Farm to Kitchen Logistics: World Class Food Safety from Origin to Destination
Cold Chain Solutions by GWC Employ Infrastructure, Technology, Process, and People to deliver near perfect accuracy.
Cold chain logistics is the lifeline of food supplies for every country, facilitating multiple logistical cycles of everyday food products, including but not limited to chilled and frozen products like fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy, condiments, etc. Correlating with the lives of millions in Qatar, cold chain solutions are necessary for safely importing and transporting various food items around the year. The greatest challenge, though, is controlling food waste at all stages of the supply chain and ensuring food security, which speaks volumes about the cold chain’s merits.
A unified company-wide approach to ensure food safety and quality is paramount to GWC’s priorities. We follow best practices in food safety systems to offer the highest level of quality services to our clients, contributing to Qatar’s extensive efforts ensuring sustainable flow of foodstuffs. Over the years, we have supported the global initiatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) in pursuing food safety in favour of public health by upholding quality, health, safety, security, and environment as our biggest priorities when dealing with food storage and supplies. GWC actively participated in the 2020 edition of World Food Safety Day, which was observed under the theme “Food safety, everyone’s business” and we are committed to driving cold chain solutions to a pedestal capable of taking action to help detect, prevent and manage foodborne risks.
GWC works round-the-clock to ensure the continued and timely supply of Qatar’s F&B needs during Ramadan, cultural festivities, and other events, with a focus on minimal food waste. From April 2020 to March 2021, GWC has successfully handled total food transaction volumes of 509,042 CBM, including inbound and outbound consignments, through our distribution centres. Our robust project management process warrants such seamless solutions for the food industry, on the back of our state-of-the-art infrastructure, innovative approach, and proven 3PL expertise.
We are the first logistics provider in Qatar to get certified for the ISO 22000 for Food Safety Management System. At all our distribution centres and logistics hubs, we ensure full compliance to all inspection criteria relating to container sealing, packaging, cleanliness and hygiene, shelf-life tracking, inventory management, etc. Cold chamber warehouses enable us to store all types of products ranging from -25°C to +25°C. This storage infrastructure allows food to be stored as frozen, chilled, ambient, and dry, keeping it fresh and clean for transportation to end-use destinations. With real-time temperature and humidity monitoring systems, we record and monitor storage temperatures at all times to retain optimum food quality.
Technology at Work: Increasing Operational Efficiencies
Innovation and new-age technology are at the heart of our world-class cold chain infrastructure. Using advanced systems for forwarding, trucking, warehousing, and distribution has enabled GWC to streamline its cold chain operations in line with global industry standards while raising the bar for regional standards given the harsh environments where we operate. Staying ahead of the curve, we identified automation as a critical cog in delivering reliable cold chain solutions and minimizing food waste by streamlining storage and dispatch. GWC’s customized warehouse management system facilitates safe food handling at all stages of the cold chain, thus ensuring control, precision, and accountability. Automated reports through this system communicate product expiry dates to our customers and help realize slow- and fast-moving stocks, a critical input in future demand planning and real time replenishments. GWC also employs 24/7 security management with access controls to the warehouses, CCTV surveillance, amongst other measures, to help us identify any lapses in food handling and address them in real-time.
Testing and Assurance Process: Prioritizing Food Safety and Quality
Our evolved supply chain, driven by benchmark processes, ensures that all consignments receive an inspection by qualified and HACCP certified food handlers and security professionals to test food on several parameters relating to quality, quantity, safety, and security. All food imports to Qatar are required to undergo sampling and inspection by the Port Health and Food Control section; GWC Transport is involved in transporting these food samples from port to the Central Food Laboratory for inspection. In rare cases where the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) requires further testing, GWC provides an add-on service on customer request, placing the shipment on ‘Inspection Hold’ at the time of receipt so that items are not released for delivery. These are released only post retesting by MoPH and customer confirmation about product approval. Concerned importers are informed if their consignments fail to meet inspection criteria, while their products are differentiated from saleable goods and moved to isolated locations on account of non-conformance to food safety and quality standards.
The People Factor: Driving the Cold Chain Lifecycle
At the helm of our cold chain operations, we have highly experienced professionals driving various processes critical for the fulfilment of our service and quality promise. Specialized on-ground teams are involved at each of the specific stages of the supply chain cycle – from freight forwarding, inspection, customs clearance, transportation, warehousing, and distribution (to end-use destination). Equipped with subject matter expertise in the field and state-of the-art-technology; GWC’s trained and qualified food handlers are keen to arrest food waste at various points of transit.
Operating since 2004, GWC has closely worked towards understanding the requirements of Qatar to introduce timely logistics solutions that can bridge identified gaps. Our integrated cold chain solutions are a result of a concentrated thought process that involved addressing challenges faced by importers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers associated with the food industry in Qatar.
