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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

9 trucking businesses that you can choose to venture into in South Africa

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Are you thinking of starting a trucking business? Or you already own a trucking company but would love to explore more opportunities available to you. Well, given that your arrival here is not by mistake, makes it obvious that you are interested in or want to learn more about how to start or expand a trucking business.

The role of trucking companies

Trucking companies are the heartbeat of the road freight industry in South Africa and as such, play a pivotal role to ensure the wheels of the economy keep turning. Trucks are the biggest movers of goods between production, storage, and retail hence there will always be work for trucks in any thriving economy.

The trucking industry makes a significant contribution to the country’s GDP and creates thousands of jobs.

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Understanding the trucking industry

While the transportation industry offers you plenty of opportunities to make a profit, it is also extremely competitive hence every detail is important when you consider whether or not you should grab the opportunity.

There are different sectors within the trucking industry whose operations are not always similar. The same is also true with the required trucks and equipment to operate a successful trucking business.

It may be a good idea to purchase multi-purpose equipment as it provides versatility when the core area of your business hits a snag.

1. Bulk liquid and gases

The transportation of liquid chemicals and food materials requires the use of tankers. There are tankers for different products making the business, a speciality area.

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Companies in this field survive on the evergrowing demand for petrol, diesel, paraffin, and other liquid fuels as the economy grows. Edible oils are also transported in these special tankers.

The logistics of tanker trucks usually means that return loads are scarce as finding another liquid chemical going towards your depot is not easy. 

2. Abnormal Loads

This is another speciality business that you would usually see being run by seasoned truckers but there is always room for beginners. Trucking companies that do abnormal loads require special and expensive equipment.

Experience is a valuable requirement in this type of business considering that the type of cargo involved is abnormal and usually very valuable and costly to replace.

The abnormal load business is dependent on other sectors such as the mining, power generation, farming, and construction industries.

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3. Container freight/Dry bulk

Exports and imports are usually containerised – packed in Customs sealed containers – hence the need for transportation is always there.

In this area, businesses use flat-deck, low bed, tautliner and skeletal trailers. The first two trailers mentioned are the most popular option to use as they can do both container and bulk loads.

Acquiring multi-purpose trailers for container freight is an added advantage against your competitors. After offloading a container, you can use the same trailer to load bulk cargo on your return trip.

The tautliner trailer only does bulk loads and cannot be used to carry containers, while the skeletal trailers are also only used to carry containers.

The Durban Container Terminal remains one of the busiest in Africa which means the container business will be there for the foreseeable future.

Competition is, however, very high within container freight because there are so many small players making it difficult to regulate or negotiate rates.

4. Tipper Division

The tipper division is probably the fastest-growing sector in South Africa fuelled by the continued demand for raw minerals from China and Europe.

Side tipper trucks are used to transport bulk coal, chrome, manganese and other minerals from mines in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Locally, Eskom also needs a constant supply of coal to power the country, this is made possible by tipper trucks that run between mines and their furnaces dotted around the country.

5. Courier Services

Courier businesses are responsible for overnight and door-to-door deliveries. Demand for this trucking service increased in recent times as the public has been forced into buying online due to the Covid-19 movement restrictions.

Given that e-commerce is growing, courier companies will also be riding the same wave.

This sector is massive and has room for a variety of truck sizes from pick-up trucks to heavy-duty vehicles.

6. Auto carriers

Auto carrier trucks are responsible for moving cars from the manufacturing plant to warehouses and showrooms.
The biggest clients are car and truck manufacturers and car rental companies.

Car carriers are used to move vehicles for the export market. Given the large number of vehicle manufacturers in the country, the market presents a genuine opportunity for new investors.

7. Removals

Removal companies are responsible for household furniture removals, office removals and relocation services.

Competition is stiff in the removals business. The equipment required for this business makes it a speciality area with little, to no chance of use for other types of cargo.

8. Heavy-duty recovery

Breakdowns and accidents amongst heavy vehicles are a regular occurrence, and someone should be there to recover the wrecks.

This is another speciality area that requires expensive equipment. Business prospects are high as the number of trucks on our roads continues increasing.

9. Perishable goods transport

Transportation of fast-moving consumer goods or perishables is an evergreen business with constant if not rising demand for service providers.

FMCGs have a short shelf life because of high consumer demand or because they are perishable hence they require fast movement. These goods are purchased frequently, consumed rapidly, priced low, and sold in large quantities. They also have a high turnover when they’re on the shelf at the store.

Refrigerated trucks are used in the agriculture industry to transport farm produce to the market. Meat products also need to be moved between abattoirs and cold rooms and finally to the retailer. 

In conclusion, prospects in the tipper division look more promising than other sectors given the demand for coal and other raw minerals locally and abroad. Tippers are also used for moving goods within the agriculture industry.

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