At Van Leeuwen we work on providing our customers with the best possible service every day. To do this we continuously invest in improving our operational, logistics and IT processes, and in the fit-up of our warehouses. This way we increase our delivery reliability and it also enables us to meet the high demands placed on us by our customers.
To create an efficient supply chain we as seamlessly as possible align our networks with the stocks held by our branches. This way we constantly succeed in delivering the right materials in the right quantities to the customer on time. In 2020, with a near-daily connection between our warehouses in Duisburg (Germany) and Zwijndrecht (the Netherlands), we made the stocks at both logistics hubs even more accessible to all of our customers within Europe, for example.
Optimizing our activities
To further strengthen our position, we continuously focus on improving the productivity and effectiveness of our processes. Standardizing and simplifying our processes are leading principles in this respect. To attain even better results, we sometimes opt to relocate or integrate certain activities. This also increases efficiency and reduces costs, as well as our footprint. For example, in 2020, we relocated the activities of the stock-keeping location in Studénka in the Czech Republic to the other Van Leeuwen Czech Republic warehouses in Vyškov and Pribram. With this change we are taking an initial step in creating a more efficient network in the Czech Republic. In addition, we relocated the Combulex operational activities from Vianen to Zwijndrecht in the Netherlands. To be prepared for the future, we will also further expand our location in Halmstad, Sweden.
New stock-keeping locations
We also renovate our stock-keeping locations or build new ones if this enables us to increase our returns and to do even more for our customers. Without question, the largest investment in the network made by Van Leeuwen in 2020 was the construction of a new office and warehouse on a 44,000 m² site for our company Kindlimann in Switzerland. The new warehouse has two highly automated honeycomb systems for pipes and tubes, hollow sections and bar steel. We installed a highly automated high-bay pallet warehouse for fittings, flanges, and pipe and tube components. We combined this high-bay pallet warehouse with an automated storage and retrieval system for individual item order picking in order to be able to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. In addition, a separate room for the robotized production of components for the international automotive industry was built. Over the coming years we will continue to invest in our international logistics network in order to even further improve our safety, reliability, service and efficiency.
Machines and installations
With our investments in machines and installations we are constantly expanding our value added services. To be able to continue to effectively respond to changing market demand, we have complete insight into which treatments we can perform at what location. Where necessary we will replace machines, relocate them to another location or purchase new types of machines. This way we ensure that the performance of our treatment facilities always is state of the art. In Europe alone we have over 360 machines, including over 230 saws, that enable us to provide virtually any custom treatments. Our investment policy is driven by market demand, business continuity, efficiency and state-of-the-art technological developments.
Van Leeuwen's quality policy has been based on ISO standards for decades. The ISO 9001 standards are embedded in the procedures, processes and culture of our organization. For example, 68 locations are in possession of the ISO 9001 certificate. We guarantee the quality level of the materials we purchase by working with a select number of suppliers. A thorough validation of the processes and quality takes place before these suppliers are included on our Approved Manufacturers List (AML). In the automotive industry, specific standards are used that we also apply within our branches that supply this customer group. These sites are IATF certified.
Quality, environment and safety
The welfare of employees and the sustainable development of the living and working environment are a high priority for us. Safety is a priority in our processes and our safety culture is based on our global standards and procedures that are linked to the “Van Leeuwen Life Saving Rules”. The rules and procedures are directly related to ISO 45001. Having certified quality, environment and safety management systems is a condition in our supplier selection process. In 2020, we took further action in this area, for example by appointing two employees dedicated to making our business processes more sustainable, including adherence to the ISO 140001 in additional branches.
Further EDI developments
At Van Leeuwen we make use of a platform that enables us to communicate with all parties in the supply chain through means of EDI. This enables us to receive customer orders, send out confirmations, supply delivery information in real time, as well as make certificates and invoices available. We also communicate with suppliers and carriers through EDI. That provides us with rapid insight into product availability and delivery lead times. We took major steps in this area in 2020 and in 2021 we will take additional steps to further develop this platform. Our customers’ wishes and requirements are leading in this respect.
To create an efficient and smoothly running transport network we often work together with permanent carriers that always supply reliable services. By constantly analyzing the logistics flows, we constantly aim for affordable solutions with excellent delivery frequencies and the right speed. By segmenting flows and applying different logistics concepts, we are able to supply custom services.
Van Leeuwen has experienced international project teams that have all the necessary knowledge and experience to be able to optimally support customers throughout the entire delivery process. Ranging from the information and proposals phase through to the packaging and shipping of the pipes and pipe and tube applications. Our own project teams, as well as the customer’s project teams, can monitor a project’s progress in real-time using our in-house projects database. This way customers know exactly which materials are underway and to what location. This tool can be used internationally.