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Today’s biggest business challenge: Bringing simplicity and efficiency to a complex environment

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By Leon Steyn, CEO at Dante Deo  

The world is changing swiftly, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is ushering in a new era of innovation and technology. From how we manufacture and consume products and services to how we experience life and work, 4IR is transforming and enhancing every facet of modern life. Digitalisation has become critical for businesses to remain competitive through greater productivity, asset reliability and advanced process control, and there is a huge emphasis on doing things simply and quickly to drive business growth and success.  

When a task or transaction is complex, it involves a significant investment of resources, and usually, this ends up being time. The age-old adage of ‘time is money’ comes into play here – organisations can no longer afford to waste time, especially considering the rate of technological change. Ten years ago, it took more than a year for technology to change, but today, it’s anything between three and six months. If a business is stuck in a complex procurement process, your business requirements will most probably evolve so much that you no longer need that specific technology. That’s why organisations need procurement simplicity that enables businesses to be agile and adapt quickly. Finding and prioritising simplicity in an ever-changing, increasingly complex business landscape is key and can set your business apart.  

Responding to complexity starts with understanding risk   

Increasing complexity is making life more difficult for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. Considering how quickly our world is shifting, if business owners and leaders don’t have a clear handle on what they’re working through because of complexity, their business risk position increases exponentially.  

If you look at software, the major risk five years ago was compliance, with businesses asking themselves if they were consuming the right amount of software and licences versus what they procured and licensed. Today, in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space, the value proposition has become the focus. Businesses should look at software as a consumable – using only what is needed, when it’s needed and by whom it’s needed.  

At Dante Deo, we’ve seen many implementation projects fail because organisations don’t understand the risk position or the protection that exists within the contract. Most people don’t even understand the licencing conditions on their phones, let alone the complex transactional conditions, which creates massive risk for most businesses today.  

The link between simplicity, efficiency, and agility  

The ultimate goal for any business transaction with a vendor is to obtain a benefit that will improve your margin, sustain your margin, or grow your revenue. If your organisation gets stuck in a complex environment, you’re at risk of ‘analysis paralysis’, where you either do nothing and lose the benefit you’re seeking, or you never actually optimise that benefit. Therefore, all businesses need to cut through the complexity and focus on a few critical things that will ultimately deliver the core benefit – that’s where simplicity sits.  

More so, finding and prioritising simplicity translates to increased efficiency, optimisation, and risk management – the three core outcomes of every commercial transaction. Simplifying business processes and transactions also allows companies to be agile in the face of change. If you lose your ability to adapt quickly, the odds are your competitor will grab that initiative.  

Practical examples of bringing simplicity to complex commercial projects  

In my years at Dante Deo, we’ve helped other companies reduce complexity and clarify their own simplicity. During our work with National Treasury, we looked at the incredibly complex IT category across many different spheres of government, bringing everything together with a unified, standardised contractual agreement structure. This simplicity allowed for a consistent, predictable process of obtaining goods and services, saving the taxpayer money in the process.  

Similarly, during a reorganisation conducted for one of our multinational customers, we took complex transactions and unified them under a global framework agreement, focused on standardised terms and conditions, and defined processes and risks. In turn, this enabled the business to turn around the procurement transaction in just three to six weeks, instead of the usual months it previously took to put an agreement in place.  

We also play a role in the mergers and acquisitions space, dealing with very complex environments and complicated transactions. In this industry, businesses must understand what supply contracts they have and the various details of these contracts. As such, we’ve developed a robust methodology to give these companies an overarching picture of the most critical components and risks in their agreements, and have built repositories of how these details affect mergers and acquisitions in a short space of time. This allowed us to lift, shift and split over 1000 contracts in eight weeks from when the transaction was announced to the market to the listing date on various stock exchanges in SA and Europe.  

For us, simplicity comes from the knowledge we have gained over many years of harnessing the power of experience to drive business growth and success for our clients. 

Many business leaders may cringe when they read this, but processes, procedures and policies don’t add simplicity to an organisation, instead, they elevate complexity. I’m not disputing that these three Ps are not critical to a business; however, the truth is, they don’t manage risk, don’t offer efficiency, and don’t result in simplicity – they offer predictability, though. 

Businesses should focus on understanding the information that is available to them, and most importantly, invest in partnering with the right people who will understand the environment that they need to operate in exceptionally well. Many procurement practitioners just stick to tick-box procurement and don’t have the skill set to understand the complexity of the business. You need to find people who know the commodity and the environment in which that commodity is utilised in order to translate the business complexity to simple, cost-efficient and optimised supply ecosystems where the risks are managed as well. I rarely look for a procurement expert – instead, I opt for specific technical skills in the relevant market. Identifying the gap between the business need and the specific transaction is key – you need to hire people who can fit in this gap.  

Pick your partners in this space in the same way you would choose your spouse. Consider that it’s a lifelong commitment; the wrong partner can destroy your business – just look at Eskom today. Put real-time and effort into creating and nurturing a team that will move your organisation forward by offering simple solutions to complex business requirements. 

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Logistics

New Multimodal Inland Port Association Launched at Transport Forum

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Railway freight train in South Africa

A significant milestone was reached in the South African logistics sector with the recent launch of the Multimodal Inland Port Association (MIPA). This new association was launched during the Transport Forum, an online event on 23 May 2024 attended by over 250 delegates, with a distinguished panel from industry, Transnet and academia. The event marked what many are calling the dawn of a rail renaissance in the country.

MIPA addresses a critical need in South Africa’s logistics landscape, which is increasingly grappling with rising costs and severe congestion. The association aims to act as the unified voice for inland ports across the nation, focusing on promoting, supporting, and advocating for the increased movement of cargo from road to rail.

Warwick Lord, MIPA

“Transporting more cargo by rail has become an imperative, considering the growing cost of logistics in South Africa. It is no longer just a nice-to-have,” says Warwick Lord, MIPA Chairman.

MIPA aims to reform the rail industry through private investment, foster trade activities that meet social objectives, and facilitate the crucial transfer of goods from road to rail. By optimising industrial and logistics activities through efficient multimodalism, logistics costs will be reduced, and efficiency will be improved.

Formed by leading entities in the transportation sector, including the Cato Ridge Inland Port, Tambo Springs Development Company, Portfutures, Autoforce, Mac Group, Cape Town Inland Port, the Cape Winelands Airport, the Musina Intermodal Terminal, RailRunner South Africa, and RailRunner Services, the association is committed to collaborating on best practices, particularly in through private sector participation (PSP). It will work closely with government and state-owned enterprises.

“We aim to create one voice for inland ports, driving workable multimodal solutions that deliver efficiency, cost reduction, and much-needed resilience to the South African supply chain. By doing so, we can mitigate the impact of external shocks and ensure stability in the logistics sector,” says Lord.

MIPA’s strategy to drive more cargo from road to rail includes using innovative multi-nodal technology and improving collaboration with other freight hubs and stakeholders, to optimise each supply chain link from a cost and efficiency perspective.

“Inland ports increase accessibility through long-distance transport corridors, leading to lower distribution costs and improved capacity by consolidating freight volumes,” explains Lord. “These multi-modal terminals can handle large amounts of cargo continuously, allowing sea ports to extend their cargo base, which is crucial given the increasing size of vessels.”

Furthermore, inland ports provide significant dedicated logistics developments, proximity to rail and highways, ample truck parking, and less traffic congestion.

Lord says MIPA is dedicated to facilitating free trade and promoting sustainable practices. The association will support its members in complying with sustainable development goals and the SADC Vision 2050.

Dr Juanita Maree

Dr Juanita Maree, CEO of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), highlighted the launch of MIPA: “Our logistics network is at a turning point, with more alignment across the country than ever before. By working together, we can achieve significant advancements. It is crucial to continuously foster dialogue, share insights, and raise awareness to build a sustainable supply chain for the future.”

According to Lord, MIPA will aim to expand its membership, encouraging more stakeholders to join and contribute to the conversation.

“The business community plays a vital role in developing and facilitating trade within the logistics and supply chain environment. We will lobby warehousing, transport, and consulting businesses through these channels to join MIPA. We will also seek to include State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – as they are significant players nationally and globally – while fostering a close-working environment with the government,” concludes Lord.

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Freight Forwarding

LTL Shipping for Small Businesses in South Africa

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What is LTL Shipping?

LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) Shipping is a method of transporting goods where the shipment does not fill an entire truck.

Instead, multiple shippers share the truck’s space, each paying only for the portion they use. It stands in contrast to FTL (Full-Truckload) shipping, where one shipper rents the entire truck. While other forms of freight tailor to large businesses LTL is best suited for small businesses and private citizens.

Why is LTL Shipping So Important for Small Businesses in SA?

1. LTL is Cost-Effective

Instead of paying for an entire truck, businesses only pay for the space their cargo occupies. This shared approach significantly reduces shipping costs.

2. Flexibility

Businesses aren’t restricted to large shipments. They can send smaller batches as and when needed, aiding in better inventory management.

3. Increased Frequency

Without the need to accumulate goods for a full truckload, businesses can ship more frequently, enhancing customer satisfaction through quick delivery times.

How Does LTL Shipping Work in South Africa?

1. The Initial Pick-up

The shipping process starts with the transport company picking up the goods from the business premises. Since these are smaller shipments, pick-up schedules are typically more flexible.

2. Consolidation

The cargo is then taken to a local terminal where it’s combined with other shipments heading in the same direction.

3. Intermediate Handling

Unlike FTL where goods are directly transported to their destination, LTL shipments might be offloaded and reloaded onto different trucks at various distribution points. This process ensures optimal space utilisation on each vehicle.

4. Delivery

Once the consolidated truck reaches the destination city or region, shipments are offloaded at another terminal. They are then loaded onto smaller delivery trucks for final delivery.

Advantages of LTL Shipping for Small Businesses in South Africa

1. Reduced Costs

As previously mentioned, paying only for space used can substantially cut shipping expenses. This is crucial to businesses such as small businesses that don’t have the cash reserves typically seen in larger businesses.

2. Professional Handling

Given that LTL shipments undergo multiple handlings at terminals, there’s often a higher standard of packaging and care. What this translates into is less risk of damage or loss of your cargo.

3. Tracking Capabilities

Many LTL carriers offer advanced tracking systems, enabling businesses to know the real-time location of their goods.

4. Additional Services

1. Inside Delivery: Gone are the days of your items being left curbside, vulnerable to theft or weather conditions. With inside delivery, your freight is brought directly into your home, office, or designated area, ensuring it reaches its final destination safely.

2. Liftgate Service: Ever had a heavy shipment that seemed impossible to unload? No worries! Liftgate service offers a hydraulic lift to safely and efficiently lower your items from the truck to the ground. It’s a back-saver and a time-saver all rolled into one!

3. Notification Services: Stay in the loop with real-time notifications about your shipment’s status. Whether it’s an ETA update or a delivery confirmation, these timely alerts keep you informed every step of the way.

How to Choose LTL Provider in South Africa

1. Do Your Research

Several transport companies offer LTL shipping in South Africa. Businesses need to research, compare, and understand the specific offerings of each. Additionally, it’s important to take a step back and have a hard look at the LTL providers track record to ensure the LTL provider can reliability meet your shipping needs.

2. Negotiate

Given the competitive nature of the industry, there’s often room for negotiation, especially if the business plans on regular shipments.

3. Check for Compliance & Insurance

When you’re picking an LTL provider in South Africa, don’t forget to dig a bit into the boring stuff, such as making sure they’re up to standard on all the legal and safety rules.

First off, you’ll want to check that they’ve got full insurance coverage for different kinds of goods. Trust me, you don’t want to be left picking up the pieces if something goes wrong during shipping.

Make sure they’re following all South Africa’s transport and safety laws to the letter. It’s not just about dodging fines or legal headaches, it’s about knowing your goods are in safe and responsible hands during their journey.

So go ahead, ask them about their certifications and safety records. It’s a small step that could save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Conclusion

At the end of the day if you’re running a small business in South Africa and don’t need a whole truck to move your items, LTL is your new best friend. It’s budget-friendly and extremely flexible, perfect for getting your products where they need to go without breaking the bank.

But don’t just jump into it take a little time to understand how LTL works and pick the right shipping partner.

It’s much like dating, you’ve got to find ‘the one’ that will treat your goods right and keep your customers happy. A little homework now will pay off big time in keeping your supply chain smooth and your customers smiling.

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Freight Forwarding

The Top 5 Benefits of Railway Freight Transportation

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Railway freight train in South Africa

In the world of moving stuff around, there’s something special about railway freight transportation. It’s like the unsung hero of hauling goods over long distances, along with the other five different modes of transportation in freight forwarding. Think of it as one of the Marvel superheroes regarding the transportation of goods.

Table of contents

In this article, we’ll be exploring:

Let’s get started.

What is Railway Freight Transportation?

So, imagine goods and stuff getting hauled on trains. That’s railway freight transportation for you. It’s been around for ages, evolving from those old steam engines to modern marvels that crisscross continents. Trains hauling cargo? Yep, not hauling humans, but definitely hauling cargo.

The Importance of Railway Freight Transportation

Why would we care about railway freight transportation? Think of railway freight transportation as the backbone of how stuff gets around. It’s the way raw materials, finished products, and all sorts of things make their journey. This mode of transport is known for being super reliable and consistent, which helps keep trade, industries, and economies humming.

It’s the heavyweight champion when it comes to carrying big loads. Think coal, minerals, and those grains that end up as your morning cereal. It’s also the magic that connects landlocked spots to those big, bustling ports, opening doors to global markets.

The Top 5 Benefits of Railway Freight Transportation

Railway freight transportation isn’t perfect and comes with its own challenges, however, it does provide us with a fair number of benefits too. The top five are listed below:

1.     Money Saver

Here’s the cool part – trains are like bulk carriers of the transportation world. They can haul so much stuff in one go that it ends up being cheaper to move things by rail, especially over long distances.

2.     Earth-Friendly

Trains are the eco-warriors of transportation. They’re like the zen masters of carbon emissions. Trains emit way fewer greenhouse gases than trucks and planes per unit of cargo. So, going for trains helps cut down on the planet’s frown lines.

3.     Always On Time and Safe

Trains are like the clockwork buddies of cargo transport. They’re known for sticking to schedules and being reliable. Plus, they’ve got a lower risk of accidents compared to roads, so it’s a safer way to move your goods.

4.     Super Long-Distance Magic

Need to move things really, really far? Trains are your go-to pals. They’re like the marathon runners of hauling goods across countries and continents. Fewer pit stops, less hassle, and tons of efficiency.

5.     Traffic Tamer

You know that traffic headache we all feel? Trains help ease the pain. By moving some cargo from trucks to trains, we’re giving the roads some breathing space. That means smoother traffic, fewer road jams, and happier drivers.

Final thoughts

When it comes to moving stuff, railway freight transportation is like that reliable friend you can always count on. It’s budget-friendly, planet-friendly, and just a rock star at getting things from A to B.

As businesses look for smart, eco-friendly ways to move things, railway freight transportation steps up as a real champ. It’s like having your cake and eating it too – efficient, cost-effective, and a friend to the environment.

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