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Kruitbosch and Westerman secure chain integration with data

Kruitbosch and Westerman secure chain integration with data

Source: Logistiek.nl / Author and photos: Mark Dohmen

Kruitbosch and Westerman Multimodal Logistics recently extended their cooperation by five years. Part of the new agreement is that the partners will jointly take innovative steps in the coming years as well. “Steps from which not only we, but also our dealers will benefit,” says Bert Nieuwenhuis, supply chain planning manager at Kruitbosch. “In addition, together we are giving further substance to our sustainability goals.”

Westerman provides a variety of logistics services for its customers and tries to link them as much as possible. In the bicycle sector, this chain integration is most implemented, knows sales director Bernard van Dieren: “We offer inbound transport towards our warehouse in Nieuwleusen, where we have a total of 120,000 square metres of storage space and have our own inland terminal. For bicycle assembly, we have our own workshop with technically trained staff. And we take care of dedicated distribution; in the Benelux and Germany with our own cars.”

Kruitbosch is one of the customers in the sector using this total concept. The company has its origins in bicycle accessories and parts, but since 2006 has also set its sights on supplying complete bicycles, with the Cortina and Alpina brands. “That expansion has not hurt us,” says Nieuwenhuis. “In recent years, we have grown substantially. We now have over 260 employees and from our Zwolle branch, we provide all dealers with no less than a million packages of accessories and parts and more than 100,000 bicycles every year.” Those bikes are now housed in their own business unit.

The cooperation with Westerman – number 53 in the Top 100 Logistics Service Providers 2023 – goes back some 20 years and started with the storage and distribution of bicycles. The logistics service provider now offers support throughout the chain.

How did your collaboration grow?

“We wanted to be more in control of our logistics processes and the chain. In this, Westerman relieves us completely,” says Nieuwenhuis. “Take the Bosch components for the e-bikes, for example. For these, based on our purchase orders, we send a proposal to Westerman, where the required components are then picked and sent to one of our assembly partners. Especially with these expensive components, transparency is essential. The lines of communication are short and we know what to expect from each other.” “For instance, we have jointly made concrete agreements with the insurer,” Van Dieren adds. “All steps are crystallised, precisely defined and secured in an SLA.”

Distribution rearranged

In other areas, too, the partners know exactly what they have in common. For instance, clear agreements have been made on sustainability. Nieuwenhuis: “Last year, we scrutinised our transport movements to the dealers. Among other things, we looked at whether it is really necessary to visit a dealer twice a week and only deliver one bicycle each time. Then, together with Westerman, we rearranged distribution.” “In doing so, we looked at possible preferred days and a new, efficient division of the country into delivery zones,” adds Van Dieren. The efforts resulted in the number of stops decreasing by as much as 2,700 in five months.

The fact that Westerman provides logistics services for several parties in the bicycle industry is a nice, additional advantage, Van Dieren points out. “For instance, we can easily scale up or down our capacity. And precisely because we can switch quickly, the number of kilometres driven can be reduced even further. In a good cooperation, the focus is always on the best result for the customer. And this is how we share the synergy with Kruitbosch.”

What makes this collaboration innovative?

According to Van Dieren and Nieuwenhuis, the innovation of the cooperation lies in the far-reaching chain integration. “Wherever possible, we cut out links and avoid unnecessary transport. This is only possible if you communicate openly and transparently,” Van Dieren explains. Nieuwenhuis adds: “That’s also why we sit at the table very frequently. At operational level daily and at management level certainly every four to six weeks. That consultation enables continuous improvement of processes. For instance, last year – at Westerman’s suggestion – we scrapped the paper packing note for a large part of our transports.” “For this, systems obviously have to match,” Van Dieren explains. “We have therefore invested the necessary time in data integration.”

Bernard van Dieren: “Wherever possible, we cut links and avoid unnecessary transport.”

And the knife cuts several ways. For Kruitbosch, it is important that dealers find all the necessary information within the shipper’s dealer portal. After all, this increases the sales probability. In cooperation with Westerman, a track-and-trace module was therefore built into that Kruitbosch portal. “That has further increased the service to our dealers. Our service department gets 70 to 80 per cent fewer calls about this,” observes Nieuwenhuis.

Investment in systems

To enable the most efficient chain possible, the service provider also invests in its own systems. In doing so, Westerman increasingly uses business intelligence (BI) tools. For instance, a link has been made with Google and the opening hours stated by Kruitbosch dealers themselves are now used. Thanks in part to the use of those BI tools, delivery reliability has risen to more than 99 per cent. “The basis of good cooperation is trust. Doing what you say and honouring the agreements in the SLAs. Data is indispensable for this,” say both partners.

Is there more in store?
With the new cooperation agreement, Kruitbosch and Westerman also signed a letter of intent, which lists further innovation spearheads. “These mainly involve further sustainability and digitalisation,” Nieuwenhuis outlines. “For instance, we will measure and report CO2 emissions using data from BigMile. We are also looking at new sustainable packaging. The expertise and experience that Westerman has in this industry will definitely help.”

“Moreover, sustainability is taken up in the broadest sense of the word,” adds Van Dieren. “Sustainable working, and therefore ergonomics, also plays a role. Last year, for instance, together with Kruitbosch, we already developed new packaging. A good first step, but ultimately we want to move towards circular packaging.”

Stock optimisation software

An example of further digitalisation and data sharing is the use of stock optimisation software. “For our spare parts and accessories, we have been using Slim4 for several years. In order to get a better insight into and control our stock levels, we also want to use this tool for planning our cycling business unit,” says Nieuwenhuis. “Currently we share the forecast for a period of ten to twelve weeks. Still this quarter, we want to move to a forecast of at least 12 months.”

Furthermore, the partners are continuously looking at chain integration. “Our Cortina dealers regularly ask us to help think about various challenges. For example, to reduce logistics movements and support the delivery of a new bicycle to the consumer. We will therefore soon start a pilot together with Westerman, where bikes will be made ready to ride by Westerman and we will hopefully save even more transport movements, without affecting the short lead time,” Nieuwenhuis concludes.


~ February 15, 2024 ~