The RDC is part of an ongoing expansion of BMW Group facilities in Midrand. Picture: BMW
The RDC is part of an ongoing expansion of BMW Group facilities in Midrand. Picture: BMW

The BMW Group has opened a new after-sales logistics centre for southern Africa at Waterfall Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg.

It is part of a facilities expansion by the Group that will also see a new Midrand campus for other areas of the business including IT infrastructure and BMW Financial Services.

According to Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group SA, the Midrand campus expansion is required because as well as other growing parts of the business, IT has increased from 100 people five years ago to more than 1,000 today.

Joint venture

That increase is also reflected in the growing BMW Group car parc, which requires BMW, BMW Motorrad and Mini parts for SA and the region, necessitating the new R260m facility which is a joint venture between BMW Group and developer Attacq.

The regional distribution centre (RDC) covers 32,000m2 and has capacity for 600,000 parts fulfilling 30,000 different part lines. There is also the option to expand the centre by a further 7,000m2 in the future.

The new BMW Group RDC in Midrand can handle up to 4,000 orders per day through its warehouse. Picture: BMW
The new BMW Group RDC in Midrand can handle up to 4,000 orders per day through its warehouse. Picture: BMW

It replaces the 32-year-old parts facility near the BMW factory in Rosslyn and will be serviced by the global parts logistics network. Parts are shipped to Cape Town from the central distribution facility in Germany and then delivered to Midrand by rail.

The centre dispatches parts to dealers three times a day depending on requirements.

The objective, according to Rod Baxter, the man in charge of the facility, is to ensure 95% of parts are always available at the centre.

Tyres in stock

Good news for many is that by the end of this year, those parts will also include tyres — about 18,000 of them. Availability of run flat tyres used by BMW and other manufacturers has been a problem but with stock set to be held at the new distribution centre, Baxter is confident he can put an end to run flat tyre delays for BMW customers.

Construction of the new facility started in March 2017 and it joins 39 other RDC operations around the world as well as the central and continental distribution centres, says Wolfgang Baumann, vice-president parts logistics management at BMW Group worldwide.

He says the facility was required partly because the Group must be flexible in how it operates "in the long term of mobility services".

That view is echoed by Abbott, who says "the business of mobility is increasingly complex and intricate. More than ever, it’s critical that we’re able to be flexible in our approach. The new RDC will allow us to react timelessly and seamlessly to changing customer needs because it is a state of the art, highly technical facility."

However, it is not as highly technical as you might expect. As Baumann told Motor News, automation is not flexible enough for after-sales parts distribution. Instead the parts are all picked by hand in response to orders received electronically from dealerships. Some 110 people will be employed at the new facility with most involved in the checking of parts using handheld scanners.

Overall, Baumann says that the new RDC should handle up to 4,000 orders per day servicing the many BMW Group dealerships and customers across the region.

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