Logistics company Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL) has implemented several large-scale infrastructure development plans at its KwaZulu-Natal-based operations.
This includes building a new state-of-the-art chemicals and general cargo warehouse in Mobeni, Durban, and taking over premises in Pinetown for their road freight operations, as well as operating from the new regional facilities at Frosterley Park, in Umhlanga Ridge.
“We’ve been witnessing steady growth in various areas of our business for several years, 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 BPL business development director Maria du Preez.
There has also been demand for the company to handle new types of chemical products, with more demand for compliance from clients driven by international rules and regulations. The company has opted to work around existing infrastructure in the past, which was not always conducive to catering for demand.
Subsequently, the company had to build a new chemically compliant warehouse to cater for current and future demands. The warehouse had to comply with local and international best practice to handle and store the majority of categories of chemicals.
The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a United Nations system to identify hazardous chemicals and to inform users about these hazards through standard symbols and phrases on the packaging labels and through material safety data sheets.
Locally, the storage and handling of dangerous goods, which include the majority of classes of chemicals, are governed by South African National Standard (SANS 10263-0:2010).
BPL moved the Durban International Logistics operations from offices it had occupied for many years in the centre of Durban to a modern new office park in Umhlanga, which is easily accessible and more aligned with creating a modern ergonomic working environment, says Du Preez.
“Our road freight division used to share the warehouse facility in Umbilo, but has required a dedicated facility for quite some time.”
Therefore, she notes that moving to the new warehouse within close proximity of the port created an opportunity for the company to acquire a dedicated facility for the road freight division in Mahogany Ridge, in Pinetown.
Owing to the increase in the growth of various divisions in the business, Du Preez says the future growth of the company includes expanding its existing warehouse operations that already cater for high-tech, high-value, automotive, telecommunications, chemicals, fast-moving consumer goods, engineering and manufacturing industries, as well as focusing on enhancing its service offering to current and future clients.
She mentions that most warehouses offer customs bonded facilities and, in preparation for the implementation of the new Customs Act, there is a big focus on training warehouse staff on current and future requirements where there will be an increased requirement to report on the movement of cargo in and out of warehouses.
“Our clients all have their unique requirements, and we are constantly challenged to find solutions within the confines of the Customs Act to assist our clients with their requirements.”
She points out that BPL’s International Logistics operations have been preparing for the implementation of the new Customs Act. This includes information sharing from the company’s global partner to comply with the messaging and reporting requirements from South African Revenue Service (Sars) Customs. The company’s in-house customs experts have been instrumental in providing training, for not only the company’s staff but also clients, on how the new Customs Act will affect them.
Du Preez adds that, as Sars Customs rolls out its digital transformation drive, the BPL teams are proactively managing the implementation of the changes to ensure that there are no disruptions to its operations.
Sars’ Strategic Customs programme for the 2019/20 financial year has a set of key goals such as ongoing enhancements of the existing risk assessment processes and systems.
The programme also includes the introduction of new risk engines to detect noncompliance, while seamlessly facilitating legitimate trade.