Cape Town, 3 May 2023 – The retail sector remains under pressure. The cost of living, inflation, rising interest rates and a global economic recession continue to impact sales and growth, asking that retailers find smarter and more sustainable ways of navigating these headwinds. According to Deloitte’s 2023 retail industry outlook, retailers need to find resiliency and invest in solutions that ‘elevate business strategy beyond traditional cost cutting’.
One of the key ways in which retailers can enhance their existing systems and approaches while bedding down sustainability is to invest in capable technology. The ability to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions and uncertainty has become a critical success point for the modern retailer. This is wedded to the need to ensure that customers remain loyal and connected at a time when they too are cutting expenditure to make ends meet. Technology empowers the organisation, providing the insights, data and functionality it needs to identify the trends, revise strategies and engage with customers.
“Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms have evolved from weighty and overly complex solutions that inhibit business processes to modular and intelligent toolkits that deliver immense value,” says Stephen Howe, director at Times 3 Technologies, a Sage Platinum Partner. “An intelligent blend of ERP functions across finance, inventory management, sales, human resources, and supply chain, to name a few, offers retailers invaluable visibility into the business. Using the insights provided by your ERP the business can enhance, if not completely transform decision-making, and uncover new growth opportunities.”
In addition to the obvious value that ERP delivers around data and insights, it also assists in streamlining processes, improving operational capabilities, and saving on costs. This is where the return on investment (ROI) comes in. ERP is an investment into a comprehensive ecosystem that wraps the business in layers of functionality and provides immense scalability and visibility and is worth the investment if it’s implemented in line with your business strategies and infrastructure. And this means that you need to know exactly how well it’s performing and ensure that your ERP delivers on your anticipated ROI.
“Your ERP system touches so many different parts of your business which means that measuring benefits is made so much easier,” says Howe. “Your first step is to unpack precisely why you have your ERP system in place, or why you are choosing to invest in an ERP system, as this will provide you with clarity around ROI and measurement metrics as you move down the road.”
Retailers want efficiencies across the supply chain, costs, HR and finance. These are key areas that require ongoing visibility and control as these can be high-cost centres for the sector. To ensure that you achieve your ROI on this investment there are three key steps your business can take. The first is training – ensuring that your users understand the system and have the understanding they need to leverage it correctly is of paramount importance. Why? Because without their buy-in and skillsets, the system won’t be used to its full potential and there is the risk that it won’t be used correctly due to employee resentment and distrust. You want everyone on board to ensure that the system really works for the business and your people.
The second step is to ensure that there is buy-in from every individual in the business, starting at the top progressing to the bottom. If everyone understands the why of your ERP investment, then they will be more committed to the training and to using the system efficiently. The third step is to create a cycle of constant evaluation and assessment – test, try, test and try again. This approach ensures that if the system isn’t quite working for your business, you constantly iterate and tweak it until it does. You want your ERP optimised and relevant for your business to gain true value.
“If you can introduce efficiencies, save costs on unnecessary expenditure, and use data to refine processes and operations, you will save money by default,” says Howe. “Your ERP is an incredibly intelligent behemoth capable of radically transforming how you do business, but only if you are realistic in implementation, have solid change management strategies in place, and constantly refine it to ensure you get the most from its functionalities.”
Running your business in the cloud with an ERP system designed to fit your needs and to deliver ROI doesn’t have to be overly complicated or daunting. Sage X3 is ideal for retailers who want the right levels of ERP functionality without all the cost and complexity. This popular ERP platform manages everything within your business from sales to inventory to CRM and purchasing, and with T3T’s add-ons, it can be refined to ensure your organisation performs at optimum levels while delivering on ROI.
RTMS auditors in bid to raise safety awareness amongst truck drivers in South Africa
South Africa faces a pressing road safety challenge, with a disproportionate number of accidents involving heavy vehicles, particularly trucks. In an effort to address this issue and promote safer road conditions, it is imperative to raise safety awareness among truck drivers across the country.
To promote safe driving amongst heavy vehicle truck drivers, certifications solutions company JC Auditors (JCA) will participate in a series of road shows in collaboration with industry partners, dedicated to raising awareness among heavy vehicle truck drivers and promoting safe driving behaviours.
The first event will be hosted at the Highway Junction Truck Stop on 4 October 2023, targeting an audience of 2 000 drivers.
During this event, drivers will not only be treated to delightful surprises and giveaways, but will also receive a crucial safety message emphasising the importance of responsible driving. The Highway Junction team are spearheading this event, with the JCA team providing driver safety resources and support.
For the second year, JCA will partner with the Reinhardt Transport Group (RTG) for their “Safer Roads” road shows, which will take place in various locations, including Komatipoort, Steelpoort, Rustenburg, Brits and Richards Bay.
This collaboration will enable the dissemination of vital road safety information to a broader audience of truck drivers across these high-volume routes.
