Despite market uncertainty, local logistics powerhouse Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL) has forged ahead with several large-scale infrastructure development plans. The company has moved into a new state-of-the-art chemicals and general cargo warehouse in Mobeni, Durban, taken over new Westmead, Pinetown premises, and is now operating out of stunning new regional facilities at Frosterley Park on Umhlanga Ridge.
“We’ve witnessed steady growth in various areas of our business for several years now, which required us to readdress capacity issues and ensure that we continue to uphold a solid emphasis on compliance – these three investments meet this head on,” says Maria du Preez, business development director for BPL.
Runway Park, the Mobeni warehouse facility jointly owned by BPL and Growthpoint Properties, has become the new regional home of BPL’s warehousing division. It covers 25 000m2 comprising flammable solids and liquids stores, a general cargo store, space for 36 000 pallets, 15 container ramps, and undercover truck loading capacity for 10 superlinks. Alongside the warehouse is a smart new office block to accommodate the admin team. And, obviously, all the relevant permits to operate as a fully recognised and accredited J1 chemical facility are in place.
“Despite a few challenges, our relocation from Umbilo to Mobeni went off very smoothly,” says Du Preez. “The development will provide us with capacity, compliance and security for the next five to seven years, following which we may look to roll out phase two on a site next door.”
In another bold move, BPL’s roadfreight division, also previously housed at Umbilo, moved into new premises in Mahogany Ridge, an industrial node just off the N3 in Pinetown. Named Axle Park, the new roadfreight facilites boasts 4 000m2 of warehousing space, 12 000m2 of yard space, nine bays for loading and offloading, 100 trailer bays, above-ground diesel tanks, and offices for 130 employees.
“We really wanted to improve turnaround time for our long-haul deliveries. Mahogany Ridge gives us prime access to the N3, so will hugely improve our efficiency,” says Du Preez.
BPL’s regional offices for KwaZulu-Natal are now housed at Frosterley Park on Umhlanga Ridge, within walking distance of the popular Gateway Mall. With stunning views of the Indian Ocean, the new building is the home of the company’s international logistics, roadfreight, business development, and compliance and risk operations. It has state-of-the-art technology and furniture, a beautiful canteen and a well-equipped boardroom and business lounge.
Du Preez says that the idea behind the move to Frosterley Park was to merge various old and outdated facilities into one, and still have a space that could accommodate future growth. “The sweetener in the deal is its location, stunning views and overall feel – it will be a pleasure for both clients and staff to come home to,” she notes.
In November last year, BPL’s Rosslyn facility – an end-to-end supply-chain solution for Nissan South Africa – achieved ISO 9001:2015 quality management system multi-site certification, awarded following a vehicle stockyard refurbishment to afford better overall support for Nissan. ISO 9001 is an international standard for quality management systems, designed to improve customer service, streamline and reduce costs of operations, build market resilience, inculcate good corporate governance and enhance various stakeholder relations.
The Rosslyn facility consists of three stripping areas, three spray booths, three polish areas, three assembly areas, one oven, a paint kitchen and a flammables store. And in line with its emphasis on compliance, BPL has rolled out 5S, a system of organising and managing workspaces to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, and implementing health and safety measures, along with various other ISO-accredited processes and procedures.
“We upgraded the Nissan container yard too,” notes Du Preez, of the facility BPL has been managing for the last six years. “Our aim here is really to set a benchmark in customer satisfaction.” The latest improvement sees a replacement of an old vehicle fleet with two new stackers and six three-ton forklifts. A teatra-telematics fleet-management system has been installed too.
Upholding compliance and risk management, various warehouses in the BPL network successfully underwent Chemical Distribution Institute (CDI) audits, a new requirement for the chemical industry to assess risk using the best chemical knowledge available. The non-profit CDI is responsible for the inspection and audit of the global supply chain of bulk and packaged chemicals in transport and storage.
BPL continues to manage the level and effectiveness of its customer service across all units and divisions of the business. “After moving into such stunning new facilities in KwaZulu-Natal, we were reminded again that we needed to re-evaluate our customer service standards,” says international logistics director Bruce Thoresson. “It was time to thrill our clients, so we took a back-to-basics approach in how we service clients, specifically in our international logistics division, by developing a new blue print for how we service clients, called Project Thrill.”
Project Thrill is a programme that was workshopped by 60 international logistics division employees, and is being implemented to review and enhance operational and financial processes, retraining staff, establish new key performance indicators (KPIs), embrace automation, and use communication more as an integral part of our processes.
Various staff have been allocated new mandates, with Jen Byrne (previously head of the Oil & Gas business unit) taking up general manager responsiblities in KwaZulu-Natal, national HR manager JD van der Merwe spearheading the initiative to establish new KPIs, and Bonnie Masuku seconded to the role of business unit manager for automotive in East London.