Al Futtaim Logistics (AFL) is a major supply chain management company based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The company is a part of the Al Futtaim group of companies and has remained one of most progressive companies since its establishment in the 1930 (Khan 2009). The company is active in many sectors, including commerce, manufacturing, and logistics and operates in over 65 nations worldwide with more than 20,000 employees. The company is structured into a number of operational divisions. The largest of these divisions is the automotive business, which is responsible for the supply of about 4 in every ten cars used in UAE. In GCC, the company boasts possession of the largest Toyota Showroom and is a proud owner of the largest Honda showroom worldwide (Khan 2009). The company further commands a strong presence internationally with franchises in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, and Sri Lanka. In Saudi Arabia, it is the main logistic dealer for Volvo and Chery, Honda in Oman, Nissan, Eicher, Piaggio, Suzuki Maruti, Yamaha, and Renault in Sri Lanka, and Toyota in Egypt. The dominance of this company is legendary and is a product of its ability to provide commendable service to its clients. The company's performance has been recognized and appreciated by several awards, including two Middle East Logistics Awards (MELA) Best Importer and Runner-Up Best Land Transport in 2009, 3PL Service Provider of the Year award in 2010 by the 4th Annual Supply Chain and Transport Awards (SCATA). The company has heavily invested in realizing customer satisfaction, and as a result, it has the most iconic distribution center for Toyota parts in Dubai. It also has the best warehousing facilities and more than 250 vehicles in its transport fleet, which is diverse. Additionally, the company has excellent quality control teams and a quality service delivery team. The excellent services provided by the company are a product of its quality management systems, which have seen it earn ISO 9001:2008 accreditations.
ISO 9001: 2008 is one of the ISO 9000 families of standards that tackles various aspects of quality management and encompasses a number of the best known ISO's standards (ISO 9000 - Quality management n.d.). The others include ISO 9000: 2005, ISO 9004: 2009, and ISO 90011: 2011. ISO 9001: 2008 stipulates the requirements of an excellent quality management system. The standard designates the criteria for development and implementation of quality management systems. It is also the only standard in the ISO 9000 family that organizations can be certified to, although being certified is not a must. This standard is dynamic and can be implemented by any company in any field or activity. Currently, the standard is implemented in over 170 countries by more than a million companies. The standard is supported by several quality management principles. These include continuous improvement, process approach, strong customer focus, motivation, and implication of top management. Using the standards stipulated by ISO 9001: 2008 ensures that an organization manages to consistently give its customers high quality services and products and in turn earn numerous benefits for the business (ISO 9000 - Quality management n.d.). Audits are a critical part of the implementation of this standard. Audits further serve to determine whether the quality management system is working for an organization that implements it. Audits are done at specific intervals and organizations may enlist external expertise in conducting the audits. More specifically, an organization invites external certification bodies to conduct the audits and determinate conformity to the standard. Alternatively, an organization can invite their partners or clients to perform the audits. Al-Futtaim Logistics has been exemplary in the implementation of the quality management system to the level stipulated, recognized, and recommended by ISO 9001: 2008. This means that its process, service, management, and motivation are excellent (ISO 9000 - Quality management n.d.).
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Al Futtaim Logistics attained ISO 9001: 2008 in 20012 and got recertified in 2013. The company received ISO 9001: 2008 certification in February 2012 (Al-Futtaim Logistics 2013). The certification was awarded by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), which is an independent foundation. The foundation was instituted in 1864 with an aim of protecting, the environment, life, and property. Attaining the internationally recognized ISO 9001: 2008 certification in 2012 was a strong statement on the company's excellence in implementing quality management systems (Al-Futtaim Logistics 2013). The recertification issued to the company again by DNV on the 30th of January this year is a build-up on the achievement the company had in the previous year before it earned the ISO 9001: 2008. The recertification is a product of a the ISO surveillance conducted by DNV, which showed that there was a continued improvement of the company's existing business procedure and processes as well as improvement in its overall solutions to customers (Al-Futtaim Logistics receives ISO 9001:2008 certification 2013). The audit findings indicated that the company has increased its focus on its associates and how it engages with them. Specific reference was given to the outcome of the "Drive magic Movement Program" (Al-Futtaim Logistics 2013). According to the company's managing director Tom Nauwalaerts, the entire Al Futtaim Logistics team strongly contributed to the improved performance and the upholding (Haq 2009). The Director attributed the success to its strong focus on the employee and customers, which resulted in consistent and structure service delivery to the customers (Al-Futtaim Logistics 2013).
