When Meadow Feeds, Africa’s largest manufacturer of animal feeds, appointed Barloworld Transport as service provider at two of its mills in 2003, a unique partnership was born that would benefit both and result in substantial environmental gains.

Barloworld Transport won the Gold Award and was named overall winner at the annual Logistics Achiever Awards held at Montecasino in October last year. The award recognises achievements and innovations ‘that have created market advantage today for a strong, sustainable foundation into the future.’

According to Barloworld Transport Divisional MD, Heath Dormer, the business has a ten-year contract to transport and deliver the Meadow Feeds products that will run until 2021.

But the relationship started small when the company was contracted to supply transport to two Meadow Feeds mills, in Paarl and Port Elizabeth respectively, in 2003.

Transporting animal feed has its challenges and sensitivities, explains Dormer. The delivery time is critical and unless treated correctly, the product can become a bio-hazard with dire consequences for the farmer and his stock.

Before Barloworld Transport was appointed, Meadow Feeds owned and operated its own fleet, Dormer says. The company took over the transport, invested capital and put 24 vehicles into operation.

There was however a pivotal change in the relationship in 2011, when Meadow Feeds offered Barloworld Transport the contract to take over its national fleet.

That included deliveries from mills in Paarl, Ladismith, Port Elizabeth, Randfontein, Delmas, Pietermaritzburg and Welkom.

“As a producer of specialised diets and custom feed mixes to the poultry, dairy, ostrich and swine industries, Meadow Feeds operates in a changing and unpredictable business environment as a supplier to animals within their different lifecycles. Therefore, the business strongly relies on a holistic feed solution with an innovative and lean supply chain model, linked to manufacturing, to ensure optimised delivery and cost-savings where possible,” explains Neil Henderson, CEO of Barloworld Transport.

The approach is aligned to Barloworld Transport’s business of evaluating clients and identifying how transportation and supply chain management can be constantly improved and optimised to drive efficiencies. Barloworld Transport replaced all the Meadow Feeds vehicles and reduced the number from 99 to 66 using effective technologies and by increasing the amount of product per delivery.

Throughout the partnership, Barloworld Transport has increased volumes by 25% and average payloads by 10% while managing to keep fleet volume growth at 4.5%. Overall, the company has managed to achieve savings of 14% for Meadow Feeds.

Since 2011 this and other environmental initiatives have resulted in an overall 30% reduction in CO 2 emissions, which equates to 110,971 trees saved. This was made possible by a 30% reduction in fuel usage and 23% fewer kilometres travelled.

Barloworld Transport’s smart solutions are at the core of the sustained partnership. Examples of these include Drivesmart™, a driver performance change management system for use by commercial vehicle operators to reduce the risk of loss of life, injury to road-users and damage to vehicles and other property – thus ensuring drivers adhere to strict standards and that measures are in place to protect the client and company brands. All of these are integral to Barloworld Transport’s approach of placing its people at the heart of its business.

The Barloworld Transport solution provides for a routine scheduling program. It also introduced bin monitoring that determines how much stock Meadow Feeds’ bigger clients have left.

Through analysis of the needs of farms with small bin capacity, Barloworld Transport could offer added value in the form of investment in increased silo capacity, which reduced the number of trips to each farm and further savings.

Schedule planning includes alerts to Meadow Feeds when the truck leaves the farm, to start preparing the next batch for loading. By doing that, waiting time at the plant was eliminated; in the knowledge that time is money.

In the course of the partnership Barloworld Transport has realised material savings for Meadow Feeds, says Dormer. This included advice on the optimal location of its new plant, namely near Standerton after analysing where the raw material comes from, where the clients’ farms are situated and the distribution needs.

Dormer says key to the successful partnership is cooperation between Barloworld Transport, Meadow Feeds and the farmer.

He says now, in the sixth year of their partnership, the team is working towards a paperless environment. Truck drivers use tablets which enables real time information sharing and controls.

The partnership is being driven from the highest level in each company, with the executive committees of the respective companies meeting every second month.

The partnership with Meadow Feeds also saw Barloworld Transport win the Enviro award, ‘for an outstanding contribution to the environment through an innovative sustainable transportation solution’.

Andy Crocker, MD of Meadow Feeds added: “We are proud of our partnership with Barloworld Transport and delighted with this award, which recognizes the collaborative effort of the two companies. When Meadow Feeds outsourced the non-core function of outgoing logistics, we knew that the ultimate success of the relationship would depend on the continuous improvement mind-set that both companies share. Every year, real costs must be removed from the business in order to maintain the year on year benefits, which have been achieved consistently over the past four years. We have had to challenge each other to glean these benefits and will need to continue to do so in the difficult environment that the feed industry, and its customers, now face.”