Information technology (IT) is a central part of the successful supply chain of organisations in South Africa’s logistics industry, which is worth more than R3-billion a year, logistics software solutions provider Dovetail tells Engineering News.
“IT solutions have given logistics providers proper control over and real-time visibility of their operational processes and clients’ goods,” says Dovetail business development director Shermandra Singh.
“Dovetail’s solutions have enabled clients to increase their volumes and throughput without the corresponding increases in staff costs,” he states, adding that, while clients have increased their output by about 30%, their staff costs have increased by about 10%, compared with an average of 20% to 25% staff cost increase. The correct IT solution will automate processes and provide the required cost controls and real-time visibility, allowing users to do more with less.
IT has become a key enabler in the logistics industry, as logistics companies are embracing collaboration, not only with clients and suppliers but also with competitors, says Singh.
“Dovetail recently completed several projects where competitors are integrating their business processes with one another by using our solutions to improve efficiencies and create single-point visibility, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction, as well as being able to monitor and reduce costs;,” he highlights.
Singh describes Dovetail’s plans for technological development as an extensive roadmap that continues to incorporate clients’ input and market requirements.
“Logistics companies require software solutions that can be quickly configured to meet unique requirements specific to new clients,” he notes, adding that Dovetail’s core applications, such as the Accellos warehouse management solution, used to accommodate new process changes in business, is easy for the end-user to configure, resulting in signifi- cantly reduced costs.
“We have several new solutions which are being tested and have been designed to reduce certain supply chain costs,” Singh points out.
Dovetail continues to work on solutions to reduce vehicle operating costs by 10% to 20% and is focusing on helping logistics providers improve their service level commitments to their clients.
Singh says a major challenge for logistics companies is the ever-increasing supply chain costs.
“It is estimated that transport accounts for between 40% and 50% of South Africa’s logistics costs, with road transport still carrying the bulk of the freight volume. The recent fuel increases and the soon-to-be- implemented e-toll system, in Gauteng, which is the major supply chain hub in South Africa, will result in the continued erosion of supply chain margins,” he states.
Dovetail recommends that logistics companies find strategic long-term solutions that can help them reduce and manage ongoing supply chain costs while delivering a competitive service to clients.
Singh says the right IT solution can help logistics providers plan in advance, as it will provide visibility across the supply chain process and help manage costs by ensuring assets are used efficiently, which is all geared towards driving down total supply chain costs.
Dovetail assists customers in dealing with challenges, such as rising fuel prices, ageing road infrastructure and labour costs, by providing them with streamlined operation processes that are aimed at reducing costs, while enabling customers to remain competitive.
“Customers have realised average reductions of 3% to 4% in fuel bills, 10% to 15% in communication costs and 30% to 50% in client queries,” he mentions.
Dovetail has a tightly integrated suite of logistics software covering warehousing, transport and driver mobility solutions, among others, which create visibility for all stakeholders, from the logistics provider and supplier to the end-user.
Meanwhile, owing to the rising costs of running a business, Dovetail currently develops and supports the majority of its solutions in South Africa. “For reputable applications sourced from outside South Africa, we localise the software fees,” adds Singh.
Dovetail, which is not dictated to by any global IT providers, provides flexible payment terms and agreements for its clients.
He explains that the medium- and long-term goals of the company are to build on its established success, with the intention to continue to expand into Africa.
“Our aim is to be the market leader in Africa that provides an end-to-end supply chain solution. Since the end of 2012, we have taken our solutions into five Southern African Development Community countries as a result of our clients’ expansion strategies,” notes Singh.
He says the biggest potential for growth in the industry lies in Africa and that Dovetail can supply cost-saving solutions that can be easily adapted to suit the challenges of operating in foreign countries. “The chal- lenges of operating in African countries could include poor communication networks and the likelihood of inexperienced IT staff.”
Dovetail’s business intelligence solution, eXplore, aims to accurately promote the measurement of logistics providers. The eXplore solution, says Singh, consolidates supply chain information and other financial and fleet data into a single source to provide management with accurate data that enables informed decision-making.
“Logistics providers in South Africa realise that innovation and technology are key to their survival and enable them to compete in a global market. Their challenge is to select not only the right technology but also the right partner to deliver solutions. Dovetail has proven that we can meet this challenge, with 19 years of proven delivery success,” he concludes.