Dubai Centric

Global Shipping & Logistics has marked its foray into the 3PL market by commissioning facilities in Dubai Investment Park and Dubai Logistics City.

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By  Robeel Haq Published  April 4, 2006

Dubai Centric|~|3pl_april2.jpg|~|Khalid Al Shirawi, executive director, Al Shirawi Group of Companies|~|Whilst demand for third party logistics is booming in the Middle East, the number of companies supplying 3PL services also continues to increase. This has created a competitive marketplace where customers can dictate their terms and companies must differentiate from competitors in order to survive. Global Shipping & Logistics, the latest industry player to diversify into 3PL services, has marked its entry into the market by offering a Dubai-centric service supported by brand new warehouse facilities, which will be located in Dubai Investment Park and Dubai Logistics City. Global Shipping & Logistics is part of the UAE-based Al Shirawi Group, which owns over twenty different companies from a diverse range of industries, covering products and services such as steel and metal fabrication, interior decoration for commercial complexes, contracting for air conditioning, electronics and computers, and heavy engineering products. In total, the Al Shirawi Group has secured partnerships with over 100 multinational companies for technical licensing, distribution, servicing and trade representation. Established in 1975, Global Shipping & Logistics initially focused on providing loading and discharging operations at all UAE ports, conducting surveys of cargoes and vessels, and becoming agents for liner and charter vessels. It later shifted its focus to providing logistics support for the entire Al Shirawi group of companies and managed to gain several years of specialised experience in this field. “Global Shipping & Logistics initially took care of inhouse logistics requirements,” says Khalid Al Shirawi, executive director, Al Shirawi Group of Companies. “This helped us to gain a strong understanding of the local logistics market and we want to capitalise on this expertise by providing similar 3PL services to external companies.” Since Global Shipping & Logistics has gained its experience in Dubai, the company wants to focus its service offering exclusively on the local market, instead of looking at any immediate expansion plans into other parts of the Middle East. “There are currently no aspirations to become inter-regional,” says Al Shirawi. “We want to start by focusing entirely on the Dubai market because we have a history here and we know how the market works specifically in Dubai.” Global Shipping & Logistics has commissioned a new 130 million-dirham warehousing and distribution centre at Dubai Investment Park with 100,000m2 of mixed-use storage, including dry, temperature controlled, chilled and frozen. The facility will be handed over by the contractors towards the end of April 2006. “The new facility is located close to the new Jebel Ali Airport,” says Al Shirawi. “It has already attracted interest from a number of local and multinational companies, particularly those with diversified business interests, ranging from frozen foods to furniture.” The secure warehouse, which is controlled by CCTV and 24-hour security personnel, is equipped with a range of different racking systems, including mobile, very narrow aisle (VNA) and selective racking. It features a cold store with an optimum capacity of 20,000 tonnes, which covers a broad spectrum of storage and delivery services for dairy products, frozen meats, fruits, vegetables and beverages, and other temperature controlled products. The temperature in the cold store, which reaches minus 25 degrees Celsius, is manned by a Scada system. Global Shipping & Logistics has also invested in a warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates, which provides alerts of inbound and outbound shipments, barcoding and customised label creation, fleet management and inventory control. This realtime information is accessible 24 hours a day. It is supported by a number of handheld terminals purchased from Psion. “We wanted to ensure state-of-the-art technology to support our service offering. The warehouse management system will simplify the operations and help ensure we are meeting performance objectives and pleasing our customers,” says Al Shirawi. “All the different types of technology used in the facility were selected after researching the market and discussing our requirements with various different vendors for around a year. It was important to pick the right solutions to meet our individual needs,” he adds. Global Shipping & Logistics are hoping the Dubai Investment Park facility will successfully mark its entry into the 3PL market. However, the company is already thinking about its future expansion plans, which include a second facility at Dubai Logistics City. “We would like to become one of the leading names in the industry,” says Al Shirawi. “We are working towards this goal. The second plot in Dubai Logistics City, which is almost the same size as the land in Dubai Investment Park, should be ready in 2007.” The second facility will certainly help strengthen Global Shipping & Logistics’ position in the market. Although it faces strong competition from existing players, the company is actually hoping to compliment the services already available in the market, rather than provide direct competition. “Instead of viewing the other 3PL service providers as potential competition, we would like to consider them as potential customers,” says Al Shirawi. “We are providing a customised service to individual companies, but the facilities can also be used by other 3PLs too. Some companies may view other 3PLs as competition, but we are taking a more positive approach. Let us build relationships and work together in the future.” ||**||

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