More efficient logistics increasing the earning capacity of food businesses

By: Sharon Janmaat 24 Jan, 2018

Research has shown that 44% of pallet space in refrigerated transport is unused. The ‘Smart Logistics’ project examines how logistics data in the AGF sector can be exchanged securely. If data from logistics flows is centralised, it would increase earning capacity and ultimately also provide more jobs. Moreover, this makes a positive contribution to the image of the Rotterdam region as a logistics service provider and food supplier. The Smart Logistics project was launched as part of The Next Economy Roadmap and the resulting World Food Park innovation programme.

44% of pallet space unused

The fact that 44% of pallet space in refrigerated transport is unused offers opportunities to increase earning capacity. The study also showed that there are more opportunities, such as sharing data about aspects such as volumes and transport. In addition, attracting collective capital offers a lower interest rate and greater investment is possible as a result.

Businesses exchanging data

‘In the Smart Logistics project we started by establishing the level of support. Companies such as ABC Logistics, Driscoll’s, The Greenery and Snijpunt made their past logistics data available for a simulation. We compared this encrypted data to examine how collaboration between parties could have led to loads being transported more efficiently. One of the companies we spoke to even stated: ‘Sometimes I actually drive behind my competitor. If I could attach my container behind them we would have far lower CO2 emissions and transport costs.’ We also examine whether optimisation is possible in their own data. We offer this as an extra service,’ explains Sharon Janmaat, project manager at Rotterdam Food Cluster.

smart logistics

Cost savings, improved service and lower CO2 emissions

It is interesting for companies to improve the efficiency of their logistics because of cost savings, but improvement is mainly a service to their customers. After all, transport costs are passed on to customers. Sustainability is the third main factor that plays a role in making logistic flows more efficient: companies want to minimise their CO2 emissions, and customers impose strict requirements when it comes to their suppliers’ sustainability profile. Besides efficiently structuring an organisation in the region, other ideas are also emerging such as organising certain regions in the Netherlands and Europe more efficiently.

‘As soon as volumes increase, it becomes even more efficient and appealing for suppliers and retailers to join the central network.’

Sharon Janmaat Project manager Rotterdam Food Cluster

How could Smart Logistics respond to Brexit?

Sharon Janmaat explains that the project is ever expanding. ‘As soon as we talk to companies about organising their logistics flows in a smarter way, lots of ideas come to light. Take the example of Brexit. The UK is our second export region and therefore also an important region on which to reflect. How could we anticipate the geopolitical circumstances that could have an impact on the demand for products from the mainland? What would it mean if, in the future, it is not as simple for the UK to use labour migration, or if it becomes unappealing for a labour migrant to look for work in the UK?’

Sharon Janmaat is eager to obtain answers to these questions by engaging in dialogue with retailers from the UK. ‘At the moment we are examining how we can supply major retailers in the UK both physically and digitally. In addition to AGF products, loads could be supplemented with other products the UK imports from the mainland. While the Netherlands exports €1.9 billion in fruit, vegetables and flowers to the UK, we also export other products, for example €1.2 billion in processed foodstuffs, €0.4 billion of starting materials (seeds and suchlike) and €0.2 billion in dairy products to the UK. We digitally bring the data together and physically combine the loads at a single site. We can also offer added value activities such as packing, sorting, processing and preparing products, which are more complex or more expensive for retailers to organise in the UK. We are currently in advanced discussions with one large retailer in the UK about how we can provide an even better service to that region as a whole. Based on these insights, we can optimise both the physical and digital components of our services.’

Port of Rotterdam Smart Logistics

Rotterdam region: the most appealing food hub for other regions

Sharon Janmaat reveals how the Rotterdam region could retain its appeal among suppliers and retailers. ‘By aligning our services with retailers’ requirements and building sustainable customer relations, our region continues to be an appealing customer and we are able to attract new services. The Rotterdam region is currently the strongest food hub, but it is important to continue to anticipate the developments taking place in other regions. For example, when we are able to bind major retailers from the UK to us, our region will be more appealing for making connections with other regions in Europe. As soon as volumes increase, it becomes even more efficient and appealing for suppliers and retailers to join the central network.’

Logistics data providing practice cases for education

The encrypted data from the simulations is also interesting for use in education.
It allows students to practice with real logistics data from the business community. ‘On the one hand, it provides us with new insights, and on the other we gain actual practice cases for students,’ explains Sharon Janmaat.

Would you like to start a pilot too?

The more companies that participate in the simulation, the more reliable the outcome, so we are still looking for additional businesses. Are you also interested in increasing your earning capacity through cost savings, improved services for customers and more sustainable transport? Contact Sharon Janmaat for more information.

You could also contact us if you are a retail supplier (or supply other types of customers) in the UK and would like to continue to develop more intensive services aimed at the UK.

Contact Sharon Janmaat