Letsema Consulting

EAST AFRICAN JOINT OPERATING CENTRE AND CONTROL TOWER

Introduction

With the acquisition of grant support from the Logistics Innovation for Trade (LIFT) Challenge Fund, in January 2016, Letsema Consulting and Advisory (Pty) Ltd, in partnership with Transnova (Pty) Ltd,will implement a project to establish a Joint Operating Centre (JOC) in Mombasa to manage both road and rail transport of containers between Nairobi and Mombasa. This will further be backed with a Control Tower (an information system) which will house a Logistics Operating Control (LOC) software system backbone that will serve to provide real-time information regarding the sequencing, scheduling, routing, tracking and selection of containers for inbound and outbound logistics for all stakeholders within the container movement supply chain, hence supporting operational and tactical decision making.

The Control Tower will enable shorter lead times for all transport companies by increasing visibility of ocean import/export with associated road/rail freight scheduling while also enhancing the tracing and tracking of cargo which will allow for more informed decision making and will be backed up with sophisticated data analytics and a system de-bottlenecking process. The project will enhance operational efficiencies through integrating all key stakeholders in the supply chain on a strategic, tactical and operational level to operate as one organization by developing a JOC which would improve information transparency, communication and tracking, and tracing of goods along the transport corridor for informed decision making.

The project implementation is structured into 5 milestones:

  • Milestone 1 – signed Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with at least 3 key stakeholders (most likely KRA, KPA and RVR)
  • Milestone 2 – business case for East Africa JOC (EAJOC) and control tower
  • Milestone 3 – JOC and control tower design and blueprint
  • Milestone 4 – establishment of structures, processes and key staff
  • Milestone 5 – reduction of total turnaround time by 25% during the pilot testing phase of the EAJOC (3 customers)

Project Objectives

  • East Africa Joint Operating Centre (EAJOC) and Control Tower is expected to reduce rail transit times by up to 60% in the Northern Corridor in East Africa and turnaround times of wagons in the port by 50% based on results seen on the Maputo corridor in Southern Africa, which would reduce rail and port costs by as much as 30%. The savings achieved through the Control Tower software implementation has seen total supply chain savings of 7-15% for containerised goods transported by truck. The Joint Operating Centre concept was previously rolled out on the Maputo Corridor by Letsema Consulting and rail volumes have increased from 2.6MT in 2011 to 6.1MT in 2011, just through efficiency improvements.

  • The project will be rolled out in 4 phases, namely a diagnostic phase (1st phase), design phase (2nd phase), setup and implementation phase (3rd phase) and a pilot/roll-out phase (4th phase).

  • The project’s aim is to enable timely and efficient clearance of goods from the port with greater levels of cleared and delivered goods being secured with similar resource usage, while also improving the quality of service, working discipline and practices of the region’s freight forwarding industry, raising standards to internationally benchmarked norms.

  • The Joint Operating Centre will facilitate enhanced operational decision making by breaking down the barriers between interlinked operators. This is achieved by facilitating port, rail, shipping and truck operators to have access to the same information and involving all stakeholders in real-time planning, deviation management, communication and performance management. Furthermore, stakeholders agree and sign agreements which bind them to a certain level of commitment to develop the rail/road/port corridor.

  • The LOC software will be designed to eliminate standing time for containers, vessels, trucks and trains and to eliminate inventory holding costs by tracking the time goods need to be in certain places and where the goods currently are, also intelligently considering processing times and capacity constraints at the Nairobi and Mombasa terminals. This system will therefore provide transparency of all terminal arrivals and departures of containers to all stakeholders in the supply chain. It will also allow detailed tracking of processing times at the terminal for continuous improvement processes.

Conclusion

The Joint Operating Centre concept follows an approach or idea that was implemented on the Maputo Corridor by Letsema Consulting in 2011. It has demonstrated great success there with the integration of port and rail operators across 4 countries acting as one entity.

“The roll out of the JOC concept will be the first of its kind in East Africa and entirely new for Africa in the fact that the proposed JOC in Mombasa will be integrated with a control tower concept which has the tracking, computing and recording capabilities to provide real-time information to the Joint Operating Centre and record all cargo movements. It will improve transport efficiencies on the Northern Corridor of East Africa”

– Nirojan Poovendran – Associate Partner, Letsema Consulting (Pty) Ltd