Transporting chemicals – locally and through Africa

CSA: In the chemical industry, what are some of the biggest challenges when transporting chemicals?

Bidvest Panalpina Logistics

Delivery footprint: A recent sample.

BPL: Packaging material not suitable for harsh driving conditions, particularly cross-border, coupled with rates not in line with the compliance costs associated with dangerous goods. Then there is the consignor’s lack of knowledge regarding legal requirements for their own chemical or hazardous products. Fortunately, this is not common as many consignors do comply.

Another major challenge at the moment is the cheaper transport services by legally non-compliant transport companies, with drivers not in possession of the relevant DG licenses, and vehicles, which are not registered, and therefore should not be transporting such products.

And finally, load securing from the point of dispatch, as well as, clients demanding unrealistic delivery times, which compromises driver rest times. Again, this is often the result of competition from non-compliant transport companies.

CSA: How can chemical companies prepare product better to facilitate safe and quicker transport?

BPL: Chemical suppliers should ensure their products are packaged in suitable packaging and pallets. This will further assist with quicker loading, unloading and safer transportation. Clients can ensure compatibility between products when double stacking or palletising.

What is very important is that each raw material or chemical supplier has to must comply with all legal requirements regarding the transportation of chemical or hazardous products. Having all legally required documents available before loading begins is also an absolute necessity.

Suppliers can save themselves a lot of aggravation if from the onset they select suitable service providers and use suitable vehicles, whilst ensuring their own staff are trained and comply.

CSA: Are there specific packaging solutions, which facilitate better transport? Can you explain the how, what and why of these processes?

BPL: Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) are preferred for larger volumes as drums tend to shift in transit. All products must be properly secured on pallets. As an example – preferably strapped with nylon or metal straps and not string or simply stretch-wrapped.

A securely packed pallet should implement the general rule where practical: heavier and larger products on the bottom layer, lighter smaller products above, plus securely strapped. Finally, ensure compatible products are packed on a pallet.

CSA: What opportunities do you offer to chemical companies that they might not be aware of?

BPL: All of our vehicles and drivers are legally compliant to transport chemical and hazardous products. Our vehicles are fitted with drop sided trailers, which reduce the risk of products falling from the vehicle.

Our transport vehicles are fitted with rubber mats on the trailer decks to reduce movement during transit. All vehicles and trailers are fitted with tracking devices as well as on board CCTV. If the technology is available we will use it. One such example is the mobile technology implemented for vehicle tracking.

We have advanced driver training and SHERQ programmes in place. BPL also has the legal capabilities to transport Cyanide.

CSA: Why should chemical companies opt to do business with your company?

BPL: In short:

Decades of proven experience in the warehousing and storage of chemical (hazardous) products

100% legally compliant

BPL adheres to clients’ own additional requirements which are over and above legal requirements

A long-term mutually beneficial partnership approach focused on the cost effective growth of clients.

CSA: Do you facilitate transport of chemicals into Africa?

BPL: Yes, this is a growing part of our business and we transport into the following countries:

  • Botswana
  • Lesotho
  • Namibia
  • Mozambique
  • Zimbabwe
  • Swaziland
  • Zambia
  • Malawi

CSA: What challenges do you face when transporting into Africa?


  • Border delays
  • Limited return loads
  • Poor road conditions

CSA: What services or products does the company offer to help facilitate the safe storage of chemicals?

BPL: We have legally compliant warehouses in all major South African centres , plus trained staff that know and apply all legal and client specific requirements. Every warehouse has a dedicated SHEQ co-ordinator who, in turn, is audited on a regular basis.

BPL has the ability to handle different product types, ranging from palletised cartons and drums, to IBCs. We have a national Risk Committee that ensures continual legal compliance at every BPL facility, as well as the transportation leg. And a long term mutually beneficial partnership approach, rather than a principal or service provider approach.

CSA: How can manufacturers limit risk when storing chemicals?

BPL: Know, understand and implement every legal requirement regarding chemicals or hazardous products, including those legal requirements specific to their own municipal area (by-laws). Be in possession of legally required documents and display accordingly, ensure their Risk Committee’s policy, procedures and audit schedules are all-inclusive.

Make sure staff are appointed in writing when legally required to be so appointed and ensure their insurance policy includes every possible scenario related to chemical or hazardous products.

Ideally, manufacturers should focus on designing, manufacturing and marketing their own chemical or hazardous products, and outsource non-core logistics functions to companies whose core business is warehousing and transportation of chemical or hazardous products.

About Bidvest Panalpina Logistics


  • Highly skilled people
  • Innovative thinking
  • Five major depots – nationally
  • 200 commercial vehicles
  • Centralised planning centre
  • Average age of fleet: Three years
  • Hazchem specialists
  • Hybrid distribution network


  • Live tracking
  • Dual tracking systems
  • On board CCTV and radio
  • Online electronic pods
  • Mobile tracking
  • Track and trace
  • Real time automated maintenance management
  • Vehicle Status wallboards
  • BPL offers the following services:
  • Line-haul
  • Containers
  • General freight
  • Hazardous freight
  • Primary & secondary distribution
  • Cross-border
  • Full Truck Loads
  • FMCG
  • Consolidation & Distribution
  • Cross Dock
  • Fleet Management Services

Delivery footprint: A recent sample.