Deli Home, producer and distributor of constructive and decorative home furnishings, pays significant attention to improving the sustainability of its internal processes. In that context, various projects are up and running in the logistics department, aimed at optimising the use of so-called ‘load carriers’. That is, the wooden bases on which they deliver products to customers. Ad Huigen from Deli Home sheds some light on their efforts.
Construction timber is a lovely product with only one obvious drawback: it’s available in an enormous range of sizes and dimensions. This means that one can never use standardised packaging materials for any random order. Therefore, Deli Home – an NPM Capital portfolio company - currently works with bases on which it stacks the (compiled) order to deliver it to the customer in one lot.
The disadvantage of this way of working is that the wooden bases become damaged quickly and require regular replacement. It’s cost-intensive and also not very sustainable. That’s why Deli Home recently experimented with a reusable alternative, namely, a plastic base. However, that system did not provide the necessary solution either, because customers ended up accumulating the plastic bases for longer periods before returning them in one shipment or sometimes failing to return them at all. Ad Huigen, project leader at Deli Home observes: ‘If the bases stay with customers for longer periods, more bases are required in inventory, for circulation. That leads to more materials and higher costs than is necessary. That’s why we continued our search for alternatives.’
Right now, Deli Home is investigating the feasibility of switching the traditional order base - whether made of plastic or wood – with an alternative in the form of a so-called ‘order picking container’. Huigen explains: ‘A decent order picking container ensures that less time is needed for order picking because less attention must be devoted to stacking wood of different dimensions on a loose base. An order picking container’s design also lets one easily remove the cargo from the container, using a forklift. The containers don’t have to be taken out of the lorry and don’t stay behind at the customer’s because we remove the cargo from them. This means that we’re no longer dependent on our customers’ return behaviour, and we save on costs because we no longer have to purchase bases. We’re in the process of figuring out exactly how many of these order picking containers Deli Home would need, and what sort of investment it would entail.’
Project Postduif (Carrier Pigeon)
A similar development is underway in the delivery of another of Deli Home’s specialities, namely, custom cabinets. According to Huigen, lots of experimenting was done in recent months, with special crates for these cabinets, under the code name Project Postduif (Carrier Pigeon). Huigen notes: ‘These crates take up less storage space because they’re collapsible. The special thing about them is that every crate is equipped with a sensor. The sensor emits a signal when the crate is on Deli Home’s premises or is with our transporter. In other words, no signal means the crate is still at the customer’s. We link the crate to the customer when it’s in use, so we can easily track the crates.’
When a customer fails to return a crate on time, we’ll send a warning first, followed by a personal conversation. If the customer still disregards the return policy, we will charge them a fine. ‘It's important that customers return the crates after delivery. As Deli Home, we’re continually looking for ways to make our transport process more sustainable,’ says Huigen. ‘But to be honest: it’s only possible in cooperation with the customer.’