Unitrans has been serving the transport, distribution and logistics needs of South Africa for over a hundred years. With revenue of R13,4 billion, a 20% increase on the previous year, and profit of R338 million, an increase of 25%, Unitrans are leaders in their sector.

The Unitrans Freight and Logistics division provides specialised distribution and warehousing services, together with a full range of logistics and supply chain re-engineering services to the mining, manufacturing, industrial and allied sectors of the economy.

In 2005 BP Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd decided to review its warehousing and distribution operations for its lubricants products, marketed under the BP and Castrol brands, with the objectives of increasing efficiency and reducing cost. BP invited a number of third party logistics providers to submit proposals that would help BP achieve these objectives.

The selected Unitrans solution involved a significant change in the logistics model. A key element of the cost saving was based upon reducing the number of warehouses from 5 to 1, so that all customers would be serviced from a single warehouse with local ‘cross docking’ points. To facilitate this change a new ‘state of the art’ distribution centre was constructed just north of Durban. Products from the blend plant are transported to the new distribution centre for storage, picking and despatch. The Unitrans solution also proposed the use of advanced IT systems to help speed the flow of products through the supply chain, to improve accuracy, security and efficiency, and to allow progress to be monitored from the time the products leave the plant to their arrival at the end customer.

The new facility provides 13,500 square metres of internal space with 8 level high racking. There is capacity for a total of 20,340 pallets of which 15,300 are under cover and 5,040 of external drum storage.

There are 970 different products (skus) and approximately 667 pallets per day of receipts and despatches.

The warehouse is equipped with 16 counterbalance, 4 reach and 13 low-level order picking trucks. For transport there are 5 interlinks moving product from the plant to the warehouse, 26 interlinks for distribution to the key accounts and distributors, and 37 8-tonne vehicles for local cross-docked deliveries.

The IT team under the IT Executive, Rufus Smith carried out a thorough investigation of suitable systems to support the new business. A critical requirement was to acquire a system that would handle both transport and warehouse management, with seamless integration between the systems. He also wanted suppliers with proven experience in the logistics sector. Furthermore, the new system would need to interface to the BP JD Edwards system and to the FLO vehicle routing system.

As result of this analysis, Dovetail Business Solutions, based in Bryanston Johannesburg was selected to provide the main IT systems for transport and warehouse management. Their solution comprised the FREIGHTWARE transport management system, that Dovetail developed in South Africa, and the PROTEUS warehouse management solution from Proteus Software, a UK based software author specialising in warehouse solutions. The transport management solution and the warehouse management solution are both developed using advanced software development tools from Progress Software, so integration between the systems was relatively straightforward. Formal approval for the project was given in February 2005 and the system went live at the same time as the new warehouse facility was brought into operation in October 2006.

Rufus Smith says, “We have been very impressed by the commitment of the Dovetail staff on site, and the professionalism displayed by the Proteus UK software development team in the UK.”

For more information contact Linda Rodway on +44 (0) 121 717 7474 or email me on moreinfo@proteussoftware.com

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