They call themselves fruit traders who have become process specialists. For two years, Christian Schouten and David van den Heuvel have been building a web platform on which live information about the status of shipments and the related ex- and import documentation is stored and shared. Since February 2021, they have been selling this program from a branch office at Dutch Fresh Port under the name LogisticDocuments.com.
"Dutch Fresh Port is located between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, where a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables come in. We have gained a lot of knowledge here, and thus Dutch Fresh Port is a logical location for our company."
The start-up was born out of frustrations arising from the back-office and logistics practices. Business developers Christian and David, who were employed by Olympic Food Group, were shocked by the fact that the documentation needed for the container transport of fresh fruit and vegetables required a huge amount of back-office work. "If you want to transport a container from South Africa to Russia, you have to go through twenty to thirty administrative steps, and each country has its own requirements for the import of goods. 90% of countries still require paper documents in this digital age. Because of all the different and complicated rules, it regularly happens that some necessary documents will actually be flown in by plane."
Real-time view of your containers
LogisticDocuments.com offers a web platform on which importers and exporters have a 24-hour real-time view of the containers they are transporting. Where are the containers? Are they delayed or not? "Until now, you always had to keep an eye on the shipping company's website for that information, but our program automatically gives you a message if the trip is not going according to plan." Also, the program indicates exactly which documents are needed to ship the products from a given country of origin to the desired destination and/or customer. "Of course, you can also use Excel sheets for this, but those are prone to errors."
Joint platform with chain partners
The software aims to boost cooperation between the chain partners; the licensee can invite its suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders to work together on the platform via portals. "You often see each chain partner storing the information separately. Our program centralizes access to information, documentation, and updates so that everyone in the chain knows where they stand. No more complicated folder structures in your Outlook from which to send information to your chain partner, but one clear overview on a shared platform. Another important aspect is that the program is cloud-based. That means that licensees and chain partners can collaborate worldwide as long as there is an internet connection. Those with a subscription can use the platform across the entire chain, from the South African grape grower to the supermarket in the Netherlands. Our program supports all customer segments."
Focus on fresh produce
The software could also be used perfectly for other (fresh) products; "however, we remain focused on fresh produce. Since we come from that background ourselves, we are, as it were, in our customers' shoes. We understand what they are up against and where the frustrations are, but also how we can work together to find a solution. You don't have to explain to us that a delayed container quickly results in a loss of €10.000. Unfortunately, we know that all too well ourselves."
Can be linked to ERP system
In the first six months, Christian and David held talks with entrepreneurs in the fresh produce sector, including those at Dutch Fresh Port. "We were given an important tip: the entrepreneurs want to be able to link our platform to their own Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. This system supports all processes within the company, such as Human Resources, internal operations, and stock administration. We couldn't meet that demand right away, but we made every effort to develop that capability quickly, and we succeeded. Our program can now communicate with any ERP system and synchronize data. One advantage of this, for example, is that you do not need to enter data several times, and a container's delay is immediately visible to every department that needs to know about it. For example, a warehouse can now immediately anticipate a container arriving later or earlier and optimize personnel schedules. Companies can work more proactively and flexibly thanks to our platform."
In five years' time, Christian and David see their product becoming THE platform for the management of logistics together with your supply chain partners. They also hope that the barriers to online documents in 90% of countries will be removed. "So much is possible now with document security and verification, and speaking of sustainability, we need to do away with all the paper. We are moving in that direction ourselves and want to be a forerunner in the field in five years' time. Since we are specialized in the fresh produce sector, we'll be able to adapt quickly."
Read the complete article (in Dutch) on Dutch Fresh Port.
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