When it comes to fleet replacement the forecast drives the system. Truck components in semi-knocked-down kits arrive locally through a five-month pipeline of forecasting, ordering, production, packing and shipping. Then after local assembly a truck chassis-cab still requires to be kitted out with a cargo body or equipment that makes it ‘fit for purpose’.

All of this assumes that the supply chain for a new truck is not disrupted anywhere in a six-month pipeline that has been carefully managed over years of operation on just-in-time principles.

Disruptions in the vehicle supply chain have meant that replacement forecasts cannot be met. Modern trucks and cars fairly bristle with electronics and computers and there is a world shortage of semi-conductor chips. Press reports indicate ‘the chip shortage was heightened by the coronavirus pandemic. At first, many companies cut their orders for chips, thinking demand would fall, which led suppliers to reduce capacity. However, demand for consumer electronics rose during the pandemic.’ The boss of networking giant Cisco, Chuck Robbins, has said ‘the shortage of computer chips is set to last for most of this year.

South African truck cargo body builders report a shortage of steel. It is not just the shortage of small semi-conductors holding up the works – the whole logistical chain of getting a truck on the road has been disrupted. There is a 6 to 8 months delay in new vehicle supply.

The tendency is to minimise servicing, repairs, and maintenance on specific units in an existing fleet when replacements are due with new vehicles. Neglect is not a viable culture to introduce into a fleet – where does this stop? Consistent maintenance standards avoid downtime and maintain residual value, this is apart from safety.

If the forecast is murky in the current COVID market turmoil, truck rental makes sense to keep the wheels turning. Whether it is long-term, short-term, or casual hire, Key Hire has a package to suit your requirements.

For more details, please contact Faizal Mohideen at faizal.mohideen@keygroup.co.za or at 031 462 1150.