Germany has been the most important trading partner of the Netherlands for a long time, particularly in fresh produce. Rob Riezebos, Wolter Knoops: "Even before the arrival of cooled transport, we transported cocoa products from the ports of Amsterdam to the former Eastern bloc, to the still divided East and West Berlin.
"With the arrival of cooled transport and the unification of Germany in 1989, a potential sales market for cooled products was up for the taking. The experience gained in conventional transport seemed a good starting point to also provide conditioned transport of products such as vegetables, fruit, and cheese to Germany. Now we can supply any and all of Germany in the time frame desired by the customer within 24 hours no matter the shipment size."
Wolter Knoops is an international service provider in conditioned transport & logistics. In 1961, they started with one truck and grew out to an important international player. With various branches and hundreds of vehicles on the European roads, Wolter Knoops daily provides the transport and distribution of fresh product to retail and wholesale in Europe. Not only transport is involved, but also the complete surrounding logistics: grouping, cross docking, and warehousing to packaging management and supply chain management.
Development of distribution centers
To meet the growing demand for transport and to organize the distribution in and to Germany as efficient as impossible, investments are made in the development of own logistics platform, on strategically located location. Rob: "With this, we anticipate the need in the market for frequent, small shipments, delivered quickly. But also from a logistic perspective, the platforms perform an important role in compacting the commodity flow, kilometers, and with this reduce costs and CO2 emissions." In Sülzetal (D), near Magdeburg, a modern distribution center with cooling & freezing storage has been realized in company. After Sülzetal, logistic platforms will follow in Alzenau (near Frankfurt), Venlo (NL), and Komorniki (PL).
24 hour delivery
By now, these centers are an important chain in the time critical group transport of vegetables, fruit, flowers, and plants in Germany and adjacent countries. The products are transported immediately from the shipper of grower, in large volumes, to the distribution center. Here, the products are regrouped and reloaded for distribution to customers in the surrounding regions and countries. This makes it possible to supply customers in Germany within 24 hours, in the desired time frame, no matter the shipment size.
Shorter lead times
"The lead times are shortened even more because of the storage function of the logistic platforms. Because they are located in or near the sales area, orders can be made, picked, and supplied with own vehicles to the customer.
Bundling of flows
An added advantage to organize distribution in Germany in this way is that the shipper, who works with multiple product locations or cultivation areas in Europe, can collect the products on a central point for joint delivery to the end customer."
Large scale actions under own command
Vegetables, fruit, flowers, and plant; each product has its own season with accompanying volume peaks. Because Wolter Knoops serves all segments, it can deploy its fleet year round and with a flexible shell of subcontractors the peaks in volumes and destinations are smoothed out.
The size of the company makes it possible to flexibly anticipate to large shipping movements in the different seasons. Rob: "Is the sales area changing, or are products obtained from other production or cultivation areas? Wolter Knoops is capable to move along. This gives customers flexibility and freedom of choice. Fresh products on the shelves, that's what it's all about."
Insight in logistic
Transporting and distributing time critical products requires a lot from staff, material, and information systems. Rob: "Continual investments are being made. Also, the company processes are highly automated by automation solutions and we invest in exchanging as much data electronically with customers and partners.
By monitoring the logistic process, there is a real time insight in the status of shipments and vehicles, and clients are informed about the timeliness of shipments. In short: insight in the logistic performance. In this way, we, as chain partner, are capable of finding the best solution for logistic problems of the customer. Unburdening and optimizing logistic processes are central in this."
The economical growth is accompanied by a growing demand for transport capacity, and thus for drivers. With a modern and young fleet of vehicles, Wolter Knoops wants to be and stay an attractive employer. We keep looking into the possibilities to make the logistic process more sustainable by applying innovative technology and smart use of the data collected.
This article was first issued in edition 4, volume 33 of Magazine AGF Primeur. See www.agfprimeur.nl.
For more information: