Surprisingly fast transition to outsourcing for DSM Food Specialties

The transition to outsourced transport management can be complex and challenging at the best of times, but even more so when communication is only possible online – such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke to DSM Food Specialties (DFS) – a leading provider of specialty enzymes, probiotics, cultures, sugar reduction and savoury taste solutions to the food and beverage industry. In August 2020, DFS began to implement the IDS Transport Management System, starting first with its distribution activities from the Poortvliet site and later from Leeuwarden too. But how can different operations, each with their own systems and processes, be integrated smoothly? And how quickly can you expect to see results? We talked to Astrid Chevalier, Senior Project Manager Supply Chain at DFS, about the outsourcing transition supported by control tower IDS.

Stronger together

With hundreds of different products and approximately 3,000 customers in 70 countries, DSM Food Specialties has to deal with countless carriers and transport contracts. Astrid Chevalier comments: “Our product portfolio is very diverse, ranging from tiny boxes of freeze-dried bacterial cultures for the cheese industry to bulk trucks carrying thousands of litres of coatings. This huge diversity means that exceptions are common in our transport activities. We were concerned that implementing a control tower could make that complex.

However, we believe that working together with the right partner actually makes you stronger as a company. IDS adds value for us with their combination of supply chain specialists and their use of specific applications to handle various tasks. Outsourcing our transport to IDS helps us to optimize the service we offer and allows our own employees to focus on doing what they’re specialized in.”

“I thought to myself: Within six weeks? I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Surprisingly fast integration 

Astrid continues: “Outsourcing the transport for our external warehouse in 2020 was completed much faster than expected. That was our first project with IDS and it made a very good impression within DFS. Based on our previous experiences of setting up an EDI with a different logistics service provider we assumed that this integration could take some time. However, IDS made the process very transparent and our IT department said that it could be done in two 3-week sprints. I thought to myself: ‘Within six weeks? I’ll believe it when I see it!’. But it turned out to be true.

As a result, we achieved a very short – in fact, almost immediate – return on investment in terms of time savings, service and customer benefits. And the whole thing got done very quickly, efficiently and right first time. That gave us confidence about the integration in Leeuwarden shortly afterwards.”

Arno Spoek, Business Development Manager at IDS, agrees: “At IDS, we were pleased with how the first integration had gone. The collaboration ran smoothly and there was lots of synergy.”

Integration in the coronavirus era

The business integration in Leeuwarden was more of a challenge, not least because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after the first project started. Astrid: “It was already ambitious to involve our new team in an outsourcing transition at all, but the coronavirus crisis intensified that. Online-only communication is easier said than done, especially when you’re still getting to know each other, the products, the manufacturing processes and the customer agreements. IDS provided stability throughout that situation. We knew everything would be fine once the orders reached IDS.”

“According to our forecasts, shipments from the Netherlands to eastern Germany took four days, but they can actually be done in just two days. That alone was already a huge gain.”

Shorter delivery times, more flexibility and better service at lower costs

“Customers want ever-better service, preferably at the lowest possible cost,” explains Astrid. “To achieve that, it’s important to have visibility of those costs and IDS gives us the necessary transparency. Today, we have a much clearer idea of precisely what our transport activities cost and where we can optimize things. Lead times are very important to our customers – and even more so in the case of frozen products due to the risk of spoilage if they start to thaw.

According to our forecasts, shipments from the Netherlands to eastern Germany took four days, but they can actually be done in just two days. That alone was already a huge gain. We were then able to agree better delivery windows with customers. IDS also provides flexible service in the case of urgent orders. Our customers are very happy about that. We now offer shorter delivery times, more flexibility and better service at lower costs.”

A single point of contact

When asked whether leaving everything to just one company isn’t too risky, Astrid replies: “We actually see advantages in working with a single partner. In the past we worked with different carriers depending on the destination. It makes a big difference now that we don’t have to contact them all individually. And we see opportunities to further expand our partnership with IDS in the future. IDS gives us insight into our flows and performance, and we can use that to optimize our distribution. Our logistics specialists can now focus much more strongly on making further improvements in our supply chain. That will lead to even more satisfied customers.”

Are you keen to find out more about how our services could support your logistics processes? Please contact Arno Spoek at IDS: arno.spoek@idsnl.com or +31 (0) 88 437 4370.

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