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Monday, February 26, 2024
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Truck and Fleet Awards Review: And the vote goes to…

The inaugural Truck and Fleet Awards was a night of surprises and celebration in Dubai

Opening the voting for the inaugural Truck and Fleet Awards meant that this was a night where the transportation and logistics industry got a true picture of which are the most valued trucks, products and operators in the market.

Taking place at the Raffles Dubai, the event represented the culmination of a three-month process where the industry was invited to vote in a number of categories. Almost 2,000 people voted prior to the evening across awards such as the Heavy, Medium and Light Duty Trucks of the Year.

The evening was kick-started by Renault Middle East president Gregoire Blaise who urged the industry to remain positive and work closely to continue to raise standards in the market.

The list of nominees and winners read like a who-who’s of the industry and T&FME head of content Stephen White told the audience that he hoped the Awards can establish themselves “as a rallying point to celebrate the professionalism of transportation and logistics and all the other forms of mobility we are seeing in the region.”

He added: “Frankly, I have been blown by the response we have had in the market. I never expected that we would have nearly 2,000 people voting.  Every single one of the companies, including those that didn’t make the final shortlist, should be incredibly proud that people in not just their dozens but hundreds consider their product or company worthy of their support. So well done one and all!

“I think every nominee exhibit the very best in fleet management or technology that we have here. And in many cases, I think, they exceed standards that you expect in other mature markets.”

Truck Bodybuilder of the Year
Winner: ATLAS – Al Shirawi Equipment Company
Nominees: Bin Jabr Enterprises, Gorica, Naz Industries LLC (Mammut), Schmitz Cargobull

Trailer and truck bodybuilders define or redefine the capability and productivity of a fleet operation.

They are the ones that step in to refine what a fleet really needs when it is on the purchasing journey. This award recognised best practice and outstanding levels of customers service. With such a high quality field of nominees, this was an appropriately tough category to win but in the end ATLAS – Al Shirawi Equipment Company was the overwhelming winner, a company that offers a full range of local support including procurement, specification and design – and has secured a partnership with one of the biggest truck launches of the past year.

“We were one of the first bodybuilders in the UAE, starting 47 years back. And over the years, we have revamped with adding more product lines and state-of-the-art technology, one of the biggest factories we have in the region. We plan to expand across the region towards the greater Africa and Middle East region. We’re still investing in the business and have a bright future,” said Azeem Jamal, global sales manager, Transport Equipment, Al Shirawi Equipment Company.


Distributor of the Year
Winner: Al Shirawi Enterprises
Nominees: Al Naboodah – Swaidan Trading, Emirates Motor Company (EMC), Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Ltd. (HHA), United Diesel – Al Rostamani Group

Distributor or Importers are the most critical link when it comes to buying new trucks or keeping your fleet on the road, and are the ultimate middle men and build relationships over years and decades with both manufacturers and fleets. They are the ones that pick up the phone in your fleet’s hour of need. The industry was asked which distributor goes over and above expectations and helps your fleets become an uptime champion? The winner Al Shirawi Enterprises has attained GULF SQAS Assessed Company status and was won the RoSPA Fleet Safety Gold award two years running while helping reduce the average age of fleets to 2.06 years. It is also one of the UAE’s oldest companies.

“This award is the fruit of many years of hard work and big investment. It’s not my award but for the whole team because I believe in teamwork. We have a very professional team working in the market and in the field. They have done a great job by sustaining, our customers old and new. We’re expecting big challenges, because the competition is increasing and that’s why we have to double our efforts and double our attention and investments in order to sustain our market share,” said Sameer Salamoun, general manager, Al Shirawi Enterprises.

