Sea freight has always been the dominant mode of transporting goods in Asia. Although transportation by air is faster, it costs more, hence it is not a preferred choice. As much as transporting via road is concerned, factors such as safety, time, and inconsistent costing by service providers have been affecting customers.
However, with TNT Express Malaysia’s Asia Road Network (ARN) integrated road delivery service, express delivery via road has become more efficient than ever before. With a road network that spans over 5,000 kilometers across 125 cities from Singapore to China, the ARN is the first solution of its kind on the continent.
Usually, when a truck reaches the border, the container will be removed from the chassis and stored in a bonded facility before the content is transferred into another container, which will then be fitted on another truck that will take it to its final destination.
This process will consume hours. TNT however, does things differently. Using only integrated containers, the prime movers from the cargo’s point of origin is swapped with the head from the destination, while the containers remain untouched. The good thing about this process is that it takes no more than 15 minutes. Another benefit of swapping prime movers instead of the container is that there is no need for a facility to store and monitor the containers.
Targeting customers who require delivery of goods within a specific (usually short) period, the main difference between TNT’s ARN and other transportation service providers is that the former has a network of Inland Clearance Depots (ICDs), which enables TNT trucks to complete import and export formalities within its facilities at either the point of origin or the destination and not at a country’s border where everyone else has to complete their custom clearance.
According to Dinesh Kanapathy, regional operations manager of TNT Asia Road Network, TNT has signed agreements with the customs departments of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and China after years of negotiation, in order to be able to complete customs clearance at its ICDs in each country.
Besides being cheaper than air freight, and faster than sea freight, ARN has other benefits as well, such as being able to offer a transparent all-inclusive pricing, and a safe journey. This is also why TNT is the choice of companies that manufacture fragile and sensitive goods such as pharmaceutical items and computer chips among others.
“Our ultimate goal is to offer our customers peace of mind with benefits. Besides being transparent with them about the cost, we also prioritise safety. Our road network runs under strict security – monitored via GPS and controlled by our Security Command Control Centre in Singapore that operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our dedicated and experienced drivers are security trained and operate on a point-to-point schedule. Besides the pre-planned rest-stops, we do not even allow our drivers to stop for a toilet-break, unless they inform the control centre via the two-way voice communication system equipped in each of our trucks. That is how particular we are when it comes to managing a truck’s journey.
“Above all, we are committed to Technology Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) freight security requirements certification throughout its international delivery network. The TAPA FSR certification, an industry recognised standard, provides our customers with the confidence that we have the established freight security requirements in place to give you peace of mind.” said Dinesh.
TNT’s fleet currently comprises 12 Scania R380 trucks and fourteen 41-foot trailers. According to TNT, the trucks were specially designed for TNT and tailored specifically for maximum efficiency on pan-Asian routes.
Among the special features that have been fitted into TNT’s trucks are closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) that are fitted both inside and outside the containers, and an electronic lock that can be engaged and disengaged from the control centre in Singapore in case of an emergency.
The Scanias, which began operation in June 2010 as part of the new fleet, are among the first R-Series units to be assembled and sold in the region. It is said that these new trucks are not only 20 per cent more spacious than the previous batch, but also lighter than their predecessors by three tonnes. According to Dinesh, the trucks are serviced and maintained by Scania Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
“Although the ARN is doing very well at the moment, there are many challenges that we have to face. We have to constantly monitor the laws and policies in force at the customs department in every country that we are working with for changes and updates. When policies change, we have to adapt to them and alter our policies as well.”
“Besides that, in most countries, the heads of the customs departments get replaced every two years. When this happens, we will have to meet them and keep them updated with the agreements we have. So, we are constantly on the move in order to ensure that the ARN continues providing our customers with the best services at all times,” said Dinesh.
Speaking on future plans, Dinesh added that TNT is planning to extend the ARN network to Hong Kong very soon.