From its large, modern facility on the outskirts of Cape Town, ATS (Africa Transport Solutions) has come a long way since its humble origins as a brokering company operating out of a private residence. That was back in 2004, when Jaco Conradie and Johnny Bosch decided to go out alone having spent their working lives in the transport industry.
“Me and Johnny (Bosch) lived in a townhouse and the top floor was our office,” recalls Jaco Conradie. “We could see that there was high demand for better service levels, and we saw an opportunity that if we built our own infrastructure, we could give a level of service that customers needed.”
The pair soon moved their new company to a warehouse, and then bought its first vehicles – three eight-tonne trucks.
“Back when we bought those first trucks, we decided that we’d never let them go too far and all our trucks would sleep in our yard every night. Now we have a fleet of 45 trucks that operate country wide and even internationally, so it’s safe to say we’ve moved on from that one,” recalls Jaco Conradie with a satisfied grin.
With the current fleet, we are running at an average of 2.27 km per litre. With Torque Assist, after around 45,000 kms, it was running at 2.57 km/litre which is a phenomenal improvement.
The majority of ATS’ business is transporting agricultural produce, but it also specializes in consolidated baulk cargo and has a diverse customer base. The company invests significantly in driver training and is constantly looking at ways of improving fuel consumption, which accounts for around 50 per cent of its total costs.
Last year, ATS was given the opportunity to trial Volvo Torque Assist, a new function included in Volvo Trucks’ upgraded D13 diesel engines for Euro 3-5 markets. By automatically adapting the truck’s torque and acceleration according to road topography, load and speed changes, the new feature ensures that the truck drives more efficiently when cruise control cannot be used. It works by cutting any unnecessary torque while still delivering full torque when needed, such as driving uphill.
The biggest beneficiaries of Volvo Torque Assist and the other updates to the new D13 diesel engine range, are operators who transport heavy loads on hilly terrain with large speed variations. Accordingly, ATS used the new truck with Torque Assist on the demanding Cape Town-Johannesburg route, which is characterized by its hills, frequent strong winds and heavy traffic. It did not take long to notice a difference in fuel consumption.
“With the current fleet, we are running at an average of 2.27 km per litre. With the new truck with Torque Assist, after around 45,000 kms, it was running at 2.57 km/litre which is a phenomenal improvement,” says Jaco Conradie.
This translates into a saving of 11.8 per cent, and in monetary terms, a monthly saving of around 11,000 Rand (approx. €660). Apart from saving fuel, Volvo Torque Assist also makes driving easier, particularly on hills.
“Since I started driving with the Torque Assist, I’ve noticed a lot of changes,” says Kudzai Mwoyondewenyu, an ATS driver who joined the profession five years ago after moving to South Africa from Zimbabwe.
You do not lose any momentum when you change gears. It just flows and the whole driving experience is much smoother.
“The accelerator pedal is softer; the steering is almost self-driven. But when you go up a hill, that’s where I first really noticed the difference. You do not lose any momentum when you change gears. It just flows and the whole driving experience is much smoother.”
“All our drivers tell us that the truck is very strong on the uphill and just a much better drive than our existing vehicles,” adds Jaco Conradie. “Considering the huge improvement it has made to our fuel consumption too, we can definitely recommend Volvo Torque Assist.”
Africa Transport Solutions
Fleet: 45 trucks (including 33 Volvo FHs)
Employees: 52 drivers
Operations: Long haul transport across South Africa and into Botswana and Namibia.
Cargo: Predominately agricultural produce (approx. 70 per cent) and consolidated baulk cargo.
Updated D13 diesel engines for Euro 3, Euro 4, Euro 5 and EEV markets
Through a combination new software and hardware updates, Volvo Trucks’ upgrated D13 diesel engine range can enable fuel savings of up to three per cent in long haul operations.
Volvo Torque Assist
New pedal map
Improved turbo charger
V-Shaped oil scraper rings
Engine control unit with updated management system