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Management column: flexibility the key to success for Peak 2024

February 6, 2024

NH20230315 Trade Fair Rijswijk 115 LR

In this series of columns, the Royal FloraHolland Management Board and managers have their say. In this column, logistics manager Rijnsburg Erik van den Hoek looks ahead to the peak period.

A characteristic feature of the peak period is that it is, by definition, an annually recurring phenomenon. However, every year we prepare thoroughly and learn lessons from the previous year's peak period. This year, we have once again worked on an action plan, which includes the introduction of a peak time slot with a discount at the hubs where we pick orders.

One of the lessons from last year is that the use of early auction days should not become an automatic procedure. That is why we have now scheduled only two of them, the Monday before Mother's Day (6 May) and Tuesday after Pentecost (21 May), with four more days to be kept in reserve. This is an example of the essence of our approach, incorporating flexibility. The same applies to auctioning higher volumes per transaction and limiting the percentage of Auction Presales. For both, we assume they are not needed and will only use them if it’s really necessary. We have listened carefully to the experiences of growers and buyers. The accelerated start of flowers combined with a final sprint for plants worked out well last year. Therefore, we decided to use this approach during the peak period once again in a very targeted way.

The availability of logistic supplies is also a prerequisite for a successful peak period. We will make sure they are sufficiently available, including by purchasing additional packaging units and auction trolleys, and renting additional CCs. Together with Floriway, we will ensure optimal distribution of resources across our hubs and we will redistribute if necessary. Of course, we will also use tried-and-tested methods. Recruitment of logistics staff will continue, among other ways through targeted intensification of our labour market campaign and local initiatives. And on the busiest days, we will ask office staff to do their bit and help out in the logistics process as peak helpers.

For the first time, it will be possible, during the peak period in Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg, to opt for delivery ‘when it suits the buyer’, instead of delivery 'as soon as possible’. And if buyers themselves indicate which transactions they would prefer to have later? Then we will be able to achieve better times for the early time slots. This is a win-win and a great example in practice of 'peaking is a joint effort'.

It is possible in Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg because we work with time slots there (before 11:00 and before 12:00) in addition to Select Delivery time slots for regular delivery. We even offer a peak time slot during the peak period on the busiest days, which buyers can take advantage of at a discount. Select Delivery 06:00 - 08:00 for Auction Presales purchases, or Select Delivery Priority can also help. So, there is plenty of choice. In spite of all these options, we also expect to finish later than 12:00 on some days in Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg. We are transparent about that and offer buyers a number of options in this case as well. For most buyers, being finished a little later is not expected to be an issue. And if really necessary, we can still prioritise certain transactions in the process by agreement. This was unthinkable within the old process and shows that we are really gaining flexibility with order picking.

All in all, we are confident of a smooth peak period both for auction flows and the direct flows we deliver with Connect logistics. We have our finger on the pulse for both auction and direct. We check forecasts for Connect, for example, by asking growers what they expect to deliver. Thanks to the flexibility we have built into our approach, we can switch up to a week in advance. The peak period is always a challenging, but also a wonderful, period. We are ready to work with growers and buyers to make this a success. Because peaking is a joint effort.

You have already been informed through our newsletter and the website (forecast for end and start times) or the RFH app.

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