Technology, Automation and the Future of Transport – Thriving in an Age of Disruption
We are living in a VUCA world – a place that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The new waves of change are rapid and innovation is faster than ever. The new waves present both opportunities and threats and can be both creative or destructive. This is one of the key messages presented by author and business transformation expert Sean Culey during a recent webinar hosted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).
During the session Culey said that the changes were circular that these Waves of Creative Destruction were getting stronger and faster and had greater impact.
“We are living in the Sixth Wave – this is a time of power battles and paradigm shifts,” said Culey. Some of the fundamental paradigm shifts in the supply chain were that we had moved from:
|Company in control||Consumer now in control|
|Consumer travels to retailer||Retailer delivers to consumer|
|Linear push supply chains||Cyclical pull value chains|
|Products||Services and experiences|
“The problem of this for supply chains is that this creates far more complexity,” said Culey. “This new business model increases the complexity exponentially. In the past it was a push supply chain: we now have consumer-centric networks.”
In the Sixth Wave, retailer deliver wherever the consumer wants. The supply chain is no longer about bulk delivery to a store, but rather about many deliveries of smaller units. Returns/reverse logistics has soared: According to Gartner, two thirds of e-commerce customers check their returns policy before making a buying decision and 30% of e-commerce sales are returned.
As a result of this, the Retail Apocalypse is accelerating: researchers estimate that up to 25 000 retail stores could close in 2020. Fashion store Zara has closed up to 1 200 fashion stores around the world. More than 13 200 stores had closed in 2020 so far.
The Consumer Experience
“New retail malls have to offer more than just shopping,” continued Culey. “They need to focus on building consumer experiences and creating the ‘wow’ factor. People don’t go to a mall anymore just to buy things!”
This massive shift has created opportunities – Culey highlighted just a few:
- Personalisation (differentiated consumer offerings, increased focus on experiences and convenience, combined experiences – eating, entertainment, shopping, personal experiences and offers
- Automation – fully automated warehouses in urban locations
- Sustainability – servitisation – space as a service, sharing business models – shared occupancy/flexible space, green buildings with renewable power sources, eco-parks/smart cities
Culey warned that the disruption had only just begun and would have a massive impact. But along with this came opportunities.
“Successful digital transformation is not actually about technology,” he concluded. “It’s about transforming the mindset, culture and strategy of the organisation. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ of technology only makes sense when it is applied to a compelling ‘why’”.
Five Strategies for enhancing the efficiency of freight forwarding in South Africa
Freight forwarding is a vital part of the supply chain in South Africa. As it involves managing the transportation and logistics of goods from point A to point B. However, just like any other industry, freight forwarding faces obstacles that can impact its efficiency. In this article, we’ll discuss five strategies that can help freight forwarders in South Africa to be more efficient and effective.
1. Technology plays a large part in enhancing efficiency
In today’s world companies can take advantage of a wide variety of useful technology, such as cloud-based software, GPS tracking systems, and digital platforms to manage their operations with a higher degree of efficiency. These technologies come with several advantages, such as automating routine tasks, providing real-time visibility of shipments, and improving the chain of communication between different parties within sectors of the supply chain.
2. Adopting lean management principles
By eliminating wasteful expenditure, whether it be on products, time, or storage your freight forwarding service can optimise its operations. For example, a freight forwarding service can reduce waiting time by improving communication with its partners and its customers.
Having inventory is important however, excess inventory can be wasteful and a cost to your business if your operation cannot move that inventory quickly and efficiently it simply becomes a cost to your inventory storage. This can be addressed by optimising shipping schedules, as this opens fresh storage space by ensuring goods are delivered and items keep moving.
3. Invest in valuable strategic partnerships
Strategic partnerships with other logistics service providers can be highly beneficial to freight forwarders. Because by partnering with a reliable and trusted trucking service and customs broker, freight forwarding partners can reduce the cost of transportation, streamline the customs clearance process, and speed up those all-important delivery times to your customers.
4. Investing in staff training and skills development
Training and improving the quality of your staff can have a more significant effect than you would expect. By investing in your staff, you give them the ability to handle different types of shipments and overcome more complex logistical challenges on their own. This gives freight forwarding companies and your partners trust that your staff is competent and efficient in their duties. Not only can this improve the overall efficiency of your operation as your staff can make decisions more decisively and quickly it also displays to your business partners that you are a company, they can have confidence doing business with going forward.
5. Prioritise your customers
Lastly, prioritising customer service is critical. Freight forwarding companies should make sure that their staff are responsive, friendly, and helpful. They can also invest in customer service technologies, such as chatbots and mobile apps, to enhance the customer experience. By prioritizing customer service, freight forwarding companies can build strong relationships with their customers, leading to repeat business and referrals.
Enhancing the efficiency of freight forwarding in South Africa requires a multifaceted approach that includes embracing technology, adopting lean management principles, establishing strategic partnerships, investing in staff training and development, and prioritizing customer service. By implementing these strategies, freight forwarding companies can improve their operations, reduce costs, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Sanral undertaking road improvement activities
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is undertaking a number of road improvement activities in several provinces.
It has noted in a series of media releases that it has recently awarded a contract for the resurfacing of National Road R33, Section 6, from Mkhondo to Amsterdam, in Mpumalanga.
This project aims to reduce the travelling times and ensure smooth riding quality with improved skid resistance, the entity says.
The high-level scope of the project includes site establishment, traffic accommodation, pretreatment of the existing road, edge-break repairs and construction of edge beams. Major work includes the base and surface patches, bridge joints repairs, seal construction and the painting of new road markings.
Other works to be undertaken are clearing and shaping of existing open drains, construction of subsoil drains where required and clearing of hydraulic structures and finishing offroad reserves.
