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Along with the companies Van Lier, Coccinelle and Deli- Coupe, Thiry is part of the umbrella company PrimaMundo. From three distribution centers (Bruges, Ghent and Liège) Thiry supplies supermarkets, greengrocers, specialty shops and market stalls throughout Belgium. No easy task, explains manager Johan Huys: “Our sector is not like others. In 90% of sectors, a company only starts production after the sale is made. In fruit and vegetables, the biggest determinant for the business is still supply and demand. Here, nature is in charge. Although we are seeing changes, a considerable part of sales volumes is already negotiated before production has started. But, for the most part, it’s precisely the opposite. We’ve produced something that we then need to be able to sell. There are so many external and uncontrollable factors that affect sales in fruit and vegetables. And you have to act as quickly as possible, because compared to, say, a car or a kitchen, our products have a very limited shelf life.”
Wiped clean in a single swap
“In order to work in a more paperless way and to cut the time between purchase and sale, we had to automate our processes.” Take customer contacts, for example. Instead of using the phone or paper, Thiry now communicates with customers via mobile devices. This lets them place orders online, consult order slips at any time and track their sales statistics in real time. All these processes can be managed and monitored centrally via Mobile Device Management in the cloud. “With the Proximus solution, we can manage the SIM cards for our mobile devices centrally and highly efficiently. We can maintain our fleet in real time, update the devices, etc. If we lose a customer or gain a new one? Well, internally, we can instantly deactivate or activate the SIM cards. The devices are also traceable. For example, if one of our customers has his tablet stolen, we can perform a swap, so that we can both wipe clean and locate the tablet in one go,” points out Huys. “In terms of network security, Mobile Device Management gives us real peace of mind.”
Time-saving for both sides
“Our customers benefit from our tailor-made application for iPad and Android tablets. With this application, they can consult our prices which change daily, in real time, as well as our stocks and available space in our trucks. And for us as well, this new way of communication has added value, because it has significantly reduced the number of calls from our customers. It’s perfectly possible to respond in real time to what’s available on the market, without disturbing our customers. Thanks to these mobile innovations we have so far been able to save at least 8-9% on our costs and, at the same time, our customers are receiving better service.”
The communication with the truck drivers has also been optimized. Thiry decided to equip the 33 trucks with a trackand- trace system and direct communication between the truck, garage and the distribution center. “We can brief our drivers on their mobile devices, so that they instantly know how much they should pick up and where to take it. They can start their work-day better prepared. We also know exactly how fast our trucks have been driven, as well as how often and how heavily they have used the brakes. The result has been a spectacular reduction in fuel consumption. But it goes a lot further than that. A truck can now report a malfunction in real time to our distribution center and the garage at once, so that the repair is ready and waiting as soon as they drive into the center, so to speak,” concludes Huys.
The Thiry group is part of the PrimaMundo company and has three distribution businesses for fruit and vegetables: Thiry Liège, Thiry Ghent and Thiry (Bouvry) Bruges. With a turnover of 60 million euros, the company employs a workforce of over 100 people.
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