Tyre Technology Provider of the Year
Winner: Bridgestone
Nominees: Apollo Tyres, Continental, Goodyear

Tyre technology is truly under pressure to deliver safe and fuel-saving travel, but the industry is moving beyond providing just rubber to the market. As such, this award recognises innovation in these areas as well progress in helping to make cities smarter and safer for everyone. The award was one of the hardest fought categories with the nominated companies scoring triple figure votes from the industry. The winner Bridgestone is well-established across the Middle East but as proof of its smart mobility credentials, it is testing its tyres in Egypt to see how far a fleet of 13 electric vehicles can go in the chaotic streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

“I think we continue to surprise and believe in tyre technology. We think technology and quality is the number one priority for our product. We continue to spend time and money to achieve that. This year, sustainability will be our main focus,” said Bridgestone regional tyre technical head Yasuhiro Ueyama.

Waste Management Fleet of the Year
Winner: Suez Middle East Recycling
Nominees: Averda, BEEAH Group, Imdaad

The UAE has recently taken some major steps in its progress towards its net zero target of 2050, not least pledging $163 billion to invest in renewable energy. Be under no illusions, this is a serious undertaking on a national scale driven in part by its desire to meet its commitments within the international community but also diversify its economy.

At the forefront of this drive are the growing number of private waste management firms that serve its cities and communities.  The challenge for fleets is how to balance being green with being profitable. In 2021, Suez Middle East Recycling embarked upon a two-year project to strengthen the position as market leaders and have the best and safest fleet of vehicles in the GCC region. Drawing from its vast experience of global fleet management across 6 continents, it is taking this global knowhow to the local level to succeed.

“Fleet management is part of the group’s international to have good fleet safely and the best fleet we can have. We have a good maintenance strategy and perhaps the safety features of our fleet is much bigger or better than most of fleets in the other region. We operate in very congested areas and have recently started a programme to fix sensors to our vehicles, including 360 degree cameras and driver monitoring systems. We take care of our people and take care of the public because we realise that at there are dangers when we drive. We take precautions and safety measures to ensure that people who interact with us are safe,” said Ajay Kumar, general manager, Suez Recycling Middle East.

Van of the Year
Winner: MB Sprinter
Nominees: Ford Transit, Isuzu D-Max, Maxus V80, Nissan Urvan, Renault Master

There is no doubt that the rise of e-commerce and online shopping has made Vans more popular than ever in the region. This is award celebrated the ever-flexible van’s role in the SME, retail and hospitality spaces. This was another award that inspired a lot of votes on the Truck and Fleet Awards website but in the end the winner garnered over 40% of the votes. The winner, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, was one of the first modern vans to be launched in the market, and is a vehicle that is known as both a cargo carrier and a people carrier. It is also a van that always seems to be in a hurry.

“The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is the flagship of our portfolio. And this is another confirmation that it is very well recognised in Middle East and very well recognised all over the world. We are a pioneer in technology and we set standards for safety for comfort and for luxury in the entire segment. This year is burdened by the shortages in semiconductors all over the automotive industry, but we are still sure that we are going to continue with the success of Sprinter. And to find new ways how to serve the market as best as possible,” said company spokesperson Borko Leposavic, regional sales manager for Mercedes Benz Cars, MENA.

Logistics Fleet of the Year
Winner: DSV
Nominees: Aramex, CSP Abu Dhabi, DHL, FedEx

The Logistics Fleet of the Year award recognised the fleets that have been on the frontline ever since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring our shop shelves stayed full, our homes and families stayed safe and hospitals stayed open. With the worst of the pandemic now over, all the nominees here continue to place the region and the UAE particular at the heart of global trade

DSV has continued to invest in its fleet expansion programme with safety placed at the very forefront of its strategy. It is also continuing to innovate in digitally-enabled freight forwarding, and ecommerce logistics.

“DSV is one of the leading transport companies in the region and the third biggest in the world in Freight forwarding. We have placed a lot of investments into technology, into developing our tools and equipment by working with manufacturers to improve the equipment and machines, as well as improve our sustainability and carbon footprint. We were the first to implement advanced safety features in the Middle East as we believe driver safety is a priority. Improving our carbon footprint helps us to improve our bottom line while supporting our clients at the same costs,” said Mohammed Jabar, global transport and logistics managing director, DSV

Achievement in Fleet Mobility
Winner: SAF HOLLAND TRAKR
Nominees: FLEETBOARD, Goodyear, Location Solutions, Realogik

The Achievement in Fleet Mobility award recognised an innovator and disrupter who has proven it can bring new types of mobility and transport to market in the past 18 months. The award also recognised solutions that can make the biggest impact to a fleet’s bottom line.

