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People are a saving grace for a Covid-weary logistics/supply-chain industry under enormous pressure

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Bidvest workers in warehouse

JOHANNESBURG, 14 March 2022 –  As much as automated systems are revolutionising supply chains, human capital – and more importantly, the quality thereof – remains paramount.

In Part 1 of the State Capture Commission’s report released this year, Justice Raymond Zondo went to great lengths to explain how government procurement processes had been subverted well before state capture even became part of the national conversation. Goods and services were procured when they were not needed, and there was often unnecessary duplication of work.

These practices were the direct result of people who were either unscrupulous or grossly incompetent.

This is an extreme example, but it does show what can happen when the wrong people are left to oversee logistics and supply chains.

While for the moment the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be over, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is giving rise to further turmoil in the world economy as fuel prices skyrocket and sanctions reshape global supply chains.

That said, there is no doubt that the impact of the virus is also still being felt. Shipping costs remain high, and the world has not yet recovered from the microchip shortage affecting a number of industries.

The situation will necessitate that skilled logistics leaders and staff are in place to weather the storm and ensure that businesses won’t only remain sustainable, but profitable as well.

The supply chain industry is facing continuous change and major shifts due to the complex demands of customers. This has an impact and certain quality expectations on the roles of the supply chain specialists to adapt and shape business solutions.

Polly Mitchell-Guthrie, of supply chain software company Kinesis, points out that because today’s supply chains face many disruptions, it makes it extremely difficult to establish patterns, and no matter how technologically-advanced algorithms may be.

“It’s humans who possess the ability to derive meaning from context, so when disruptions arise, it is people who are able to use business acumen and domain expertise to make the best decisions for their supply chain,” she comments in Engineering & Technology magazine.

Certainly in South Africa there is huge scope for young, driven entrepreneurs to contribute effectively to supply chains.

A World Bank analysis for South Africa released in 2021 argued that if the country were to match the self-employment rates of countries like Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, making up an estimated 30% of all jobs, it could potentially halve its dismal unemployment rate of 34.9%.

Furthermore, the global human capital market size is expected to reach $32.68-billion (R502-billion) by 2027.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the increasing proclivity of companies towards artificial intelligence and machine-learning to eliminate unnecessary IT costs will foster the growth of market sales.

In other words, there is fertile ground for the country’s entrepreneurs to grow, and people will be at the heart of any potential revival. 

“People are the champions in making a business a success,” says Bidvest International Logistics’ (BIL) human resources director Harry Dimo.

“People are the fundamental human resources to provide quality service to the customers, therefore it is a must to continuously improve employees’ efficiency and performance.”

Dimo cannot stress enough the importance of having the “correct people with the appropriate skills sets and experience” on board to ensure processes happen as they should.

“The common qualities include the ability to solve technical problems, always display a sense of energy, learning and innovative capability, good leadership traits and intellectual humility.

“Individuals also need to be savvy in terms of the supply chain industry and be able to adapt to the continuous changes and challenges.”

At BIL, recruitment practices are geared to ensuring the company attracts and retains the best possible talent in the market.

Scouting for this talent occurs in a variety of ways. These include a state-of-the-art recruitment platform that connects to LinkedIn and all the biggest electronic job boards. There are also a large number of candidates on BIL’s database that enables it to find suitable replacements in shortened periods. The company also enjoys close relationships with recruitment agencies and boasts a well-established Employee Referral Programme which rewards employees for referring people they know to BIL.

Dimo recommends that recruiting individuals or companies should review their hiring processes by interrogating their pros and cons and align their hiring approach to business competency requirements.

By no means is BIL the only business that has had to endure the challenges of Covid-19, but it does stand out as one that has done so successfully.  This is because its leaders continued to support and develop its staff despite the pressures on global supply chains. 

“The BIL Academy had to become more innovative in how training and development should be remotely presented to employees, which brought about a big shift to insource training solutions which traditionally were outsourced to training providers,” Dimo explains.

“Management is constantly faced with the difficult task of keeping employees motivated during tough economic challenges, including Covid-19 circumstances, both inside and outside of the workplace. As a result, the best practice leadership approach is critical to ensuring that we cultivate a motivated, happy and productive workforce.”

BIL possesses what it likes to call its own internal “talent supply chain” that ensures continuity of highly-skilled staff. 

The company has a Transport Education Training Authority (TETA)- accredited internal academy that makes sure all qualifications are professionally recognised.

In addition to leadership programmes and other behavioural skills training to address the required competencies, bursaries are also offered to high potential employees who are able to pursue degrees and post-degree qualifications. 

BIL believes that while learnerships provide industry basics, tertiary study and other training address the current and future skills essential to the dynamic supply chain industry.

BIL also offers wellness solutions and employee support solutions. This offering was especially well received during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Furthermore, the company programme includes periodical internal employee satisfaction surveys to understand what employees are going through in the workplace.

