Empowering black individuals through enterprise development and learnerships
Gage Car Hire

Six years ago, Gage Car Hire in Imperial's Vehicles division made its contribution to enterprise development by assisting Petrus Masele set up his own courier business. Petrus had been an employee of Gage Car Hire for 10 years. Micro Couriers is 100% black-owned and facilitates the collection and delivery of documents and small parcels for small to medium-sized companies and legal firms within the Gauteng Province. Gage Car Hire provided Petrus with a branded vehicle and sponsors the fuel and vehicle insurance. To ensure the enterprise is self-sustainable, Gage Car Hire entered into a contract with Micro Couriers as its preferred supplier for courier services and provided the enterprise with references for future business. In addition, Petrus is mentored in areas including customer satisfaction, punctuality, professionalism and accessibility to ensure the business maintains its customer base. The enterprise makes a turnover of around R100 000 a year.

The initiative has provided a number of benefits, including the progression of an employee into a business owner, the opportunity for the enterprise to grow and create further jobs in the future, and increased employee morale as Gage Car Hire is seen to be empowering and developing its staff. In addition, Gage Car Hire scores the maximum points available against the enterprise development pillar of its black economic empowerment scorecard. Positive feedback has also been received from Gage Car Hire's customers.

Gage Car Hire also works with e-Deaf empowering four unemployed black individuals with disabilities, of which two are women. The business sponsors the learnerships which provide participants with workplace skills training to reduce their dependency on grants and caregivers, and allowing them to take advantage of future employment opportunities. It also provides further development to enable the individuals to grow into management and leadership positions. e-Deaf provides advice on the special needs of people with hearing disabilities to ensure that the training is effective. Attendance and results are sent to Gage Car Hire monthly. The total value of the initiative is R100 000 a year, with learners earning a stipend of R2 500 a month.

Contributing to economic development in Ga-Rankuwa
Jurgens Ci

To secure a Level 4 black economic empowerment rating (from the current Level 5 rating), Jurgens Ci identified an opportunity to free up much needed space in its warehouse and at the same time contribute to enterprise development. The assembly of complete tyres including balancing, was outsourced to Muraga Holdings in the Ga-Rankuwa community, a township located about 37 kilometres north of Pretoria. The outsourcing of some of the non-core products from Jurgens Ci's assembly line has resulted in cost savings of around R5,5 million, and has also contributed to the economic development of the local community by providing job opportunities and the reopening of some industrial areas which had been closed due to declining economic conditions. In addition to Jurgens Ci, which requires the assembly and balancing of 60 tyres a day, the enterprise also provides tyres and related services to taxis, and commercial and passenger customers. Jurgens Ci further assists Muraga Holdings through early payment terms and it has provided the enterprise with both a balancing and tyre-fitting machine. Muraga Holdings currently supports five jobs and its revenue is around R5 million a year.

Lowering the environmental footprint of Magnis Trucks
Magnis Trucks

Magnis Trucks is a multi-branded commercial vehicle business within the Imperial group that has dealerships in Pretoria East, Samrand, Bloemfontein and Zululand. A number of green initiatives have been implemented across the dealerships to realise cost savings, and to reduce the direct impact of the business on the environment.

The dealership in Pretoria East opened its new facility in 2013. The facility includes a photovoltaic system on the roof of the building, generating an average of 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar power a day and reducing the baseline electricity consumption of the dealership by around 35%. Annually, the solar panels provide the dealership with approximately 41 400 kWh of solar energy, providing an electricity cost saving of around R36 000. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions abatement amounts to 108 200 kilograms a year. The Samrand dealership uses energy saving light bulbs and light sensors are installed in offices and bathrooms, achieving a further cost saving of R30 000 a month.

In addition, wastewater treatment plants have been installed in the Pretoria East and Samrand dealerships to reduce water wastage and municipal water consumption. The polluted water is collected and treated through a natural biological filtration process that breaks down soap and grease so that the water can be reused to wash vehicles. The Pretoria East facility's wash bay recycles approximately 1 100 litres of water a day, equating to 264 000 litres annually. Annual savings amount to R4 356 and 60% of the total volume of water required by the dealership is recycled and reused. In Samrand, the dealership recycles approximately 408 kilolitres of water a year, saving around R22 000 annually. Both dealerships also operate rainwater harvesting facilities for irrigation and the top-up of the wash bay facilities.