SAF HOLLAND is a company that has developed a system that reduces CO2 Emissions and promises noise cancellation, electrical power Generation while driving. Helping trailers convert their kinetic energy to electrical energy.

“We are very innovative in regards to axles and suspension for trailers. And with this solution, we are reducing the CO2 and noise. And of course, we are reducing the diesel consumption for the fleet owners,” said Jean Khoury, managing director, SAF Holland Middle East.

Heavy Fleet of the Year
Winner: Momentum Logistics
Nominees: Al Faris, Oryx Mix, Sijimix, Western Bainoona Group

The all-important Heavy Fleet of the Year Award, which recognises those fleets that operate in the harshest of conditions. These fleets drive the biggest trucks because they have face the biggest challenges day in and day out. This award recognised the fleet operators in the region who are increasingly needing to meet stricter client and regulation demands, as well as balance the books in a highly competitive market.

Momentum Logistics is a company that has been undergoing a fleet renewal campaign during one of the most challenging market climates for a generation. It has placed its drivers first by deploying the latest safety technology as well as taking a forensic approach to building up its fleet and maintaining its profitability. All huge challenges for fleets in its part of the market.

“We believe in profitable growth with brand-new equipment throughout the region. Not only the UAE but the rest of the GCC. We believe that the growth is based on the acquisition of new trucks. This is great recognition from the industry so that we can continue for the next few years to invest in new Fleet to minimise the cost of operations and at the same time be reliable for our customers.  sometimes being reliable with our customers. We have major plans of expanding in the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia. And again, growing the fleet of heavy-duty trucks is the solution to our profitability and excellence,” said Wilfried Hugebaert, managing director, Momentum Logistics

Middle East Launch of the Year
Winner: Renault Trucks Middle East – TCK Evolution
Nominees: Allison Transmission – Xfe, Iveco – Way Range, MAN TG Range, UD Trucks – Croner/Quester – Euro V

Despite the disruption and challenges caused by Covid, manufacturers have continued to bring their newest trucks and technology to the region. All the shortlisted companies were commended for their commitment to the market and finding new ways to keep new technology coming to the Middle East. Renault Trucks launched its latest range last year by taking to the internet. When they realised they couldn’t do test drives for the world’s media because of Covid, they launched it in a video game. Since then it has been running a campaign of physical launches throughout the regional network.

“Due to the covid-19 pandemic, we have had to be quite innovative with this launch worldwide, all based online, with some video games, and a lot of engagement and commitment, with our customers and partners as well. The launch was a full range evolution – TCK. This was mainly about driver comfort, fuel efficiency, and robustness, which is really our range’s main asset especially in the tough Middle East climate and applications. We making these trucks available in the market this year. We still have a lot of market share growth to be achieved,” said Gregoire Blaise, vice president, Renault Trucks Middle East

Medium Duty Truck of the Year
Winner:
Mercedes-Benz Atego 1726
Nominees:
DAF LF, Hino 500, Isuzu F-Series, Renault Trucks D, UD Trucks Croner – Euro 5

The Medium Duty Truck of the Year award recognised the growing importance to fleets in the region of medium duty trucks in a variety of sectors including construction, logistics and waste management. This was one of the closest categories in terms of votes reflecting the high quality of entrants for our first Medium Duty award. In the end, the winning truck, the Mercedes-Benz Atego 1726 is a 4×4 powerhouse that packs an Automatic Transmission with 6 forward gears and 1 reverse gear and proves that being all torque is no bad thing when you’re taking on the desert.

