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 constantly align the networks and stocks of our branches with each other as seamlessly as possible. This way we succeed again and again in delivering the right materials in the right quantities to the customer on time. In 2021, high delivery reliability was once again essential and our employees always maintained a clear focus in this respect.
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. One of our largest investments in 2021 is the expansion of Heléns Rör AB, Van Leeuwen’s company in Sweden. Under the header OneHalmstad, Heléns is consolidating its warehouse, production and head office at a single location in Olofsdalsvägen in Halmstad. In the future the company’s total surface area will be 60,000 m2. Construction work started in November 2020 and we expect to be able to fully occupy the new company premises in January 2023. Over the coming years the consolidation will provide an opportunity for making considerable investments in more efficient machines and in a high-flow production line for precision materials. Bringing our colleagues and their knowledge and expertise together under a single roof enables us to work even more effectively on smart solutions for our customers.
New stock-keeping locations
We renovate our stock-keeping locations or build new ones if this enables us to increase our returns and do even more for our customers. For example, in 2021 we developed a design for renovating our warehouse in Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands using the latest state-of-the-art logistics solutions. We will sign contracts with the selected contractors in the first half of 2022 so that we can expeditiously start working on renovating the warehouse. 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.
Plant and machinery
With our investments in plant and machinery we are constantly expanding our value added services. To be able to continue to effectively respond to changing market demand, we maintain a comprehensive overview of the treatments we can perform at each location, and where it is necessary to replace machines, relocate them to another location or to purchase new types of machines. In 2021, with a view to market demand trends, continuity, efficiency and capacity, Van Leeuwen decided to purchase various new saws and treatment machines for locations in various countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark. This machinery will be installed in the first half of 2022. This way we ensure that the performance of our processing facilities is always up to par.
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 the latest technological developments.
Van Leeuwen’s quality policy has been ISO standards-based for many decades. The ISO 9001 standards are embedded in the procedures, processes and culture of our organization. For example, 68 locations possess an ISO 9001 certificate. We guarantee the level of quality of the materials we purchase by working together with a select number of suppliers. Before we admit these suppliers to our Approved Manufacturers List (AML), we thoroughly validate their processes and quality.
Specific standards are applied within the Automotive industry which we also apply within our branches that supply materials to this customer group. These branches are consequently IATF certified. In 2021, we took a first step towards integrating the quality system used by the Van Leeuwen branches with the quality system used by the branches of the former Benteler Distribution company that we acquired in 2019. Both quality systems will be merged into a single ISO 9001 standards compliant system in the first quarter of 2022.
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. In 2021, we initiated a new safety campaign and the number of accidents resulting in absence from work decreased by 17%. While this is a positive development, we continue to aim for a further decrease.
Having certified quality, environment and safety management systems is a condition in our supplier selection process. In 2021, we appointed a Sustainability Manager. This new colleague provides the stimulus needed to make our business processes more sustainable and ensures that we continue to make progress in this area. For example, we aim to load our transport vehicles as efficiently as possible in order to reduce the kilometers driven and therefore CO2 emissions as well. In addition, in 2021 we initiated a trial with LNG-fueled trucks.
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 times. In 2021, we connected additional customers to EDI and new EDI connections were also established with suppliers.
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 those of the customer, 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.