Don’t fake it, as you won’t make it
The use of fake or knock-off vehicle parts has a significant impact on the freight transport industry in South Africa. Many of these parts are sub-standard, ultimately incurring long-term costs for transport companies.
However, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) cannot engage in the price-cutting that characterises the ‘grey’ market, explains Bearings International (BI) Offer Marketing Manager Victor Strobel. “During economic down turns, and recession, people tend to opt for the cheaper, knock-off parts, without understanding the compromise they are making in terms of their safety, quality and aftermarket support,” he points out.
It is imperative, for end users to choose reputable brands from trusted sources when buying their spares for critical applications, like transport, where your life depends on it,” BI GM Shenton Botes stresses.
The use of Original Equipment (OE) parts has multiple benefits. “non-reputable brand’ market parts have to be replaced more often than OE parts, and are not always supplied with a full warranty,” Botes notes. Hence while using ‘non-reputable brand’ market parts might seem more cost-effective in the short term, in the long run it will end up costing much more.
According to Statistics South Africa, the freight transport industry has seen a quarterly reduction of 4.9%. “There are a number of factors that could have led to the decline in the last quarter, but the biggest contributor for the decline has to do with the increasing fuel price,” Strobel points out.
In addition, the road network needs to be expanded and improved as a matter of urgency. “SANRAL is doing a good job in maintaining the existing road network, but more needs to be done to improve all of our roads, and to expand the network where necessary,” Botes adds. While businesses are already burdened with significant cost increases related to the petrol price and e-tolls alone, Botes cautions that vehicle maintenance cannot be seen as a cost-cutting measure.
As a maintenance and OE supplier, Botes highlights that BI plays a vital role in raising awareness about the negative impact of ‘non-reputable brand’ market parts. “It makes sense that a branded vehicle must only be equipped with similarly-branded components in order to ensure optimal performance and cost-efficiency.”
Furthermore, increasing the tariffs levied on imported ‘non-reputable brand’ parts is a possible remedy on the part of the government in order to protect the local economy and reduce the potential danger on South Africa’s roads. Here OE components can receive preferential treatment in terms of import duties, which will cut down dramatically on the viability of the ‘non-reputable brand’ parts market.
“The Road Accident fund levy has increased from 6% to 12% of the petrol price in the last 10 years, and the fuel levy from 17% to 21% of the petrol price ” Strobel points out. Coupled with violent protest action against service delivery, aimed at long-line Freight Trucks around the country, this has had a long term detrimental effect on the Transport Industry.
Strobel also points out that electric vehicles could play a major role in the freight transport industry going forward. “While we are a few years behind Europe, and the fact that we need to improve our vehicle charging networks, there are some companies looking into long-distance electric trucks, which could change the whole transport industry for the better.”
There remains room for growth in the freight transport industry. If one considers the impact that a company like Uber has had on the private transport sector, Strobel says. “You cannot say there are no growth opportunities in transport. There is definitely a huge potential for growth across the board. All stakeholders, including government and OEMs, need to come together to overcome the challenges facing the industry and the economy in order to unlock this growth,” Botes concludes.