In addition to these road shows, JCA will host its third Annual Driver Day at Highway Junction, which will encompass driver health checks and the highly successful one-on-one driver motivational talks.
This event further recognises the challenges faced by truck drivers and aims to express appreciation for their demanding profession. Each driver will receive a token of gratitude as a gesture of recognition for their commitment to one of the most challenging jobs around.
“The JCA team strongly encourages all stakeholders in the road safety ecosystem to consider and implement initiatives that elevate the professional status of drivers,” says Managing Director Oliver Naidoo. “By collectively addressing the issues faced by truck drivers and promoting safer driving practices, we can work towards improving South Africa’s lamentable road safety record.”
JCA is committed to fostering a culture of road safety and believes that these road shows, in collaboration with industry partners, are a meaningful step towards making our roads safer for everyone.
“South Africa’s trucking industry plays a pivotal role in the nation’s economy, facilitating the transportation of goods that are essential for daily life,” continues Naidoo. “The significant increase in freight volumes proportionately increases the safety risk exposure, hence the need for greater awareness and adherence to safety protocols among truck drivers.”
In this regard, Naidoo highlights some key factors the road freight sector should consider:
High Accident Rates
South Africa has one of the highest road crash rates in the world, and a significant proportion of these accidents involve heavy vehicles. The consequences of these accidents are often devastating, resulting in loss of life, injury, and damage to property.
Road accidents involving trucks have a substantial economic impact, causing delays in supply chains, increased insurance costs, and damage to infrastructure. These costs ultimately affect businesses, consumers, and the overall economy.
Truck driving is a demanding profession, often requiring long hours on the road, exposure to adverse weather conditions, and significant physical and mental strain. Ensuring the well-being of truck drivers is not only a safety concern, but also a matter of basic human rights. The increasing truck crime statistics and social unrest incidents make the situation even worse.
To address these challenges, there is a growing need for comprehensive safety awareness programs targeting truck drivers. These initiatives should include:
Education & Training
Providing truck drivers with access to training programs that focus on safe driving practices, defensive driving techniques, and understanding road conditions. This should not be purely classroom based which has limited impact, but should use personal, innovative, and consistent means of engaging with the drivers to bring about the desired shift in safety culture.
Mental & Physical Health Support
Offering resources and services that address the mental and physical health of truck drivers, including stress management, nutrition, and regular health check-ups, especially for drivers with chronic illnesses.
Implementing advanced safety technologies such as collision avoidance systems, fatigue monitoring, and using telematics data to enhance driver safety.
Encouraging collaboration between government agencies, the trucking industry, and local communities, to create a collective commitment to road safety.
Recognition & Appreciation
Recognising and appreciating the contributions of truck drivers who undertake one of the toughest jobs in the country, often under challenging conditions.
Voestalpine VAE SA (VAESA) Awarded a Prestigious Three-Year Contract by Transnet Freight Rail for Turnout Sets
Leading provider of railway infrastructure solutions, VAESA, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a significant three-year contract by Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) to manufacture and supply TFR’s demand for turnout sets and components annually.
This collaboration is a testament to VAESA’s commitment to delivering high-quality railway products and services that enhance South Africa’s rail network.
TFR’s decision to award VAESA with this game-changing contract from a rail network infrastructure perspective, underscores the company’s reputation for excellence and innovation within the railway industry.
“We are delighted to have been selected by TFR for this significant contract,” says Pulane Tshabalala Kingston, VAESA’s Chief Executive Officer.
“This partnership between ourselves and TFR aligns perfectly with our mission to provide cutting-edge railway solutions that contribute to South Africa’s transportation infrastructure progress. Our team is dedicated to delivering products of the highest quality that meet the stringent standards set by TFR.”
Local Production a Boost For The Economy
The turnout sets and components for this project will be manufactured at VAESA’s state-of-the-art Isando facility in Johannesburg.
The facility holds a unique history, as it was acquired 26 years ago by voestalpine Railway Systems, part of the voestalpine group, a distinguished Austrian-listed metal company renowned as the unrivalled leader in turnout technology globally. In 2021, Mirai Rail Corporation, a black woman-owned company, acquired a controlling interest in VAESA.
“As the only facility of its scale in sub-Saharan Africa, our Isando facility stands as a testament – not only to the company’s dedication to advancing railway infrastructure and technology on the Continent, but also to our commitment to local manufacture in South Africa,” says Tshabalala Kingston.
“In this regard, it is important to note that our facility has the capacity to comfortably meet both TFR’s demand in terms of the awarded contract, as well as our other customers’ demands. We have gone to great lengths to ensure the security of supply for our customers, as we understand how important this is.”
“It is noteworthy that this is the first substantial turnouts contract to have been successfully awarded in the last five years – and explains TFR’s significant maintenance backlog.
