For a long time, Germany has been the most important trade partner of the Netherlands, particularly in fresh products. “Even before the rise of conditioned transport, we were transporting cocoa products from the port of Amsterdam to the former Eastern bloc and Berlin, which was still divided into East and West back then,” says Rob Riezebos of Wolter Koops. “Because of the rise of conditioned transport and the unification of Germany in 1989, a potential sales region for cooled products came into being. The experience gained in conventional transport turned out to be a good starting point for us to also start taking care of conditioned transport to Germany of products such as fruit, vegetables and cheese. Nowadays, we can supply throughout Germany within 24 hours, in the time window desired by the customer and regardless of shipment size.”
Wolter Koops is an international service provider in conditioned transport and logistics. In 1961 they started with one lorry, and the company grew into a formidable international player. With various branches and several hundreds of vehicles on the European roads, Wolter Koops takes care of daily transport and distribution of fresh products to retail and wholesalers in Europe. This doesn’t just involve transport, but also the complete logistics concerned: from grouping, cross-docking and warehousing to packing and supply chain management.
Development of distribution centres
To meet the growing demand for transport and to organise the distribution to and in Germany as efficiently as possible, the company becomes dedicated to the development of their own logistical platforms, at strategic locations, in the late 1990s. Rob: “This allows us to respond to the needs on the market to quickly and frequently deliver small shipments. But the platforms also play an important role in condensing the flow of goods regarding the logistical operation; miles, and the accompanying costs and CO2 emissions, are reduced as a result.” The company realised a modern distribution centre with cold and frozen stores in Sülzetal near Magdeburg. After Sülzetal, logistical platforms followed in Alzenau (near Frankfurt), Venlo (in the Netherlands) and Komorniki (Poland).
Delivered within 24 hours
These centres are now important links in the time-critical grouped transport of fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants in Germany and neighbouring countries. The products are directly transported in large volumes from the shippers or growers to the distribution centres. Here, the products are regrouped and loaded unto the routes for distribution to customers in surrounding regions and countries. That makes it possible to supply customers in Germany within 24 hours, in the time window desired by them, regardless of the shipment size, according to Rob.
“The lead-times are made even shorter by the stock-keeping function of the logistical platforms. Because these are located in or near the sales region, orders can be placed late, after which they’re picked and delivered to customers by our own lorries.”
An additional advantage of organising distribution in Germany in this manner, is that the shipper, who works with multiple production locations or regions in Europe, can have the products gathered in one central place, for combined delivery to end customers.
In charge of major actions
Fruit, vegetables, flower and plants; each product has its own season with accompanying peaks in volume. Because Wolter Koops serves all segments, they can use their fleet of cars year-round, and the peaks in volumes and destinations are absorbed by a flexible group of subcontractors.
The size of the company makes it possible to flexibly respond to major shipping actions in the various seasons. “Does the sales region change or are products bought from other production regions? Wolter Koops is capable of moving along with these changes. This provides the customer with flexibility and freedom of choice. Getting fresh products on the shelves, that’s what’s important,” Rob emphasises.
Insight into logistical performances
Transporting and distributing time-critical products requires a lot from workers, the material and information systems. Rob: “This is constantly being invested in. Besides, the company processes are supported in great measure by automated solutions, and we’re dedicated to exchanging as much data with customers and partners as possible.”
By monitoring the logistics process, there’s a constant insight into the status of shipments and vehicles, and customers are informed about the promptness of deliveries. In short: insight in logistical performances. “As a supply chain partner, we’re therefore capable of finding the solution most suitable for the logistical questions of he customers. Taking away worries and optimising the logistical processes is key for this.”
Due to the economic growth, demand for transport capacity is increasing, as well as demand for drivers. With a modern and young fleet of cars (Euro 6) and good primary and secondary terms of employment, Wolter Koops wants to be and remain an appealing employer. Besides, they’re constantly looking for opportunities to continue making the logistical process more sustainable, by applying innovative technology and cleverly using the information gathered.