21 April 2008 – The multi-million investment by power cable manufacturer Aberdare Cables in a new, high technology 12 500m2 warehouse and distribution centre at the Greenhills Industrial Estate near Elandsfontein is paying off for customers who are benefiting from the logistics efficiencies.

Just over a year after its official opening, the Greenhills hub was already managing the storage and distribution of more than 9 000 Aberdare line items and since the end of March this year handles all of the 160 000 tons of electrical cable and associated products turned out by Aberdare’s factories each year. Order turnaround times for customers have already been reduced.

National Distribution manager Dennis Bode, who is responsible for Aberdare’s distribution and process strategy, said the distribution outsourcing partner evaluation and selection exercise that resulted in Aberdare’s appointment of Value Logistics as the regional distribution services provider for Gauteng, had been a critical necessity.

"The six month process ensured our selection of a partner able to share and align with our strategic vision, with the resources to optimise our local distribution in Gauteng, shorten our lead times, generate cost savings and differentiate us from our competitors," added Bode.

With a national fleet, Value Logistics also has the capability to extend the distribution service outside Gauteng as required and as the scope of the Greenhills logistics centre expands to a fully national operation.

Bode said that Aberdare products on any of the Value Logistics vehicles can now be tracked and traced anywhere in the chain using FLO (fleet logistics optimiser) technology that quickly and accurately pinpoints the whereabouts of the goods.

Bode adds: in an ever changing service demand environment, we must investigate and implement alternate business and logistics strategies that reduce risk, complexity and cost but improve delivery lead time to customers.

Greenhills was selected as the site for the hub because it best met Aberdare’s future growth and long-term service delivery objectives. The systems and equipment comply with international best practice and include 8080 Euro pallet openings and state-of-the-art 11,5m racking that takes up just 25% of the total warehouse area, leaving the remainder free for cable drum storage. Reach trucks extending to the 11,5m racking height are fitted with mobile weighing units that enable on-the-spot weight verification on the move.

Lionell Boshoff, responsible for the Aberdare warehouse management system, said that after evaluation it was decided to implement a SAP warehousing software solution for the overall management of all the stock and associated logistics processes. A full risk assessment was first carried out and this revealed a need to lift skills levels, which were upgraded through appropriate training programmes.

Initially five individuals were identified to take charge of the bar coding and scanning operations within the warehouse itself, feeding stock data from the scanners on the rack and bin locations of 9 000 line items into the SAP electronic stock management system.

Training on the overall SAP warehouse system was conducted over six weeks with assistance from Bytes Technology, skills levels were assessed and the full software implementation was then carried out.

Boshoff said there has since been a significant improvement in stock control and efficiency accompanied by time savings. "Locating a specific stock item now takes about four minutes whereas before it could take half an hour. This has a hugely positive impact on our business."

The SAP warehousing management system was initially implemented on stock received from Aberdare’s Pietermaritzburg factory. It has now been extended to stock locally manufactured for export markets and since March 2008 all Aberdare stock manufactured in South Africa is being accommodated within the new system.

The system is enhancing customer service levels through accurate statistics on stock availability, considerably quicker turn-around times between order placement and despatch to customers and through the ability to advise customers exactly where their order is at any given time in the distribution chain.