Excellence in Motion
Driven by four key pillars – technology, reliability, adaptability, sustainability – Digistics has consistently set new standards in South African logistics for a quarter century
Project Manager: Lewis Bush
For centuries, logistics has been the heartbeat of global societies and industries; the backbone of trade and commerce.
The term originally stems from Ancient Rome, the empire having developed sophisticated logistics systems to keep its different global legions supplied. Logistikas – a type of Roman military officer – were tasked with allocating resources and maintaining supply lines so that its armies could continue to reach new corners of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and indeed Africa.
These supply lines primarily relied upon the Roman empire’s infamous chariots. But today, logistics systems look a little different.
The horse and cart have been replaced by trucks that now shift eight billion tonnes of goods a year. Freight ships the length of four football pitches shuttle cargo across our seas. Thousands of planes take the skies each month to transport goods tens of thousands of miles around the world.
And the tech helping to power the global supply chain industry has advanced too.
Temperature controlled logistics, for example, has been crucial in the storage, preservation and transportation of sensitive cargo. In warmer climates, such technology has been game changing – something that South African firm Digistics is well aware of.
Founded in 1995 when ASP Distributors and Spar partnered up to launch in Africa’s southernmost country, the enterprise pioneered multi-temperature distribution within the South African quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.
The firm took on its current name – Digistics (Pty) Ltd. – in 2003 following a management buyout, later selling a majority stake to Super Group Holdings in 2012 which bought the entire company as a subsidiary in 2017.
Today, Digistics has 795 employees, 198 vehicles, and operates seven distributions centres in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, each critical to the success of the QSR industry in these national hubs.
Reliability, adaptability, sustainability
An open embrace of technology is a key differentiator for Digistics – it is a trend running through the company’s entire operation.
Its warehouses are constantly updating and innovating in order to optimise procedures; the latest navigation systems are deployed to keep customers informed; centralised management systems enable alignment across teams and maintain customer-centric execution.
However, technology is not Digistics’ only unique selling point.
“Why us?”, the company asks on its website, pointing to reliability, adaptability and sustainability as the three remaining pillars of its quadrilateral ethos.
The former of this trio is about delivering what is required when is needed, reducing delivery times, keeping customers informed and exceeding expectations. Adaptability refers to the company’s flexibility to react to both change and emergencies: planning around no-go zones, collecting orders when suppliers cannot deliver, and having deliveries ready to go within the hour.
“Failure is not an option for our customers, and it’s not an option for us,” the company states.
Sustainability, meanwhile, is about investing in the future today. To this end, Digistics has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, optimised trailer designs, reconsidered warehouse locations and continues to constantly analyse its entire network in order to deliver in a sustainable, ethical and responsible manner.
A business that looks beyond profit
These latter three points translate directly into the company’s corporate social responsibility practices, Digistics committed to supporting the South African communities in which it operates.
Some of its practices on this front include providing skilled jobs understanding and appreciating the importance of family, and offering opportunities to those who present themselves as ambassadors at a local level.
“We believe we have a unique role to play in feeding a nation, and we therefore support various charities, as well as our customers’ charities,” the company highlights on its website.
Extensive training programmes are also a primary concern, the firm recognising the multi-faceted benefits road safety can have on both ensuring the protection of people, longevity of its own assets and engagement of employees.
Regarding the latter, its employees are seen as more than just workers. Digistics refers to them as “our people”, recognising them to be the heart and soul of the organisation.
The company explains: “In order to do what we do, we need leaders to build a best-in-class customer-focused business. We do have those leaders on our team. You will find leadership at every level, and each employee in our team of more than 795 makes decisions every day to put our customers’ businesses first.
“Our executive team is committed to delivering customer results with a balanced focus across customers, people, processes, and financial performance. We understand the unique requirements and dynamics of our customers and that is why our leadership empowers the business to adapt to customers’ unique requirements and enable our customer’s strategy.”
Indeed, an acceptance of key values among its people, from innovative thinking and relationship building to customer care and the importance of safety, is paramount to the South African freight specialist, more so now than ever.
Owing to the changes brought about by the novel coronavirus, from billions staying at home, interrupted global trade corridors and new societal norms, the logistics industry – like any others – is faced with the necessity to not only adapt, but also transform.
Despite the challenges, Digistics has remained committed to, in the company’s own words, “delivering on our promise – even now”.
It states: “We stand behind South Africa and the world as we face uncertain times amid the coronavirus outbreak, but we’ll keep moving, in compliance with health and safety regulations and keep excellence in motion, all the way.”
Indeed, a company depicted by innovation, collaboration and openness, Digistics is primed to succeed in the face of both new opportunities and challenges that may present themselves in 2021 and beyond, pandemic-related or otherwise.