'Just build a warehouse?'
When it comes to logistics and infrastructure, the Netherlands has been at the top of Europe for decades. The demanding and critical consumer has contributed in part to innovations in automation and logistics systems and the emergence of automated warehouses.

E-commerce Dutch consumers' confidence in making online purchases has skyrocketed in 10 years. The Dutch are naturally curious and interested in new technology. As a so-called "early adopter," the Netherlands is often involved in new technological developments. It is clear that the Dutch consumer has embraced online shopping, or "E-commerce.

"GfK research shows that the Netherlands spent a total of 22.5 billion euros on online purchases in 2017; a 13% increase over the previous year."

Ordered today, delivered tomorrow; this is a common ambitious promise of many companies in the E-commerce sector. These delivery times were unrealistic  a few years ago. Now it is a basic service! There seems to be a real race going on in terms of "quality of service. Next day delivery, same day or even one hour after ordering at home, the industry is going further and further with optimization. In order to continuously improve service and customer experience, this development will continue. The critical consumer drives this.

The rise of "E-commerce" has drastically changed the market of distribution centers and warehouses. The entire chain develops. The explosive increase in the number of online purchases and the importance of good timing make extensive automation a necessity. It is becoming increasingly difficult for distribution centers and warehouses to obtain sufficient personnel and the chance of error in automation is many times lower than with human intervention. Machines, robotics and automation are therefore making inroads in this sector.

Automated warehouses

So-called automated warehouses are also booming in the Netherlands. Whereas traditional distribution centers focus on storage and transfer, automated warehouses focus more on direct delivery based on customer orders. Major players in e-commerce such as bol.com and Wehkamp have set up (almost) fully automated logistics centers for this purpose. These are also called fulfillment centers.

Larger quantities, faster lead times while maintaining delivery reliability and affordability; this is the challenge facing the entire industry. This also applies to supermarket chains. In this part of the logistics sector, fully automated distribution centers are increasingly common. Albert Heijn, Lidl and Spar are examples of major players who are starting to process and distribute their (fresh) products in this way. New players with new business models such as Picnic enter the market

The fulfillment chain is not complete without distribution. In this, "delivery specialists" such as DPD, DHL and PostNL are established parties with a great deal of experience. They are certainly not lagging behind in developments and are increasingly making use of the available technology. The entire logistics chain is making a clear move toward far-reaching automation to accommodate growth.

The organizations that set up and manage these systems face the challenge of reducing handling costs per product. Continuity, safety and reliability of the complex installations (assets) are of great importance here. This all depends on a good approach to managing the installations.

The starting point for effective management (asset management) for automated warehouses is sharpening the program of requirements. This means a clear connection between the design and realization of the installations on the one hand and the use and management on the other. This cohesion starts at the initiation phase in which must be determined what is needed, how the organization wants to operate and if management and maintenance will be outsourced. A proper contract form and design is crucial here.

The rise of automated warehouses is also changing the more traditional (facility) environment into a more industrial environment (factory), where a professional arrangement of management and maintenance is crucial to ensure the safety, reliability and affordability of the automated warehouse.

This change requires a plan supported by management and a concrete strategy  where all stakeholders (owner, administrator and service providers) are working toward the same goals.

Just build a wharehouse

The owner (asset-owner) should consciously consider the design of the organization and contracts.

However, a gap is currently visible. The asset owner focuses primarily on the primary logistics process and often wants to be unburdened in terms of management and maintenance of the installations. Suppliers are primarily used to offering professional solutions and, to a lesser extent, to maintaining them in a professional manner.

Indeed, this need demands much more from service providers than "just" delivering, installing and possibly periodically maintaining equipment. A service provider needs to integrate into the client's local organization where sustainable cooperation with a focus on continuous improvement must be workable and acceptable for all parties. Only then can you jointly benefit from good asset management.

A well thought out and executed asset management strategy benefits the asset owner throughout the life cycle of the investment. It brings insight into the actual TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Asset management allows you to effectively manage performance and control costs and risks.

Precisely bringing together the world of asset-owner, manager and service providers is very important with the rise of automated warehouses. An expertise in which Compris has a lot of experience. As an expert in the field of asset management with a proven track record in logistics, Compris not only advises on the correct organizational set-up of asset management but also helps with the transition and implementation. Giving the owner of an automated warehouse insight into and control over its most important logistics assets, that is what Compris stands for.

"The logistics players and organizations that properly understand and continuously optimize asset management are the absolute leaders of the future."

Frank Schouten
Asset Management Professional- Business Development
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Compris has the knowledge to implement asset management methodology in a hands on and structured way. Our 60 asset management professionals ensure that organizations (re)gain control over their complex infrastructure, production and logistics systems so that these organizations can excel. We have an eye for people and prove our added value as experienced asset managers with 'people skills'. More information