2015 was an important year for Parcels.
Lars Pruijn, Senior Advisor Logistics Strategy: “It was. We completed the assignment we were given in 2008, which was to design and realise a future-proof network for Parcels. In 2015, we closed the old network and opened the eighteenth sorting and delivery centre, in Sassenheim. We expect to open several new locations over the coming years.”
That must have been a high point for you personally.
We started out with two men at an empty desk, now look at us
“Yes, especially as I’ve been involved in this project from the beginning. We started with two people and an empty desk in January 2008. Eight years later we have eighteen centres up and running, and Parcels is well prepared to cope with the ever-growing volumes. That is something to be proud of! And the great thing about this is that the project has enabled us to make a structural contribution to PostNL’s sustainability objectives.”
Was that one of the objectives when you started?
“No. The plan for the new network was mainly born out of necessity. The sorting machines were at the end of their service life, the distribution process was starting to falter, and we simply could no longer cope with the growing volumes. That’s why the logistics process needed to be redesigned. When we started designing buildings and sorting machines, sustainability became an important aspect.”
“Well, the new sorting machines use 75 percent less energy than the old ones, for example. The depots have been constructed to make optimum use of daylight, and we lose as little heat as possible during loading and unloading. By combining sorting and distribution in the new depots, fewer locations are required, resulting in less linehaul between locations.”
So it’s good for the environment. And for the people working at the depots?
‘Definitely. In the previous situation, parcel deliverers had already undertaken some fairly heavy physical work by the time they delivered their first parcel of the day. In the new depots, loading parcels into vans is much less strenuous. When I walked around the first depot in 2011, just after it had first opened, it was immediately apparent that the parcel deliverers thought this to be a huge improvement.”
For the parcel deliverers, the new depots were a huge improvement
How future-proof is this network?
“The designs we produced in 2010 are extremely solid and sustainable. We can scale the network and expand the capacity by adding depots. This will enable Parcels to process increasing volumes in the coming years, while continuing to offer the high-quality services our customers expect from us.”
How do you reflect on these last eight years?
“It was a unique project to be a part of. From business plan, to design, to the actual construction: we did everything with the same team. And it was very successful, because we have constructed a future-proof network, while realising the expected savings and staying within budget. The original assignment for eighteen depots is now complete, but the work is not finished yet, although I’m no longer involved in this full-time.”
Will you be building more centres?
“We’ll look into more locations and to connect with other business units and networks, if possible. As far as sustainability is concerned, we can go even further. In 2016 we will site solar panels on the roofs of fifteen depots, which will supply some forty percent of a depot’s energy demands. That really is a fantastic new development.”