With the Transporeon cloud-based logistics platform, we have had the good fortune to make a major automation move.
Mark Meeuwissen, 4PL Coordinator
Merging two companies can be exciting and challenging. From a logistics point of view, a merger can result in a complex puzzle. In the search for supply chain efficiency, the waste collection and processing company Renewi – resulting from the merger in 2017 of Shanks and Van Gansewinkel – decided to work with Transporeon. The new company deployed Transporeon’s cloud-based logistics platform in a major automation initiative, which was in part driven by the need to handle a 50% increase in volumes of waste.
The merger created a company with 65 waste transhipment points in the Benelux region. Every day, the company processes 650 transportation orders with only five employees who are located across the Netherlands and Belgium. Renewi’s logistics team is responsible for managing and organizing a large number of bulk shipments from loading locations to unloading locations using walking floors, container trucks, and tippers. Back in 2012, the company took the major efficiency step of streamlining its forwarding activities and Transporeon's efforts have led to greater transparency and a reduction in the number of telephone calls to carriers.
Like many organizations, Renewi has been impacted by the trend for greater logistics visibility. Everyone wants to know the exact status of every order and transport. "Thanks to Transporeon, we can now substantiate many more choices and show what we are doing," says Mark Meeuwissen, 4PL Coordinator at Renewi. “Planning the transport is particularly difficult because a mistake can no longer be made up for. All of our assigned transports have to be on the Transporeon platform. The incinerators have a certain capacity. If we don't transport the waste in the correct week, there is a very good chance that there will be no room to deliver it the following week.“
Renewi’s decision to use the Transporeon cloud-based platform has achieved a single database for outbound transport movements within the merged company. A reporting function has also been added. Renewi uses the platform not only for outward journeys but also for return journeys. "The advantages of a 'denser' network are obvious not only to us but also to our carriers.”
Logistics integration was an important aspect of the original merger. As the Transporeon platform was already in use at Van Gansewinkel locations, the initial focus was on roll-out to Shanks locations. "In practice, this meant that we collected all transport-related data there and put it into templates. We then placed the data with the first orders on the freight exchange and monitored progress. It is very important that we use the templates. Working in the old way by logging in with Excel and manually placing it in the freight exchange was too labor-intensive. Instead, data from the templates can now be automatically transferred to Transporeon. This project was completed at the beginning of summer 2018.
Having rolled out the Transporeon solution at the former Shanks sites, the focus then shifted back to the former Van Gansewinkel locations and implementation of the new templates. "Here, too, we are exchanging Excel for templates. We want to avoid duplication of effort. In addition, the templates ensure more uniformity in the data. For example, if there is a journey from Wateringen to Amsterdam, the information must always be the same, such as the opening hours of loading and unloading locations and address details. In the past, the transhipment points used to work with Excel lists which were placed manually on the freight exchange by the employees. The orders in turn could be adjusted in all fields, which meant that uniformity could not be guaranteed along with all the consequences that would entail. I think that the bigger you grow, the more professional your operations have to be. In that respect, the implementation of a new ERP system is also appropriate. Once the roll-out is complete, there will of course be integration with our Transporeon solution. This will enable us to automate even more operations.”
The automatic carrier allocation function plays an important role in reducing data error rates. Prices for transport are fixed in the system and can no longer be found in Excel. "We now record as much as possible, but in the cooperation with carriers we still really benefit from some flexibility. To record everything would be too rigid in this kind of trade. Placing the daily orders currently takes three hours.” Meeuwissen imagines that this could be done within two hours in due course.
Recording much more data also increases opportunities for data monitoring, he states. "For example, the type of work at head office has changed, and a control function has been created. We have more control over the weekly balance. The freight exchange not only monitors the tonnages set at the waste processors, but also the supply per location.”
According to Meeuwissen, the current professionalization effort at Renewi is helping to give more control over performance and rates. "This is desperately needed, because the transport market is quickly becoming tighter. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find drivers, so we will have to tap into other hauliers. On the positive side, we have found quite a few new hauliers in Belgium, even companies that were not previously active in the waste sector. Thanks to the platform, we now have one-touch access to a group of over 290 hauliers, ranging from self-employed drivers to hauliers with more than 100 vehicles. This is also something new for the former Shanks operations.”
As well as assigning orders on a ‘no-touch’ basis (working with fixed prices for specific routes negotiated in advance with carriers), Renewi is increasingly using ‘best-carrier’ allocation. This takes into account existing supply and market data, and can automatically allocate transport orders, giving Meeuwissen and his colleagues the opportunity and flexibility to optimize allocation. "You don't have to want to record everything; that can also have disadvantages. Who knows, a change might occur and we might have to offer more orders on the spot market again. The current ratio of no-touch orders to best-carrier orders is 3 to 1. There are also clear differences per country. In Belgium we do more reporting, and in the Netherlands there is a more diverse transport offer and we can work with bids.”
The advantages of the Transporeon platform for a shipper such as Renewi are clear. "The platform is growing, which makes it increasingly interesting for every participant. It strengthens our network and creates more partnerships. When it comes to spreading our offer, it is interesting for the transhipment locations (constant loading), for the carriers (continuous supply), and for our waste processors (staggered delivery).” The priority in Meeuwissen's activities at the moment is therefore to expand the network and the use of the Transporeon solution. "We want to get this well on track and only then take the next step.”
All in all, the changes within the Renewi organization are substantial and there are benefits to a step-by-step approach to expanding the Transporeon solution. "We want to move towards a situation where all data is in one system, but that is not possible overnight. You have a number of aspects to manage well before you can benefit from the changes. Meeuwissen states that the fresh perspective of colleagues from previous Shanks sites typically triggers solution innovation. "You are used to working in a certain way. This unconsciously closes your eyes to extra possibilities. New planners discover new functionalities. I think using the templates was the best idea we embraced. This saves a lot of time.”