Moving Mountains – Fulfilling deep demand for freight forwarding
Undeniably, shipping and freight are a crucial component of the Qatari economy. Nearly all the equipment and technology required for Oil and Gas exploration comes from abroad, while the state still imports over 90 percent of its food and other fast moving consumable goods intake. With such a strong demand in place, room for a strong supplier of freight forwarding services has arisen, and Gulf Warehousing Company has proven itself an exceptional leader in this vital sector. As an asset-based freight forwarding solutions player, complemented by strong warehousing and transportation infrastructure, the company has been able to offer better options and service levels to our clients.
This strong domain knowledge and capabilities in the oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors have enabled the company to sign new contracts with industry giants such as RasGas, Woqood and QAFCO. The company has worked to establish a long-term, profitable presence by strategically leveraging its cost advantages, trucking assets, specialized knowledge, warehousing capabilities and superior service levels. Additionally, the company has the benefit of preferential rates with many air carriers owing to the huge volumes that it handles, to and from Qatar. This advantage, along with its global network covering over 125 countries and with warehousing and trucking under its own control, keeps GWC in good stead in the face of stiff competition.
Expanding beyond traditional land, air, and sea freight, the company has also been able to distinguish itself through a variety of projects and expansions in the year 2015 alone. Earlier in the year, for example, the company broke several personal records for super-heavy lifts in the State of Qatar, first for heavy lift and second for longest item delivered.
The production and exploration of liquid natural gas, crude oil and other liquids rely heavily on the structures and supports established for the off-shore and on-shore facilities by the major energy companies, for which they have invested millions. None of these structures are produced within the State of Qatar and must be carefully shipped from their countries of origin then transported to the operation site. In order to accomplish this, these operations must be handled with the utmost care and precision.
To this end, the company completed the transport of a nearly 500-ton distillation tower from the Ras Laffan Sea Port to a refinery expansion project site in Ras Laffan. more officially known as Item #82-C1201, and performs one of the most common industrial processes in the oil and gas industry, separating the chemical constituents of crude oil, heating the crude oil stream to separate it in specific subsets of carbon molecules. This requires a high degree of delicacy despite the extremely large size of the equipment used, and therefore required a special degree of care in the transportation of the components.
For the longest delivery, GWC completed the delivery of two separation columns necessary for a solar technology project, which at 52 and 54 meters long each became the longest objects the company had ever transported. Weighing in at 28 and 47 tons respectively, the company was tasked with transporting the columns from the Ras Laffan Industrial City Port to the project site in Ras Laffan.
A lot of preparation and planning goes into such projects, including the drafting of a method statement to be referred to in any contingency, which provide various plans of actions, accounting for the cases of major or minor deviations from the plan. A hierarchy followed on site is set, and the risk assessment and safe job analysis is reviewed before performing any operation, as well as go over the minimum personnel protective equipment to be worn on site.
After agreeing to all of these details, an operational procedure is laid out. This can include work plans and drawings, review of safety items such as weather concerns or plant activity, the completion of all appropriate checklists and safety permits from all the relevant authorities, a check of the placement for all banners and barricades that define the safety boundaries of the work areas, as well as other considerations. Subsequently, the company coordinates with the customs, traffic and sea port authorities to plot a course to be followed by the transportation trailers following the site.
Beyond its oil and gas industries, Qatar seeks to distinguish itself as the best possible venue for sports activities, and once again this requires strong freight forwarding practices to get the job done. Most recently, GWC Sports department delivered the logistical requirements for a local international touranment. As the sole appointed logistics contractor for the event, the company performed a wide variety of services, including freight forwarding, customs clearance, venue management, warehousing, work force provision, and equipment handling. GWC took every measure to ensure that the world championship was a rousing success.
The company dedicated 165 people on a 24 hours basis to this project, keeping stock of the movement of items coming into the venue and within the venue itself, with 29 trucks, trolleys, pallet jacks and forklifts distributing and moving the items related to the event around. The company employees were equally equipped with strong experience on how to run such events and how to prioritize under any circumstance, including emergencies, and were capable of mobilizing within 30 minutes under any condition that may have arisen at the event.
The company shipped nearly 4 tons of materials to the venues, and coordinated with the other forwarding agents for the venue, introducing them to the Material Delivery Schedule (MDS) system that managed and tracked all items entering into the arenas, which the company also established. The company also guided shippers, agents and the other forwarders on the proper documentation required for the events, how to achieve clearance, and how to use the venues various equipment. At the end of the event, the company performed all reverse logistics operations, returning the shipped items and performing all documentation and clearance work required.
