With that in mind, Broekman records the process at the terminal from minute to minute. That is a unique development, explains Rob van Dijk, Director of Operations at Broekman Distriport. “It sounds simple, but digitisation has never been implemented in breakbulk to this degree before. It offers a lot of advantages, and it provides insight into the entire supply chain. We literally follow everything in real time, and that gives clients the option of having real-time insight as well.”
In order to track the cargo as accurately as possible, Broekman uses Warehouse Management Systems. “We copied the process of order picking in a warehouse”, says Remco Bol, Sales Manager at Broekman Logistics. “The system ensures far fewer delays at the terminal. We can take over the entire schedule from here.”
Digitisation also makes processing considerably more practical, Van Dijk explains. Paper forms have been replaced by tablets that can be used for scanning and that provide a greater degree of control. When the cargo arrives, an employee uses the tablet to take a photo of the cargo. Is there any damage to the cargo, and is it properly tied down? The photo is then sent to the client in real time for inspection. “The great thing about the system is that you can’t skip any inspection points. You have to take a photo before the employee can continue with the process. That level of control is maintained right up until ‘gate out’.” The client is kept informed of the status of the cargo literally 24 hours per day.
In order to follow the cargo literally throughout the entire cycle, Broekman Logistics connects with several different systems. GPS data is linked to cargo traffic, which provides immediate insight into expected arrival times and potential problems or delays. Bol: “We’re talking to several parties about linking our system with their trucks. That way, we can see exactly when the truck will arrive and we can prevent delays. In practice, 30 percent of the trucks arrive too late, and 15 percent arrive too early.
By linking the system to the trucks, we can reserve dynamic time slots, so we can fill the slots for the delayed trucks with the trucks that arrive early.”
This is an ideal way for transport companies to monitor their employees, Van Dijk says. “There’s a lot of turnover among drivers. Transport companies are often forced to use drivers from abroad. Around 80 percent of the people who come through here won’t be back, so it’s vital that everything is clear the first time.” In order to offer support to foreign drivers, the app is also translated into the drivers’ languages. They can then use the app on their own smartphones to see how they need to drive at the terminal.
In follow-up to the digitisation at Distriport, the terminal at the Heijplaat will also be fully digitised sometime around mid-2020. Bol emphasizes once again how unique Broekman Logistics is in taking this step. “None of the nearby ports have implemented such an advanced system. We’re the first to take on that role!”