Of particular concern for Magnis Trucks is the responsible disposal of waste oil, a hazardous waste that if not managed correctly could potentially harm the environment and have a negative impact on human health. Hazardous waste oil is sold and disposal certificates are issued to the dealership. Non-hazardous waste is separated onsite into plastic, filters and paper. The waste management process is self-funded as the separation and disposal costs incurred are offset by the sale of the used oil.

Formal waste management initiatives were implemented in November 2014 and July 2015 in the Magnis Trucks dealerships in Bloemfontein and Zululand respectively. Prior to the initiatives only scrap metal was collected for recycling. Recycling has now been expanded to include waste paper, plastic, cardboard and hazardous material contaminated by oil or antifreeze. Used oil is collected by registered waste management companies that provide the dealerships with the necessary hazardous waste disposal certificates. Oil rags, oil filters and other contaminants are also disposed of responsibly. As a result of the initiative, approximately 19% of the 57 000 tonnes of waste generated by the Zululand dealership in a year is now diverted from landfill sites. Around 41% of the waste disposal costs for the Bloemfontein dealership are recuperated from recycling. In addition, Pandae Green Solutions, a company within the Imperial group, assists the Bloemfontein dealership with the removal of sludge. The remediate process is used to recycle sludge into compost. This involves the aeration of the soil and water once a week to bring the soil to the surface so that debris can be removed. The sludge is rehabilitated into compost using bio-chemicals. This process alleviates the cost of transporting the sludge to Gauteng due to a lack of disposal sites in Bloemfontein.

Securing the assets of local communities while contributing to job creation
DataDot Technology SA

Ishishini Lethu Development Centre (Pty) Ltd (Ishishini Lethu) is a 51% black-owned company that provides a vehicle through which companies in South Africa can allocate their enterprise, supplier and skills development spend and claim points on their black economic empowerment scorecards. In partnership with DataDot Technology SA, a business within the Vehicle's division, Ishishini Lethu's 'Dot What U Got' initiative assists local communities to protect their assets against crime and contributes to job creation by hiring unemployed community members as promoters of microdot technology.

For many low-income households, insurance rates are unaffordable, placing assets at risk in areas where the crime rate is generally high. Only 25% of households in South Africa are insured and the prosecution of criminals in possession of stolen goods, as well as the recovery of stolen goods from secondhand dealers, is challenged by the lack of proof of ownership.

Ishishini Lethu provides low-income communities with microdot technology at no cost, marking household assets with microdots encoded with a unique number. The unique microdot code is stored on a secure database which is accessible to the South African Police in the event that the item is stolen. More than 32 000 households, with an average of five items per household, have been marked with microdots over the past three years. The majority of households marked are situated in high risk crime areas.

To date, Ishishini Lethu has trained and employed around 100 people to facilitate the microdotting of assets. These individuals are remunerated per kit distributed.

Crime rates are exacerbated by rising unemployment in South Africa, particularly among the youth. Value-adding businesses are required to grow the South African economy which requires an increase in entrepreneurial capacity. The objective of the Ishishini Lethu Innovative Training Hub is to transfer knowledge and develop entrepreneurial skills such as leadership, creative and critical thinking, and professional ethics thereby contributing to the employability of the youth in low-income communities. To date, the centre has used the enterprise development spend received from companies to upskill over 200 unemployed youths. In addition to receiving skills development at no cost, trainees receive a stipend per day, as well as a meal. Ishishini Lethu receives enterprise development spend from a number of companies in Imperial's Vehicles division, including Hyundai and Imperial Financial Services.

Training is also offered to employees in the private and public sector to address specific skills needs. Accredited courses are developed in close consultation with the client.

Monitoring the progress of middle managers
DataDot Technology SA

DataDot Technology SA in Imperial's Vehicles division implemented a monitoring and evaluation system during the 2016 financial year, to track the development of middle managers against specific outcomes, and to measure the success of specific skills courses. Questionnaires completed by line managers measure the performance of the individual and goals are set to address the gaps. As a measure of the individual's progress, participants are required to complete projects using the skills obtained on the development programmes attended and to transfer these skills to their management teams and departments. The initiative is having positive outcomes for the business with managers accepting more accountability and general staff feeling more valued as through the transfer of skills they are able to contribute more to their teams. In addition, there is better identification of risks and cost saving ideas are being generated through the assignments. Feedback from participants is good and lessons learnt are that goal-setting must be specific to facilitate effective performance assessment and that continual communication is required to meet objectives. Overall, team leaders are engaging better with their staff who are more motivated to take on more responsibility and be more innovative.

Implementing the Lean Excellence initiative to drive operational efficiency
Logistics International

The Lean Excellence initiative is aimed at shifting the culture at Logistics International to new methods of doing things that improve productivity through faster and leaner processes, and contribute to employee satisfaction. The initiative also focuses on the generation of new ideas that reduce wastage in terms of time and cost spent on non-value adding processes. It covers, for example, the saving of space in warehouses, processes that reduce error volumes and improve inventory accuracy, and enhanced warehouse management, and quality and safety standards. The end goal is to achieve competitive advantage, not only from a cost perspective, but also from an improved service to customers. As customers are increasingly demanding more efficient services, the division will be meeting their needs and enhancing its reputation as a strategic partner.

The Lean Excellence initiative will apply to the division's offices and warehouses, and requires the involvement of the division's employees to ensure its success. To date it has been rolled out in four warehouse branches with the function of the branch manager shifting from a management focus to a more coaching-orientated role. Engagement with the employees at these branches was undertaken to communicate the Lean Excellence initiative and employees were provided with training on lean methods. Lean workshops provide the opportunity to listen to employees, and they enable employees to work in teams and generate ideas which can cover topics such as how to save energy and improve employee safety. Viable propositions are implemented and employees in the branches are provided with a documented set of Lean tools.

Changing behaviour is the biggest challenge faced by the initiative, both from the change in branch manager function, as well getting employee buy-in. The initiative receives support from executive management and is overseen by a steering group which meets regularly. Lessons learnt are that changing culture takes time, that achieving cost benefits from the start should not be the focus, that employees need to be motivated to work in lean groups and that small improvements must be communicated quickly to sustain interest in the initiative. Pleasingly, working in lean groups has improved employee satisfaction and increased team cohesion. Employees from the Dortmund-Nord branch were asked to undertake a survey to understand how the initiative is being received. Feedback was positive with the following categories scoring highly:

  • Participating is fun.
  • I understand the lean principles and goals.
  • I think I can add value.
  • I understand the lean principles and can work with them.
  • I would encourage other branches to start with the lean initiative.

Low scores were achieved for:

  • We have too many schedules (referring to the difficulty of finding time to hold Lean workshops).
  • Our lean actions are also respected by our colleagues.

The rollout of the initiative to all warehouse branches and offices is scheduled for the end of 2017. As the rollout progresses the division expects to benefit from cross-branch synergy through the sharing of ideas.

A new training centre in Poznan for forklift operators
Logistics International

Logistics International's operation in Poland, launched a larger training centre dedicated to enhancing the skills of its forklift operators. Opened in February 2016, the 700 metre2 facility is divided into practical training space and a presentation office for theoretical training. The centre was developed as the previous training facility was unable to meet the pace of demand for qualified personnel. Following the identification of a suitable premises and attaining the necessary accreditation to offer the training, qualified instructors were employed and forklifts provided to the centre. The business has achieved savings through not having to pay for external training service providers, and trainees include employees from other companies, providing additional income to the centre. From the launch date to June 2016, 203 people have been trained by the centre. Trainees appreciate the modern training space and practical exercises, and the centre is contributing to instilling a set of sustainable quality standards throughout the operation. Further, there is opportunity to provide training to operators in other parts of the Logistics International division. The centre has had a positive impact on Logistics International's brand image and employees recommend the course to their friends and family.

Introducing two environment-friendly push boats to the South American fleet
Transport Solutions

In May 2016, Logistics International launched two new push boats, Herkules XVII and XVIII. Built at the Veka shipyard in Werkendam in the Netherlands, the push boats were transported to Uruguay on a heavy-lift vessel and from there made their own way up to Rio Paraná for registration in Asunción, Paraguay. The push boats are equipped with the latest technology and innovative energy efficiency solutions that reduce environmental impact.

Jürgen Sabotinski, Manager Fleet Business Unit Shipping, boosted the energy efficiency of the vessels with a simple and effective idea to hydraulically retract the flanking rudders into the stern of the push boats when the rudders are not needed. This reduces fuel wastage, increases speed and the vessels travel more smoothly with cavitation corrosion on the propellers, nozzles and main rudders almost completely eliminated. Initial trials proved that the speed of the pushed convoy (six loaded barges with a combined load of 17 000 tonnes) with retracted flanking rudders, increased by approximately 900 metres per hour. This is a world first implementation facilitated by Dutch company Van der Velden Marine Systems and the Veka shipyard.

Located in front of the propeller nozzles on the port and starboard sides of a vessel, the flanking rudders are used to steer push boats and pushed convoys during special maneuvers such as lateral mooring, and the coupling and uncoupling of barges. When retracted the two flanking rudders lie flush with the hull and are protected from external mechanical impacts.

Sustainable cost savings are achieved from both a lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance costs. Depending on the depth of the water, energy savings total between 5% and 7,5%.

Other technologies used on the push boats include the real time measurement of each engine's gas oil consumption. This is transmitted to Logistics International's head office in Asuncion in short time intervals to analyse efficiency and adjust driving behaviour. An on-board wastewater treatment plant treats used water before it is discharged into the environment. Imperial Logistics International's shipping business is one of the first inland waterway transport companies to use wastewater treatment plants.

The crew has received training on how to optimally operate the push boats. Not only does this ensure that the push boats provide the most optimal environmental protection, but it also has raised ecological awareness and assisted to develop environmentally-friendly habits.

A lesson learnt from the project is that modern technologies motivate employees. Employee satisfaction has further increased through the on-board gyms that provide the crew with the opportunity to exercise, improving their health and lowering illness rates. The comfortable and modern push boards are positively perceived by the crew and increase Imperial Logistics International's attractiveness as an employer for this category of worker.

Optimising transport services with new lightweight trailers
Transport Solutions

Twelve new lightweight "ecotrail®" trailers, made by Berger in Austria, are used to transport heavy engine components for a major German automobile manufacturer. The engine components are produced in the United Kingdom and are transported to the manufacturer's factory in Austria on the lightweight trailers, for assembly.

Together with the lighter tractor unit from Daimler, the "ecotrail®" trailers can accommodate up to three tonnes more freight than the 25 tonnes with conventional transport units. The 28 tonne payload does not exceed the maximum permissible weight of 40 tonnes, and optimised fully can provide benefits in the way of reduced operating costs and carbon emissions due to fewer transport runs.

"We can significantly optimise the transport concept for our customers by using the new lightweight trailers. Through the increased payload, our customers can respond to the volume of goods required in a more flexible manner," says Srecko Mühling, Head of the road business unit (General Cargo) at Imperial Logistics International.

The Berger trailer weighs less than 4,7 tonnes, achieved by using slim longitudinal beams made of S700 fine-grain steel, recesses which provide stability and multi-functional components. Provided that the payload potential is fully exploited, the number of trips can be reduced by 7% according to the study published by K+P Transport Consultants. Assuming that return trips take place with smaller payloads, the lower overall weight results in fuel savings of around 1% per 500 kilograms of reduced weight, about 1,5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Reconditioning IT hardware and providing employment for people with disabilities
Logistics International

For over a year, Logistics International's IT department has been sending its waste hardware, which has been decommissioned but is still usable, to AfB gemeinnützige GmbH (AfB). The service provider specialises in reconditioning discarded computers and other hardware components such as servers, keyboards, cables and mice. All data is certifiably erased and the hardware is then tested, cleaned and finally marketed again in AfB shops with a warranty of at least 12 months. In addition, the company provides job opportunities for people with disabilities. To date, the division's IT hardware alone has secured one job in AfB and saved the equivalent of 6 600 kilograms of iron, over 11 000 kilowatts of energy and more than 3 100 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Preserving fast-moving consumer goods while reducing electricity required for refrigeration
Imperial Cold Logistics

Imperial Cold Logistics is a specialist logistics and supply chain management provider of chilled and frozen products to the fast-moving consumer goods, retail and wholesale industries in South Africa. The business is a high consumer of electricity which is required to refrigerate cold storage areas, as well as receiving and dispatch areas. The company has added a new facility with a refrigeration plant in Lindbro Park to its footprint. In the design of the facility, Imperial Cold Logistics has included a dry air climate control system to reduce electricity consumption and other overhead costs, as well as limit produce damage and waste. The company used the services of Specialised Climate Engineering (Pty) Ltd, who have successfully provided similar solutions in Imperial Cold Logistics' facilities in Cape Town, City Deep, Durban and Midrand.

The dry air climate control system consists of desiccant dehumidifiers, which use materials that attract and hold water vapor, thereby removing moisture from the air. In refrigeration plants, the system can reduce electricity consumption by as much as 25%, and for the new facility has reduced overall consumption for the site by 18%, equating to an estimated electricity saving of 1 787 000 kilowatt hours a year. At an average cost of R1 a kilowatt hour, this translates into an annual cost saving of around R1,8 million.

A challenge faced by the project was that the power required for the dehumidifiers was not included in the scope of energy required for the facility in the original planning. However, the reduced electricity load required by the refrigeration plant more than offsets the power required to operate the dehumidifiers and has still provided an overall energy saving.

In addition to reducing electricity costs, maintenance costs are lowered in the absence of a wet and ice-laden environment. Savings on maintenance equate to around R400 000 on a facility the size of Lindbro Park as less maintenance is required on the refrigeration plant, and facility walls, doors and shelving. In addition, the dry air control removes the need for strip curtains traditionally required to maintain temperatures in refrigerated spaces.

The drier sterile environment also assists the facility to maintain compliance with food safety standards, as dry air protects products from ice damage. This also reduces product returns and waste. Using the City Deep depot as an example, prior to installation the costs on damages and returns associated with a wet environment averaged around R950 000 a year.

Removing the day-to-day problems associated with wet environments, has freed up management time to focus on more creative solutions. Another benefit of dry air climate control systems is that employees are better protected from injury, working in environments that are free from floors covered in ice or water, which is typical of cold logistics operations. The solution also contributes to the Imperial brand as customers are presented with a clean, dry and safe site, and are provided with a better quality distribution solution as their products are preserved in the dry air climate-controlled facility.

The cost of the project was R1,5 million and the estimated time to achieve return on investment is around 10 months. With five sites operating successfully using this solution, Imperial Cold Logistics will continue to implement this technology where feasible to enforce its sustainability and business performance.

Using electricity meters to identify peak electricity loads
Imperial Retail Logistics

Imperial Retail Logistics has installed main and sub-electricity meters at 18 of its larger depots in South Africa, including a pilot installation in the Cape Town depot's battery bay. The meters have enabled the monitoring of kilowatt hour usage and power factors, and highlight periods of high load demands in real time. As a number of the company's depots are principal-owned, the success of the initiative requires owner buy-in, as well as engagement with employees to effect behavioural change. Data from the meters in the Cape Town battery bay highlighted that periods of high consumption coincided with employee shift changes during which time all batteries used to power forklifts were recharged. Battery charging is now staggered, shifting electricity demand from peak times to times of lower tariff rates. In addition, the shift in process is expected to return a 20% reduction in electricity. The meters are monitored monthly to ensure that process changes and the associated savings are sustained. The pilot study in the battery bay cost the company R68 000 with an expected payback period of eight months. In 2016/2017, Imperial Retail Logistics will look at electricity target setting based on its more accurate data collection.

Reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution by utilising alternate transport refrigeration technology
Imperial Fast 'n Fresh

Imperial Fast 'n Fresh provides controlled, multi-temperature, cost effective primary and secondary distribution solutions for leading retailers and manufactures throughout Southern Africa. Since November 2014, it has been testing cryo-fridge units in the transportation of produce for Woolworths, one the largest retail chains in South Africa. The technology also makes use of solar panels located on the roof of the trailer to charge the fridge batteries. The initiative aligns with Imperial Logistics' emission efficiency objectives and with the Woolworths Good Business Journey initiative, which focuses on environmental sustainability.

A cryo-fridge unit uses liquid nitrogen as the primary coolant source instead of the conventional diesel operated unit. The objective of the project was to verify whether or not the cryo-fridge could function as well as a conventional fridge, without emitting any carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and with reduced noise levels.

The refuelling of liquid nitrogen is a challenge with little success being achieved from engagement with the supplier on set refuelling times. As an alternative, Imperial Fast 'n Fresh is looking to build a 10 000 litre bulk liquid nitrogen vessel at its Montague Gardens depot in the Western Cape. The plans for the vessel have been drafted and the company is sourcing installation costs.

Testing has shown successful results as indicated by the key performance indicators in the table below.

Function Pass/Fail
Maintain temperature at set point Pass
Remote temperature monitoring and tracking capabilities In progress
Emission-free Pass
Silent Pass
Faster rate to achieving set point versus that required by conventional fridge units Pass
Lower maintenance cost versus that required by conventional fridge Pass
Lower running cost versus that required by conventional fridge Pass
Longer fridge lifecycle versus that required by conventional fridge unit (60 months) 120 months
Parts availability Pass
Aftersales service and technical support Pass
Multi-temperature functionality Pass

While conventional fridge units emit 2,63 kilograms of CO2 per litre of diesel, equating to 11 835 kilograms annually, the cryo-fridge emits no emissions. Conventional fridges use 1,8 litres of diesel to cool contents for an hour. Using the current fuel price at the time of reporting of R11,26 a litre, the total cost per hour equates to R20,27. This is less than a cryo-fridge which requires 23 litres of liquid nitrogen at a total cost of R41,42 an hour to cool contents.

However, in addition to zero emissions, the benefit in reduced noise improves service delivery as running silent means that transportation vehicles are able to access noise sensitive locations, increasing the company's ability to meet customer delivery requirements. To date, there has been no product temperature rejection issues however one challenge faced was moisture entering the cryo-system as a result of incorrect refuelling protocols. Training and awareness have been increased and going forward, all refuelling staff who will be comprehensively trained and accredited by Afrox.

Plans are in place to add three more units in the next financial year. Following successful deployment and implementation in the Western Cape, management will consider expanding the initiative into more regions.

Changing a distribution centre from "I" to "we", and reaping the results

Over the past three years, changes at the parts distribution centre (PDC) in South Africa have driven a culture change from "I" to "we". It is generally thought that workers in South Africa don't accept flexibility and achieve relatively poor productivity. The initiatives at PDC are disproving this notion, partly as a result of the Grow to Care programme being implemented.

The PDC's national distribution and warehouse manager joined the business in June 2013, at which time the warehouse employed 36 people and performance was generally poor. Airfreight was being turned around in 48 hours, stock orders and stock count took 12 days each and the PDC had two months' worth of back orders.

Following his appointment, the warehouse manager had six months to prepare for the December 2013 stock count. During this period, non-core functions such as packing and despatching were outsourced to a logistics company and more focus was placed on picking and receiving which are the core functions of the warehouse. The warehouse manager introduced five aspects into the facility, namely: a receiving section, airfreight, binning, stock management, and picking and pick quantity.

