Fri, 30/06/2017 - 12:00
Current Issue 80
Efficient and Economical World-class Commercial Vehicles
The MAN brand has achieved worldwide recognition for efficiency, innovation and customer proximity, gaining the trust of its customers through reliable vehicles and services
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Kane Weller
MAN Truck & Bus South Africa has had the privilege of over two centuries of industrial engineering heritage as part of the world renowned MAN Truck & Bus Group - headquartered in Munich - and a sub-group of the VW Group of Companies.
The Company is incredibly proud of its heritage and particularly its engineering heritage which amasses to more than 250 years, with that the MAN Truck and Bus part of the Group being in existence for as long as the commercial vehicles have been in existence.
Two German entrepreneurs, Meyer and Hiller, began the South African part of the story in 1962 with the assembly of trucks in Pinetown and since then MAN has had an unprecedented presence in the country since then with the addition of various enhancements to production plants, dealership networks and product ranges.
The Pinetown Assembly Plant has been quite the trend setter in the industry when it comes to the way in which it operates, creating the first CO2 neutral truck production in Africa, something that the Company is rightfully very proud of. The Plant boasts a full roof cover of photovoltaic cells, with over 50 percent of the energy produced being fed back onto the grid and therefore reimbursed. This year the Company proudly and deservedly received ISO 50001 status in green development.
“In 2015 our parent Company celebrated 100 years of truck-manufacturing, which subsequently made our South Africa operation one of the oldest truck and bus subsidiary companies outside of Europe” explains Markus Geyer, Managing Director at MAN Truck & Bus South Africa. “While we have an elaborate footprint across the sub-region, we are particularly proud to highlight the opening of our head office in Modderfontein - part of greater Johannesburg - a bus and coach production plant in Olifantsfontein and a chassis assembly plant in Pinetown. The site in Pinetown is in fact located on the same site as the original Meyer & Hiller factory which was renamed MAN Truck & Bus in 1974.”
Given South Africa’s location in a global sense, coupled with the importation laws that are aimed at protecting local employment, the country is required to assemble automotive products locally to avoid significant import duties. MAN Automotive South Africa boast two assembly plants, which are integrated into MAN’s global production network.
“As a Company, we are a proud employer of a significant amount of people in our facilities, which over the years have conformed to the exacting quality standards aligned with our group, while passing on world-class skills to a vast volume of South Africa’s inhabitants,” explains Geyer. “In working closely with our customers, we can consistently tailor-make transport solutions that are possible from our vast automotive platforms, to provide the local industry with value adding solutions that also contribute to the greater economy.”
In the many years since the Company came to fruition, MAN has been accredited with numerous world champion awards for its product innovation; ranging from its proud invention of the diesel engine, along to the very latest offerings sporting Euro 6 emission standards.
Geyer adds: “We continuously aim and succeed in offering a very wide range of trucks and buses that are suitable for a myriad of transport demands of the local logistics companies and passenger transport suppliers.
“Our flagship premium TG truck product range has been enhanced with Euro 5 TGX introduction and the addition of EfficientLine specifications to our TGS long-haul range.”
In order to compete in more of an aggressive manner in the market and particularly the ‘budget’ segment against the prominent Japanese players, the Company has upgraded its CLA range - German engineering which is manufactured in India - with a new cab and transmissions.
In keeping with its regular introduction of innovative and exciting products, the Company has introduced a RR4 480 horsepower flagship coach chassis, which will sport high-end imported bodywork from Brasil.
“We have an extensive after sales offering which will see the introduction of projects such as Ecotrade - a programme which entails a discount for old part returns - Health Check, Senior Truck Card and Driver Rewards, all of which require extremely knowledgeable staff to run,” continues Geyer. “There is a lot of emphasis on training our people, particularly in South Africa where the available skill levels are a challenge.”
In that respect, the Company has a long-term strategy for the development of its employees in South Africa, with particular focus at present on increasing both the technical knowledge and leadership knowledge base with the support of a handful of expats from around the world in order to bring specific trucking knowledge to the market.
Evolving with customer demands
South Africa has a world-class transport and logistics sector, where its local operators have been using telematics systems for many decades. This initially stemmed from the need for vehicle and load securitisation; with more recent times bringing the need for managed scheduling, load delivery tracking and driver behaviour. MAN Telematics, MAN ServiceCare and ProfiDrive are in high demand currently and not only boost the Company profile, but also add a great amount of value to the industry as a whole.
“In South Africa it is a constant challenge for us in the market to evolve in terms of customer demands, and in terms of those demands we are like a first world country,” explains Dave van Graan, Head of Special Sales Projects at MAN Truck and Bus South Africa. “In addition to these challenges, our customers want us to offer more and more tailor-made business solutions.
MAN has recently started up its Ecotrade offering in attempts to better serve its customers, which is the first of its kind to be operating in South Africa. MAN Ecotrade is a concept in which you can return your used MAN genuine parts and get up to a 25 percent discount on new parts, including engines, turbochargers, cooling water pumps, gearboxes, long blocks, injectors, clutch plates, cylinder heads and air compressors.
“This means we are able to offer an even bigger array of benefits to our loyal customers, committing to our customers by providing them with a long-term price advantage,” explains Van Graan.
Upward growth trajectory
MAN Truck and Bus South Africa are incredibly proud to be part of what could arguably be called the largest automotive group in the world, a factor that gives the Company sustainability and the opportunity to draw on the vast resources and synergies possible from such a vast and impressive group of companies.
Geyer affirms: “We are incredibly proud of our heritage and the story of development and success at MAN Truck and Bus South Africa, alongside the plethora of world-renowned products that bring true value to our customers.”
Despite the large scale of the Company, it has worked hard to retain an open and approachable attitude to customer service, remaining humble in its achievements and constantly striving to offer the best possible solutions to its customers from the wide range of options available to it.
Looking forward for the direction of the Company, its predominant aim is to act as an honest, hard-working team who are able to conduct themselves based on the sound values that have enabled it to reach such a high level in the industry.
“Through close proximity to our customers and good teamwork, we will ensure the continual improvement of customer satisfaction and of course a reasonable return for our shareholders,” concludes Geyer. “We wish to remain a strong presence in South Africa and with that always adding value to our stake-holders.
“This will enable to MAN Truck and Bus South Africa to continue its upward growth trajectory and with that ensure the much needed employment and education of the people in this great region, by pulling together we are working very hard to be recognised as the brand of ‘first choice’ in the market.”