By Gerrit Olivier, About IT CEO
Even smaller businesses can now automate their warehousing processes with the accuracy and reliability required for regulated processes such as food traceability and medical supplies.
A South African vendor is even among the global forerunners capitalizing on extending the capabilities of mid-tier ERP solutions, having now undergone the rigorous testing required for medical logistics.
“A lot of warehouses in South Africa, across Africa and the world, are still being run on paper and spreadsheets,” says Gerrit Olivier, CEO of About IT. “There’s a company in Dubai that recently switched to an automated system. They were using a spreadsheet with 400 tabs to run their warehouse. The warehouse manager was spending two to three hours a day updating his spreadsheets and you can imagine how careful you have to be with a system like that. It’s a nightmare. After they decided to automate, they took just five days to deploy because it’s cloud-based and a lot of the basic functionality is built right into these systems. It’s really a no-brainer these days.”
The same system, Granite Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), traces the cheese supply chain in the Western Cape for a large, premier South African retailer. Adendorff Machinery Mart is another user. About IT is a Granite WMS partner.
“They were using paper before they automated their warehouse environment,” says Olivier. “They had 90% variance on 50 to 55 loads per month. Now they’re doing 70 loads a month and they have just 3% variance. All of that for the cost of a small-sized family car at South African prices, not the huge budgets only the big companies used to be able to afford.”
ADT Security Services’ Midrand operation of the US-based corporation also automated its warehouse environment.
“They opted to deploy slower, in a number of phases, which afforded them a number of benefits,” says Olivier. “Ultimately, they now get more accurate inventories too, have eliminated redundant processes, have optimized their picking, they’ve reduced their labor overhead and they can track their productivity.”
He says businesses like these are generating returns on their investments (ROI) in three to six months based on the transactions they perform, but they immediately improve warehouse and employee productivity and efficiency.
Van Acht manufactures and distributes doors and windows from its 3 000m2 Kya Sands warehouse, 900m2 showroom, and 1 500m2 door and frame plant while its window and door factory is in Krugersdorp.
Van Acht replaced an existing warehouse management system with a modern one because the old one couldn’t handle the complexities of its environment.
Deon de la Harpe, FD of Van Acht, says by the second day of the four-week trial, the business sponsors were convinced they had the right solution and, “within the first week of using [the new system], customers were thanking us for the improvement in our services”.
Van Acht now writes off 50% less stock.
ADT, says Olivier, expects to improve warehouse productivity by 15% and cut overall operating costs by 5%. Adendorff Machinery Mart is receiving stock and placing it in bins ready for despatch on the same day, while the manual process would take two days.
“A lot of companies use the mid-tier Sage 300, Evolution, and SAP Business One solutions and these new cloud-based warehouse management systems are aimed squarely at them. They integrate immediately, they come with a lot of base functionality that serves the bulk of the market needs, and they can still be tuned and customized for specific environments as the customer’s employees and processes mature. And, being in the cloud, they can get it done quickly while ensuring continuity. That gives them highly flexible, agile systems capable of delivering competitive benefits at prices that would have been unheard of just a few years ago.”