The Australian transport industry is currently experiencing some very exciting times and growth, however, there are also many challenges being faced by the sector, as the industry contends with ongoing shortages in local labour, delays and inconsistencies in the supply chain, alongside the rising costs of doing business. This, however, is also providing great opportunities for businesses that embrace these challenges and manage to find innovative ways to develop solutions, and the ones that overcome these challenges will be in a strong position to capitalise on the current growth in the industry.
Q&A WITH GUY LOCKE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, JOST AUSTRALIA
What is your take on the industry in Australia and New Zealand at the moment? Is it an exciting space to be working in, and have you noticed any recent trends developing?
Guy Locke, Managing Director (GL): We are definitely seeing a trend of more open communication between suppliers and customers to help manage stock demands and inventory controls due to the extended lead times being faced through component supply.
Across the sector, there is also a continued increase in demand from customers looking for improved innovation around safety and ease in the use of equipment. With the shortage of labour, the fleet operators are looking for any way to improve safety and productivity with their drivers and reduce the risk of an incident.
Please can you introduce us to JOST Australia?
GL: JOST Australia is a fully owned subsidiary of the global business JOST-Werke (JOST), located in Neu-Isenburg, Germany. Backed by its European parent company and supported by JOST facilities in multiple locations around the world, the company is a leading supplier in the Australian transport industry, providing a comprehensive range of advanced technology components that are engineered to the highest standards, quality, and are suitable for a wide variety of transport applications.
JOST is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of safety-related systems for the commercial vehicle industry. Under the JOST umbrella brand, which includes JOST, Rockinger, Tridec and Quicke, our extensive product portfolio is divided into systems for both road and agriculture.
Today, the JOST brand includes fifth wheel couplings, landing gears, ball bearing turntables, king pins and container locks as well as components for alternating systems. Truck and trailer axles are also sold under the JOST brand. The tradition-steeped ROCKINGER brand comprises the core components of towing hitches, drawbar eyes and drawbars for transporters and trucks. TRIDEC offers steering systems and axle suspensions for trailers.
ROCKINGER products are also used in agricultural applications, whilst Quicke has been part of the JOST family since February 2020 and specialises in agricultural front loaders and equipment.
JOST currently employs over 3,600 people worldwide, has sales and production facilities in over 20 countries on all five continents, and listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
JOST Australia currently operates from six company locations in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, employing more than 90 staff across a range of roles and functions.
Within these locations, JOST maintains strong stock levels in all product categories and also produces, assembles and customises its portfolio of fifth wheel product options to suit the local markets and demands, including having full-time engineers employed to stay in front of regulatory and industry changes.
Undoubtedly, JOST prides itself on being backed by a global business, while operating at a local level to ensure that it can serve market and customer requirements. This has held the company in good stead by having the capacity and capability to provide a one-stop shop for customers when it comes to sourcing their product demands such as fifth wheels, landing gears, ball bearing turntables, king pins, container locks, towing hitches, drawbar eyes and drawbars for either their transport or agricultural needs.
In relation to fifth wheel supply, JOST specifies, customises, paints, installs and completes the mandatory certification of the product and installation ready for vehicle registration for the customer, which makes dealing with JOST significantly easier, on top of the peace of mind of knowing the product is designed and engineered with German excellence and quality.
Serving all segments of the transport market across the industry, including truck and trailer OEMs, trading segment customers, and just as importantly the fleet operator themselves, has had a major emphasis on JOST being extremely close to the end user.
What, for you, separates and differentiates JOST Australia from the competition?
GL: Having localised operations spread across Australia and New Zealand, such as in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland, along with access to international markets, provides the company with the opportunity to remain close to customers to ensure it is not simply meeting their needs but exceeding them.
JOST has the unique ability to customise fifth wheel product requirements for our customers in any of these locations, along with supplying any other product from our portfolio, and has become a one-stop shop to make the job of sourcing a product for its customers, or their respective customers, as easy and as integrated as possible.
