MSC Logistics : Innovative Shipping & Logistics

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

After receiving the prestigious Diamond Arrow Award for being the top shipping line in the KwaZulu Natal province in 2011, MSC Logistics are in a position of strong growth.


Mediterranean Shipping Company South Africa /MSC), through its innovative, flexible and unique approach to shipping, has continued to grow during and beyond the fi rst decade of the new democratic South Africa. The company which was founded in 1978 with the introduction of the Europe- South Africa service, has grown to become one of the biggest users of the South African ports. MSC are one of the leading shipping companies in the world.

With its large fleet of container vessels, the company has grown rapidly to include other major trade routes linking South Africa directly with Europe, UK, USA, Asia, Middle East, Indian Ocean Islands, Madagascar and Mozambique. The success of the MSC is evident in its phenomenal growth over the past decade that can only be attributed to its Quality Management Systems (QMS), which aim to consistently improve upon service levels within the shipping community and its willingness to initiate change to meet the requirements of clients and principals. In 2011, the MSC Chicago made her much anticipated entrance into Durban. With a length of 336 metres and carry capacity of 9178 teus, it was the biggest container ship to ever call at a South African port.

MSC has invested significantly in the acquisition of its own characteristic office buildings which have become landmark buildings in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. They provide an unparalleled service network via dedicated own-offices throughout the world and remains a truly independent and private company, able to respond quickly to market changes and implement long term plans, without unnecessary interference or delay.


Special attention was paid to the restoration of the MSC Port Elizabeth offices as this was an existing national monument when it was acquired by MSC. A special feature of this building is the stained glass window that adorns the entrance. It was designed by the chairman and depicts the periods of shipping over the centuries. It is aptly named the Millennium Window. The restored building was officially opened in 2004.

Other business diversifications have been the creation of a container depot company and an intermodal/landside logistics company, which together helps provide the one stop service MSC South Africa is becoming well-known for. The depots are situated in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Rosslyn. The Rosslyn depot in Pretoria has its own rail siding and is of particular benefit to the motor industry, easing access to their manufacturing plants. The Uitenhage depot in Port Elizabeth is situated in the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park and is strategically situated very close to a large global motor manufacturer. The newest depot is situated in the Industrial Development Zone in East London.

Another venture that has been hugely successful is the technical division, which was expanded in 1998 to include a world class, full scale engine repair and maintenance facility which is fronted by a team of highly trained Italian and South African engineers.


In order to expedite and control the path of progress of MSC South Africa, Chief Executive Captain Salvatore Sarno has authorised the implementation of ISO9001:2000 as the model for MSCO’s Quality Management Systems. The company’s objectives to achieve quality are to improve upon its service level within the shipping community, and to always be prepared to initiate change to meet their client’s requirements.

“To ensure that those objectives are met on an ongoing basis, my management colleagues and I are committed to the maintenance and improvement of our Quality Management System, including its inherent structures and disciplines, and ensuring that the system is understood at all levels of our organisation, adhered to by all relevant staff,” states Sarno on the company website. MSC also hold B-BBEE certificates for the shipping, depots and logistics arm.

MSC Logistics, the intermodal arm of MSC South Africa, has a longstanding contractual relationship with Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), who are the service provider of the rail corridors in South Africa. This well established relationship translates into a major benefit to MSC’s clients as they can offer very competitive rates, very good transit times between ports and inland rail terminals, and they provide up to date tracking through their electronic connections with TFR’s computer systems. Furthermore, MSC Logistics has the same beneficial relationship with other major rail service providers in neighbouring countries.


MSC operates a successful reefer cargo division, shipping temperature controlled commodities such as fruit, fish and meat to a number of destinations. They have a large fleet of reefer equipment in both twenty and forty foot capacities as well as open doors and open sides. MSC further offer controlled atmosphere and specialised protocol shipments. Besides the adequate number of plug points on the vessels, they also have a sufficient supply of plug points at their depots. The reefer markets are starting to grow in East and West Africa, and are already well established in the UK, Middle East, Mediterranean and the USA.

The reefer division is maintained by an experienced team of reefer personnel made up of trained help desk clerks, booking clerks and certified technicians to ensure that the logistics and loading process see a smooth transition. MSC’s emphasis is to maintain the cold chain throughout the voyage so as to preserve the goods on board. They also offer a ‘door to door’ type service between the export growers and the port. By keeping the transit time to a minimum, they are able to extend the life of the product and improve the shippers/receivers overall experience with MSC.

All the offices are supported by a reefer repair facility that is able to maintain electronic, mechanical and structural components. Additionally, they provide a mobile team of specialists to advice on onsite queries. Their overall reefer service is continued by the MSC offices at the ports of discharge.

In 2011, MSC were recognised for another decoration by PMR Africa, receiving the prestigious Diamond Arrow Award for being the top shipping line in the KwaZulu Natal province, earning a commendable 4.25 per cent out of a possible 5 per cent score.

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