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Spoornet's global reach.

Spoornet is the leader in profitable freight logistics solutions contributing to the ideals of South Africa. "We work on the basis that information comes before technology," says Mafika Mkwanazi, deputy managing director of Transnet and executive director for Spoornet, South Africa's rail service provider. "If you can't manage information, you can't manage flow." It's that kind of thinking that has put Spoornet on the cutting edge of the global logistics arena in moving goods and products throughout the region and opening market channels from the Pacific Rim, Europe, South America and East Asia.

Tackling the global market

Spoornet is achieving this breakthrough by employing its Freight Logistics Solutions (FLS), a programme of joint ventures and alliances world-wide, and Global Logistics Solution (GLS). "Global competitiveness can be achieved by realising global business volumes which absorb the significant costs created by global activity," says Mr Mkwanazi.

FLS is an enhanced or beneficiated freight transport system which builds in 'time and place utility.' In other words, it recognises the consignment cycle, starting with production and concluding with consumption, and taking into account each phase of the process. "This is necessary because the consignment is not required or consumed at the time and place of production," notes Mr Mkwanazi. "Inevitably such an intricate system called for Spoornet's growth into warehousing, transport (including long-haul, trans-shipment and feeder services), inventory carrying cost, freight forwarding, clearing and other so-called stack elements."

To compete in the global business, Spoornet has also acquired an information system - GLS - which manages consignments over their entire life-cycle. The facility recognises planned times at each link in the supply chain and proactively warns of any impact on the estimated time of arrival. "This provides the flexibility of rectifying any deviations without troubling the customer," reports Mr Mkwanazi.

Delivering on the vision

"The core element for delivering our vision of providing profitable freight logistics solutions, and the complex challenge for Spoornet," says Mr Mkwanazi, "has been the re-engineering over the past seven years of the entire general freight business, rather than the bread-and-butter heavy haul lines." The general freight business comprises 70% of Spoornet's turnover and takes into account needs that can only be met with predictable service delivery.

A second project, closely integrated with the predictable service project, is company reorganisation focusing on the customer. The project, the "Two Stream Spoornet," includes centralised planning, decentralised execution and sales staff organised into customer-dedicated industry segments.

Making tracks in Africa

Spoornet is becoming increasingly involved in the transport scene beyond its borders, particularly elsewhere in Africa.

The company has been awarded the contract to upgrade the 90km Ressano Garcia-Maputo line as part of the Mozambique corridor, probably the most imaginative and strategically important bilateral infrastructure project happening in Africa today. Spoornet has also been appointed to manage a railway in Cameroon with Comazar, its overborder operating company. It has a 76% stake with SDV-Saga of France in the project.

"We are joint operators in the Ivory Coast with Comazar and Sitarail, and we have submitted a proposal to the Ugandan Railways for the rehabilitation of their system," says Mr Mkwanazi. "We're also on the short-list in Malawi to rehabilitate the line along the Ncala corridor that runs from Blantyre in Malawi to Maputo in Mozambique. We are also in contact with the authorities in Angola discussing the possibility of a partnership there."

Spoornet operates the railway line between the South Africa-Zimbabwe border post of Beit Bridge in Bulawayo in western Zimbabwe and is currently negotiating its joint operation with the Botswana and Zimbabwe railway companies.

The South African rail giant has also ventured into Tanzania where it has a small stake in a company operating train services, and has become involved in establishing a container trans-shipment facility to the north of Dar-es-Salaam. In Kenya, Spoornet has entered into a rolling stock leasing agreement with the rail authorities there and has delivered 'letters of intent' to the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, offering its project management services.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to recognise the modern railway company such as Spoornet by the criteria of even a decade ago, when railroads were little more than transporters of passengers and freight," observes Mr Mkwanazi. And this, he believes, is because railways all over the globe are in the process of reinventing themselves. "We certainly are," he says, "and we're convinced that our vision of providing profitable freight logistics solutions and its supporting strategies, and the actions that have been set in motion will make us a partner and a competitor supreme in the new millennium."

The South African rail services provider will incorporate the following fundamental business principles into its double-edged programme of 'Predictable Service' and 'Two Stream Spoornet':

* centralised planning

* decentralisation execution

* reservation of capacity

* proactive planning with different planning horizons - discipline of planning the work and working the plan

* predictability as a key customer requirement, supported by the slogan: 'Consistently delivering the promise"

* customer orientation - a knowledge of all inbound and outbound logistics

* customer orientation - providing industry-related freight solutions designed to cover global competitiveness

* promotion of entrepreneurship in all spheres of the organisation.

ANC moves into Africa

One of the UK's leading express parcels carriers, ANC Ltd., has expanded its World Air Express distribution service into South Africa.

After entering the international air courier service with the launch of World Air Express last year, ANC has expanded its areas of service to include Cape Town and Durban. With a growth rate currently running at approximately 3% and inflation down to 9%, South Africa's economy continues to gain in strength, reading the way to a greater need for imported goods.

Mechanical and electrical appliances, machinery and transport equipment, which together form the largest category of imports into South Africa's 886 airports, can now be delivered using World Air Express, within 48 hours, by ANC.

Chris Pywell, ANC Ltd. director, comments: "We can provide everything a customer could want from an international air courier service - a reliable service with fast delivery and rate cut-off times for flexibility, white global track and trace systems ensure that consignments can be followed from dispatch to receipt. With an ever-increasing portfolio of services, and access to a network of 300 offices in 180 countries, ANC offers a one-stop shop solution a complete logistics capability for any company's distribution needs. To send consignments across continents is now as safe and easy as sending them across the UK."
COPYRIGHT 1998 IC Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:South African freight logistics solutions provider
Publication:African Business
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Nov 1, 1998
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