‘Business unusual’ – Dachser South Africa crossing continents for mega-machinery

Due to this continent’s economic reliance on the extraction of natural resources, logistics operators in Africa will often be required to facilitate the movement of large machinery and parts, many times transporting goods from South African ports to remote locations beyond our borders. For Dachser South Africa this is ‘business as usual’. However, when the company was called upon to provide logistics support for a supply chain facilitating the manufacture of mega machinery between South Africa and China, all their skill, knowledge and systems were put to the test.
Detlev Duve, Managing Director of Dachser South Africa, says that the project took a full 12 months from start to finish, and necessitated intensive coordination and highly specialist knowledge. “The client required the replacement of two stacker re-claimers and two ship loaders to be fabricated in China using raw materials from South Africa. Dachser South Africa was involved in collection of the raw materials, transporting these to the Durban port, ensuring customs clearance and correctly loading the cargo onto the waiting ships. Once the machinery was manufactured some months later, it was shipped back to South Africa by Dachser South Africa, cleared through customs, offloaded and delivered.”
Dachser South Africa’s experience and track record were key factors in being appointed for the project, says Duve. “Our practical know-how, supported by a real-time, intelligent logistics system, gave the client confidence in our ability to ensure that this undertaking would be seamlessly handled.”
The project was not only multi-faceted but included multiple stakeholders. Duve explains that the raw materials were sourced from various suppliers dispersed nationally across South Africa. “As each raw material is extracted and prepared at different times, collection took about four months. Dachser South Africa collected all the raw materials from the various suppliers and for packing into containers at our sophisticated warehousing facility in Johannesburg.”
Shipment of the raw materials commenced from September 2016 until January this year with weekly sea freight export shipments sent over this period of the project. Additionally, there were two E-houses that had to be sent on break bulk vessels, one of which was exported directly from Richards Bay on inducement, and the other was from Durban port. All shipments were to Tianjin in China.
Duve says that due to the client’s tight timelines with their Chinese manufacturer, the pressure was on for Dachser South Africa to ensure that the processes of customs clearance, loading and shipment were handled with the utmost accuracy and efficiency.
Once fabrication in China was completed, the stacker re-claimers and ship loaders were ready for shipment back to South Africa. Duve explains the magnitude of this part of the operation. “One ship loader equates to 99 000CMB and approximately 1 000 000 kg. At 73 metres in length these machines equate to the width of a rugby field. The client’s shipment included two ship loaders and two stacker re-claimers. This is the ultimate in the transportation of mega machinery.”
Three break-bulk charter vessels were used to transport the machinery to South Africa, from June to August. Dachser South Africa handled the safe passage, customs clearance and offloading onto South African soil.
Duve says that the requirements for the entire project were highly specialised, from an understanding of the customs policies and procedures, and the associated timelines and risks, through to skilled knowledge of raw materials handling and the movement of the massive bulk equipment.
“This project called into play all of Dachser South Africa’s capabilities, experience and networks,” says Duve. “For our client, this mammoth undertaking was deemed successful in terms of time, cost and efficiency. At Dachser South Africa, this is what we aim for and to get this right, we are prepared to move mountains.”