“This is 17t vehicle with a 6-Speed gearbox, four-wheel drive configuration. So it’s often used in in applications off-road desert applications can be used also as a bus for staff transport. We are also offering this vehicle now with Allison Transmission which is taking away stress from the driver and making it even easier to drive in desert and in off-road situations. We want to bring up this category of medium duty trucks and this product will complement our Actros and Arocs range that everybody knows. Atego is medium duty, but we will also bring the Zetros and Unimog vehicle. So we will complement our complete range here in the region and find the best truck for the application,” said Olaf Petersen, general manager, Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA FZE

Bus & Coach of the Year
Winner: MAN Lion’s Coach
Nominees: Ashok Leyland Falcon, Ashok Leyland Oyster, Siemens & Hafilat Electric Bus, Volvo 7900

Vital to public transport, private travel and hospitality, buses and coaches are the work horses of passenger transportation in the region. This award celebrates getting people from A-to-B safely, comfortable and efficiently. In a truly a closely fought battle by two of the biggest names in the segment. Second place Volvo 7900 lost narrowly by just a few votes which in its electric form is one of the quietest and advanced vehicles in the market. The winner, the MAN Lion’s Coach is already a multiple award winner and for a quarter of a century has become known for its performance, reliability and sustainability,

“We have proven that our transport solution in trucks and buses are providing our customers, and our customers customers the best in class solutions today. Transport safety on the road, comfort in public transport, connectivity: all the elements counting today in the transport business. I’m very happy and it’s a very prestigious award for us. And we also looking forward into the future because everybody is talking about change in the industry. You can transport money on the internet today, but you can’t transport people. The Transport of goods and people on a wheel is still a future-oriented transport solution. And this is underlining that we are future-oriented,” said Joerg Mommertz, regional head of Middle East Africa and Latin America, MAN Truck and Bus

Light Duty Truck of the Year

Winner: Isuzu N-Series
Nominees: Ashok Leyland Partner, FUSO Canter – Euro 5, Fuso eCanter, Hino 300

The final vehicle award of the evening, the Light Duty Truck of the Year, featured a list of nominees that demonstrate how the online shopping boom has accelerated sales in the past two years. This was a category that recognised the growing importance to fleets in the region of light duty trucks and the contribution they are making to exciting sectors such as SMEs, urban and last mile deliveries, retail and hospitality. With LCVS proving their worth to more fleets than ever particularly in the retail and food distribution sectors, the winner, the Isuzu N-Series has found its niche as a competitive option for fleets that need to move quickly and efficiently.

“The light duty commercial segment of the market is a very competitive segment. It has a key role in infrastructure and the FMCH segment. It’s moving eCommerce. Literally, especially during the pandemic which has been a huge demand for commercial easy moving, quick delivery vehicles within the marketplace. I’m actually very surprised that we got it because it’s a very competitive segment of the market. We’ve got good reliability and durability. And we’ve been here for many, many years. So yes, we are here to stay for longer,” said Anton du Plessis, general manager, Isuzu Vehicle Sales, GENAVCO

Outstanding Manufacturer of the Year
Winner: Scania
Nominees:
DAF, Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA, Hyundai Motor Company, MAN Truck and Bus, Renault Trucks Middle East, Schmitz Cargobull, UD Trucks

One of the undoubted major awards of the evening, the Outstanding Manufacturer of the Year award accumulated some of the largest number of votes out of all the open categories. It was also one of the hardest to create a shortlist for with many of the nominees racking up hundreds of votes each with all the OEMS and manufacturers that featured in the vote are constantly pushing forward innovation in the market. This award recognised new technology, products and services to improve profitability, efficiency and safety in the market. The question to the industry was simple: who is doing the most to deliver products that enable fleets to expand their business in the region? The winner Scania continues to push the envelope in terms of innovation with its determination to make our roads safer and greener.

