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Embrace Adventure. Get up and get moving. There’s a fascinating world around you waiting to be explored; why limit yourself to just one place? The best way to break boundaries and ignorance is to dive head first into all the different cultures that exist.  Taste different foods, drink foreign wines, dance to an unknown tune, learn a new language – the possibilities are endless.  A great place to start is the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa, a melting pot of culture and home to 11 official languages… yes, 11! I was relieved to pass just four years of French class.

Since holding its first universal elections in 1994, South Africa has progressed immensely. The majority of the country’s revenue originates from international imports and exports, so it’s no surprise that Transnet, a large freight logistics company with almost 50,000 employees, helps drive the economic success of the country.  Transnet manages all operations behind imports and exports that are essential to everyday life in South Africa, connecting the country with the rest of the world.

Get the Goods to the People. Without Transnet, there would be no gas to light stoves and cook boerewors (a traditional South African sausage). There would be no coal oil to fuel the lamp of a child doing homework in Soweto.  The wineries in Cape Town would not be able to ship wine to a hard working mother ready to pop open a bottle, put her feet up after a long day on the job, and relax. The local Cape Malay bakery dishing out koeksister (a delicious syrup coated donut), would not have the grain to bake its delectable sweets.  Simply put, Transnet’s freight rail, ports, and pipeline services keep South Africa’s economy growing stronger and stronger each day.

Logistics behind the Logistics: Transnet manages the logistical solutions for companies transporting bulk cargo in the mining, agriculture, and manufacturing industries, handling over 188 million tons of cargo a year.  Transnet’s pipeline business handles an annual average of 16 billion liters of liquid fuel, over 450 million cubic meters of gases, and transports 100% of South Africa’s petroleum products.  Most significantly, Transnet’s rail system represents about 80% of Africa’s total railways – connecting South Africa with 17 other African countries.

Shipping delays can mean significant losses for Transnet and its customers.  To keep shipments and railways running efficiently and on time, Transnet measures how fast cargo is being loaded and unloaded. Prior to its implementation of the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse and SAP Business Planning and Consolidation applications powered by the SAP HANA platform, Transnet ran reports manually, which was an incredibly slow process.  The massive volumes of data took up to 8 days to aggregate, resulting in reports that were outdated before they could even be reviewed. With SAP HANA, Transnet shortened report turnaround from 8 days to 35 minutes and can now dissect the data in real time to predict future trends.

Transnet’s customers provide South Africans with items they need to run their businesses.  For example, picture a mom-and-pop butchery in Pietermaritzburg that receives its meat deliveries from a Transnet customer.  Because Transnet can now provide customers with insights into logistics like the best and worst times to ship meat, the delivery company never fails to provide the butchery a fresh shipment, preventing monetary loss and a hungry family sitting around the butcher’s dinner table.

Keeping Momentum and Continued Growth: In 2012, Transnet’s revenue increased by 20.9% and it is still growing.  It is creating numerous job opportunities for unemployed South Africans and is implementing programs to develop talent, support education, and promote social corporate responsibility initiatives. Transnet is close to becoming one of the top five rail freight companies in the world. And SAP is proud that its partnership and the SAP HANA platform are playing a part in helping Transnet reach that goal.

Wanderlust: Each year I like to vacation in a foreign country, and it’s no surprise that South Africa is at the top of my list.  The Rainbow Nation is gorgeous and the culture is rich.  Someday I am going to submerge myself in as many native dishes and local wines as I can fit in my belly. But until I have the funds saved to cross the Atlantic, I can relish in a small piece of foreign culture right from my home.  And as I’m savoring sip after sip of fantastic imported South African wine, I will raise my glass to Transnet for providing me the opportunity to enjoy some of the best that South Africa has to offer.

Join me in my adventures on Twitter at @CMDonato or on LinkedIn.

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