Sunday, November 20, 2005

PEIE-based Logistics Firm to Serve Sohar

PWC Logistics ( is Sohar Industrial Estate’s newest tenant. PEIE Mirror caught up with Chris Clark, PWC Logistics’ Country Manager to talk about Sohar, logistics spending, technology and the new economy. This is what he had to say.

PM: Can you give our readers some background details on PWC Logistics?

PWC Logistics’ is a Global supplier of Logistics services which includes warehousing, distribution, inventory management, transportation and freight management. Its fully integrated, end-to-end supply chain solutions provider, starting with demand planning and procurement and ending with delivery to the retailer or end consumer and invoicing.
PM: Why did PWC Logistics decide to set-up on Sohar Industrial Estate?

Sohar Industrial Estate provided a number of key attributes that were at the forefront of PWC’s requirements:

Geographical Position: 200km from Dubai and 250km from Muscat, the location couldn’t be more strategic.

In close proximity to Sohar Port, 6km away means that we’ll be well placed to service future potential clients.

Security: The 25 year lease means that PWC has confidence to make a significant investment (US$1 million) in PEIE.

The site is extremely well appointed with all utilities and a good road infrastructure already in place. In addition to this, PEIE provides assistance with obtaining building permits, this is a big attraction.

The leasing arrangement with PEIE means that PWC doesn’t have valuable capital tied-up in land.

Finally, Sohar Industrial Estate is a source of potential clients for our services.

PM: Apparently logistics spending in the US is anticipated to be between US$900 billion to a little over a trillion dollars a year. Transportation is a little bit more than half of that. How do you see the Gulf’s logistics market developing over the next 5 years?

I see out sourced Logistics spend in Oman increasing over the next 5 years. As companies focus more and more on core competencies, activities such as Logistics will be outsourced.

In developed Logistics markets such as the US or Europe, the estimated spend on outsourced Logistics is 40 - 45% of total Logistics spend. In Oman the outsourced Logistics spend is estimated at 8% of total Logistics spend (transport is estimated at 46% of this figure), based on trends elsewhere in the world it is my opinion that the proportion of out sourced Logistics in Oman will increase to around 15% over the next 5 years.

PM: Internet technology, wireless communication and tracking devices are the dominant technologies utilized in the freight and transportation industry today. How has PWC Logistics brought all this together?

PWC has invested a significant amount of money in ensuring that it has superior software applications so that it can effectively manage its customer’s supply chains. Our proprietary MicroTransport Transportation Management System (TMS) uses automatic vehicle locator (AVL) units (fitted to each vehicle) and global positioning system (GPS) technology to enable real-time vehicle tracking. Tight integration between MicroTransport and both the warehouse management and order management systems provides customers with full on-line visibility of both vehicles and their contents. MicroTransport also provides information on the truck, driver, route and scheduled arrival date. Another example is the tight integration between our EXceed Warehouse Management System (WMS) and MicroTransport which allows us to create shipment manifests without manual data entry. PWC is continually assessing the latest technologies available so that it can continue to provide value to our customers.

PM: What technological advances are your customers crying out for?

Our customer base is varied, however the common requirement across all industry verticals is for there to be greater visibility of inventory level and event information along the whole supply chain. In order to accommodate this many of our customers are asking for real-time vehicle tracking so that they know where the vehicles containing their valuable goods are located. Another requirement is Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) to allow traceability of high value products and lastly customers are asking for all products to be scanned in and out of warehouses so as to fulfill requirements such as batch traceability.

PM: PWC Logistics has some great web-enabled solutions that provide real-time inventory visibility and control. In your opinion, what has been the best technological investment in terms of ROI for PWC Logistics thus far and why?

There is no one item of technological investment that stands head and shoulders above all others, each investment is seen as part of the whole solution, however our Warehouse Management System (WMS) is our most tangible investment. All of our warehouses use the EXceed WMS. This advanced application manages all warehousing processes, including receiving, putaway, replenishment, picking, packing, labeling and shipping. PM: What factors do you believe will differentiate the winners from the losers in the logistics industry over the next 3 years?

Oman in Logistics terms is a traditional market, it hasn’t experienced significant change in this area over the last decade. I anticipate that due to the catalyst of opportunities such as Sohar Port and Salalah Free Zone that the change over the next three years will be huge.

The winners will be those companies that embrace the change and seamlessly adapt to customer requirements. For those companies that resist the inevitable change then the next few years will be a rough ride.

PM: What makes for a successful “new economy” company?

PWC believes that it has embraced both new technologies and innovations whilst at the same time ensuring that this ‘new knowledge’ is harnessed to the core competency of the Company. For example PWC operates a network of warehouses throughout the Middle East. This can be seen as a very traditional aspect of Logistics, however we have equipped each warehouse with the advanced EXceed Warehouse Management System (WMS) developed by EXE Technologies (now part of SSA Global), Similarly, our fleet of trucks – another traditional aspect of logistics – is equipped with our proprietary MicroTransport Transportation Management System (TMS). We feel that our unique combination of assets and technologies, which provides for seamless real-time inventory level and event information, provides us with a significant edge over our competitors.