Fonterra loans milk tanker to SIT

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SOUTHERN Institute of Technology (SIT) commercial driving students now have a milk tanker to practice in.
Fonterra boss Barry McColl yesterday handed over a tanker and trailer on long-term loan for at least the next two years.
It was the second tanker on loan, Mr McColl, national transport and logistics general manager, said. The other is at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in Tauranga.
While the Volvo vehicle was a ‘‘cast-off’’ at the end of its life with the company, it would contribute to producing more drivers for the wider transport industry, he said.
Lending the tankers would not only benefit Fonterra, he said.
‘‘We want to fill the bucket of the industry, and eventually, as the bucket gets fuller, more drivers will be available to all of us.’’
A shortage of skilled truck drivers in the Southland region led to local transport operators and SIT joining forces last year to offer the Certificate in Commercial Road Transport. It is supported by more than 30 companies.
The course, which runs for 16 weeks includes a generous component of
‘We want to fill the bucket of the industry, and eventually, as the bucket gets fuller, more drivers will be available
to all of us.’
— Barry McColl
practical experience and work placement and is delivered by HW Richardson driver trainers at the old Southern Transport yard in Otepuni Ave.
About 30 people attended yesterday’s handover, including transport industry representatives and NZ Trucking Association chief executive David Boyce.
Mr McColl said ‘‘the really great part about’’ the handover ceremony was the presence of industry representatives.
‘‘We, as an industry, need to stand up and bring people into the industry, not wait for the Government to have an immigration scheme or whatever else. We need to be in charge of our own destiny.’’
Supporting driver programmes was one way of doing that.
SIT certificate programme manager Lisa Shaw said 20 students had qualified since the course began — six to drive heavy trucks and trailers, eight to drive heavy trucks, and six to drive medium-sized trucks.
Most of the graduates, including several women, were now working for transport companies all over the South Island, she said.
Fonterra had been a key supporter of the programme since its inception, providing driver training staff and resources and being lent a tanker was ‘‘very exciting’’, she said.
‘‘It will be used regularly on the road by licence holders, and in the yard it will be an excellent resource for low speed manoeuvring, reversing, and for pre-trip/post-trip safety inspections — all essential practical skills for today’s drivers.’’
SIT chief executive Penny Simmonds, told those gathered she gained her heavy traffic licence many years ago in a ‘‘brand new unimog while in the army’’.
Truck technology had changed a lot since then, she said.
‘‘I think the general public often does not appreciate the sophistication of today’s vehicles and the skills and knowledge required to safely drive such expensive and highly technical pieces of machinery.’’
She thanked Fonterra for the tanker, and the industry for its support.

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