Developments within the organization
Our employees play a crucial part in the customer service chain throughout the world. With their knowledge, experience and dedication they enable Van Leeuwen to provide added value in various ways throughout the entire process, from tube to final construction.
Our presence in 22 countries, with 41 branches and 36 different nationalities illustrates our international scope. The Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group’s total workforce consists of 1,086 employees. Women comprise 29% of the total workforce, men comprise 71%.
All of our employees contribute to the future of our customers and that of the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group. The connection between our companies and the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience result in an excellent synergy between the individual operating companies. Our organization is proud of the level of experience contributed by colleagues who have been part of the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group for many years.
Because we invest in education and training, our employees continuously develop. We offer them opportunities and challenges, even across country borders. This way our employees acquire broader knowledge and experience. In addition, we consider the fresh outlook and experience of new employees important. With this healthy mix of well-established and new employees, we are able to continue to differentiate ourselves in the market over the coming years. Also in the coming year, we will continue to develop talent through international traineeships, job rotation and (management) development programs.
Apart from the care for its customers, Van Leeuwen also demonstrates its corporate social responsibility by supporting various regional and local sports, cultural and charitable projects, and education. Our Code of Conduct clearly sets out our principles relating to the attitude and behavior of our employees. This information is provided and explained to each employee on joining the company. In 2017, no code of conduct incidents were reported to the independent representative for Van Leeuwen.
More than a year ago, the project for the global implementation of a fully renovated ERP system was initiated under the name LeeuwOne. The basis for this system is the innovative SAP S/4 HANA platform. The objective is to create a single system with a single database and a single way of working. By investing in this global IT system, we are able to operate more efficiently and effectively, facilitating an improved service to the market and a more cost effective operation.
The first implementation of the system was at the beginning of 2017, in our company in the United Kingdom. Our company in France followed at the beginning of 2018. As is often the case, the implementation of a new ERP system is not without its challenges. However, following a transition period, the benefits of the new system are visible and we are working on the further roll-out. LeeuwOne enables us to effectively anticipate the changes in our markets brought about by worldwide digitization.
Our investments and innovation in e-business and customer-oriented solutions ensure that we can serve our customers and suppliers on a growing number of platforms. In the coming phase, the focus of the LeeuwOne project will be on the further development and automation of warehouses and the digitization of our activities.
To be able to continue to grow and to further expand the services that we provide to our customers, we are continuously developing our global network of stock locations, and service and treatment centers. We are further investing in plant and machinery in support of our value added services. The optimization of stock management systems, custom service and logistics concepts helps us to supply our customers faster and with a broader and better product portfolio.
In the previous year we invested in high-quality cutting machines that facilitate highly precise and fast delivery. Customers have an increasing need for this service. By investing in machinery and storage capacity, we maintain our high service levels. This enables us as a specialist to better respond to market demand. Cutting capacity was expanded in various locations, including at Van Leeuwen France and Van Leeuwen Czech Republic. Logistics improvements were implemented in Vyškov, Czech Republic.
The number of contracts we sign for customer-specific stocks and treatments is increasing. Based on customer forecasts we maintain stocks of products and materials in accordance with customer specifications. This enables us to respond to customer demand at short notice. In combination with these customer-specific stocks we deliver custom treatments. Through these value added services, the customer receives the product in such a way that it is directly suitable for processing, enabling the customer to maintain low stock levels.
Over the coming years, we will focus on delivering materials that are even more customer-specific. We will also provide improved access to the related information needed by the customer and make this information more transparent. In an increasingly digital world, customers expect from a business partner the same level of convenience that they experience as consumers. SAP S/4 HANA – with the latest version of SAP’s Extended Warehouse Management system – enables us to further increase efficiency and to operate as a single operating and commercial network. This helps us to serve the customer even better and faster, while data access will become easier.
By investing in existing and new resources, such as robots, we are also working on further increasing the efficiency, speed and reliability of our services. We are constantly optimizing our global network, as local branches and by improved mutual cooperation.
In 2017, we devoted a great deal of attention to the profitability of smaller orders, which are under pressure due to increasing wage and distribution costs. We are continually working on optimizing efficiency, including the efficiency of small orders. In addition, in consultation with the customer, we are looking to establish appropriate compensation for the services provided.
Quality, safety and sustainability
Globally we focus continuously on the improvement of our work processes, in which quality, safe and healthy working conditions, and sustainability are a priority. We set high quality standards for ourselves that are translated into objectives each year. We regularly monitor progress through means of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and internal audits.
At the end of 2015, Van Leeuwen was the first company in continental Europe to be certified by Lloyd’s Register for the new ISO 9001:2015 standard. As a leading and innovative distributor and specialist we are committed to lead the way in compliance with this quality management standard. Our key branches are part of the Group Certificate.
Also in 2017, we focused on improving the working environment of our companies throughout the world. Our health and safety system is based on the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series standard (OHSAS 18001). Van Leeuwen pursues an active safety policy that is producing good results. For the fifth year in a row the number of accidents decreased. For 2018, with an eye on continuous improvement, our objective is more stringent. An internal awareness campaign establishes clear rules that apply to all Van Leeuwen branches and to all employees. These rules are discussed together in toolbox meetings.