By rail, by water or road? Many companies are just happy to have their goods moved from A to B in the same old way. But which is better for the environment, warehouse utilization and the bottom line? Sports company Deventrade decided to put this to the test and transported their shipment by inland vessel instead of by road. ‘The amount of work entailed in this was a lot less than I expected’ said logistics manager Erik Jonker.
Deventrade BV is a Deventer-based family company founded in 1985 and now one of the prominent suppliers of sportswear and sports accessories in the Benelux. The assortment includes brands like Hummel, ball brand Derbystar (Official Supplier of the Dutch Premier League) and Stanno (volleyball, goalie gloves) as well as Reece Australia (hockey). The family company annually imports about 100 to 125 containers with these products from China, Pakistan and Turkey, among other countries, which are subsequently distributed to more than 700 specialty sports stores and various sports clubs in the Netherlands, as well as to 4,000 sports stores abroad.
The containers are brought in via the port of Rotterdam and subsequently are moved by truck to the 13,500 m2 warehouse and shipping facility in Deventer. However, transport by inland waterway also has its charms, which persuaded logistics manager Erik Jonker to set up a pilot for transport by inland vessel. Jonker was given advice in this pilot by Bureau Voorlichting Binnenvaart (Inland Navigation Promotion)’s Miranda Volker. She used a provincial project aimed at stimulating transport by water in order to research some details and get going.
The vessel sailed with ten containers to the container terminal in Hengelo, since containers cannot be unloaded in Deventer. The ‘last mile’ (from Hengelo to Deventer) was still negotiated by lorry. And? ‘Road transport between Rotterdam and Deventer is relatively expensive compared to the sea voyage from China to the Netherlands. Transport by inland vessel is cheaper’ according to Jonker. Another advantage is the flexibility of delivery. ‘I can arrange with the terminal that the container delivery is distributed over a longer period at our warehouse, without this entailing all kinds of additional costs.’ Moreover, it should be clear that transport by water results in less traffic on the road and also less CO2 emission. The drawbacks? Transport by inland vessel is a little slower. A container coming from the port of Rotterdam by lorry will already arrive here the next day. Inland vessels do not sail every day. However, this is not a problem to us. We take this into account in the schedule.’
In conclusion, the benefits compensate for the drawbacks. Thus Jonker intends to start transporting more often by inland vessel. ‘Do not let anything stop you from tackling the unknown. Transport by inland vessel was a relatively new world for me, but the amount of work entailed in this was a lot less than I expected. So let’s just do it!’