Quality management concept implemented by Al Futtaim Logistics
The company has embraced several quality management concepts and has been implementing them. These include the total quality management concepts espoused by ISO, which include continuous improvement, process approach, strong customer focus, motivation, and implication of top management.
Continuous quality improvement is one of the major concepts of quality management espoused by ISO 9001: 2008, which Al Futtaim Logistics is tirelessly implementing (Our Customer Commitments n.d.). According to the managing director, the company strives to achieve the highest extent possible of customer satisfaction through continuous enhancement of its quality management system (Haq 2009). The managing director further noted that the certification was an indication of the company's commitment to realizing and exceeding its customer's expectations. The company is always exploring for new and better way of improving its procedure and process. For instance, the company has adopted specialized IT systems to manage most of its sizeable road transport fleet. In addition, the company's vehicles are fitted with a state of art tracking devices systems to monitor the vehicle and their derivers in order to enhance their efficiency and performance (Al-Futtaim Logistics 2013). All these are a part of the company's plan to deliver to the customer cost-efficient IT solutions. The continuous improvement initiatives adopted by the company are backed by a feedback and suggestion system to ensure that the company collects feedback and suggestions from customers and employees. This system ensures that the suggestions and are incorporated into service improved to meet the customer needs and provide a conducive environment for the employees. The company has a quality policy designed to facilitate continuous quality improvement. Bellow it is the company's quality policy (Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012):
"We are committed to be the leading Logistic Solution Provider to our Customer. We intend to achieve this by implementing a Quality Management System and Continually Improving it based on the following principles
- People are our Key resources
- Our creativity and commitment to exceed customers needs and expectation, ensures our future. We are empowered and held accountable for meeting the needs of our customers.
- We understand and define our customer's current requirements and strive to anticipate their future needs. We view our business as a view adding system.
- We will at all times conform to the requirements of the relevant Statutory/Regulatory Authorities and Professional Associations" (Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012).
This quality policy emphasizes continues improvement in the quality of its service to meet the ever-changing customers' demands.
Al Futtaim Logistics is a service provider. To ensure that the service provided meets customers' requirements, the company must focus on the process involved in the provision of the services. There are number of processes and procedures involved in the provision of services to customers. Some of the common processes are management processes, documentation processes, freight processes and procedures, and custom clearance processes (Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012). The company continuously reviews and improves these processes. For instance, the company employs internet-based tracking services to track shipments and provide customers with real-time data regarding the movement of goods. Such real-time information ensures full visibility of shipments and payments. The company always strives to enact best practices in all its processes.
Strong customer focus
The company's strong focus to consumer-oriented service is legendary. The company is committed to care for strong customers' values and unbeatable personalized service. The company understands that every customer's need is unique and therefore extreme expertise in necessary to realize customer satisfaction. Both the company's mission and vision point at provided customer-oriented services ((Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012):
The organization's mission is
"To be a partner of choice, developing intelligent Supply Chain solutions and delivering the highest level of Service, Quality and efficiency."
Its vision is "Grow by being the best Service, Quality and Efficiency."
All these point to the provision of customer-oriented services. The strong customer focus is also espoused in its quality statement. In the quality statement, the company states its commitment to meeting its customers' demands with creativity that exceeds the expectation of the customers. The company is committed to being accountable to customers and anticipating future changes in customers' needs so as to continuously meet their demands.
