The five most important things to take into consideration when choosing a supply chain manager

Oviklo International in Sri Lanka has Developed into a Market Leader in Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Value Added Services for Major International Clients

Federal Express was the pioneering company in the field, but the industry has changed enormously

© 2015 Javier Z / David Veg
From its headquarters just outside the capital city of Colombo, and from nine other facilities located strategically throughout the nation, Oviklo International has developed a network of warehouses and logistics service centers that has made it a leader in providing solutions to leading companies in Sri Lanka and beyond. Its core competencies are warehousing, transport and distribution, project cargo management and value added services. Oviklo International has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015.

Federal Express, the Company that Changed Logistics Forever

It was the mid 1960’s, and an undergraduate at Yale University named Frederick W. Smith wrote a paper for an economics class that described a firm which could deliver medicine, electronics, and other high priority goods overnight. The paper didn’t impress his professors, and Smith soon found himself in the United States military.

A few years later Smith, the son of a successful businessman, was looking for an investment, and eventually bought a controlling interest in a small aviation sales company. Many of the shipments he needed were time sensitive, and the frustration he felt at not being able to get packages delivered within 48 hours reminded him of his undergraduate paper.

This time, however, Smith was in a position to do something about it. He decided to put his ideas into practice, and founded the package delivery company that eventually became FedEx. Since then, FedEx has grown into one of the largest companies in the world and has diversified into many logistics related businesses. It is hard to underestimate the importance of FedEx as a first mover and innovator in the logistics business. It has set the example for quality in the logistics and delivery business, and many of the lessons learned during the early days of FedEx are applied by companies all over the planet.

Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Supply chain management and logistics is a critical component of global trade and represents both risk and opportunity for exporters, importers and domestic companies alike. In fact, in some areas of the world, transportation and logistics represent more than 50% of the value of finished goods; in parts of Latin America, it represents nearly 80% of the value of some foodstuffs.

Trade represents well over half of global GDP today, while it represented only about a fourth of global GDP just three decades ago. The impact of logistics on that growth has been enormous, by lowering transportation costs through more efficient provision of cross border services, more efficient modes of transport, better communications, more efficient analysis of big data, and many other advances. These changes have been so rapid and complex that it is common for companies to outsource logistics and supply chain management to specialists.

According to the Global Agenda Council on Logistics & Supply Chain Systems, “improving the efficiency of logistics and the operation of supply chains and production networks has the potential to contribute significantly” to an increase in economic growth and job creation. And according to the world Economic Forum, “If all countries were to improve their logistics performance and reduce supply chain barriers to just half the level observed in the best-performing country in their respective regions, global GDP could increase by 2.6%” and such improvement is “many times more effective for trade facilitation than the abolition of all remaining import tariffs would be.” One alarming statistic: up to 50% of food in the developing world never makes it to the end consumer. This problem is primarily caused by a lack of adequate infrastructure and/or logistics.

Freight Forwarders are Experts in a Complex Business

Freight forwarders do not just move goods. They also provide tracking from factory to retailer, arrange ground, air and water transportation, prepare manifests and other documents, negotiate freight rates, arrange for insurance, and handle claims. Freight forwarders are experts in intermodal movement of goods, and have relationships that an importer or exporter normally doesn’t have. For instance, goods can be consolidated with other shipments, allowing a small shipper to leverage favorable rates normally available only to big players. A good freight forwarder knows who to call to get this work done. This helps level the competitive field for smaller companies.

A good forwarder will have access to the latest technology. This is critically important for tracking, communications and chain of custody. In todaýs business environment, it is state of the art for imaging technology to be fully integrated into the forwarding process, so that information in the form of pictures is quickly available.

Making the Relationship Work

It is important that an exporter have a good working relationship with its freight forwarder, and there are some key elements that make that relationship work better.

It starts with having a well written, clear agreement in order to avoid surprises. The client should not be afraid to ask specific and pointed questions about the process and the level of service provided, until he is satisfied that he understands it thoroughly. A professional forwarder will welcome these questions and be happy to explain what he does in detail. A good working relationship means that each party should have a specific point of contact in the other organization who understands the relationship thoroughly and provides a level of accountability.

Another important factor is timeliness and availability. Freight forwarders work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and must be available at all hours of the day and night to resolve problems and answer questions.

