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ALISTAIR GROUP FLEET MAINTENANCE SCHEDULES

Luani Matthÿser | Marketing Coordinator | 01 November 2021

 

Alistair Group understands first-hand the impact of preventative maintenance on our reliability and delivery times. Alistair Group runs extensive workshop facilities at all of its sites with a full team of qualified and skilled welders, painters, mechanics, tyre technicians, and electricians. Our stores keep an extensive inventory of replacement parts and consumables on-site to allow for quick turnarounds in servicing. Any maintenance work carried out will follow the work instructions/procedures according to Company and manufacturer policies. All equipment is subject to preventive maintenance schedules and each machine is subject to a daily pre-start inspection, along with weekly and monthly maintenance checks. 

Due to the cross-border transportation nature of our business, our trucks are required to undergo Pre/post-trip inspections. Thus,  after completing a trip our trucks never start a new trip before first passing through one of our workshops for an inspection and/or service. In addition to this, Alistair Group performs the following preventative maintenance procedures:

  • Daily Before use checklist completed by the driver
  • Weekly inspections for our material handling equipment
  • In-depth Monthly inspection for all assets
  • 20,000km inspections for haulage equipment 
  • 250hr inspections for rental equipment
  • Bearings are checked and greased after every 40,000km
  • Tankers undergo yearly Hydraulic system filter/ fluid replacement per manufacturer recommendations as well as routine maintenance
  • Vehicle visual ranking inspection
  • Fuel dip checks
  • Pre/post-trip inspections

   

We use specialized equipment to maintain our vehicles and do most of the maintenance on our trucks in house. Our brake roller testers are used to monitor, test and confirm the braking force of each axle on our Road Freight vehicles every time each vehicle goes through a workshop. Wheel alignment is also carried out periodically and ensures that the vehicles handle well and reduce the rate of abnormal tyre wear. We have panel beating and paint departments in each workshop to ensure that all paintwork, stickers and body maintenance standards are met and adhered to.

These facilities come with a well-stocked warehouse including but not limited to a minimum of three new cabins, engines, gearboxes, trailer bearings, airbags, U-bolts, centre bolts, etc. In addition, our facilities have in house modernized equipment offering a high level of efficiencies and quality standards for maintenance including:

  • Hydraulic/ electric tyre changing machine
  • Atlas LT Twin-piston compressor (no delay in filling tyres to correct pressure)
  • State of the art Laser Haweka truck and trailer wheel alignment

 

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A DIGITAL STREAMLINED MAINTENANCE SYSTEM

Nathan Thomas | Head of Maintenance and Construction | 01 November 2021

 

Fleet maintenance programs have traditionally been reactive. Parts and components on trucks are replaced as they fail or come close to failing. In line with Alistair Group’s preventative maintenance program, We have developed maintenance software, assisting us in effectively servicing our fleet. Alistair Group developed a digital integrated maintenance system allowing us to track all repairs, incidents, and inspections. Every element of maintenance is tracked from work orders to parts approval, working together to create an efficient streamlined process for maintenance.

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Our fleet maintenance program has custom-built vehicle inspection sheets that are used to inspect and adjust various components of each vehicle at the beginning and end of a trip. These check sheets are readily available and stored on the vehicle’s profile. Each piece of equipment has a uniquely developed check sheet and Preventative Maintenance Schedule designed to follow factory recommendations.

To increase efficiency we have tablets allocated to each bay in our workshops, allowing our technicians and mechanics to digitally access and record all inspections in real-time. Any components that are replaced are recorded and pictures of the damaged or worn-out component are saved to the vehicle’s profile; along with the mileage and date that it was replaced. This allows us to monitor the rate of failure of each component, flag any abnormalities and come up with a feasible solution that will prevent the same component from failing on other vehicles.

In turn, this software is used to turn our preventive maintenance programs into predictive maintenance. As the growth of the data captured expands it provides us with more clarity to understand real concerns at more defined intervals. This system allows workshop managers to tailor the maintenance procedures in favour of a more needs-focused maintenance schedule for each vehicle. Providing a more accurate decision base to prioritize and schedule maintenance before a non-urgent event becomes critical

Image: Vehicle inspection sheets showing areas in which the truck inspection has failed.

