Technology has played an integral role during this difficult year for every industry, but one sector that has perhaps seen the biggest gain is e-commerce. This has proven a key driver of warehousing and logistics demand.

According to Statista market and consumer data, the e-commerce industry in South Africa is expected to achieve R62-million in revenue in 2020 and 10% year-on-year growth.

With a projected total of 31,6-million local users by 2024, it’s clear that online shopping is only going to become more prevalent, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The high volumes are, in turn, affecting the way that these companies operate.

The general rule of thumb is that e-commerce requires three times the logistics space of traditional storefronts. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that South Africa will see a much greater investment in warehouse space to support local e-commerce.

As a result, improvements in racking, logistics and building technology have seen an increase in warehouse clear eave heights, often as high as 15m, as well as an increase in yard depths, sometimes in excess of 45m.

Chase Technologies supplies LiFeP04 battery packs for forklifts in materials-handling applications. This is a critical economic sector that has to continue operating with minimal disruption.

“The application of LiFePO4 technology in forklifts represents the latest advance in motive power in this sector,” comments GM Brent Frazer.

LiFePO4 battery packs are more cost-effective, maintenance-free and environment-friendly. A long lifespan means these batteries do not have to be recycled as often. They can be opportunity charged, meaning more uptime when needed.

These battery packs are also driving the market for electric industrial equipment such as reach trucks. Such high-power energy cells offer a major total cost of ownership advantage over traditional lead-acid batteries. Increased capacity means improved warehouse efficiency and handling capacity.

The flexibility and throughput of any warehouse operation is boosted, ensuring high availability of critical equipment such as pallet jacks. “Supply-chain management has never been more efficient and productive thanks to these developments,” concludes Frazer.