H.Essers and Proximus: together for a sustainable supply chain
Published on 03/11/2021 in Customer Stories
In 2011, H.Essers and Proximus built the first BREEAM-certified logistics building in Belgium. Collin Springuel, Business Unit Manager at H.Essers, explains how both partners continue to pioneer sustainable storage and logistics.
Collin Springuel explains, “For our sustainability strategy, we at H.Essers use five lines of force as a compass. These go beyond just the ecological footprint, and include, for example, the mental and physical well-being of our employees. We translate these five lines of force into concrete ambitions, which we measure against specific KPIs. Our sustainability report charts the objectives and achievements.”
“For example, we have already invested a great deal in our own renewable energy, and we are strongly committed to synchromodality: the ability to use different modes of transport such as rail, inland waterways, and air. When choosing the appropriate mode of transport, we map out the impact on CO2 emissions. We make intensive use of rail transport, for example, via the New Silk Road to China.”
When choosing the appropriate mode of transport, we map out the impact on CO2 emissions.
Collin Springuel, Business Unit Manager at H.Essers
H.Essers found the ideal partner in Proximus to shape a shared sustainability mission. Collin explains, “There are various flows within the Proximus supply chain: technicians in urgent need of parts, serving retail outlets or delivering to customers’ homes. Moreover, there are major supply peaks, for example, on Black Friday. Together, we will look for ways to further optimize that complex supply chain, from storage to logistics.”
“To this end, we have coordinated our software, such as the warehouse systems, with each other. We are embracing new technologies, including automatic processing machines tailored to the specifics of Proximus’s goods flows. But we have also found common ground in the area of office and warehouse equipment.”
Sustainability as a process
Proximus and H.Essers decided to build a distribution center in Courcelles a decade ago. In doing so, they immediately focused on obtaining the BREEAM sustainability certificate. Collin continued, “This translates into solar panels, heat pumps, heat recovery, and intensive energy monitoring. We also offer employment opportunities to people who cannot find jobs in the ‘regular’ labor circuit.”
“We regularly organize strategic meetings, during which we zoom in on making our processes more sustainable. This interaction ensures, for example, that the large-scale exchange of modems and decoders takes place in a sustainable manner. In addition, we place the circular economy high on the agenda. Our common ambition is to make the distribution center the benchmark for circularity in Belgium.”
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Crucial role in vaccine transport
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer relies on H.Essers as a logistics service provider for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. This task comes with a high degree of complexity. “The temperature sensitivity is, of course, an important factor,” explained Collin Springuel. “We closely monitor the temperature from our control tower using sensors in our trailers and trucks. The slightest deviation can trigger a reaction. For safety reasons, it is only possible to open the trailer remotely. We also provide an escort – together with the security forces – to accompany the trucks.”
The fact that H.Essers has many years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including as a partner for Pfizer, clearly plays in its favor. “The organization is also crucial, in addition to the technical aspect,” continued Collin Springuel. “Many parties are involved in the planning. In addition, delivery schedules change, which means we have to switch quickly. The vaccination project is also special for us: not only do we deliver a package or a vaccine, but we also bring some hope to people. This awareness gives our people fresh impetus.”
Collin Springuel is the Business Unit Manager at H.Essers. He has extensive experience in the logistics world and has been helping to optimize the supply chains of H.Essers’s clients for over three years.