Image: Equipment (crawler crane) profile indicating maintenance history, work history, maintenance costs and more.

Image: Fleet maintenance program dashboard showing all current work orders, their status, type of maintenance and workshop location.

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PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE – AN ESSENTIAL STRATEGY FOR EFFECTIVE TRANSPORTATION

Nathan Thomas | Head of Maintenance and Construction | 01 November 2021

 

As a Logistics and Transportation provider, the core of our business is founded on our assets. Alistair Group’s trucks allow us to transport a variety of commodities; they safely house our drivers and clients’ cargo. Our material handling equipment provides us with the ability to successfully move, store, control, and protect materials. Without reliable assets, we would be impuissant.

Alistair Group has over 1200 assets registered and we are aggressively expanding our footprint. We own every truck, trailer, small vehicle, and piece of equipment utilised to execute the projects we are commissioned for. With our assets at the forefront of our minds, Alistair Group has implemented a preventive maintenance program. It’s hard to overstate the importance of preventative maintenance – also referred to as proactive maintenance. It involves periodically inspecting or repairing our assets at predetermined intervals that are usually time or event-based triggers. The goal of this approach is to extend the useful life of our assets and prevent breakdowns from occurring. 

It is no secret that the transport industry in Africa is still plagued with several challenges; drivers dread the possibilities of running into gaping potholes, uneven terrain or impassable dirt roads. The road conditions across Africa affirm the dire need for an effective and efficient maintenance plan. Preventative maintenance ensures that our vehicles are kept mobile at all times and that they are safe to operate on these roads.

This type of maintenance is performed before a component failure occurs and can include many small tasks such as cleaning, oiling, greasing, checking fluid levels and carrying out simple visual inspections. Preventative maintenance also typically includes periodically replacing parts that are expected to wear down over time such as windshield wipers, brake linings, tyres, filters and fluids.

The purpose of replacing parts and fluids on a regular maintenance schedule is to save costs in the long run by preventing more serious and expensive issues from arising. Most manufacturers provide guidelines or service schedules for their products, utilizing these service schedules ensures that key major components are kept in good working order and operating like well-oiled machines. This also decreases the chance of an issue cropping up unexpectedly, ensuring that there is no impact on the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle and our ability to deliver.

Since planning is done in advance, it’s also considerably easier to have the right parts and resources on hand to complete each task. This is in contrast to reactive maintenance, which manages maintenance issues as they arise. Preventative maintenance ensures that our equipment functions properly and is constantly in optimal condition. Alistair Group has 5 different workshops strategically positioned in 3 different countries to maintain our fleet of Road Freight vehicles. Although preventative maintenance may cause a small break in operations, it ultimately saves time and money, improves safety and reliability, maximises efficiency and prolongs equipment life.

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SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION


Manyanda Maziku | Group Head of HSSEQ | 01 October 2021

 

Keeping pace with change whilst anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges is a key focus for Alistair Group. Our HSSEQ priority is to safely deliver services by continually improving our health and safety system and anticipating the future by developing and embracing new ways of working. 

Our HSSEQ Management System investigates the failure of controls to manage risk. The lessons learned from this activity has helped Alistair Group develop in-house technology-focused processes to assist in the prevention of failures occurring in the future. By adopting this approach, potential health and safety barriers to innovation have been eliminated.

In a human-focused field like health and safety, technology isn’t necessarily a silver bullet. However, it has assisted Alistair Group in increasing productivity and reducing complexity. To ensure effective application and maintenance of health and safety management systems, Alistair Group utilized information systems and software to proactively manage all aspects of the business. 

Below is a list, among others, of the information systems and software we utilize: 

  • DIGITAL OBSERVATION CARDS

This application was built to enhance workers’ communication, participation and consultation. Our online system embedded with a QR code system helps our employees, subcontractors and visitors to report any health and safety observations at their workplaces. Since its establishment more than 500 observation cards have been submitted, including potential hazards that could have lead to significant accidents. 


