the location and activity data from MyEROAD and the drivers electronic Logbook history, they were able to prove without a doubt that their driver wasn’t at fault. “It’s nice to know that you've just got all that information at your fingertips to actually go back and get the lay of the land. No one can argue, no one can tell you that didn't happen,” adds Damon.
Reflecting on his experience outside of Alexander Group, Damon knows that some drivers don’t like the idea of being tracked or monitored, but he also knows how powerful EROAD’s data can be, “I’ve actually been in a couple of meetings where guys have said ‘oh Big brother's watching me. You can't do this, and you can't do that’. I said yeah, OK, well that's maybe how you do view it. But one day, just one day you may actually need all that information on your side, and it'll be the best information you could ever get your hands on. It could be a tool to actually help you. There's no two ways about it.”
When you’re transporting goods for tens of thousands of kilomteres every week, you need to make every kilometer count. Using EROAD’s route optimisation tool, together with other data in MyEROAD, Damon is able to find smarter ways of doing things and save costs, something which benefits them and their customers, “Route optimization is obviously a good thing to have. It saves the customer money, and saves us money at the same time.”
After recently doing some analysis on the ISO container business, Damon is getting ready to review the tanker fleet, “I think this will be where EROAD will come into its own. I've got a couple of tankers going down to lower North Island every week and they do appear to be doing a fair bit of zig zagging, so we’re able to pull that information in-house, look at historical stuff and say right, well, how do we do things smarter going forward.”
Idle time is another vital metric they use to measure their fleet efficiency. Wondering why he was seeing an increase during Auckland’s lockdown, Damon zeroed in on the data in MyEROAD to understand what was going on. “We watched the idle time increase by 4%. We were just trying to work out, what's happened? What's going on? And then I started zeroing in on it. With COVID lockdown, it was a lot of our drivers sitting, waiting to get through the border.”
It’s been a big year for the Alexander Group as they celebrated 50 years in business. With their strong focus on safety and looking after their drivers, it was fitting that they marked the occasion by adding a brand new Scania S770 to their fleet. Equipped with one of the most efficient engines on the market - the V8 Euro-6 engine and all the latest safety features including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and vulnerability alert.
In EROAD’s Road to Sustainability Report, 56% of heavy fleets expect to meet Euro 6 standard emissions by 2025. As businesses like Alexander Group look to reduce emissions, the superior fuel efficiency from the Euro 6 engine make it a viable option. The difference between the Euro 6 engines and the rest of their fleet is huge, says Damon, “some of the fuel burn is really impressive. I mean, obviously with the tanker fleet, we're only one way loaded majority of the time, so it's not fair to say that we're fully loaded everywhere we go. But these trucks are returning up to 2.5 to 2.8 kilometres per litre. I mean as a driver I struggled for years and years to get over 1.9.”
They plan to add another 40 of Scania’s low emission models to their fleet soon.
Logistics is vital to keep our country moving, and there are always fresh challenges to overcome, as Damon says, “supply chain logistics, it's a changing world.” EROAD is helping Alexander Group and other logistics businesses to overcome those challenges by providing accurate data in real-time that can improve safety, efficiency and customer service, as Damon says “whether it’s for insurance purposes, speeding alerts, idle times, route optimizations or staff recognition with the leaderboard. There's so much you could be doing with the whole thing”
Damon is convinced that EROAD is an essential tool for any business running a fleet, “it can save your business so much on the bottom line, just by having the view of what your fleet and your drivers are doing”
Asked why they choose EROAD over other providers, Damon said “there's so many on the market, but this is the tried, proven and trusted one in my mind.”
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