Every day, Freight Line Europe sends Dutch flowers, potatoes, fruit, and vegetables to Great Britain in refrigerated trucks. That had been going without a hitch for many years; then Brexit happened. That has saddled the transporter with an enormous administrative burden.
Freight Line Europe has had to invest heavily in process automation. Plus, it is looking for new sales markets, partly with support from the EU Trade Program, reports the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
Freight Line Europe specializes in international refrigerated transport. It serves customers 24/7 from a brand-new, temperature-controlled location in the Netherlands and an independent branch in Felixstowe, England.
Transport to GB is more complex
Early every morning, the transporter receives orders that often have to be delivered that same evening. "We collect the items, group them, arrange the customs formalities, and, that night, everything's delivered," says sales manager Viktor Vijverberg with well-deserved pride.
He explains that it is no easy task because transport to the UK has become considerably more complex since the new customs regulations were introduced. "Before, when we transported a pallet of vegetables, we'd fill in 'vegetables.' Now, we have to add product codes, weights, commercial invoices, product origin, and international codes."
"It all feels quite cumbersome," adds financial director Edwin Zuijderwijk. "We've become a totally different service provider: from transporter to specialist in customs matters. Brexit has forced us to invest heavily in automation." Edwin is proud of the staff. "It's extraordinary how we managed to do this with the same team. Hats off to everyone." Meanwhile, the company has automated its customs processes. "We're ready for the future," he says.
Looking for new sales markets
Along with process automation, Freight Line Europe has discovered new sales markets. It has expanded its operational area to France. "We saw Brexit coming and no longer wanted to depend on Great Britain. Less competition created space for us on the French market."
Freight Line Europe recently joined the EU Trade Program. Edwin hopes this will boost the company's international goals. "The program offers us even more insight into unused export potential. But what we like most about it is the sense of community. We consider sharing knowledge and expertise essential, and the program will, ideally, lead to wonderful collaborations," he concludes.