  • GROUP INTRANET

Alistair Group deployed an advanced health and safety document management system that integrates functionalities for document change, approvals and communication to all employees. The system helps employees to access relevant information pertaining to Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Quality at Alistair Group. 

 

  • MANAGEMENT WALK AROUND

Senior Management has access to management walk-around and visibly felt inspection tools which enhance them to regularly visit operations areas and identify both positive and negative health and safety aspects, as well as interacting with employees. This has helped to bring the spirit of health and safety among senior management.

Sample of auto-generated system response on submission of management walk around report

Sample of auto-generated system response on submission of management walk around report

  • DIGITAL INSPECTION REPORTS

Alistair Group uses In-house data capturing systems for all inspection activities including but not limited to assets inspection, daily and weekly fire, first aid, workshop and office inspections. Information is fed onto the Group HSSEQ Action Tracker for monitoring purposes.

                                                                     

  • ENHANCED SECURITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Alistair Group has invested in advanced security management systems including vehicle monitoring systems and a dedicated tracking department.  Our in-vehicle monitoring system helps to monitor the location of our assets, and drivers behaviours including overspeeding, wearing seat belts, making and receiving calls, not stopping at approved designated areas, and picking unauthorised passengers. Our dedicated tracking department monitors the movement of assets and cargo from the loading to the offloading sites records the information received on our in-house system and makes proper escalations to the responsible internal stakeholders.

  • TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Alistair Group believes that a competent, trained and retained workforce is essential for customer service, safety and consistently high service standards. The Company developed processes and procedures that layout minimum requirements to ensure all personnel working for Alistair Group meet our health, safety and quality expectations.

  • STOP WORK AUTHORITY: INTERVENE AND HELP PUT A STOP TO UNSAFE ACTS

Alistair Group’s culture and operating activities are conducted with a high priority for ethical standards. Being a responsible company in all of our operations is an integral part of Alistair Group and we continue to implement high ethical and practical standards in all our activities. Our goal is healthy, safe and secure operations that cause no incident, no harm to people, no damage to the environment, based on mutual cooperation. Alistair Group welcomes any suggestions that could improve the safety of its operations and, where an employee believes there are breaches, they are empowered to “STOP WORK” and report such breaches to management.

  • SAFETY INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Our Health and Safety Incentive Program” aim to promote and recognize positive safety culture within the organization.

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HEALTH AND SAFETY, THE HEART OF MAKING OUR CUSTOMER WORK BETTER


Manyanda Maziku | Group Head of HSSEQ | 01 October 2021

 

Alistair Group is increasingly concerned with achieving and demonstrating health, safety, security, environment and quality performance. The logistics industry is complex and exposes employees to a variety of risks; the hazardous nature of its operations means that the industry has a high accident rate. These include not only accidents on the road but also injuries resulting from unsafe use of equipment, long-term health risks due to poor manual handling techniques and the consequences of poor fire safety. 

With this in mind, Alistair Group understands that sensible and proportionate risk management is integral to good business practice.  While accidents do happen, the risk of injury can be significantly lowered by ensuring the implementation of sufficient manual handling procedures and training staff to be well equipped with the knowledge they need to carry out their work safely. We make it a priority to ensure that our employees arrive home safely after a day of work, regardless of their role. 

Since its inception, Alistair Group has demonstrated its commitment to managing the integrity of its operations responsibly with due considerations to the health, safety, quality and security of personnel, stakeholders and the environment in which we operate. It is for this reason that Alistair Group has emerged as a Compliant HSE Company in Africa.  

We believe that Health, Safety and Quality are not only vital in ensuring businesses run smoothly and employee fatality remains low but it is at the centre of achieving our vision of making our customers work better. Accidents and incidents have disruptions in the planned flow of operations and will present as supply chain risks that inevitably affect our clients. With this in mind, Alistair Group is committed to upholding our well-established Health, Safety, Security and Quality Management System which is designed in line with the international standards management systems. 

Alistair Group is proud to be a certified company for ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management Systems, ISO 45001 2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System and ISO 14001 2015 Environmental Management Systems. Maintenance of our ISO 45001, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 has helped our organization demonstrate compliance with environmental, health and safety laws. However, when possible, we go beyond what the law requires. 