Focus on employees
Employees are a critical factor in the realization of quality management systems. The company values its employee and recognizes their contribution to the company's success. As the company managing director noted, every employee played a role in ensuring that the company upheld its high performance and got ISO 9001: 2008 recertification. The company recruits highly qualified employees as well as provides additional training to ensure that the employees have the ability to help the organization meet its objectives. For instance, the company has specialized brokerage team that has extensive experience industry. The team is responsible for swift movement and customs clearance of goods on freight. The team further gives state-of-art operating system and technology as well as is trained to use it to ensure that they serve the clients to the best ability possible. The company's health safety and environmental policy are an adequate indication that the company values the safety of its employees and that of the general public (Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012). The company pledges to protect the environment and prevent any incident to protect employees. The company commits itself to high safety standards (Vision, mission & sustainable actions 2012). The empowered staff team made of professionals consults with each other and customers to crate customers' oriented-service or realize customized service for every customer.
Motivation and Management
The management plays an important role in the implementation of quality management systems. The management develops the quality management systems and supervises to ensure that they are implemented properly. The systems are reviewed and improved consistently. The management examines customers' and employees' feedbacks and suggestions and finds ways of incorporating them in the improvement in order to realize a customer-oriented service. This makes sure that the management makes the best out of its feedback mechanism that is meant to collect opinions about its service and processes.
Benefits of implementing the quality management concepts
Implementing total quality management concepts means that the company service will continuously improve. This will mainly come from the improvement of the business core areas, namely management, processes, employees, and customer service.
Having a string management is a key to the realization of any organization. The implementation of quality management concepts makes the management proactive rather that reactive. The management continuously supervises and implements that management system as well as responds to feedback from customers. The management is able to consider suggestions coming from junior employees rather than forcing decisions on the juniors.
Customer satisfaction is perhaps the most outstanding outcome of implemented quality management systems such as total quality management concepts. Total quality management seeks to improve the quality of services given to customers. It facilitates identification of the best measures for quality that match customers' expectations in regard to product, service, and experience. All quality management approaches quantify the challenges faced by an organization and realize the best state defined in terms of customers' perceptions and expectations. Examples of benefits the company stands to gain as far as customer service and satisfaction are concerned are a reduction in the waiting time the customers take before receiving service and the time taken to provide service to the customers. It can be realized through changes in the delivery process to ensure that goods reach customers faster. It can also enhance customer loyalty.
Total quality management will make the employees become adoptive of change and embrace it. This can be achieved by changing the culture of employees and educating them on quality as well as making provision of quality service to customers a concern of everyone. This will encourage productive work and discourage mistakes. The employees will avoid mistakes rather than commit them and correct them. Al Futtaim logistics has an experienced professional team. Total quality management concepts will make the team cohesive by encouraging team work and linkages between departments. This encourages cross-department teams as well as cross-functional sharing of knowledge. Organizational development will yield additional benefits to the organizations. There include
- Enhancement in the communication skill of each employee impacts positively the overall communication within the organization.
- Shearing knowledge foresters broadening and deepening of knowledge and the skill-sets of teams and their members. This makes the organization a learning organization.
- It enhances flexibility among employees and makes deployment easy and as a result brings about coast competitiveness.
TQM makes an organization consider its employees as internal customers and clients as external customers. In this regard, the organization will develop a HR department that ensures that employees' suggestion and feedbacks are served. This will yield the following benefits:
- Business ownership is extended to employees, which empowers them to correct mistakes on the spot without the need for supervision. This leads to intrinsic motivation of employees and an atmosphere of employee satisfaction.
- Elimination of mistakes and enhanced productivity that foster quick handling of transactions; thus, employees have more time to exercise creativity and improve the existing procedure.
- Skill deficiency in employees can be identified and the management can provide the appropriate training to enhance the capacity of the employee to meet service demands and standards of the company.
- Improved efficiency may lead to an increase in profits and in employee wages.
Total quality management will give Al Futtaim Logistics a competitive advantage over its competitors. The demolition of hindrances, enhancement of communication, improvement of services, and a customer approach will generally improve the way the organization conducts its activities. Employees' satisfaction and better process translate to unbeatable customer service and products. This attracts and retains clients.
Al Futtaim Logistics is a large diversified company that seeks to meet its clients' needs in the best and most convenient way. The company's performance has been recognized and has seen it receive a number of awards. The company also got ISO 9001: 2008 certification in 2012 and recertification in 2013. Certainly, this is an indication of excellent performance. It is a product of enacting quality management system with the principle of total quality management that continuously sees it enhance its services and rely on customers' satisfaction.