Smart logistics at housing corporation Servatius
"Servatius mechanics drive less often and shorter distances"
Working together with Maastricht Bereikbaar, the housing corporation Servatius was looking for measures that would increase logistics efficiency – and the results speak for themselves. By reducing the number of suppliers and outsourcing some maintenance work, the company's mechanics spend much less time on the road and have cut the number of journeys made (equivalent to taking ten vehicles off the road during rush hour every day). They also drive less often in rush hour and in smaller vans.
Servatius had long planned to make changes that would improve efficiency, which it believed would also increase its customer-friendliness while preventing costs from rising. ‘Our discussions with Maastricht Bereikbaar helped us to map out our plans,’ says Serv Slijpen, policy adviser at Servatius. ‘Having made our daily processes more transparent, we saw how much time was wasted on “quick trips” to the hardware store to find materials for repairs and maintenance. Mechanics sometimes did this two or three times in one day, at the beginning or end of the working day, in the middle of the rush hour.’
Servatius worked with seven different contractors in 2016, but a new tender reduced that number to two: Maasveste Berben Bouw and Houben Vastgoedservice. These two have been taking care of the big jobs since then, with Servatius's mechanics doing the smaller jobs, usually repairs. The materials also come from only two suppliers: Brentjens and Van Enckevoort. ‘We’ve made huge savings in drivers’ hours. But as with any change, there was some resistance in the beginning. For example, the mechanics had a good relationship with the various suppliers. They would regularly chat with them over a cup of coffee. I imagine it's a shame to say goodbye to that. Instead of two or three times a day, the mechanics only have to pick things up two or three times a week and at a more convenient time, outside the rush hour.’
Servatius also set a minimum stock level for each van. Stock levels are now monitored by scanning the used products with a smartphone, so that the supplier receives an automatic notification if stock is low. If that's the case, he or she will replenish the stock box. ‘Thanks in part to Maastricht Bereikbaar, we now know how to work smarter and more efficiently. But we can save even more time, such as by allowing office staff to work from home sometimes. Another great challenge for the future is to make working hours more flexible. For instance, why not carry out repairs in the evening or at the weekend? In any case, we’re very satisfied with the effect of the measures taken.’