Service delivery is very much on everyone’s mind these days and no more so than in the supply chain and logistics industry. There is a growing challenge to improve the flow of commodities in and out of the factories and warehouses which will ultimately reach the table of the consumer. Unfortunately not enough is being spent on building new warehouses and distribution facilities, which has led to many a logistic bottleneck in the major cities.
Logistics in South Africa is no doubt on a growth path and as such requires a distribution infrastructure that will provide the highest level of service, be it in or out of the manufacturing source. The diversity of products means that there has to be more emphasis on the equipment used and its suitability to the task it has to perform without losing sight of the safety requirements.
The country has an abundant supply of labour but global standards of warehousing, transport and distribution dictate that mechanisation cannot be ruled out as storage heights have increased and loading speed has been a key factor in vehicle turn around time.
The demand for quicker lead times in the international markets has led to an increase in e-business and the internet has become a major contributor to all logistic operations. Here in South Africa the hands-on concept still exists and ultimately the use of handling equipment still paramount.
Material handling equipment distributors abound in South Africa but very few are geared to offer full solutions that will fall in line with clients’ requirements. Many are the representatives of international companies and are well geared to offering international standards of quality and service to the industry.
Safety is expanding beyond mere equipment upkeep to ensuring the right equipment is used for the application, which is a major factor in ensuring that the right equipment is not operated beyond its safety design criteria, thus reducing unnecessary failures to the equipment as a result and also extending its economic life.
Many materials handling companies are offering usage programmes with flexibility to change or return equipment during the contract period. Customers are looking more towards access to materials handling versus ownership, which is a means towards a healthier balance sheet and operational flexibility.