AllyCAD Showcase

Design at ILS

Industrial Logistic Systems,
Cape Town

The skill of Gary Benatar in designing, planning and managing Industrial Logistic Systems (Pty) Ltd (ILS) is in demand worldwide. Earlier this year, Black & Decker-Europe's parts and accessories distribution centres (DC's) throughout Europe were consolidated into a massive single entity in Brussels to take advantage of the EU rules. "Everything in all the warehouses had to be accommodated in the new facility which goes live on 1 September. We started designing in February and finished in April. This project put a new meaning on the word Fast Track and gave us a respect for the way things can be achieved in Europe that would be impossible in South Africa. We designed as the project unfolded and was revamped, on the fly while travelling between sites throughout Europe using AllyCAD on a laptop," says Gary.

Gary was working for Martin Bailey - not of airwaves fame - (the Deputy director of the University of the Witwatersrand Materials Handling Research Unit) while completing his Masters Degree. Together they were freelance consulting to industry on facilities planning and materials handling projects.

It was not long before Bergman and Partners saw the potential of these talented two young men and brought them in-house as a specialist unit to generate lots of work for their other divisions. "Working within this environment was a paradoxical experience for us. On the one hand the multi-disciplinary environment was stimulating and exciting, but having effectively only one client was very limiting," says Gary.

Ever-restless Gary however, left his pioneering mark before their inevitable departure. "We saw the vision and believed passionately that computers would revolutionise engineering. Bergman was an old and established consultancy born before BC - Before Computers -, I was instrumental in moving Bergman and Partners from dedicated workstations and into a PC and networked environment. We also were some of the original beta testers for a product called 'Cecile'," says Benatar with a delighted smile. Cecile was, of course, the forerunner of AllyCAD.

Industrial Logistics Systems was born when Gary and Martin decided to leave Bergman. He and Martin set up shop in their garage with Mrs Bailey acting as secretary and offered their services to South African industry as facilities planning and Materials Handling experts. Fifteen years later, their client list blooms brightly blue with top South African and international companies.

Leaving Bergman and Partners on amicable terms, they were doing basic layouts; then they started to handle larger projects. Volkswagen and Toyota joined the client list, and some projects were worth between R10 and R20-million - and that when the Rand was still considered money! The small 2-man-and 1-woman-company rapidly grew to 16 hardworking staff members.

"Clients then started to ask questions around strategy, software and project management. It made sense for us to supply, we had the skills and the drive," says Gary. "Then in the early nineties we were exposed to the world market and we realised that we could compete, although we had some work to do to get there."

"We strove to bring ourselves into a 'best-practice' logistics environment. We paid attention to every aspect of the business, not just the warehouse design. For example, we start at the beginning providing supply chain strategy, e-commerce fulfillment and integration, and where the warehouse should be situated. Then comes the design of the facility, the design of materials handling systems and the development of everything to do with the warehouse."

"We get involved in the IT requirements, specifying and selecting the systems, setting up the slotting systems, the labour incentive systems and the system audits. We also draw up the operational procedures, the labour management systems, the training manuals, and direct the 'go-live phase' when the pressure is really on. Finally we integrate the total logistics, doing fleet analysis, selection and management, setting up track and trace systems, etc. Although I have mentioned only a few of the skills we provide, you can see that we get totally involved from the strategy to the execution," says Gary.

With almost 5 years to go to the end of the century, Cape Town loomed large on the planning horizon. The move to Cape Town was implemented as a carbon copy of the start-up plan years before. ILS Cape Town started trading from Gary's house overlooking Table Bay. "After 18 months we had to move into new offices in Granger Bay that are now our head office. It was here that in 1999 we looked hard at the business again and restructured. We focused on what we do, what we offer and how it should run."

"Our clients such as Shoprite, Clicks, DISTELL, Vodacom, McCains, Dunlop, Priceline in Australia and De Beers come to us at the beginning of a project, and we walk the entire road with them. We integrate so closely with our clients that we even make a point of buying their products, which is a problem with Nestle, I have a sweet tooth" says Gary with a smile.
  "All our industrial engineers start in operations, and work their way 'back' to strategy and planning. When they design, it works because they can visualize it - they have been there. We analyse the data throughputs and the methods, then develop an operations blueprint, which leads to the facility infrastructure design. This is an interactive process; we often have the client in our boardroom and we design on the screen with AllyCAD. We can simulate the space requirements, and test the flows for balance and bottlenecks."

"We were responsible for the integration of 39 DC's in 19 after the merger of SFW and Distillers into DISTELL. The pressure was on, we had to have all DC's live by October and we were appointed in February. We would fly to 3 DC's on a day using the DISTELL corporate jet, be back in our boardroom with the client the next day doing the layouts and designs, and be ready to hand over signed-off designs for board approval within a week and then pass it on to the rack supplier and professional teams responsible for getting the buildings ready. DISTELL didn't only take this time to just add volume, but to reengineer their total supply chain to operate at lower costs and to best practice principles"

"AllyCAD is at the core of design, as we use it to develop the operation blueprint. We even use it to populate data fields in other software with 'xyz' co-ordinates. On large projects the overlays become critical in the design process. Having worked with many different professional teams in the past means that we can now bring that experience into any current project.

"We have recently completed all the design work on Shoprite's new DC in Gauteng. This will be the largest DC of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. Ultimately the site will have more than 150 000 m2 of distribution infrastructure. Grocery distribution is one of the most complex environments, the volumes are enormous in excess of 5 000 000 cases a week. We have to visualise the operations at this volume to conceptualise the design, this would be impossible without the flexibility of Allycad. We are currently in the commissioning phase of the project to bring the first 75 000m2 live by September - this project is one of the most complex we have embarked on"

"We have invested heavily in IT technology that is invaluable in our international projects. Recently there was a problem with a supplier to one of our international projects - just a simple translation issue really, but we opened up the Video Conference system, got the client involved and in just over an hour the problem was no more. We videoconference with our JHB office on an almost daily basis, this has helped integrate the offices and make sure the culture in the company is the same throughout. "

"We have been under pressure to change to AutoCAD, but I cannot see the need. AllyCAD operates seamlessly with all other software. Even our clients who are not engineers don't have a problem with the 2-D environment. I think it is really only architects that need 3-D functionality. Another advantage of AllyCAD is that you can design using simple geometry lines. This means that you can play with it and adjust the design to get it right first time. AutoCAD does not allow you to test the process as you can only design using co-ordinates. AllyCAD is also very fast," says Gary. "I used AllyCAD to design the furniture in our office. Gosh, I even used it to design furniture in my house."

"From here we go international. We have some exciting ideas and prospects in the pipeline. We have a good name in the international arena; we don't have to stand back for anyone. ILS is a positive place to be - a fun place. Everyone has access to the facilities 24 hours a day. A number of my staff are still studying and I give them every opportunity to qualify at their top limits." The ever-present cellphone chirps urgently on the desk. "It's a client," says Gary unapologetically taking the call.

AllyCAD is an essential part of ILS. Just like their dedication to best practice supply chain solutions, AllyCAD is at the very heart of ILS - and close to Gary Benatar's passionate heart.

Block I, The Terraces, Steenberg Office Park, 1 Silverwood Close, Tokai 7945.
Tel: +27 +21 701-1850 Fax: +27 +21 701-1822
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