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Hoogvliet Klantverhaal

“Availability in the stores remains consistiently high”

Jan van Rijn

Supply Chain Manager | Hoogvliet 

Jan Van Rijn Hoogvliet

Hoogvliet ensures smooth DC relocation thanks to Slim4

The leading supermarket chain, Hoogvliet, needed to maintain tight control amidst the relocation of its central distribution centre (DC). In additional to keeping the inventory in check, the retailers had to ensure that availability in the stores was in no way impacted by the move.

Jan van Rijn, Supply Chain Manager, and Saskia van Trierum, Supply Chain Improvement Manager explain how Slimstock’s software has helped: “Slim4 has helped us to seamlessly phase in supplier orders from the old to the new DC. This allowed our demand planners to focus on more pressing issues.”

Hoogvliet’s 71 stores are replenished at least twice a day using a unique interchangeable containers concept. “These air-conditioned containers have been specially developed for us to fit thirty roll containers full of fresh and non-perishable products,” explains Jan van Rijn.

“The advantage is that the containers are delivered to a store full with stock and then quickly unloaded. The process is tailored to the support each store layout. This means supermarket employees can replenish the shelves as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, the interchangeable containers actually offer additional warehouse space at each store which means we can dedicate more square meters to our customers.”

Located in the South of the Netherlands, the old DC had been expanded over the years to support continued growth. Consequently, the facility had become quite fragmented. Fresh produce and packaging were already housed in a separate building. Furthermore, the bakery and the meat warehouse were also starting to reach their maximum capacity.

To consolidate inventory and load the interchangeable containers on a daily basis required a lot of manual handling. Therefore, the search was on for a new location where all logistics activities could take place under one roof.

“When it came to product freshness, we already maintained high standards. With Slim4, we were able to further improve this.”

Jan van Rijn Supply Chain | Manager at Hoogvliet

Improved product freshness

In 2019, Hoogvliet implemented Slimstock’s supply chain optimisation platform, Slim4, to control the inventory at the central DC.

Explaining the impact of the Slim4, Van Trierum states; “When it came to product freshness, we already maintained high standards. With Slim4, we were able to further improve this.”

The software helps the team to build robust demand forecasts and then automatically calculates the stock requirement to optimise orders to suppliers. Ultimately, this allows Hoogvliet to provide stores with a better level of service with less stock.

Optimised transfer plan

By ensuring the efficient transfer of inventory, the software proved its worth during the move. Slim4 offered a complete solution to calculate when each stock category could be physically transferred. In order to ensure this process was as smooth as possible, a master plan was created containing the planned date of relocation for each store-SKU combination.

Van Rijn explains: “This ended up being a giant table. But with the help of Slimstock’s consultants, we were able to link this to Slim4. In addition to the current stock information, best before date and forecasts data, the software was able to calculate the optimal stock movements for each step of the process.”

Migrating suppliers

Transferring stock is one thing. But to move an entire distribution centre, you also have to migrate the incoming goods. The trick is to adjust your orders on time and communicate with suppliers to ensure they deliver the right items to the new address at exactly the right time.

Van Trierum goes on to highlight: “Slim4 has helped here too. We were always safe in the knowledge that the order proposals generated by the system were robust. This was really important for our demand planners. By freeing up their time, this allowed our team to focus on more pressing incidents. And I can assure you, there are more than enough challenges to overcome during such a big move.”

Achieving our goals

Looking back, Van Rijn is extremely satisfied with how the project went. “Availability in the stores has remained at the desired level and we have hardly seen any additional waste.” According to the Supply Chain Manager, this is especially impressive when you consider that the Coronavirus crisis also started cause disruption during that period, with demand for certain products shooting in all directions.

The stock levels have also remained within the desired bandwidth, adds Van Trierum. “Obviously, as long as you have two warehouses, you also need extra buffer stock. But this was calculated in advance. Therefore, we were able to keep tight grip on inventory levels. It was hard work and we worked long days, but we succeeded in the end and we can take great pride in that.”