Transport and logistics challenges in turbulent times

Issue 6 2021 Editor's Choice, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions, Transport (Industry), Logistics (Industry)

South Africa has faced ongoing challenges in recent years. At the start of 2020, the country entered what would become its longest recession in 28 years. Then, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, spurring the South African government to implement some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world. Borders were closed to international travellers, alcohol and tobacco sales were banned and people were told to stay home[1].

According to an article by the BBC, these measures were essential in slowing the early spread of Covid-19 and allowed the health sector to prepare for an influx of patients. However, these measures also placed huge financial pressures on the local economy and many businesses have struggled to stay afloat[2].

Lee Smyth.

The transport and logistics industries are dependent on the state of the economy. GDP falling in industries such as manufacturing, transport, storage, communication and mining, plus the closure of hotels, restaurants and retail, caused a reduction in consumer spending that had a significant impact on transport, logistics and supply chains across South Africa[3].

As if the reduction in demand, lockdown restrictions and the poor economic situation wasn’t enough, the recent riots placed an even greater burden on the transportation and logistics industries.

“Moving people and property safely and securely during these challenging times is a complex responsibility,” explains Lee Smyth, technical account manager for Gallagher South Africa. “But there are many ways technology is helping transport and logistics companies keep things moving safely and securely. Both industries can use technology that helps ensure operational continuity, facilitate uninterrupted movement and meet compliance requirements.”

Operational continuity

Fifty billion rand in lost output and 150 000 jobs at risk was one of the many estimated costs to South Africa after a week of deadly riots in July this year. Rioters not only damaged outlets owned by some of the country’s biggest retailers[4], but also disrupted operations at major South African ports: Durban and Richards Bay and a rail line connecting Durban with the Gauteng province[5].

“These violent riots are a key example of why transport and logistics customers need effective security measures in place to help ensure operational continuity, while protecting the site’s assets from theft and damage, ultimately avoiding significant costs associated with loss of supply,” explains Smyth.

Gallagher offers a range of intelligent access control and perimeter solutions to manage and protect a site’s assets, through ensuring that only authorised, qualified people can access the site and the public, or people who may have nefarious intent, are kept off the site.

“Transport and logistics companies can safeguard goods during the shipping process and maintain their reputation as a reliable transportation provider with the use of effective security solutions. They can also avoid significant costs associated with business interruption from security breaches, theft and vandalism,” he says.

Uninterrupted movement

Given the current economic situation in South Africa, business efficiency and cost savings are important for many industries. Smyth explains the ability to move around a site seamlessly in a transport and logistics setting is key to an efficient and productive business, as interrupted movement can cost both time and money.

“If you think about a port, a constant flow of trucks throughout the day is essential,” he says. “Trucks delivering containers cannot be backed up and waiting.”

Long range access is one way to efficiently control the movement of vehicles and people, all at a distance. Combining Nedap’s long range automatic vehicle identification with Gallagher’s Command Centre system, saves time, improves security and keeps people safe. “This integration saves time with automatic barrier and gate activation prior to a vehicle’s arrival, which means that drivers don’t need to exit and freight can move without interruption to where it is needed.

“The integration also reduces risk and prevents liability issues by combining Command Centre’s ability to monitor competencies with Nedap’s long range access functionality. For example, expired or insufficiently trained card holders will be prevented access from selected site sectors along with their vehicles. Additionally, comprehensive audit trails are kept, making all entry and exit information available for reporting.

“With the reduction in demand for transportation and logistics having an impact on revenue, organisations are looking to cut costs where they can. The Gallagher Nedap integration saves costs by automating what would often be a manual process, i.e., a guard checking access rights at a barrier, reducing the need for costly labour,” says Smyth.

Meet compliance and competencies

In the current Covid-19 environment, following government regulations and meeting business policies is essential in ensuring a smooth operating environment. Businesses can look to implement, enforce and report on business policies and processes at every point using physical security infrastructure and Gallagher’s Command Centre.

“Access management can be based on individual competencies, allowing your business to effectively manage compliance with business policy and government regulations. For example, businesses could look to implement integrated access control in highly secure areas where HR and SMS data automatically check competencies and enforce compliance with regulations and standards.

“Businesses can also ensure compliance and manage competencies through monitoring inductions, licences, training and qualifications to only allow people access to areas they are sufficiently qualified to be in. Additionally, businesses can use random cardholder selection to check competencies and licencing, as well as drug and alcohol testing,” says Smyth.

Experience is everything

The Port of Tauranga in New Zealand is a great example of achieving significant cost savings while enhancing workflow at New Zealand’s largest and busiest port.

The port is a bustling import and export gateway that relies on efficient processes and procedures to maintain superior operational activity. Being a large site, with unrivalled sea, road and rail connections, Port of Tauranga has a strong focus on employing security and safety solutions which enhance and support workflow across the site.

To manage the variety of entry and exit points, Gallagher’s access control system was installed at 12 road access gates, four rail access gates and over 60 doors across the site.

Providing more than just standard card/reader access control, Gallagher’s ‘Challenge’ feature gives the port an additional tier of security by using video integration. The Challenge solution enables operators to check cardholder identities against a live image being taken at the access point. This feature reduced the number of staffed gates required, resulting in significant ongoing labour savings for Port of Tauranga.

The Gallagher access control solution, coupled with Gallagher’s Command Centre software platform, enables Port of Tauranga to restrict entry among the 9000 cardholders to the specific areas they are authorised to work in, achieved by using access groups and access zones. The system provides the functionality for bulk changes to be easily applied to groups, ensuring the port staff’s database administration time is kept to a minimum.

More than just controlling access on and off the site, Port of Tauranga needed an auditable trail of exactly who had accessed the site. The Gallagher Command Centre platform provided the functionality for tailored reports on who had accessed zones and facilities and at what time.

Looking to the future

For more than a year, reduction in demand, lockdown restrictions and the poor economic situation have presented several challenges for the transportation and logistics industries and will continue to do so in the future. But amongst all of that, there is still a need to move resources off the continent and bring goods and services into the country – and with that need, comes opportunity.

Smyth concludes: “The continued growth of the transportation and logistics industries relies on innovative technology and security solutions that will help keep the wheels turning during this turbulent time.”

For more information contact Gallagher Security, +27 11 974 4740,,

[1]Luke, R., 2020, ‘The impact of Covid-2019 on transport in South Africa’, Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management 14(0), a545.

[2]BBC, 2020, Coronavirus: South Africa eases lockdown as ‘outbreak reaches peak, viewed 07 September 2021, from

[3]Luke, R., 2020, ‘The impact of Covid-2019 on transport in South Africa’, Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management 14(0), a545.

[4]Bloomberg, 2021, South Africa Economy Set to Take $3.4 Billion Hit From Riots, viewed 07 September 2021, from

[5]Reuters, 2021, South African ports, key rail line disrupted by violence – Transnet, viewed 07 September 2021, from

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