“After all these years, we were bursting at the seams. We even had to rent three additional locations. We needed sufficient capacity for storing and processing our soft fruit. That brings you to a point where the process is simply no longer efficient,” says Wil Beekers on the phone from BerryWorld’s new office. This Dutch soft fruit specialist’s brand new premises were completed this summer. It’s located at an accessible, prime location right next to a highway in the Netherlands.
The offices are located above the conditioned platform
The soft fruit sector has grown steadily in recent years. And so have the volumes BerryWorld processes. That meant the company had to expand at their old location. “In the end, we did that three times. This expansion gave us more space for our activities, but the processes became more cumbersome. The distances became too long. The facilities were no longer adapted to each other. And, eventually, we had to rent space too. That’s why we choose to have a new building constructed. Above all, we wanted to make the company efficient again.”
More loading docks
Before construction began, the average daily orders were examined. The company did so to adjust the number of docks for the incoming and outgoing goods correctly. “In our old building, we had two docks for incoming and two docks for outgoing shipments. We constructed this new 16,000 m2 building in an L-shape," explains Wil.
The docks in the long leg
"The L's short leg is intended for all incoming loads. That includes two container docks and five for unloading. The other 14 docks in the long leg are for all outgoing shipments. Except for the two container docks, all of these are in a large space without partitions. So, if we have a peak on the incoming side, we can very easily add docks.”
“The whole building, besides the container space, is fully air-conditioned. That ensures the fruit remains at the correct temperature throughout the entire packaging process. So, we only need one space for placing the soft fruit. We then prevent pallets from being dragged unnecessarily back and forth. Thanks to hermetically sealable step-in dock shelters, the weather doesn’t influence the process’s continuous cold chain either,” Wil continues.
The docks in the short leg
BerryWorld, The Netherlands’ new site was built per BREEAM’s highest sustainability standard - ‘Outstanding’. “It makes a huge difference in energy costs compared to our old building. Not only is the warehouse equipped with the latest cooling equipment. We also used far better insulation. We've done that by installing PIR cooling walls and 12-14cm thick sandwich panels."
BerryWorld's new building on the A59 in Made
"These have been used in both the sidewalls and the packaging hall’s roof,” says Beekers. You can, however, not be considered ‘Outstanding’ by insulation alone. That’s why solar panels are being installed on the new building’s roof. They’ll generate power. The building also doesn’t use natural gas. It uses CO2 and glycol cooling systems.
During the warm August days, BerryWorld’s new advanced cooling system was immediately put through its paces. “Temperatures climbed to 40°C this summer. That was during the peak of the Dutch season. But, we could keep the conditioned room at the prescribed 2-3°C without much effort. That makes us feel well-prepared for the future.”
Sustainability and efficiency were the focal points during construction. But what level of efficiency does Wil hope to achieve? “That’s difficult to say at the moment," admits Wil. "We can process 360.000 punnets a day at this location. That’s twice as many as in our old premises. However, the new building now houses all the activities we previously did in the rented sites. I’m, therefore, aiming for roughly a 20% efficiency improvement. We’re also working on further automation in raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry packaging."
SR Floors, RS Photography
"That will mainly be at the packaging lines’ start and end. One example is the automatic filling and stacking of boxes and crates using robotic solutions. Further automation wouldn’t only mean we could work faster. It would also be more reliable, safer, and cleaner. Also, we’re meeting the sector’s staff shortage challenge. We already have a fully automated blueberry line. Finally, we have fully conditioned docks and load and offload 24/7. That offers our clients and suppliers more flexibility when it comes to logistic optimization on their side,” Wil concludes.