“We also have a robust and continuous improvement performance management approach which is linked to our reward system. Lastly, we have effective methods to celebrate successes and drive innovation,” Dimo concludes.

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Logistics

Affordable, Reliable & Highly Tailored Overnight Road Services Delivers With Superior reach & in Record Time

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African man near transport trucks

In a world where businesses demand swift and dependable logistics solutions, Seabourne Logistics is leading with its innovative ONR (overnight road service), setting new industry standards, delivering goods punctually and rapidly expanding its reach to cater to a rapidly growing clientele.

Designed to provide quick and efficient deliveries throughout South Africa, reaching destinations typically accessible solely by air, the overnight service gives clients a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced market.

“The success of our overnight road service can be attributed to our dedication to quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness,” says Garry Harris, Director at Seabourne Logistics ZA. “We understand that our clients’ success depends on their ability to have goods delivered on time and within budget, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Transporting goods overnight by road presents numerous benefits. The foremost advantage is its cost-effectiveness, offering potential savings of up to 50% compared to airfreight services. Moreover, it excels in cargo handling, boasting greater space and flexibility than airlines. This facilitates the transportation of hazardous materials and liquids, which may be subject to stricter airborne regulations.

“While road transport does have its limitations, it is considerably more accommodating, permitting the carriage of items like aerosols or lithium batteries that may be restricted on flights. Importantly, our service consistently upholds high quality standards, ensuring minimal disruptions,” continues Harris.

Seabourne have created distribution hubs and fulfillment centres which are strategically positioned across the country to cater to the growing clientèle. Not only has it increased the service’s reach, but also allows for more efficient transportation networks.

The company has invested heavily in the development of this service.  All linehaul vehicles are equipped with long-range tanks and anti-fatigue cameras that are consistently operated by a double crew, whose activities are closely monitored by a 24-hour control room.

Iveco Turbo Daily 50C 70 vehicles with reinforced heavy-duty tow bars and 1.5-ton trailers are operated within their warranty period on the overnight road service – ensuring reliability. The fleet is subjected to bumper-to-bumper service checks every second to third day, depending on the rotation schedule.

The vehicles have dimensions measuring 4500 (length) x 1700 (width) x 1900 (height), with a carrying capacity of 2.5 tons and 16 cubic metres of space. The trailers have dimensions of 3300 (length) x 1600 (width) x 1700 (height) and can carry 1-1.5 tons with 9 cubic metres of available space. To enhance their robustness, the rear sections of the vehicles are equipped with aluminium cladding walls and Marley-type floors, complete with sunken securing points.

“Businesses, driven by price sensitivity and competition in service delivery, are increasingly opting for this intermediate service that ensures next-day delivery,” explains Harris. “It holds great value in industries like the automotive sector, where the quick movement of parts is crucial. It offers convenience and flexibility, allowing for multiple deliveries in a single trip to remote places often left out from next-day delivery. Moreso, we’re constantly working on expanding our service reach and footprint across the country, providing our clients with a cost-effective solution,” concludes Harris.

The growing logistics company moved to a new and improved facility in November, doubling their warehousing space and preparing to further enhance their reach and maintain their excellent personal service.

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Logistics

Laser Cutting Systems in Shipbuilding & Supply Chain impacts

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Shipbuilding with large ship and man

Shipbuilding, a craft as ancient as our love for the sea, is witnessing a heartwarming embrace of old and new. Cargo ships themselves are one of many crucial parts of the supply chain.

We talk a great deal about the freight aspect of maritime shipping however one less studied element is how we can use certain technologies to make the creation of these fleets more efficient and the effects this has on the supply chain.

Enter the laser cutter, a modern marvel making waves in this age-old industry. Let’s dive deep into how this tool, with its humming precision, is becoming the best mate for shipbuilders and how the supply chain benefits from it.

1. Precision Meets Passion

Laser Cutters:

Think of Laser cutting systems as the skilled artist’s brush in a shipbuilder’s hand. Their finesse ensures that ships are crafted not just robustly, but also with an attention to detail that would make any craftsman proud.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Thanks to these machines, there’s less scratching of heads and more nodding in approval. Fewer reorders of materials mean smoother sails from design boards to docks. This also means less cost is wasted on reordering materials and thus a less expensive component of the supply chain is produced.

2. Quick Production Times

Laser Cutters:

These aren’t your granddad’s tools. They fly through sheet metal at great speed, proving that modern tools can keep up with the high seas demands.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Quicker construction of cargo ships means that more assets can be added to the existing supply chain expanding capacity and ensuring the supply chain can keep up with demand.

3. Less Material is Wasted

Laser Cutters:

]They’re the embodiment of ‘waste not, want not’. With their precision, every bit of metal finds its purpose.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Less scrap means not just savings, but also fewer headaches about what to do with leftovers leaving us with a greener production of our ships.

4. Every Piece in Its Place

Laser Cutters:

In shipbuilding, every section is a piece of a grand puzzle. With lasers in the mix, each piece of metal can be precision-cut to fit any section of the ship.

Supply Chain Ripples:

Fewer misfits mean less time wasted going back and fixing the problem. This is music to the ears of everyone, from the shipyard to the suppliers saving time materials and precious resources.

5. Remember These High-Tech Tools Need TLC Too

Laser Cutters:

As sophisticated as they are, they’re a bit like pets. Give them care, and they’ll purr (or, hum) along perfectly.

Supply Chain Ripples:

This means the supply chain needs to have a soft spot for machine maintenance, ensuring parts and services are always on standby to service the machines that improve overall supply chain efficiency.

6. Greener Supply Chain

Laser Cutters:

Beyond their precision, they’re a wink to our green future, less waste and more sustainable practices mean a greener supply chain as these tools begin to see more and more use.

Supply Chain Ripples:

As shipbuilding turns a shade greener, the supply chain is now on the lookout for eco-friendly partners. What this means in effect is that clients and brands who sway to the more eco-friendly side will be more likely to do business with a partner that shows an ecofriendly initiative.

7. Cost Savers

Laser Cutters:

They might ask for a few extra pennies upfront, but the symphony they bring to shipbuilding often makes it worth every cent.

Supply Chain Ripples:

With a vision on the horizon, there’s a gentle nudge for more flexible payment dialogues, keeping an eye on long-term gains.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the dance between laser cutters and shipbuilding is a sight to behold. A balance of tradition and technology, proves that even in an industry as seasoned as shipbuilding, there’s always room for a new partner.

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Freight Forwarding

Risk Management Logistics in South Africa’s Supply Chain

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Pallets with 2023 supply chain challenges text

South Africa’s bustling roads, humming ports, and busy warehouses tell tales of a nation always on the move.

But amidst this hive of activity, there’s an underlying concern that often gives logistics professionals sleepless nights: crime, theft, and fraud. Let’s explore this issue, not just as numbers or percentages, but as challenges that have real-world implications for businesses, employees, and consumers alike.

Understanding The Real Threat on The Roads

Picture this: a trucker navigating a long and isolated route, the horizon painted with the setting sun, and suddenly confronted by criminals. It’s a scenario that’s sadly not too rare in South Africa. These aren’t just thefts; they’re personal stories of danger and loss.

Criminals are known to target freight vehicles such as trucks on our roads for their valuable cargo. This is no exaggeration but instead an ever-growing problem in South Africa. This is illustrated by the number of truck hijackings growing between a period of 10 years truck hijackings have moved up from 943 per year in 2013, to 1996 hijackings per year as of 2023.

The Ripple Effect of Theft and Fraud on South Africa’s Roads

1. Drives up Costs

Businesses often foot the bill for these unexpected losses and this cost is then passed down to the consumer.

2. Delays and Disruptions

A single theft can push back deliveries, throwing off schedules and disappointing waiting customers. Even worse as an example of the ripple effect, if the delivery is a critical product say parts for vehicles, we face the reality of employees not being able to drive to work if their cars need these parts, and a disruption to another unrelated parts of the supply chain as a result.

3. Causes Trust Issues

When incidents multiply, trust erodes. Customers might think twice before choosing a service with a history of frequent losses.

4. Insurance Headaches

As claims go up, so do insurance premiums, making the cost of doing business a bit steeper. which hurts large parts of the supply chain that depend on having valuable items insured.

Digital Threats in a Modern World

In an age where you can track a shipment on your smartphone, cyber threats have become a silent, invisible menace. From rerouting shipments to impersonating vendors, the digital highway has its own set of bandits.

Solutions

1. Stay One Step Ahead with Tech

Real-time GPS isn’t just a fancy tool, rather it’s your eyes on the ground, ensuring goods are always on the right path.

2. Empowering Our People

By educating staff and drivers about potential risks, we’re not just offering training; we’re equipping them with shields against scams and threats.

3. A Helping Hand from the Law

Strong ties with local police can make a world of difference. It’s like having a guardian angel looking over each shipment.

However, in the context of South Africa, it may be more beneficial to enlist the help of private security to guard your shipments, particularly if the items are of high value.

4. Bolstering Our Digital Walls

Just as we lock our doors at night, we need to secure our digital gateways with regular updates, strong passwords, and layers of encryption.

5. Safety Nets

Insurance isn’t just paperwork, it’s a promise of recovery. It’s vital to have a plan to bounce back when things go south.

Embracing Tomorrow

South Africa’s heart beats with trade and commerce. As we further carve our niche in the global market, our logistic pathways need to be not just efficient but also safe. Addressing crime and fraud is more than just a business strategy, it’s a commitment to our partners, employees, and every individual awaiting a delivery.

Conclusion

While challenges loom large, our combined efforts—driven by technology, trust, and teamwork can craft a safer, brighter future for South African logistics. After all, every challenge overcome is a story worth telling.

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