VISA Global Logistics Australia was founded in 1982 and is one of the largest privately owned international freight forwarding companies. The company delivers a fully integrated solution including forwarding, clearance, warehouse, distribution and value added services.
Auckland branch manager Leighton Karl says Sydney is their largest operation in terms of container deliveries or wharf cartage, followed by Melbourne, Brisbane, Freemantle and Adelaide. Success in Australia led to VISA setting up operations in New Zealand in 2009.
“It’s a different market over here. Depots don’t run 24/7 like they do in Australia, so it’s a bit different, but the main thing was to mirror what we do in Australia so we can offer a cross-country service.
“For example, when something is shipped from Australia, it’s on our trucks, we make the booking, we ship it for them, and then it comes here and it’s on our trucks again. It gives us a lot more control over the whole process.”
Leighton says Australia runs a lot of custom-made gear that is quite different from that used in New Zealand.
“We are very experienced in what we are doing over there, and the growth we are experiencing with regards to transport is phenomenal. What defines us in the market is our custom gear. We don’t settle for the status quo; if there’s a customer need that requires a custom trailer, or slight tweaks to a normal one, we make sure that happens.”
Leighton says what VISA offers is unique because they are freight forwarders who own their own trucks.
“Say for example a customer rings us and says ‘hey, this is red-hot urgent’, since we’re delivering all our own containers, we can offer a priority service to our customers without too much hassle. We just swap something around and we get the job done.”
Leighton says the other advantage being in charge of everything is that all the information is in one system.
“The system we use is called One Track and it’s exclusive to us. The visibility this provides for our transport division is second to none. If it’s coming from Europe we know about it 45 to 50 days in advance, so it helps us plan and forecast how we’re going to handle the volume coming through on a day-to-day basis.”
Transport manager James Boswell agrees, saying the system streamlines the process.
“It comes into One Track and from there it goes into our transport grids and then we can see if from then on. When it’s coming off the ship, when it’s to be delivered, all the detail that we need, all the documentation. It’s paperless too.”
James says all job details are entered on drivers’ tablets using One Track.
“All their instructions are on the tablet and then when they arrive it will prompt them to get a signature from someone on site, or if it is an unattended delivery, it prompts them to take a photo of the container on the ground as proof of delivery.”
Leighton says VISA customers can also log into One Track in real time and monitor the progress of their loads, right up to and including delivery.
“It’s all visible to the customer so they don't have to ask us for a POD if they’re delivering to a third party. If our customer imports and they deliver to someone else, they can log into One Track and send the details to whoever their contact is where the container is being delivered.”
Customers can also use One Track to alert VISA when a container is empty and needs to be picked up.
These kinds of efficiencies can save customers time and money, and allow them to manage their warehousing. Leighton says One Track eliminates the middleman.
“I’d say that One Track is unique in the marketplace against all our competitors. I haven’t seen anything close to it in that regard. We don't have to manually update anything; it updates itself. I’ve been in a meeting where the customer asked ‘where is this container?’ and we’ve looked it up and it was literally on the back of a truck.”
Although other companies use similar systems, James says a custom-built system like One Track gives VISA a huge advantage.
“One Track has been built encompassing everything, so the tablets work perfectly with the computer system online.”
New Zealand general manager David Ballinger says VISA has performed better than expected since setting up operations here.
“We’ve jumped far ahead, we’re running more gear now and we weren’t budgeting on doing that until January next year. We’re well ahead, but we’ve got to do a three-month costing to see exactly where we sit, and then look at more gear, certainly a mini lifter for Auckland.”
James has been talking to Patchell Group about new trailer ideas but is keeping those to himself at present because VISA want to be the first to put them on the road.
“That’s how you do it better than anyone else, thinking about different ways of doing the same thing,” says Leighton. “We’re looking at a custom-built trailer that no one else in New Zealand would have thought of at this point in time that would change the dynamic of the transport market in Auckland because it makes it quicker. They are not under build; we’re not quite through all that due diligence just yet. You don’t want to build a trailer and then realise you can’t use it on New Zealand roads.”