KOLOK – MEET THE WAREHOUSE OF THE FUTURE

More than ever, warehousing facilities play a vital role in the overall supply chain process.  In an ICT environment where carving a competitive edge is an imperative, the ability to timeously process and supply product demand is key.

The ICT warehouse, its distribution and logistics processes are indisputably the engine room of any effective South African distributor.  It has a symbiotic relationship with the entire organisation and its employees which is why it should stay in tune with the business it serves and the demands that drive its operations. 

With this in mind, KOLOK, a proud BIDVEST company and one of the country’s leading ICT distributors, recently underwent a major operations upgrade, catapulting it into the future and effectively setting a new standard for warehousing in its industry.

An evolving business

In order to understand the operations upgrade it is important to take one step back.  With any major operational design there are some important drivers that predetermine its rationale and overall success.  Mohammed Ebrahim, operations director of KOLOK explains that apart from upgrading the ICT backbone, they were literally running out of space which meant the physical facility landscape had to be expanded. 

KOLOK moved to its current head office in Ormonde, Johannesburg in 2005 – the premises which included the warehousing infrastructure offered a solid foundation for future growth.  However, like most ICT distribution infrastructure, it satisfied KOLOK’s basic requirements.

“When we moved in we took stock of where we’d come from and what we wanted to achieve.  Subsequently we mapped out a five-year growth trajectory plan and within three years we had achieved and exceeded our expectations.  This meant we had to go back to the drawing        board; our warehouse subsequently underwent minor upgrades in 2008 to cope with our expanding business,” explains Ebrahim.

Bringing the drawing board to life

KOLOK’s business had been growing year-on-year which translated into more resellers, new vendor product introduction and overall market demand for timeous delivery of products and services. “It is part of the natural evolution of the business, as it grows so the warehouse is increasingly under pressure to carry more stock without compromising its operations and efficiencies.  That’s distribution.”

Following its minor upgrade in 2008, KOLOK in 2012 started planning the next phase of its operations and subsequent expansion. The distributor felt it needed to look 15 to 20 years ahead.  A business case study was drawn up using current data predicting its growth over the next years which enabled KOLOK to develop a model for the new operations.

“We decided to go with a system that would grow with our business, enabling us to add on additional functionality as we expanded over time.  The new physical racking, for example, could easily be expanded to meet our future requirements.

“And to meet our current and future needs, we immediately expanded the picking capacity by adding a new steel structured mezzanine which effectively created 550 m2 of additional space; expanding not only the physical area but optimising it to further streamline our operations. The previous picking area had been freed up and new three-level rack-supported picking zones were implemented. It added an additional 2300m2 of picking space.

Apart from its storage requirements, KOLOK has also partnered with a local company to expand its warehouse automation infrastructure now and in the coming years.  The distributor now features automation across various functional areas.  “The picking and packing lines are now fully automated which has greatly improved efficiencies and productivity.  

“Plus from an environmental perspective we’ve significantly decreased our power usage by eliminating energy hungry equipment.  Additionally, our lighting system meets our current strategy to drive down our carbon footprint. All plastic, paper and cardboard are recycled on site,” says Ebrahim. 

Warehouse management drives efficiency and growth

In 2007, KOLOK invested in a warehouse management system (WMS) from global leader Manhattan Associates.  The distributor was in fact the first South African adopter of the company’s Manhattan SCALE (Supply Chain Architected for Logistics Execution) product.  Since then, KOLOK has become a driving force of Manhattan SCALE WMS in the Southern Hemisphere and for example hosted the South African user group conference in September 2014.  

Over the last seven years, the WMS has enabled the distributor to significantly streamline its operations while also creating the foundation for future growth.  The Manhattan SCALE WMS was and remains instrumental in enabling KOLOK to upgrade its operations.

Explains Nicole McLean, IT operations project manager at KOLOK: “With each new evolution of our operations, our WMS is used as the foundation to expand increasing requirements.  When physical changes are made the WMS has to adapt to support these new requirements; it’s a symbiotic relationship between the operations and the system.  The WMS enables us to increase efficiency, productivity and expand our operations to world-class standards.

“When we started planning the warehouse expansion, the WMS team was involved every step of the way.  Due to the configurable nature of the Manhattan SCALE WMS we could amalgamate the system and business needs to cater for market requirements,” she adds.

Manhattan Scale WMS enables KOLOK to respond quickly to shifting demands.  For daily operations the WMS offers the following important benefits:

  • Enhanced inventory management by increasing accuracy;
  • Improved order fulfilment and reduced order cycle;
  • Improve accuracy of every order and reduced safety stock;
  • Consolidated orders to reduce transportation and shipping costs;
  • Reduced expenses on labour and storage by managing tasks and improving processes;
  • Improve warehouse layout for faster fulfilment and overhead reduction;
  • Minimise warehouse space with cross-docking and flow-through capabilities;
  • Facilitate efficient receiving and disposition of returns; and
  • Integrate material handling equipment (diverts, inductions, pick/pack, complex sortation).

Optimised services, today and the future

Comments Ebrahim: “Since 2005 we’ve grown in leaps and bounds - people are often surprised at how much we’ve achieved.  The reality is if you don’t continually upgrade your ICT infrastructure and methodology your efficiency will be greatly compromised.  

“Furthermore, our operations feature a highly dedicated and experienced team.  They have and remain instrumental in the success of KOLOK’s operations.

“Our upgraded, world-class facility has already greatly contributed to productivity and services.  The hiccups were minor thanks to thorough planning by a dedicated team.  As with any new system there is some change management involved, however, we ensured that the warehouse staff were quickly brought up to speed with minimal disruption to our operations and customer needs.

“Ultimately, we are very proud of what we’ve achieved.  Our sales people depend on us – they can’t bring in new products and offer quick turnaround if we can’t manage, store and distribute it.  We are continuously updating and investing in operations and IT infrastructure. Our main objective, in all that we do at KOLOK, is to become a leading world-class organisation,” concludes Ebrahim.

THE KOLOK EXPERIENCE

KOLOK’s success is cemented in years of experience; the distributor was established in 1966 as Pelikan Products and in the subsequent years grew to eventually join the BIDVEST Group of Companies in 1997 – a noteworthy achievement in a highly competitive ICT marketplace.

The company is a Level Two BBBEE contributor and currently distributes some of the world’s leading brands.  KOLOK prides itself on its professional service and delivery, underscored by superior stock availability and an experienced and dedicated staff contingent and national footprint.

The distributor endeavours to be an extension of its reseller partners’ business, growing together to deliver superior services to the marketplace it serves.

KOLOK offers:

  • Exceptional service delivery – quick turnaround time
  • Personalised, focussed customer interaction
  • Dedicated, brand-specific business units
  • Keeps trend with market needs and developments
  • Investment in skills and people development
  • World-class technology infrastructure (ICT and operations)
  • Level 2 BBBEE contributor

KOLOK partners with the world’s leading industry brands and continues to form new and mutually advantageous relationships that benefit its reseller base.