Supervisors for each aspect were appointed and key performance indicators (KPIs) introduced, with each supervisor responsible for his own KPIs and those of the other supervisors. Two of the appointees were existing supervisors and the remaining three (two pickers and one binner) were promoted from within the staff complement. The warehouse manager spent time communicating with the supervisors on understanding the pipeline which linked them, called "lean-on" management and value chain logistics. This was reinforced through changes such as linked performance incentives and accountability. For example, instead of senior management processing vacation leave forms, these are signed by the supervisors themselves who stand in for each other during vacation times. The warehouse manager also introduced the concept that given their interdependence, all teams should aim for stretched performance, going beyond their jobs and servicing their internal and external customers at 110% or more. The constant measurement of performance and productivity was introduced, to enable the linking of pay incentives to performance. Where supervisors exceed their KPIs they receive extra incentives, but only to the degree to which the weakest of them performed. As attendance and timekeeping were particular problems in the warehouse, incentives were divided 50% for time and attendance, and 50% towards the achievement of KPIs.

"Slowly the supervisors realised 'you are just as important as I am', and they started linking themselves, although there was still a lot of individualism," says the warehouse manager.

To identify poor performers, the warehouse manager started filtering the team effect into the staff. People were moved around the warehouse which diversified ability and allowed the manager to stress-test the facility. Employees that under-performed or transgressed set standards were dealt with decisively and unconditionally. In one case the warehouse manager contravened a rule and issued himself with a written warning – setting the example that the rules apply to everyone.

"It also allowed me to see more clearly what minimum staff complement was needed to run the facility. This changing of roles was generally welcomed because many people had been doing the same job for years. It represented some possibility for growth or promotion."

The overall result of these changes was that the first stock count took only five days and attendance and timekeeping have risen to 97% compliance. The workforce fell to 26 and where required carefully-picked people were recruited. Despite being unionised, there was no resistance from the workforce in terms of the dismissals and job flexibility exercises.

The next step to increasing the productivity at the PDC was to motivate employees and move them away from a 'in it for me' mindset.

"I was a participant in the Legitimate Leadership programme and had been relaying what I had been learning about care and growth leadership to the supervisors. We were now a close-knit team handling between R4 million and R5 million worth of stock per day, with tough KPIs. However, none of the supervisors or staff had undergone any direct care and growth training."

The warehouse piloted a half-day of Grow to Care training for a selected group of employees in administrative, supervisory, and picker and packer roles. The training was provided by Nothemba Mxenge of Legitimate Leadership and the feedback from employees was very positive with one participant gong so far as to transfer her learning to her colleagues in administration. Given the enthusiastic response, Grow to Care training was rolled out to all 60 employees onsite over three days in early 2016. Groups were deliberately integrated between distribution and the warehouse, so employees could meet each other and appreciate the different roles within the operation. The result has been a change in attitude among employees with increased levels of willingness and contribution. In addition, one of the supervisors has since been recruited by another distribution operation within Imperial on the warehouse manager's recommendation.

"Grow to Care fundamentally isn't about how we as the company can get more out of you. It is more, 'This is for you, it is a gift to help you have a better life,' says Nothemba.

In 2016, the supervisory structure was strengthened through the appointment of two senior supervisors, responsible for stock management, and receiving and packing. The objective is that within six months, the new management will be independent of the warehouse manager except for the measurement and accountability of the two senior supervisors.

"The supervisors now measure the staff members. I measure only the senior supervisors. I've handed over full staff responsibility, leave responsibility, KPI feedback and disciplinary to the supervisors," says the warehouse manager.

Pleasingly, shop floor employees are now coming up with 'we' ideas. Everyone, including the warehouse manager, has grown and space has been created for career advancement. The Parts Operations Director, the warehouse manager's line manager, has acknowledged that this is by far the best team he's ever had, particularly in terms of productivity and flexibility.

Wendy Lambourne and Nothemba Mxenge of Legitimate Leadership have identified two key shifts at the PDC. These are a change in management toward care and growth leadership, and a change in employee mentality from "I"/here to take, to "we"/team at both shop floor level and more broadly in the distribution centre.

Key results

2016   2015 2014 2013
Number of employees 32   28  26 36
Stock orders (number of days) 3   5 7 12
Daily orders (number of hours) Same day   24 24 48
Sea shipment (number of days) 4   7 8 12
Local air shipment (number of hours) Same day   24 48 48
Stock take (number of days) 2   3 5 12