“Winning the manufacturer of the year, it’s just confirming the quality of the vehicles that are present in the Middle East markets and our ambition to actually beat the journey to sustainable transport. We have a great product and definitely people within not just us but all our partners within the region. There’s a strength in the relations we have with the customers. Of course, we are coping with the current situation when it comes to lack of components on the market, so we are really trying to find solutions for the customers waiting for the trucks and to keep them happy,” said Marián Černoch, managing director, Scania Middle East

Excellence in Fleet Safety Award
Winner: STS Group
Nominees: DSV, Schmitz Cargobull, Suez Middle East Recycling

This was a special award that was open to both fleets and manufacturers, and any company in the transportation and fleet space that has committed to improving fleet safety in the region. From dedicated driver programmes, operational initiatives, technology solutions, all the nominees shared a dedication to setting a benchmark for others to follow. STS Group sets an example to its peers when it comes to being safer. It is fully committed to providing quality transportation by maintaining the highest level of safety, outstanding customer service, while rewarding drivers for adhering to the strictest driving standards.

“I think over the last five years, we’ve demonstrated that we will continually invest in new technology to ensure that we go above and beyond in protecting our customers and other road users to ensure that our journeys are safe, and that we can provide great customer service. Certainly, during the pandemic, the tracking and tracing systems we had in place, allowed us to identify if there was a concern with a passenger that had had covid, but more so going forward, our technology has allowed us to identify the trends that are causing then reduce road accidents by investing more in our people with the technology that we have on our vehicles. I focus on four Ps in the business, and the first one for me is about people. It’s about investing in the right people to be able to do the job. It’s not about product. To work in harmony, it’s about having a framework. It’s about policy, and then process, so that people understand what it is they need to do,” said Steve Burnell, managing director, STS Group.

Middle East Fleet of the Year
Winner: DSV
Nominees:
Emirates Transport, Momentum Logistics, STS Group, Suez Middle East Recycling

This award was aimed at finding the overall best fleet in the market. Representative of the wide range of fleets that operate in this market they all share a dedication to the very best in fleet management practices that would not be out of place in any market in the globe. This proved to be an extremely competitive category, with their shared focus on professionalism, dedication to the safety of their drivers and other road stakeholders proving that we can reach the highest standards here in the Middle East. However, DSV has an outstanding track record and continues to not only navigate the challenges of the pandemic, but also expand its geographic footprint into new markets.

“I believe we’ve done a great job in maintaining a good number of people and a very high standard taking into consideration the current challenges in the market. We keep our feet at the highest standard there is in the industry. Having right partner for fleet maintenance, which is in our case is, EMC (Abu Dhabi’s Mercedes-Benz agent) and we maintain, our fleet in perfect condition. By maintaining the good condition, we improve our utilisation and our availability and therefore, our profitability. We are always looking always ahead. Our main target in 2022 and 2023 is to get an electrical truck into the UAE market,” said Wajdi Manifi, director of operations, DSV Abu Dhabi

Heavy Duty Truck of the Year
Winner: Scania NTG
Nominees:
DAF XF, MAN TG Range, Mercedes Actros, Renault Trucks C, Renault Trucks , Scania BEV, UD Trucks Quester

Unsurprisingly this was one of the most hotly contest awards during the voting period, with almost 1,500 people registering their pick for the best big truck in the market. At one stage the top trucks were neck and neck but eventually only one truck emerged to reign supreme. The Scania NTG represents the culmination of a decade of work to set a new standard for what is premium in the region’s transport industry. Costing over two billion euros, the winner draws on over a century of heritage and is continuing the winning company’s four-decade journey as a major player in the region’s transport sector for more than four decades. It says it provides “outstanding fuel efficient and optimised vehicles, fully customised and adapted to the requirements and operating conditions of the Middle East.”

“We launched about two to three years back and it has proven itself in the market. We spent a lot of time and resources in developing this truck and put a lot of focus into the driver, the operating economy for the customer and foremost, the fuel consumption. This was a nice surprise, and I’m very proud of our truck. We will continue the work that we do and deliver to our customer, not just a product, but the organization around it, that supports it. When it comes to after sales support, we have very good partners around the whole region,” said Hans Wising, sales director, Scania Middle East

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Stephen Whitehttps://truckandfleetme.com/
Stephen White was formerly editor of Big Project ME.
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