The company’s state offices are supported by national teams in engineering, operations, finance, sales, and a highly trained, nationwide customer service team that operates with extended hours to cover all time zones across Australia to ensure we exceed market expectations and stay close to both customers and markets.
Each employee, regardless of their role, is empowered and responsible for delivering the JOST’s goals and vision to each and every customer, and these state locations have their own operational capabilities to deliver stock off the shelf quickly or even custom build something faster than our competitors.
Our sales teams are highly experienced in working with our products, with many staff holding long tenures at JOST and in the industry, helping to support customer needs through deep knowledge and providing genuine advice, which ensures that they get the right product for their specific application.
Backing this up, the JOST sales teams all provide support through specification guidance, conducting training across customer workshops, fleet operator driver training, and parts interpreter training. Furthermore, JOST’s customers know they can call on any of the resources within JOST for expert help.
What ongoing or recent projects would you like to showcase?
GL: The recent Brisbane Truck Show held in May at the Brisbane Convention Centre allowed JOST to show its support for the industry and the launch of many sector-leading innovative products.
During the show, JOST had a large presence of experts and displays to allow current and potential customers to interact with the products and see them first-hand. With the growing interest of sensor technology in the fifth wheel coupling process, which can also allow for this function to be fully integrated into the prime mover’s dash displays, is allowing for greater use and increased demand for our sensor technology units. JOST sees this trend only growing as the industry continues to strive for the improved operational safety of its fleets and driver comfort.
This includes a fully operational simulator for the JOST KKS, the first of its kind to be released which facilitates the fully automatic operation of the coupling and decoupling procedure for a truck and trailer combination with a fifth wheel coupling attached. The driver is guided through the entire coupling process, with sensor technology providing live information on the KKS remote control throughout every step of the process. Climbing out of the cabin to manually open the fifth wheel, cranking down the landing gear and manually connecting the spiral cable, air and brake connections are all a thing of the past for drivers. Time, comfort and safety gains are made possible with just one product.
A further innovative product, the Drawbar Finder, was launched from the ROCKINGER product range, which allows for safer and easier tow coupling connection for the driver via either an integrated or dash mounted camera display enables the driver to see in real time a guidance system and visual display during the coupling process, eliminating the need to continually do manually checks, reducing coupling time, and lowering the risk of damage to the equipment or operator.
We also launched our Loc Lite device that allows for an audible and visual alert to a second or subsequent coupled trailer on a combination, again to support the safe and accurate coupling of trailers to each other.
How do you empower your staff and recognise the valuable contributions that they make?
GL: A vital aspect of the business for JOST is the development and growth opportunities provided to the company’s people.
Our staff are our biggest asset and the most important cog in the machine, so without them we have nothing and no way of getting our product to the market. We place a large emphasis on development roadmaps for our staff, regardless of what role they are in.
In this way, JOST wants to continue creating a strong inclusive culture of “One JOST” and has therefore developed processes and initiatives for staff training and development locally through talent identification programmes and the local JOST Academy programme.
Now that this initiative is underway, JOST provides a higher level of intense training and development opportunities across the business to provide a cross-functional mindset. All these initiatives help to retain and reward staff, as the company wants its people to be long-term employees and advance through the business if they have the desire and determination required to thrive.
Do you partake in any corporate social responsibility practices?
GL: We are placing a greater focus on corporate social responsibility efforts in this space to ensure we implement genuine and realistic actions that will allow us to be mindful of our impact on the environment, social responsibilities, and retain a high level of governance across the business.
These range from reducing waste, looking at implementing solar photovoltaic systems on some sites, to supporting local social causes that are important to our people, and maintaining strong processes for monitoring and reporting on any initiatives. JOST is firmly committed to the United Nations Agenda 2030 which sets global targets for sustainable global development. The company will contribute to its implementation through its corporate strategy and by engaging with sustainability issues.
This article was published in APAC Outlook Magazine August 2023 edition, click here to view the APAC Outlook article. APAC Outlook is a digital publication aimed at boardroom and hands-on decision-makers, reaching an audience of more than 220,000 people across the region.