The Dutch Logistics Award 2016 was won by Auping in Deventer. The 130 year old royal bed maker was in his own words a little “sleepy”. By setting up a completely new logistics process it was prevented that work had to be moved to low-wage countries and the customer was helped better and faster than before. Director of Operations Harry Gruben and Logistics Manager Arno van Ingen call it a ‘dream factory’, when they talk about the new link between production and logistics in their company.
What was going on? There were three factories and many departments. Every factory produced like crazy. This resulted in many stocks with all kind of products to be merged at a later stage to a finished product for the customer. Just the white mattresses were available in 1,658 (!) different variants.
Then there was the crisis. The furniture business was hit hard. The result: even bigger stockpiles. That was the moment that Harry Gruben started in 2010 as the new Director of Operations.
From huge stockpiles to pull production.
When I read about “huge stockpiles” I was triggered. Isn’t it the same in the airfreight business? Friday afternoon and evening warehouses of the handlers bulge. Warehouses in probably the most expensive square meters of Netherlands packed with goods awaiting onward transportation.
What have Gruben and Van Ingen done with their teams? They have merged three plants into one location in Deventer. Also, the office is positioned closer to the plant. And they only produce on customer order. The result is that stocks have decreased, the production employees feel more connected to the end customer, the cost is reduced, the delivery time is shortened and the reliability is increased.
Schiphol next winner Dutch Logistics Award
Similar to a handler Auping is the point in the logistics chain where the streams ‘converge’. Suppliers deliver the parts. Then the logistics stream ‘diverges’ to the wholesalers and shops. The sales order is to compare by the just in time process for a plane to load “his goods” before departure. Those goods may not come sooner than needed to optimize the process. The various parties must then cooperate and exchange information. In that way you create the desired service for the end customer; in our case the shipper and receiver.
Naturally, it is easier for Auping. After all, they determine what happens in the chain, in contrast to a handler, who is dependent on others. But is that really true? Should the handler have not much more influence considering his crucial place in the chain? And what if the chain can take advantage of this? That is, with greater reliability at lower cost, with better cooperation and information sharing in an environment with a customer focus. Would we then be able to create our “dream flight” at Schiphol? And will the community at Schiphol be the next winner of the Dutch Logistics Award?