The tender amount for the project was R91-million. The appointed consultant is Royal Mndawe, with Roadmac Surfacing as the contractor.
Further, Sanral has also awarded a contract for the resurfacing of National Road R33, Section 7, from Amsterdam to the N17 Intersection, in Mpumalanga.
This project aims to reduce the travel times, provide good riding quality and improved skid resistance on this section of the road, Sanral states.
The high-level scope comprises site establishment, traffic accommodation, pretreatment of existing road-edge break repairs and construction of edge beams. Major work includes base and surface patches, bridge joints repairs, seal construction and the painting of new road markings.
Other works to be undertaken will include clearing and shaping of existing open drains, construction of subsoil drains where required, the clearing of hydraulic structures and finishing off the road reserve.
The tender amount was R122-million. The appointed consultant is SKI Civil and Structural Engineers with Roadmac Surfacing as the contractor.
In addition, the agency has awarded a R79-million contract to repair the Merriespruit steel-ribbed culvert on the R33, which washed out owing to inclement weather, to G4 Civils as contractor and LEO Consulting and Superstructures as the consultant.
At the same time that the new Merriespruit bridge is being built, Sanral will also replace the rusted steel-ribbed culverts on the adjacent Brakspruit and Barberskuil streams with brand new reinforced concrete bridges.
Sanral noted that, when the three bridges are completed, the R33 will most likely be the preferred route between Vaalwater and Lephalale, as it is 25 km shorter than the alternative route.
The project’s high-level scope comprises establishing a small materials testing laboratory on site, including providing facilities for the engineer.
An operational borrow pit will be established and three single-lane temporary deviations constructed at the site of each new bridge. There will be a manually operated Stop-Go through the day and traffic light-controlled signals at night.
Additional work involves building road and drainage works, three reinforced concrete bridges, the erection of guardrails, road signs and applying road markings and road studs. Work will be done on protecting the slopes and establishing vegetation, and testing materials.
NATIONAL ROAD R37
Sanral has also started with projects to improve and widen the existing single-carriageway road on National Road R37 between Burgersfort and the Modikwa mine turnoff.
The agency will upgrade the existing road and establish new intersections by building six roundabouts at the major intersections. Public transports stops will be built and will include bus bays and bus shelters.
The project’s scope also includes building sidewalks from intersections to bus bays, the construction of two new bridges and the widening of one other bridge. This project aims to improve the safety of pedestrians. The final road section will have four lanes, surfaced shoulders and a painted island.
The contractor is Edwin Construction, and the consultant is Ilifa Africa Engineers. The tender value is about R600-million.
Sanral has also awarded a contract for the resurfacing of the National Road R37 from Burgersfort km 0.0 to km 14.0.
The project’s scope includes re-gravelling shoulders, edge-break repairs, building edge beams at property entrances, intersections and taxi bays, cleaning hydraulic structures and culverts, replacing bridge joints where required, applying temporary and permanent road markings, installing permanent road studs, repairing, renewing, or installing new guardrails and finishing off the road reserve.
The project will improve the smooth riding quality and skid resistance of the pavement. It will also enhance job creation during construction, says Sanral.
The project amount of R48-million was awarded to contractor Actophambili Roads. The consultant is Quantra Consulting.
NATIONAL ROUTE R510
Sanral has awarded a contract to improve the R510 from Bierspruit to Thabazimbi, in Limpopo.
This road passes through chrome, iron-ore and platinum mining areas and, therefore, carries high traffic volumes and a high percentage of heavy vehicles.
The main travelling benefits of the improvement are safety and shorter travelling times, increased passing opportunities from adding passing lanes and 3-m-wide paved shoulders, Sanral posits.
The project will widen the existing carriageway and provide surfaced shoulders and passing lanes; strengthen the existing pavement by reworking existing layers; improve vertical and horizontal alignments and drainage, upgrade intersections, and lengthen and upgrade existing minor and major structures where there is insufficient capacity.
There will be access materials for base and sub-base construction from stockpiles in the surrounding areas owing to mining activities along the road.
The tender amount is R458-million, the consultant is Royal Haskoning and the contractor is Raubex Construction.
NATIONAL ROAD R572 – SECTION 2
Lastly, Sanral has awarded contracts for the resurfacing of National Road R572 from Monte Christo to Rooigrond and from Rooigrond to Tom Burke, in Limpopo.
The high-level scope of the project includes the mobilisation period and site establishment, traffic accommodation, the required pretreatment of existing road-edge break repairs, constructing edge beams, base and surface patches, repairing bridge joints, constructing seals and applying road markings.
The contracts are valued at R82-million and R83-million, respectively.
Trucking the Freight Industry
Trucks with valuable freight travel South Africa as well and neighbouring countries continuously. Across South Africa truck hijackings and cargo theft is being reported on the daily – as much as 90% of these hijackings involve an inside source tipping off criminals with crucial information.
Over the last decade, the freight industry reported 11,112 truck heists, an average of 1,110 within a year. The top commodities being stolen during 2018/19 included soybeans, diesel, yellow maize, and biscuits – costing the economy R10 billion a year.
Trucks carrying alcohol also see a large number of hijackings and attacks, especially over the Easter and festive months when sales spike and prices rise. The truck robberies have become more violent with many criminals presenting themselves as police or traffic officers bringing vehicles to a standstill, and once criminals have stopped a truck it is at their mercy. Small arms and high calibre weapons are being used by these criminals – making these syndicates “sophisticated” and able to strike with an unprecedented level of precision and force.
Apart from the freight on board, criminals also target trucks to strip the parts. The freight industry incurs major financial losses on top of COVID-19 and drivers become reluctant to drive unsafe routes or times.
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