This award is an important and positive step forward by TFR, which will go a long way to resolving cycle time issues, creating jobs, bolstering the revenues of users on the rail network and ultimately contributing to our overall economic growth,” continues Tshabalala Kingston.
Turnouts are a critical component of modern railway infrastructure. They let trains change tracks smoothly, without needing to stop.
Turnouts allow trains to be re-routed to avoid congestion, delays, or maintenance work. Additionally, rail turnouts enable the creation of sidings, which are essential for freight trains to pass each other on single-track lines.
Empowering Communities & Driving Economic Growth
According to Tshabalala Kingston, the significance of the contract goes well beyond VAESA, casting a positive light on the entire perway industry.
“This award heralds a much-needed turnaround that will breathe new life into various facets of the industry – including job prospects and the livelihood of downstream suppliers, who provide essential components like nuts, bolts, chairs, and fishplates. The positive impact of this award extends across the industry, as it revitalises not only VAESA, but also the network of companies that support its operations.”
Already, VAESA has supplied TFR with 18 complete turnout sets. These were installed in July this year during the annual shutdown of the coal line that runs from Lephalale in Limpopo, through Mpumalanga, to the Port of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
The turnouts were installed on the Ermelo, Vryheid, Ulundi and Richards Bay lines. As of January 2023, the coal line had a number of clamped turnouts, which hurt the ability of coal mining companies to evacuate their export coal.
Replacing 18 turnouts has been heralded as a game-changer, significantly improving cycle times and overall turnaround time in the TFR Ermelo yard – ultimately halving the overall cycle time.
“The awarding of this contract and the successful engagement and participation in the yearly coal line shutdown, through collaborative efforts with various stakeholders, serves as undeniable evidence of what is possible when all stakeholders come together with a common purpose, ” concludes Tshabalala Kingston.
“It benefits the manufacturing industry at large and users of the various rail corridors. Equally important, is that it will increase tariff revenues for Transnet – given the greater operational efficiencies achieved, allowing for more volumes to be transported between the coal mines and the Port of Richards Bay. This impact of the award cannot be underestimated – it has the capability of contributing to the re-awakening of the South African rail renaissance.”
Unitrans champions International Water Week with collaborative Clean-up Day.
Committed to environmental rejuvenation and sustainability, logistics services provider Unitrans has partnered with Adopt-a-River, uniting their efforts in a river clean-up initiative as part of International Water Week.
The event, held at the Unitrans depot in Clairwood, Kwa-Zulu Natal, on 23 August 2023, showcased a robust collaboration among critical stakeholders, including neighbouring companies, the community and the government.
“We have prioritised several sustainability goals and have made a firm commitment to making a positive impact and being responsible in our consumption and everything we do,” explained Unitrans CEO Terry Bantock. “The clean-up day is a reflection of this.”
“Unitrans believes in the power of partnership and proactive engagement to drive positive change. Through initiatives like this, we aim to inspire and encourage a broader movement towards safeguarding our planet for future generations.”
Unitrans actively supports Adopt-a-River, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a difference in our waterways. The project involves waste collection from the Umhlatuzane River adjacent to the company’s Clairwood depot, tackling illegally dumped waste and controlling the alien invasive species along the riverbank.
The clean-up day highlighted the ongoing efforts to restore the Umhlatuzane River, by clearing some significant sand deposits and blocking off slip road access, which was illegally used for washing vehicles and dumping waste and chemicals into the river.
Collaboration for sustainability
By Unitrans’ unwavering dedication to adopting a portion of the river and fostering sustainable practices, the event echoed a resounding call for collective action in safeguarding natural resources.
The dedicated group of environmental enthusiasts comprising Unitrans and Adopt-a-River staff, representatives from the community, Ethekwini Municipality, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, neighbouring companies, as well as members of the media, dedicated their time and effort to address some of the challenges faced on the Umhlatuzane River.
Recognising the critical importance of water resources and the need to address environmental challenges, Unitrans and Adopt-a-River embarked on this journey in November 2022, marking the beginning of a relentless effort to combat daily issues affecting the Umhlatuzane canal and its banks. The project’s inception highlighted the problems plaguing the Umhlatuzane River and its surroundings.
Founder and Director of Adopt-a-River Janet Simpkins stressed the importance of collaboration:
“By embracing the concept of adopting and maintaining a space along a river, ordinary individuals can become water warriors. The need for water security, particularly in the face of global climate change, cannot be over-emphasised.
“Protecting our precious water resources and keeping them pollution-free is vital. We are grateful to all the stakeholders for joining hands with us to support this important initiative.”
Commenting on the excellent turnout of various stakeholders, Head of Accelerated Organisational Sustainability Liesl de Wet added: “Considering the multiple stressors impacting our rivers, now more than ever, a unified approach is required to protect our rivers, wetlands, and broader catchments. We are delighted that our neighbours, community members and government stakeholders joined us on this important initiative.”
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