Turning threats into opportunities: Never a dull moment in logistics!
“Our strength is our strong pan-European network” it says on our website. Maintaining such a large logistics network is literally ‘daily business’. We are constantly looking for opportunities to strengthen our network, we make use of opportunities offered by new partners and we respond to current developments. The current turmoil surrounding the Brexit illustrates well the challenges we face in practice. Our current partner in the UK is so busy with customs procedures that we had to develop a plan B to avoid delays.
For those who are not so familiar with logistics: When we examine a new line, we look at three so-called ‘legs’. Leg 1 involves picking up a shipment from the customer and transporting it to our terminal. Leg 2 involves transport from our terminal to the partner’s terminal. Finally, Leg 3 transports the shipment from the partner’s terminal to the final customer. We monitor each of these legs separately and, for shipments to the UK, Leg 2 and Leg 3 have been particularly problematic. In the case of Leg 2, this was largely due to the more restricted customs procedures. British Customs does not yet know all the procedures, our partner in the UK has to contact the consignee for customs clearance and the consignee does not yet have all its affairs in order, so he cannot always provide the correct information quickly.
We have made several adjustments to be able to continue to serve our customers well. First of all, we have found a new party in the UK that specialises in customs/customs and where delivery is much faster. Furthermore, we have chosen a new direct route for shipments to Northern Ireland and Ireland, whereby we literally bypass the UK. Whereas most transporters still drive via the UK, our deliveries can proceed without hindrance. Our drivers take the boat from Rotterdam to Dublin, which saves us a lot of time and – thanks to a direct line – also allows us to provide a better service.
The effects are already visible: I recently received a call from an importer of promotional gifts who, since the Brexit, had major problems with his current logistics partner. It took the carrier two weeks to import shipments from Britain to the Netherlands. We were able to reduce that time from two weeks to two days.
The logistics world is not rocket science. It is, however, a world where real entrepreneurship can make a difference. And that is what I like to write about in these columns. Entrepreneurship in relation to optimising a logistics network mainly means: dedication and the intrinsic will to really solve things. It also means: Trying to be smarter and faster than the competition. And it means: Thinking in terms of solutions, always looking for the best alternative, especially in difficult situations. Many people shout ‘It’s a mess in the UK’. Too often, they link that attitude to a kind of passivity, as if it happens to us and we can’t do anything about it. We also see how big and complex the impact of Brexit is, but we then roll up our sleeves and get to work.
By always thinking proactively, we not only solve concrete problems in the short term, but we also continuously build a strong and solid European network. That is why I love logistics: Never a Dull Moment!