Tests show the adoption of the technology achieves a time productivity improvement of 44%, and a distance improvement of 35%.

The challenge for any supply chain provider in Africa is that infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, can often be poor with few defined roads and little or no street names. This makes it very difficult for drivers to accurately navigate while on route, directly impacting on delivery service levels and increasing the chances of non-deliveries or multiple return trips.

In an industry where clients and consumers are calling more and more for almost instant delivery, this lack of visibility can lead to operational inefficiencies and hamper productivity.

In an effort to overcome this challenge local logistics expert, the RTT Group, has announced its implementation of what3words across its entire operations, becoming the first logistics company in Sub Saharan Africa to do so. Using this innovative geocoding system, RTT is able to narrow the delivery destination down to a highly specific area, increasing the likelihood of a successful delivery first time around to the correct consignee.

“Delivery failures due to inadequate addressing systems are generally regarded as the norm within the logistics industry,” says Johan du Toit, Group Commercial executive. “By implementing what3words within our national operations, we aim to reduce this ratio significantly. International companies who have implemented what3words are already seeing significant reductions in failure to deliver rates.”

In a test delivery run recently conducted from RTT Group company Courierit’s premises in Longmeadow, Johannesburg to Sandton Central, the driver using 3 word addresses achieved a time productivity improvement of 44% and a distance improvement of 35% when compared to the same test conducted using traditional delivery manifests. According to calculations between delivery points in the delivery area itself, 19.35 extra deliveries could have been undertaken by the driver before returning to the depot.

One area where what3words is expected to make a large impact is with last mile deliveries. These deliveries are typically the most costly for any logistics provider and drivers often have to deviate from route or make several phone calls to establish the correct address details – all of which adds to wasted time and extra costs.

“Cost is just one factor though,” explains Nathaniel Ballakistein, Group Sales and Marketing executive. “Meeting client expectations is another important consideration. In the healthcare sector, every delay has the potential to cause harm while in retail, lack of inventory on shelves negatively impacts sales. By improving our ability to deliver on time in full we improve our ability to help our clients meet their customers’ expectations.”

How it works

what3words is a geocoding system for the easy communication of location, having divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares. Each 3m x 3m is then assigned three simple words as an identifier. For greater accuracy, the system is set up to ensure that similar sounding words are located far apart so the user can immediately see if an error has been made. For example, the 3 word address for RTT’s Jet Park reception is ///wells.chemistry.onto but if someone were to accidentally search for ///wells.chemistry.into the application would indicate a location somewhere in Codsall in the UK, clearly the incorrect destination.

On the integration, South Africa Country Manager Lyndsey Duff adds, ‘We are delighted to have integrated with RTT, and to bring our technology to the logistics industry in South Africa. Our tests with RTT indicate the huge savings that a simpler, more accurate address brings to the last mile, so it will be great to see the effect what3words has on wider operations.’