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The Benefits of Wearable Devices in Logistics

Helen Colam

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The worldwide logistics industry is worth approximately 5.5. trillion euros. With a 1.44% average shrinkage rate occurring, the losses and inefficiencies add up to billions.

The need for accuracy in identifying, handling, and processing packages is extremely important and one of the solutions to these issues is in wearables.

They eliminate time-wasting, improve the efficiency of staff and reduce stress in a fast-paced work environment. The computer/wearable is always on them, allowing them to do hands-free barcode scanning, input data, look up information, find parts, receive immediate alerts, receive new information and free their hands to operate more efficiently.

The pandemic has brought about a need for companies to keep their staff safe while effectively maintaining operations. These wearables have meant that social distancing can be implemented with more ease and effectiveness. Workers are able to keep their distance and be effective and efficient at their jobs at the same time. One of the features of these wearables is they are able to give the worker an alert when breaching the 1-metre social distancing requirement.

Wearables include:

  • Smartwatches which can be combined with augmented reality (AR) capabilities that expand their possibilities even further. Applications are developed that take advantage of the high-quality cameras on consumer smartphones for use in barcodes and product scanning. When the information is received, the app can instantly display information about a product. Through artificial intelligence, these apps can identify text on printing labels and even recognise products themselves without a barcode.
  • Truck drivers wear smartwatches that vibrate when it is time for them to take a break, or when they are changing lanes, and there is a car in their blind spot. They also wear glasses that through LED monitoring of the user’s eyes are able to alert them when they are nodding off to sleep.
  • Smart glasses are used in the warehouse to scan barcodes, record video, and process information without having to lift a finger.
  • These devices also create a safer employee work experience by alerting workers when their posture is unsafe and providing real-time feedback when the wearer is in motion. These functionalities prevent potential injuries before they have a chance to occur.
  • Finger-trigger and ring scanners allow workers to do more with lighter, portable technology. Workers are handling a large number of packages all day long. Whilst the chances of contracting the virus, via packaging, is low but it is still important to reduce any potential possibility of contact.

Ensuring that workers know how to properly use and maintain their wearable devices is the first step in seeing a wider, more beneficial adoption. The increased safety, improved efficiency, and heightened worker confidence are major benefits in implementing wearables in the logistics industry.

Logistics

New DHL Global Forwarding Investment Into Johannesburg Facility

Bernita Marais

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While it is much to early to fully grasp the economic impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic DHL has invested R127-million in a new 13 000 m2 facility.  Twice the size of its current set-up and located next to the OR Tambo International Airport aimed at cementing its position within South Africa.

This new facility will consist of a 10 000 m2 warehouse that enables DHL Forwarding consolidation on all customer warehousing requirements. It will also boast will an exclusive and specialized cold chain facility that consists of three adjustable temperature-controlled refrigerators geared to handle life science and healthcare products in and out of South Africa.

The warehouse is also able to support other value-added services including cross-docking, storage for air, ocean, and road freight services, as well as a platform for breakbulk cargo.  The customised built on the world-class specification with the location only a short distance from the airport and arterial thoroughfares and upcoming industrial parks, will make this new facility a complete game changer for DHL within the country.

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Logistics

South Africa’s Vaccine Rollout and What to Expect:

Bernita Marais

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As mentioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night a deal was struck with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and will see South Africa get a million Covid-19 vaccine doses before the end of January and a further 500, 000 doses are due in February.

The President also mentioned that a comprehensive strategy has been put in place to reach all parts of the country.  It will also be far more extensive than the HIV treatment programme or even the national, provincial, and local elections in terms of the number of people who must be reached within a short time span.

Dozens of countries, both rich and poor, have started implementing a mass vaccination programme, including the US, Italy, and Saudi Arabia.  During the announcement it was also mentioned that the vaccination rollout will be divided into three-phases, in which phase one would prioritise frontline healthcare workers, phase two would target 16 million individuals that include essential service workers, people with comorbidities and the elderly, with phase three focusing on a further 22 million people.

A person who has been vaccinated has a much slimmer chance of becoming ill and dying from Covid-19.  When enough people have been vaccinated, we will reach what is knows as ‘population immunity’ meaning when enough of the population is immune to the virus to provide indirect protection to those who are not immune, reducing the spread and bringing the virus under control.

 The Department of Health is playing its cards very close to its chest and has been extremely reluctant to provide any logistical detail of how a vaccination rollout will work.

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Logistics

Beitbridge Chaos and What is Being Done

Bernita Marais

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With several deaths recorded at the Beitbridge border post, transport and freight forwarding industries have called for urgent intervention from the government.

With the COVID-19 regulations and restrictions that have been introduced at the beginning of December severely compromising the flow of traffic through both sides of the border as there is only one testing station with a single entry and exit point, creating a massive bottleneck that stretched from Musina in Limpopo on the South African side to the border post, and for more than 20km on the Zimbabwe side. This congestion aggravated by the annual traffic increase over the festive period had already severely impacted South Africa with lost revenue. During the first three weeks of December, the cost of these delays at Beitbridge was almost R88m per week; with queueing time delays for trucks amounting to R609m per week, this is a total loss of R2,092,860,000 Mike Fitsmaurice – CEO of the Federation Eastern and Southern Africa Road Transport Associations said.

Dr. Juanita Maree CEO for SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) said drivers that were queuing ran out of food and had no water for drinking or washing their hands and there were no toilet facilities available while criminals are looting and stealing from the trucks with drivers giving up hope of getting home to be with their families all while sitting in the unbearable heat of more than 40°C.

Key players in the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as well as The Federation of Eastern and Southern Road Transport Associations (FESARTA) and the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), have called on government for a public-private partnership (PPP) to prevent future disasters like the chaos at the Beitbridge border post on the Zimbabwe border.

Maree sees this agreement is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and raise the income costs per day. Municipalities, government agencies and departments, as well as the private sector on both sides of the border, need to collaborate to create capacity and efficiencies to ensure that there are no bottlenecks at the border so that much needed economic growth can take place and trade and businesses are able to flourish. The situation faced is having a huge impact on supply-chains throughout Africa as much-needed goods – including essential items – are simply not reaching their destinations. It has become clear that there is no quick solution but if government is willing to partner with the private sector the smooth flow of goods and people across the border could be restored, preventing a humanitarian disaster and an economic collapse within the region.

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