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Thu 16 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Cool operator

Global Shipping & Logistics (GSL) leads the way for temperature controlled storage in the United Arab Emirates.

Cool operator
Cool operator
The management team at GSL is involved at each stage of a contract to guarantee it delivers on customer promises.

Global Shipping & Logistics (GSL) leads the way for temperature controlled storage in the United Arab Emirates.

The current slowdown in the logistics market is the first that Global Shipping & Logistics (GSL) has encountered since its launch in 2006. Until now, the sector has remained a lucrative playground for 3PL companies, with growing demand for warehousing and transportation services throughout the Middle East.

However, these glory days have been painfully jeopardised by the global recession and while the market has not crashed, the majority of logistics companies have adopted a cautious approach towards development plans.

In complete contrast, the recent expansion of GSL’s warehousing complex in Dubai Investment Park has proved that it’s business as usual for the relative newcomer, which has captured a sizeable share of the market for temperature controlled and cold storage in the United Arab Emirates.

This confidence can probably be attributed to the vast experience of GSL’s parent company, the Al Shirawi Group, which owns more than 20 different businesses from a diverse collection of industries and has secured partnerships with over 100 multinational companies for technical licensing, distribution, servicing and trade representation.

“Before launching itself as a logistics service provider for the general market, GSL managed the inhouse supply chain operations for the Al Shirawi Group,” explains Khalid Al Shirawi, executive director of GSL. “This helped us to gain a strong understanding of the local logistics market and we wanted to capitalise on this expertise by providing similar 3PL services to external companies, with a specific focus on Dubai.”

Approximately US$40.8 million has already been invested in GSL’s 100,000m
2warehousing complex at Dubai Investment Park, which is situated in close proximity to Jebel Ali Port and the forthcoming Al Maktoum International Airport.

During its first phase of development in June 2006, the project included 10,000m
2of temperature controlled storage (maintained between +18
oC to +24
oC) and 7500m
2of cold storage (maintained between 0
oC and -25
oC), while a second phase was completed earlier this year, providing an additional 10,000m
2in temperature controlled storage and 7300m
2in cold storage.

“The expansion was necessary because our initial facilities were operating to full capacity and demand was continuing to increase. We have captured around 90% of the ice cream market and 75% of the chocolate market in Dubai within a relatively short period of time, with customers including brands such as Baskin-Robbins, Kraft, Federal Foods and Coldstone Creamery,” states Al Shirawi. “In response, we decided to double our warehousing size in phase two and the space has almost been booked already. The response is truly overwhelming and our thoughts are quickly turning to a third phase of development, which will commence next year and should be completed in 2011.”

The entire team at GSL has worked tirelessly to support this growth over the past few years, according to Al Shirawi, who believes these efforts have constantly been recognised by customers.

“Our style of management is different and everyone is involved at each stage of a contract to guarantee that GSL delivers on promises and meets expectations,” he says. “A lot of companies in the Middle East have been disappointed by their logistics partners, but they have noticed a difference with our company because we have a solid track record and will do everything within our power to develop a successful relationship with them.”

The company’s warehouse complex, which is controlled by CCTV and 24-hour security personnel, has been equipped with a range of different racking systems, including mobile, high-rise very narrow aisle (VNA) and selective racking.

In addition, a warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates was implemented to provide alerts on inbound and outbound shipments, barcoding and customised label creation, fleet management and inventory control.

This realtime information is accessible 24 hours a day and 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 has simplified the operations and helped to 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.”

Through this uncompromising attitude towards quality control, the company also achieved a significant breakthrough for the Middle East logistics industry this year, when it completed the certification process in four different categories from the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) – more specifically, the environment management system (EMS), quality management system (QMS), occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP).

“We want to provide our clients with world-class standards at a competitive price and the ISO certifications have proven our ability to achievement this goal. I understand that a very limited number of logistics service providers in this region have received all four of these standards, which makes this a major accomplishment in our company’s history,” responds Al Shirawi.

“I’m proud that GSL is achieving a number of industry firsts for the Middle East logistics sector and our success to date has given the team a great deal of confidence to continue on this path in the coming years too. We are also contemplating an expansion into neighbouring countries, because we have developed a successful model here in Dubai and clients are asking for this to be brought into other markets in the region.”

Company profile

Company Name:Global Shipping & Logistics (GSL)

Parent Company:Al Shirawi Group

Warehouse Location:Dubai Investment Park

Total Size of Complex:100,000m

Warehouse Management System:Manhattan Associates

Racking:SSI Schaefer


Phase 1 Specifications:7500m
2cold store and 10,000m
2temperature controlled storage (completed 2006)

Phase 2 Specifications:7300m
2cold store and 10,5000m
2temperature controlled storage (completed 2009)

Pallet Locations:55,000 in total (combined phase 1 and 2)

Phase 3 Schedule:Due to commence in 2010, with completion scheduled for 2011

Customers:Baskin-Robbins, Coldstone Creamery, Kraft and Federal Foods (amongst others)

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