 

OUR JOURNEY TO INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, SAFETY, QUALITY AND ENVIRONMENT CERTIFICATION

The implementation of a risk management system was a strategic and operational decision at Alistair Group to improve effectiveness and the ability to achieve its intended HSSEQ. With leadership and top management commitment, the company took several steps to build a robust system using in-house resources: 

 

  • Communicated that risk management is everyone’s business within Alistair Group
  • Set a framework and processes so that all key risks are mitigated and managed to be as low as reasonably practicable throughout Alistair Group’s activities. 
  • Integrated risk management with all aspects of the business, including governance, strategic planning, operational planning and management and reporting. 
  • Developed, implemented and communicated processes and procedures for our service lines and support functions.
  • Implemented internal audits to verify whether Alistair Group activities were complying with planned arrangements and the effectiveness of the management system against the applicable audit standard.
    • All non-conformities detected were corrected and effective corrective actions were implemented based on the results of the audits.
  • Invited a Certification Body for an independent system’s assessment, and upon successful accomplishment of the audits, Alistair Group became an ISO certified company. 

These steps are still being followed daily to not only ensure we maintain but continually improve our HSSEQ system.

 

WHAT DO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS MEAN TO US?

ISO certification not only ensures that we advance efficiency across our business; it allows Alistair Group to be seen as an elite category of business in the Logistics Industry and recognized as an important partner in the regions we operate. We are actively demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement of safety and performance and in return, it helps us to earn the trust of interested parties. 

OUR SUCCESS

International standards have made it easy for us to meet regional health and safety requirements. In 2021 Alistair Group emerged as the winner of the Tanzanian Occupational Safety and Health Award (AOSH) in the Transportation and Logistics Sector. The win came after demonstrating remarkable strategies and programs in health and safety management including hazard prevention and control, workplace risk assessment, Policies and Procedures, OHS training, Incident/accident statistics, and fitness-to-work initiatives.

 

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SHIPPING BULK OR BREAK-BULK

Luani Matthsÿer  | 02 September 2021

Containerised shipments have been the mainstay of international shipping since its conception in the late 1950s. A vast majority of organisations utilize the time tested container as their primary method of delivering commodities in a safe and relatively timely manner. However, the rising container shortage dilemma the industry is facing calls for alternative delivery methods to be explored.

Bulk and break-bulk shipping represent a viable alternative to container shipping should the right conditions apply. Multi-national organisations that ship materials of vast quantities or sizes are more likely to utilise this method as loading containers is unfeasible. This does not imply, however, that smaller organizations or manufacturers cannot take advantage of the break-bulk/bulk shipping opportunities. Alistair Group proposes quite the opposite; It is now the ideal opportunity to make use of this alternative shipping method, where possible, to avoid the container conundrum.

There are several criteria to consider when pondering break-bulk/bulk as a shipment method. Here are but a few:

  • Cargo needs to be durable.
  • Third-party handling of cargo might be required. Break-bulk/bulk operators only offer port to port services, therefore should door to door services be required a third party, like Alistair Group, will need to be utilised.
  • Cargo volume needs to be greater than the standard 20-28 MT’s shipped in a container. For break-bulk/bulk to be a financially viable solution upwards of 1500 MT’s per vessel is required.

Should you feel this option is worth exploring, please reach out to us as and we will gladly guide you through all break-bulk/bulk shipping options.

 

Bulk Sulpher from RichardsBay, South Africa to DRC.

SMBS Breakbulk from DAR, Tanzania to DRC.

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SUPPLY CHAIN AGILITY IS PARAMOUNT IN TODAY’S WORLD.

Matt Edwards (Commercial Lead – Road Freight) | 01 September 2021

Businesses with the ability to source globally, limit exposure to volatile costs and ultimately, get their product to market first, will win. Drawing on these strengths will, at the very least, ensure survival during this incredibly challenging period. A period where one is never sure how or when their next container from Ningbo or space on a vessel from Durban will be secured.

