Bidvest Group Subsidiary Kolok Optimises African Supply Chain Operations with Manhattan Associates


Continent's largest printer supplies distributor reduces picking errors by 80 percent and increases transaction volumes by 28 percent

Global supply chain optimisation provider Manhattan Associates, Inc. (NASDAQ: MANH), today announced that Kolok, Africa's largest printer supplies distributor, has implemented Manhattan Associates ILS™: Integrated Logistics Solutions, built on Microsoft® .NET, at its primary distribution centre (DC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company, which also has DCs in Namibia as well as five others in South Africa, has reported an 80 percent reduction in picking errors in its Johannesburg DC and a 28 percent improvement in transaction volumes it processes for clients each day.

Kolok expects to realise a full return on investment on the IT side of the project within 24 months, primarily through better visibility and management of stock levels, efficient and speedy inbound and outbound processes and improved customer service. Manhattan Associates conducted the Johannesburg implementation jointly with local solution consulting company Supply Chain Junction.

Kolok, which is owned by Bidvest, the Rand 103 billion (€10 billion) turnover international services, trading and distribution company, listed on the JSE, South Africa and operating on four continents, conducts business directly in the common customs area of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia, as well as in Angola and Mozambique. The company also works with partners in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Its choice of the Manhattan ILS solution came as a result of extensive research in Africa and Europe. Two other vendors were shortlisted, but Manhattan Associates was selected because of its reliability, functionality and as a result of a scoring system which took into account the specific needs of the people it would be serving. Kolok uses the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution as its enterprise solutions platform and so the selection of Manhattan ILS, which has been interface approved by Microsoft through its 'Certified for Dynamics' accreditation, made sense from an integration and standardisation perspective.

"We faced a number of challenges that affected the performance of our distribution operation," explained Allan Thompson, managing director at Kolok. "One of our biggest problems was the relatively high level of crime both within and outside the warehouse, which ranged from petty theft to the occasional hi-jacking of delivery vehicles. Furthermore the lack of basic IT skills amongst our warehouse staff was apparent. We were suffering real difficulties in stock management following several years of rapid growth and our card-based stock-control system did not meet the required standard."

The Johannesburg DC is now equipped with a fully-functional warehouse management solution and complementary radio-frequency (RF) technology from Psion Teklogix. A large screen situated in the control centre allows staff and managers to see at a glance how work is progressing as well as monitor individual performance. Productivity of all functional areas has improved dramatically. "We can measure individual productivity rates among our employees and are working closely with our union representatives to ensure that this efficiency benefits everyone," said Allan Thompson. "Our staff members have learned new skills and feel empowered by the control they now have over their work. Few of our employees had ever used a computer before, but through team work and training the learning process was rapid and effective."

"Quarterly stock-takes used to take three days and were planned weeks in advance," he continued. "Since Manhattan ILS has been implemented they are carried out more efficiently and less stressfully with fewer staff needed than before and in just a few hours."

Kolok expects that the most significant savings will come from utilising Manhattan ILS's deep functionality in areas such as scan and weigh verification, carton cubing, pallet building, RF loading and productivity based incentives. Kolok is also in the process of testing a variety of waving processes to accommodate the needs of its other DCs.

Kolok's future plans include full deployment of Manhattan's Labour Management and Slotting Optimisation solutions.

Jan-Paul Boos, senior director, EMEA at Manhattan Associates, commented, "The results that Kolok has achieved from our solution have been very impressive. This is a truly entrepreneurial company doing business in the face of some quite unique challenges. Both Manhattan Associates and Supply Chain Junction, with whom we have worked successfully in the South African market for some time now, are proud to have worked closely with Kolok on the implementation and have also learned much from the experience. We look forward to supporting the company as it rolls out our software across its entire business."

About Kolok

Established 42 years ago, Kolok is today part of the Bidvest group of companies. It is one of the largest printer supplies distributors in Africa, and has a specific focus on printer supplies, computer consumables and data media products. Kolok is a "One-Stop Total Computer Supplies" organisation offering superior stock availability together with a professional and efficient delivery and collection service enabling its customers to rely on it as an extension of their own businesses.

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