‘I can’t pull people out of a high hat’

    Distribution has not been smooth at the Royal FloraHolland (RFH) export sites for six months now. August and September also saw two occasional outages that caused problems. When will distribution at RFH run smoothly again? CEO Steven van Schilfgaarde: “We are working our behinds off, but I can’t pull people out of a high hat.”

    “If you bring me 190 people for our three export locations tomorrow, the problem will be solved on the same day.” Steven van Schilfgaarde is adamant this Wednesday morning when asked about the reason for the delivery problems that have been ongoing since April this year: there is a shortage of staff, and, on top of that, supply is higher than expected.

    How has the switch from distribution to order picking impacted clock-trade delivery times? A number of growers tell us that they are no longer sending their products to Naaldwijk for delivery. They are only shipping to Aalsmeer as the delivery times are said to be acceptable and order picking is minimal there. However, according to Van Schilfgaarde, order picking is not the cause of the late clock-trade deliveries.

    Steven van Shilfgaarde, CEO Royal FloraHolland, photo Royal FloraHolland

    So, what role does order picking play in the poor delivery times?

    “All three export locations, including Aalsmeer, suffer from a lack of staff. Naaldwijk has been entering quantities for some time, but Aalsmeer was still auctioning by voice, which was slower. In November last year, Aalsmeer also switched to entering quantities. As a result, Aalsmeer is now auctioning faster, but it also suffers from late deliveries. The main problem is not order picking; it does not lead to many more errors than distribution. While order picking is not yet at the same quality level as distribution, its efficiency is not the problem; the quality is. The errors made in order picking are related to a lack of routine. High intake of new staff increases the number of errors. It really takes some mileage for employees to do it flawlessly.” (..)

    Click here to read the interview in Floribusiness magazine.

    Click here for a free subscription to Floribusiness magazine.

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