Safe trucking, the main concern of the Verbessem transport company


Last May, Zelco Logistics and some of their Certified Logistics Auditor and Transport Management students, were invited by a long term client, the Verbessem transport company, located in Kontich-Waarloos, near Antwerp . This familial enterprise distinguishes itself by its stability and consistent growth. It proudly stands for the dictum “Take every opportunity, judge it and realize it”. Mr. Bert Verbessem, company president, summed up the history and policy of his company, and shared with us his vision on road transport, where safety is the greatest concern.

The Verbessem transport company started out during the war with a milk round. Two generations later, they are a not only proud to have clients like Coca Cola, Spa and Decathlon, but they also offer a greater logistics service. We can state in this context that as part of the  collaboration with Coca Cola, a new 13 500 m² stockroom, neighboring the company headquarters was acquired.

Bert Verbessem emphasizes that safety is one of the top priorities in his organization. This is reflected in the focus on training programs for beginning truck drivers, the equipment of the trucks, as well as a road user awareness program. Newly hired employees are enlisted in a coaching program and specific individual training initiatives are set up in order to capture the shortage in the labour market. Within these specific programs , job-seekers receive an internship with the purpose of being offered a permanent contract.

In order to increase the road user awareness, the company actively pursues the cooperation with different authorities such as the local police and community schools. Events are being organized to make children and youngsters aware of the dangers of the blind spot. Other occasions , such as job-events and the local year market are used to address the other generations of road users. As to the equipment  of the trucks, Transport Verbessem’s prime goal is not the whistle and bells but the economic and safety aspects. The trucks received extra rear-mirrors to avoid blind spot accidents and a large part of the fleet is now equipped with automatic distance control. These measures contributed to an even further decrease in incidents at Transport Verbessem.

Within the frame of a cost optimization exercise, Transport Verbessem opted for a scheme to have the trucks run day and night by different drivers. This choice, at first being resisted by a few employees, is now widely accepted within the company. Also in the equipment of trucks, emphasis is put on efficiency. Since several years, Transport Verbessem has chosen for steering shafts (X-steering) on the trailers, resulting in a better load balancing and a consequential improvement of the tire usage.

Besides the concern of the safety aspects, Transport Verbessem also actively uses state-of-the-art technical solutions to support its activities. Systems have been selected that offer a clear added value  to the company without too much interfering with the existing processes. The change to on-board computers was only made at the point that they could support broader functionalities, resulting in a clear step forward for the company and the employees. One of the main advantages was the possibility to follow all trucks in real-time mode. For the planning tool, a software package was selected that supports the structure and processes as already in use since many decades.

Finally, Bert Verbessem also comments on the recent changes in the transport legislation and gives his view on the future of the sector. The application of the legislation on stowage is the source of quite some confusion. In spite of the deployment of other means of transportation and the competition from Eastern Europe , our host remains optimistic about the future of the transport sector. Transport Verbessem mainly aims at the segment of the short distances in which there is almost no competition from these countries. On the contrary : after the sharp decline in available capacity on the Belgian market during the recent economic crisis, the transport sector is now confronted with a shortage instead of an over-capacity.

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