BMW April 2022

Trevor Ward, head of Customer Services at Mazda South Africa asked Automotive Refinisher a question at a recent meeting, “When your 22 40-foot-long containers have been held up at the shipping docks for over six weeks, what can you do?” 

The current shipping crisis which is a global phenomenon has developed into a perfect logistical storm when it comes to supplies. Trevor is up front on the current parts availability problem, as he simply states that the supply drive is not going to end any time soon. 

“From the Far East theatre of activity where shipping cost increases have risen six-fold in just one year from Japan and Thailand, the first pick stock levels which were once an industry leading 95%, are currently hovering at levels of 75%, and the causes are beyond the control of Mazda South Africa,” he says. 

Further to all of the above drama, is the constant inability of the Durban docks to overcome their unique problems. This has seen 90% of imported Mazda spare parts being landed and cleared on sea freight shipments through the Port Elizabeth port to resolve Durban’s ongoing poor performance. This is a move to further alleviate parts shortages, which they have in some cases sourced a local supplier for alternative parts in this ongoing battle. 

In his 30 years of working for major car manufacturers there has, in his experience, never been anything like the current situation they are experiencing. They are doing their very best to be fair in parts allocation with available collision repair components for damaged Mazda units across their repairer network.

Mazda embarked on a new path with their own network of body repairer approvals and Ward is upbeat about the fuss-free results of last year They have in excess of 400 shops as process partners. “We’ve received two customer complaints the whole year while working through South African regulated repair associations such as the Collision Repair Association (CRA) and SAMBRA, plus a few others.

“The standard of the Motor Body Repairer’s has shone through in customer service value for Mazda vehicles as well as our Save-A-Car initiative which has also shown a grand increase in acceptance. We have to monitor these cases to ensure that the customer is aware of the full special credit on a borderline write-off case. We really want to keep the car on the road and in our body shops for repair. Gladly it is a sort of feel-good side of the business that is working well and is far away from the factors of our acute parts delays that have severely affected our ability to maintain our normal high levels of excellence in parts for the aftermarket.

“Here is an accurate update of exactly where we find ourselves right now,” says Ward.

“Airlines have placed a restriction of the size and weight of packages allowed for airfreight. Packages weighing more than 200 kg and more than 0.6m3 in size are not being accepted as cargo. This is being done to maximise the amount of cargo per flight. As most collision parts orders exceed these limitations Mazda is forced to ship these via sea freight which triples the lead-times for delivery.

“Availability of sea containers. Shipping lines are reserving containers for their biggest customers so Mazda is booking whatever is available, irrespective of cost.

“Component suppliers in Japan and Thailand cannot meet demand so there are delays of several weeks before their orders can be allocated.

“The congestion at South African sea ports has resulted in several shipping companies by-passing South Africa and transhipping their containers to foreign ports, which adds four to eight weeks to provided expected time of arrival,” concluded Ward.