The company’s extensive planning, procurement and logistics experience combined with its strong local expertise has made it the front-runner in the turnkey management of such freight forwarding projects. With innovative solutions and creative routing options to deliver and receive cargo anywhere in the world, the company has taken every consideration to provide for a freight forwarding market that seems set to only grow further and further within the State of Qatar.
Fulfilling the Logistics Needs of the World’s Largest Liquefied Natural Gas Supplier
How much of a growth industry is the Oil and Gas sector in the State of Qatar?
That’s an obvious but good question. Although the moratorium placed by the government on the North Fields projects in 2005 remains in effect, there have been significant contracts signed and projects undertaken. QP, for example, announced plans in May 2014 to redevelop the Bul Hanine offshore oilfield, investing $11 billion to double the production of the current 45,000 barrels of oil a day by 2028. The Bul Hanine project is also responsible for the Barzan Gas Project, which will bring an estimated 48.1 mcm of gas per day by 2015. These, and many other projects have ensured that Qatar is still the largest LNG supplier in the world, producing 77 million tons per year since 2010, with gas reserves of 25.1 tcm, in addition to being a major oil producer in the region.
How has this affected the logistics industry in the State of Qatar?
This production rate has allowed for a downstream investment of more than $13 billion since 2013, and the commitment to public works and utilities has provided a total investment of $13.7 billion dollars in the last five years, and a further $8.24 billion in contracts to be awarded in the next three to four years in the utilities sector. All this, in addition to the country’s drive for economic diversification and sustainability as outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030, will contribute to the rising revenues of the logistics industry, projected at $11,930 million by 2016.
How does Gulf Warehousing Company directly contribute to the Oil and Gas sector?
GWC has constructed a number of industry-specific facilities that directly cater to the Oil and Gas sector. Our Ras Laffan and Messaieed facilities are essentially adjacent to the operations of the major players in the petrochemical sector, reducing our road transport time considerably.
The Ras Laffan (RLIC) facility is spread over a 38,500 sqm area and houses a state-of-the-art 16,000 sqm warehouse with latest selective and double deep racking system with total storage capacity of 20,310 pallet positions, 4500 sqm bulk storage area with a 75 ton overhead crane, an automated vertical storage carousel for high value and sensitive parts storage, 10,000 sqm logistics base for tubular storage and highly secured ISO tank storage facility for bulk chemicals.
The RLIC Warehouse has been approved by Ministry of Environment and Civil Defense authorities for storage of various types of hazardous materials used in Oil & Gas Industry.
Our logistics complex in Mesaieed has multiple hi-tech warehouses equipped with latest technologies to ensure world class logistics management to all our clients, supported by state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, international best practices and globally accepted quality management standards.
The facility consists of 3 purpose built, 4,500 sqm warehouses and 40,000 sqm open yard facility strategically located in the Mesaieed Light Industries area. The Warehouses has temperature controlled bulk and rack storage to cater for multiple storage conditions and requirement and a dedicated hazardous material storage facility with highest level of safety standards and separate chambers for storage of different classes of chemicals according to its compatibility.
Oil and Gas
With proven gas reserves of over 900 trillion standard cubic feet in its North Field and oil reserves in excess of 15.2 billion barrels, Qatar’s Oil and Gas sector shall clearly have a role to play in the national economy for years to come. To explain what this means for the local logistics sector, as well as to outline the types of facilities available to service this sector.
Mr. Ranjeev Menon, Group Chief Executive Officer of GWC
Are any of the Oil and Gas specific services provided through the flagship facility, the Logistics Village Qatar?
Of course – The Logistics Village Qatar serves as a transportation hub for its Oil and Gas customers, with the Gulf Warehousing Company’s transport team performing cross-docking of heavy-weight, 45ft length tubular shipments for oil and gas industry from closed containers to flatbed trailers from LVQ by using specially designed handling equipment and qualified riggers for Oil and Gas customers.
LVQ warehouse also acts as a collections point from various local suppliers for Oil and Gas companies who are delivering goods for them and who cannot directly access their warehouses in restricted areas. We will deliver these goods to the end users at fixed intervals.
Furthermore, we provide palletization, shrink filming and strapping of cargo; crating of export shipments with serial number tracking; and consolidation of cargo to FTL loads for delivery to site with verification against POs.
Where do you see the collaboration between the Oil and Gas sector and the logistics industry going?
I believe both have a sincere interest in seeing the infrastructure of the nation growing – a belief shared by the government. The State of Qatar has already invested $7.4 billion in the New Doha Port and $1 billion for the Qatar Cargo Complex at Hamad International Airport, and yet there is still a gap that remains to be filled. I therefore see a continued collaboration between the major corporations of both sectors to direct the creation of the necessary infrastructure required to ensure the smooth supply chain operations of all sectors, including Oil and Gas.