Alistair Group’s forward-thinking and mentality of continual improvement has allowed us to be at the forefront of supply chain agility. A few years ago, Alistair Group recognised the need to diversify its offering and grow its footprint regionally; better serving our customers’ needs as they sought to explore new markets and source more competitively. As a result, we are now seamlessly delivering integrated services on multiple corridors, such as Durban, Walvis Bay and Dar es Salaam, serving our core markets in DRC, Zambia and East Africa.

This multi-corridor strategy allows Alistair Group to pivot between corridors when and if necessary; giving our customers the confidence to respond to the ever-changing supply chain landscape while remaining competitive in their respective industry sectors. Alistair Group, therefore, has the freedom to explore all solutions available to our clients without being limited to only one corridor, shipping line or facility. We are able to seamlessly transition our operations from one corridor to another in order to avoid any delays or price surges; always offering the most timely and cost-effective solution.  Alistair Group’s presence at all major ports (Dar es Salaam, Durban and Walvis Bay) ensures that our clients receive the same all-in solution of transportation, clearance and warehousing regardless of the corridor utilised.

Our strategic positioning has been particularly beneficial for the mining sector, at a time when commodity prices are soaring and mines are investing heavily in expansion and modernisation to keep up with the demand. Events of the last 18 months meant that no matter from where in the world our customers sourced their reagents or other inputs, we needed to use our expertise to help them navigate capacity constraints, heavy congestion and security concerns.

By forewarning our customers of likely delays on their core corridors and competitively pricing the alternative routes, we not only ensured the smooth transit of vital imports but also carefully aligned these with export volumes across three corridors (Dar es Salaam, Durban and Walvis Bay) to benefit the industry as a whole.

Alistair Group takes a consultative approach in providing supply chain solutions that put our customer’s needs first; which is ultimately driven by our vision to be the company that makes Africa work better.

Please get in touch to see where we can make a difference to your business.

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CURBING THE GLOBAL CONTAINER SHORTAGE

Daniel du Plo0y (Head of Warehousing) | 01 September 2021

With the pandemic spreading throughout the world in early 2020, many countries implemented strict lockdowns with the aim to prevent the spread. This, in short, also meant that most economic activity and production came to a standstill. The immediate result of this was that large numbers of containers were stockpiled at ports and in turn, shipping lines globally reduced the number of container vessels on the busy shipping corridors to minimise the financial impact of operating costs.

Specific to sub-Saharan Africa, the most immediate impact from the container imbalance is the increase in ocean freight. The main ports for metal exports from the DRC and Zambia (Dar es Salaam, Walvis Bay, Beira and Durban) have all been impacted in some way by the shortages.

Walvis Bay has seen vessel operators cancel callings due to inefficiencies experienced further up the west coast of Africa, Beira has seen increased dwell times in outer anchorage and Durban, in addition to the shortage, have been impacted by local riots in July as well as cyber-attacks. Shipping rates to China have seen as much as a 150% increase in some cases out of Durban. Diverting cargo to different ports on short notice has never been more valuable for traders and inland logistics companies.

At Alistair Group, our motto of making our clients business run better has given us the freedom to explore all options available to us without being limited to one corridor, shipping line or facility.

We are completely transparent in our approach to provide solutions to our clients in terms of urgency and price. This type of “Out of the box” thinking is required in difficult times. Alistair Group has been able to curb the container shortage problem being faced in our industry, by offering the following solutions:

                • – Excluding Durban, South Africa has 7 additional commercial seaports along its coast.
                • – Viability of alternative ports and cost comparisons are shared with our clients to make the best decision for their business.
                • – We offer our clients favourable storage terms
                • – Reducing inland transit times
                • – A focus on smaller, fast-moving shipments, direct packed

Please get in touch to see where we can make a difference to your business.

 

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VISIBILITY THROUGH A CUSTOMER DASHBOARD

Matt Edwards (Commercial Lead – Road Freight) | 02 August 2021

Lack of supply chain visibility is a major challenge for many companies and industries, even in this age of digitisation. Whilst manual data entry and antiquated systems remain commonplace, those who leverage technology to better manage their supply chain often claim this step to be a major competitive advantage. 

