Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (DTPSEZ) has made it possible for a black-owned logistics company to flourish amidst a volatile economic climate, tainted by a global pandemic.
Knocking on doors looking for business may turn up nothing immediately, but who knows what the future holds. Such was the experience of Musa Makhunga, owner of HRMP Logistics based at Dube TradePort.
Opportunity knocks back years later
In 2007 Makhunga, a director of human resources and property holding company approached a manufacturer and supplier of graphite electrodes, seeking involvement in this less known industry that he had become aware of whilst employed by Richards Bay Minerals in the early 1990s, without success.
Almost 10-years later the same Company contacted Makhunga looking for warehousing and distribution facilities in Durban as it was closing its factory to import and distribute graphite electrodes. Thus was born HRMP Warehousing and Logistics.
South Africa produced 6.32 million metric tonnes of crude steel in 2019. A crucial element in the production of steel is a graphite electrode used primarily in electric arc furnace steel manufacturing. Graphite electrodes can provide high levels of electrical conductivity and the capability of sustaining extremely high levels of generated heat.
Weighing up to just over a ton, each of these large, heavy, and brittle pieces of equipment are trucked across the Country from the Dube TradePort by HRMP Logistics to the mining process and other furnaces. There are very few operators licensed by the Department of Energy to ‘warehouse’ and distribute graphite electrodes, and HRMP Logistics is one of these.
The three-year-old HRMP’s position at DTPSEZ, coupled with the business benefits offered, has enabled it not only to secure a major client, but the business has a growing client base. “We started the warehouse with only two people, and now we employ six people,” he says.
Makhunga explains that while HRMP Logistics was lucky enough to find 2300 square metres of warehousing at DTPSEZ in TradeZone 1, it was a new kid on the block when it came to logistics and they did not, at the time, own trucks. Other logistics businesses were hired, including Dube TradePort’s AiRoad.
“Graphite electrodes are used in a continuous steelmaking process which cannot come to a halt. Therefore we must be on time all the time. There is no room for breakdowns on the road or delays. Dube AiRoad has enabled us to meet client expectations all the time, and based on this, our client has renewed our contract,” says Makhunga.
Dube TradePort‘s proximity to the Durban Port – the point of entry of the graphite electrodes – was a key consideration for Makhunga’s client before signing up HRMP. Its easy access to the N2 and N3 highways enables it to deliver in KZN and as far afield as Mpumalanga, Western Cape, and Gauteng.
When at full capacity, HRMP Logistics needs as many 10 trucks at a time, capable of carrying loads up to 34 tons and Dube AiRoad can supply this.
“AiRoad provides quality service and can handle our product with the great care it needs. It has to reach its destination unchipped or damaged, and without exception, we have not had one incident.
“They are literally on our “stoep” (doorstep), and we are on speed dial with them. If they cannot assist, they say so with reasons and offer alternatives. They are always available no matter the time of day or night; whether it is Christmas or New Year, they will provide a service. That is going out of their way to assist their clients. They were one of the transporters we used every week before and during COVID-19 enabling us to keep supplying furnaces before and throughout lockdown,” says Makhunga.
DTPSEZ Estate also has the advantage of 24-hr security that enables them to operate until late at night which is a significant benefit. When trucks arrive late in the evening, there is a safe place to park, and there has not been one incident making truckers feel unsafe. The availability of utilities and telecoms which ensures up-time all the time is another advantage as is being on the doorstep of the King Shaka International Airport which it makes it easy for clients and suppliers to visit the HRMP premises.