Speaking of communication, customers should never be shy about raising issues about which they have doubts or concerns. Freight forwarders cannot resolve problems when they are unaware of them, and frank, open communication allows the forwarder to serve you better. Determine whether the telephone, email, or some other form of communication is easiest or more appropriate and take advantage of it. Many customers find it convenient to do periodic performance reviews, just as they do for their staff, in order to identify weak points in the relationship and allow the forwarder to provide better service as the result of feedback.

Finally, you’ll want the services from your freight forwarder to be a complete as possible, ideally, just one company which handles everything from shipping to delivery to the retailer. The less complicated any system is, the less likely it is to fail.

Think of your freight forwarder as a member of your team and treat him accordingly. Your interests are aligned, and conceptualizing your freight forwarder as a business partner will help you work together to improve your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to describe how the forwarder can make your life easier. We all know that it is easier to retain than to find clients, and your freight forwarder wants to keep you happy.

© 2015 Javier Z / David Veg

Logistics Experts in Sri Lanka

Oviklo International was founded by a group of logistics professionals who have used continuous quality improvement techniques and active learning strategies for its people in order to develop process driven mechanisms in operations and advanced technologies in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency and customer service. One area in particular where the company has invested significant resources is in integrating cloud based online solutions to streamline advanced material handling equipment so as to respond in real time to client requirements. The company has also completed the process of ISO 9001:2008 certification, something which the BID Committee considers a key component of Total Quality Management. ISO 9001 means that corporate governance and management systems are robust, auditable and customer oriented.

Creative Solutions Made Reality

Providing top level customer service means that a logistics company must be creative in meeting the needs of its clients. The BID Committee noted a couple of concrete examples where Oviklo International listened to its clients and crafted strategies that met their needs.

MCSL Financial Services is a subsidiary of Bank of Ceylon and Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka, and had a need for handling and storage of their vehicles. While falling a bit outside of the traditional business of logistics, Oviklo proposed a solution that reduced their operational costs and streamlined vehicle handling operations in Sri Lanka. The company leveraged existing competencies in supply chain management and warehousing and made value added services available on an as needed basis. A good example of imagination and customer oriented thinking.

MAK Lubricant needed a state of the art warehouse facility, so Oviklo partnered with TVS Automotives, the local agent of Barath Petroleum Company Ltd of India, to make it work. The client was impressed with the results. According to a spokesman for the company, “Oviklo started business in Sri Lanka in 2008 with more than 15 years’ logistic experience management. From the ground level all the way to higher level, staff are well-trained in the industry, and blue chip logistic companies now work with Oviklo. Its strength lies in its people, processes and technology.” The Executive Director of Barath, P.C. Srivastava, said his company can now reach the highest market place in Sri Lanka with Oviklo.

You are Known by the Company you Keep

The list of clients that Oviklo has acquired is impressive, and reads like a who’s who of the most important domestic and international companies doing business in Sri Lanka in a variety of industries: Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, ZTE, Huawei, Sri Lanka Telecom, Elephant House, Coca Cola, Kosan Crisplant, Honda, MAK Lubricants, TVS, MAS Holdings, Dole Foods, Häcker, the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health, the International Organization for Migration, and many others.

Third Party Recognition

The BID Committee always places a lot of value on the opinions of independent third parties in evaluating the quality of its potential awardees. In the case of Oviklo, the company received the 2014 National Business Excellence Award in the Field of Logistics and Transport at the awards ceremony hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. As previously mentioned, Oviklo has also received ISO 9001 certification for quality management systems.

Doing Well by Doing Good

Another criteria of great importance to the BID Committee is good corporate citizenship. To the Committee, giving back to the community shows an awareness of a company’s place in society and a recognition that helping to build strong communities means that all boats rise with the tide. Oviklo has demonstrated that commitment through notable CSR activities.

The North Central Province of Sri Lanka had been facing extreme drought weather conditions. Residents of the province were in trouble due to the scarcity of drinking water. Water levels in the tanks were decreasing rapidly and lacked enough capacity to supply water for paddy cultivation. Oviklo’s dedicated CSR team reached out to local government officials and identified more than 200 families who received direct aid, and also developed a long term plan to offer employment opportunities for those unemployed and to enhance the capacity of the primary school, temple and hospital of one the villages hard struck by the drought.

This year, Oviklo began its annual Natural Sri Lankan Green Orange during Vesak Dansala at their main warehouse complex in Biyagama, where the staff and management of Oviklo prepared and served refreshing green orange juice for the general public around the office premises. And in 2013, the CSR team built an eco-friendly children’s park within the new Biyagama police station premises, following a request by the police traffic unit.

Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, customer service, and betterment of the community, Oviklo International has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.

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