Alistair Group recognised the need to provide clients with supply chain visibility via our real-time dashboards. This solution, in turn, brings some much-needed visibility for our customers and reduces unnecessary touchpoints throughout a shipment’s journey. 

Each of our clients has a customised dashboard to access real-time updates on the fleet status, and thus the status of each of their shipments. Additionally, our dashboard provides full reports for each warehouse, access to relevant photos and proof of delivery documentation and has the added benefit of allowing cargo to be searched by client Purchase Order (PO) number.

With our customer dashboard the following information is at your fingertips:

  • Client’s internal reference number
  • Cargo Status
  • Last Update
  • Truck details
  • Current Location
  • Estimated Delivery Date
  • Supporting Docs
  • Cargo Photos
  • and many other fields as per client requirements 

However, this major step to bring visibility to our customers did not come without its fair share of challenges during the implementation stage. With a large portion of our customer base in mainland China, we had a rather prominent and sophisticated firewall to overcome! 

For Alistair Group to provide an equally world-class customer experience across the globe and comply with the Chinese government’s data protection laws, we needed to have a separate dashboard with our infrastructure in China. We were able to keep Chinese user data in China and become compliant with Chinese regulations while ensuring the dashboard remained fast, responsive and secure. While the process was rather complex, Alistair Group dashboards and our sophisticated, in-house developed Road Freight and Clearance Document Management System are now truly accessible globally, including to mainland Chinese users via alistairgroup.cn.

Ultimately, we have been able to create a powerful, efficient tool, upon which a number of our customers rely for clear and unrestricted visibility. We have said goodbye to late pre-alerts, manual reporting and misplaced emails.

   

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VISIBILITY THROUGH AN AUTOMATED GRV SYSTEM

02 August 2021

Improved transparency, reduced delay in GRV distribution and higher efficiency – all of which can be achieved with an automated goods received voucher.

 

In the past, a typical day at our North Riding Warehouse included receiving cargo at the warehouse, conducting a material inspection, counting and measuring cargo weight and dimensions, returning to the office, commencing with the manual goods receipt process, printing all paperwork, binding the GRV with the delivery note, scanning documentation and manually sending it to the customer.  This time-consuming and inconvenient process might sound familiar to the vast majority of the transport and logistics industry.  However, at Alistair Group we constantly look for ways to remove bottlenecks and improve our efficiency.

The goods received voucher (GRV), also known as a goods received note (GRN), was oftentimes reported to our team as being a problem area; taking anywhere between two to four days to deliver. This paperwork intensive process was flying under our efficiency radar and costing our business a lot of time and effort to manually process. GRV’s play a key part in notifying customers that their cargo has successfully been delivered. Without a timely and accurate GRV, our customer’s processes are delayed; BV inspections and load planning is stalled and thus transport of goods to the final destination is set back. Whilst auditing our GRV process, in the subsequent discussion with our warehousing team, it was made evident that manually processing the GRV took a large amount of time in data entry and distribution to customers. Additionally, our current process allowed for things such as human error, lack of accuracy, delays in sending the GRV and the inclusion of multiple unnecessary steps. Staff often had to walk more than 300m to book a goods receipt.

It was these conditions that led Alistair Group to develop and introduce an automated GRV system. The countless back and forth to receive cargo in the warehouse and input the data at the office, all of which was captured manually, has now been replaced with a user-friendly web-based application (see screenshot below). Our staff are now able to utilise their mobile phone or the office tablet to immediately capture all information while with the cargo. Thus, data entry can be done on-sight as soon as the cargo arrives; resulting in real-time data capturing and delivery transparency to customers. 

The new application is equipped with predetermined fields, automated customer information, cargo and delivery-note photo capturing and uploading capabilities, automatic GRV distribution and dashboard delivery status updates. This allows staff to book the cargo much faster. Through this improvement, Alistair Group has been able to make a substantial leap in the digitalization and automation of delivering GRV’s. Reducing the goods receipt process and drastically shortened the GRV delivery time; now allowing us to deliver GRV’s to customers within ten minutes of cargo delivery. The same data which is captured in the GRV note is then used to automatically prepare further documents such as Road Consignment Notes, Packing Lists and Clearance Documentation.

 

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