Continually Investing in the Customer
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Sammy Wilkinson
Prominently distinguished by its customer-centric and professional approach to business, Kargo National - one of South Africa’s few privately-owned road transport Companies - aims to reduce its internal costs and increase efficiencies while securing a reliable supply and delivery to customers across the country.
“The goal is to pass these savings onto the customer,” says Greg Blackwell, Founder and Managing Director of the Kargo Group of Companies; which was initially established in 1982. “Our customer is of the utmost importance and we are confident that making the right investments, combined with our aptitude for continuous improvement, will add value in the form of reduced distribution costs, higher levels of service, better market penetration and allow us to concentrate more closely on enhancing our core business proposition.”
Specialising in express road freight distribution across its three subsidiaries - namely Kargo National, Kargo Long Distance and Kargo International Logistics - throughout southern Africa, as well as a footprint in neighbouring countries’ Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia, the Company believes its service offering will become the vital link at the end of the road transport value chain.
“This is one aspect of the business which we strive to make the strongest,” Blackwell notes. “Given the versatility of our Group offering across break bulk, long distance and retail delivery services - bolstered by a value-add full maintenance leasing and warehousing solutions – we need to make sure that we monitor the latest industry trends to reach our main goal: to provide our customers with the services they deserve and require, leading to long-term mutually beneficial relationships.”
Speed and efficiency
Having recently achieved the ISO 9002 accreditation - the industry standard for assurance in production, installation and servicing - to support its commitment to an extremely high level of service at all times, Kargo National is continuing to look closely at industry trends in line with changing customer needs in order to add value to the business, and to further spread its footprint and subsequently grow the Group’s reputation in the road transport industry.
One of ways that it is doing so is through the adoption of the latest software and ERP technologies, including Kargo’s track and trace systems and a dimensioner system that allows for the accurate measurement of volumetric dimensions and the weighing of each item that passes through the warehouse.
Blackwell summarises: “In our industry, technology is the driver of change and creator of growth; therefore it is continually revisited, updated and a new innovation implemented.
“The live track and trace system is available through our website and provides up-to-date and accurate tracking information; while customers can also take control of the information, maximising efficiencies within their organisations.”
Having its own in-house IT Company that is designed to focus on improving systems that are both beneficial to the internal workings of the Kargo Group of Companies, as well as its customers, is particularly useful for a Company that is looking to cut costs for customers. The Company can offer seamless integration of data through its software, which also facilitates warehouse managers in the load processes forming an essential component for efficient transportation and overload prevention.
“Implementing such technologies like the dimensioner system has eliminated any means of human error during the warehouse weighing process,” he adds. “We listen to our customers and make any necessary improvements to accommodate their requirements within our software. This affords us the flexibility to change and adapt to each unique requirement and will, in most instances, allow full integration with our customers’ existing systems, as opposed to trying to adopt a mix and match system which compromises both ourselves and our customers.”
Faced with the challenge of protecting freight as best as possible, even when objects of different weights are loaded together, Kargo National has invested in a cage loading system to ensure better and safer handling of general freight.
Blackwell summarises: “Catering for all different shapes and sizes of the individual consignments can be a challenge. We believe our unique cage loading system has eliminated a lot of the damages associated with multi-load vehicles.”
Closer to the customer
“Our activities are designed to bring us closer to the customer,” Blackwell highlights. “So it is also important that we make sure our fleet meets the customer’s demands. By continually re-assessing our KPIs, which place concerted focus on speed and efficiency, we find ourselves constantly tweaking our fleet size together with our site and vehicle requirements to get the best out of our resources.”
With vehicles ranging in load capacity from one-32 tonnes, Kargo National makes sure to monitor regulations and industry change so that its fleet remains versatile and provides both security and easy access loading nationally.
Supporting this is the Company’s fleet replacement policy, which ensures that all vehicles are of the latest specifications offered by the industry and are serviced and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. “Vehicle manufacturers are constantly improving emission standards, as well as increasing fuel efficiencies which benefits the overall running cost of the fleet, ultimately helping us stay cost effective and reliable,” he explains.
In a bid to continue closing the gap between the Company and its customers, in the past 12 months, Kargo National has opened a new depot in George, South Africa. Dictated by the growing volumes transported to this area in recent times, Blackwell sees this new investment as an important commitment to local businesses. “We only move into a new area if we know we can move the freight to benefit our customers without sacrificing service levels,” he says.
Not only is the customer a key focal point for the Kargo Group of Companies, but it is fair to say that its staff are also placed in the spotlight; with particular emphasis on hiring locally and upskilling. “Conducting the majority of our training in-house, we continue to maintain high levels of professional knowledge and skills required to support our customers in the most effective way possible,” Blackwell emphasises.
By centring its aims and goals around the customer’s needs and continually investing in the best approaches to business that reduce costs and increase, Blackwell believes that Kargo National will be able to stay ahead of the industry curve and remain malleable enough to adapt to new trends as and when they emerge.
He concludes: “With our national footprint now complete, the next three-five years will see us bolster our South African operations by increasing densities and focus on securing growth in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as identifying further potential warehousing and logistics solutions to diversify our revenue streams.”