Blue Water Shipping

A quantum leap for quality

In 2012 Blue Water Shipping decided to review the operations model for the General Cargo business unit. And not without some anxiety; the operations model served the company well for 40 years, playing an important part in the growth of the company, from a local transport provider to an international shipping company.

"In 2012 we had terminals in multiple locations in Jutland," Claus Gutfeld, Head of Terminals & Distribution, recalls, "but after years of growth in both the number of customers served and the volume of goods handled, we began to see signs suggesting that our existing operations model might not be optimal. We knew that might affect our service quality and competitiveness."

"Among other things we realised that for some customers the fact that we picked up goods from them several times a day was a nuisance, while for others this service level was a key benefit. At the same time, our fleet was racking up the miles faster than ever, leading to a significant increase in costs. Finally, we began to notice a lack of space in several terminals along with all the challenges that entails."

As a result, Blue Water Shipping conducted a fundamental audit of the operations model. Initially, the company commissioned a thorough analysis of the distribution network for the General Cargo business, on which the proposed future operations models could be simulated and scored. The most advantageous of the alternatives however, assumed that the terminals in Århus, Kolding and Esbjerg could be consolidated, requiring both a large-scale investment and organisational changes. "Still, it was evident to all that consolidation made sense and would strengthen the company," Claus Gutfeld continues."

"The key question then became what the design for new distribution terminal would look like, if we were to realise the benefits of putting a new operations model into place without reducing our service quality and with expectations of continued growth."


Distribution in new dimensions
Before anything else, however, Blue Water Shipping had to find someone to advise them, develop solutions concepts and steer the project safely through to completion. "We chose Langebaek on the back of recommendations in our professional network, and at no time have we had cause to regret that choice. Quite the opposite in fact. After we completed the distribution terminal in Taulov, we asked them to help us with additional projects," Claus Gutfeld explains.

"Anders and Frederik didn't just demonstrate a thorough understanding for our commercial and organisational challenges, but also the willingness to listen to and collaborate constructively with all of those employees, who were involved in the project. Their commitment to developing the optimal solution for us was clear for all to see. All of which meant that it was an easy decision to involve Langebaek in our subsequent projects."

In order to answer the critical question, Langebaek had to immerse themselves in data, then go into the field to observe the existing operations model in action. On that basis a series of future scenarios were created, which were examined in detail over the course of several workshops with the project team at Blue Water Shipping. The final result was a concept proposal for the distribution centre, which was implemented in three short years.

Blue Water Shipping is an international shipping company with 1,400 employees and offices in more than 60 locations worldwide. Quality service has been a defining company characteristic since the beginning in 1972, at which time the company focused on customising solutions for Special Cargo customers. Over the years the approach was successfully transferred to other business areas, including General Cargo.

Unexpected benefits
"Langebaek have done an exceptional job," says Claus Gutfeld. "We now have a distribution terminal of 12,000 m2 with more than 100 gates for receiving and shipping, laid out to give us optimal conditions for loading and unloading trucks. This has substantially increased our capacity, allowing us to handle the increasing flow of goods in a much more effective and economically efficient manner. For instance, we now have the capacity to turn around 1,100 trucks a week, which is twice as many as before."

"The new distribution centre has also made us much more flexible, allowing us to extend our opening hours, which means improving not just optimising our customer service. In addition, we are now in a position to offer our employees a much more attractive working environment, as well as expanded facilities for the drivers. All in all, I'm not far off in saying that we have taken a quantum leap with regards to our service quality," Claus Gutfeld concludes.