Broekman Logistics banks on people and relationships
Logistics market has not been like this in 40-50 years, Martijn Tasma, the recently appointed director of international freight forwarding at Broekman Logistics said. The full service logistics organisation specialising in ocean, road, rail, air and multimodal transport, Broekman Logistics, has experienced the full effect of the ongoing Covid issues as well as the war in Ukraine.
“The impact of Covid, as well as the impact of what is currently going on in Ukraine, has an incredible effect on the capacity in the logistics market. You can talk about trucking capacity, ocean liners, containers, and now the latest you can talk about is the lockdown in Shanghai, Ningbo, where we see that containers are getting stuck on vessels, with hundreds of vessels outside the port of Shanghai, and that makes it very difficult to plan, to get things organised,” Tasma told Project Cargo Journal.
The company has experienced this disruption in Shanghai first hand when it recently shipped project cargo out of the region towards Africa. “It is very important to have a plan B, or C, just in case,” adds Gijs Vlasman, manager business development at Broekman Logistics. Not only did the company have to think on the spot, but it had to reign in its network of offices in India and China, to make sure the cargo gets to its destination on time.
“What is important then is I think that you have a very strong relationship with your partners, on one side with our offices around the world and on the other side with our partners like the carriers, and other agents that we work with. Relationships and working with people is now most important. You need to know the people, you need to understand what needs to be done, and that is even more important nowadays than it has ever been before,” Tasma stressed.
This is due to the fact that planning has changed within the logistics sector recently. While previously, plans have been made over a couple of years’ period, the geopolitical struggles currently and the restrictions in China, put additional pressure and require flexibility and ability to act quickly. However, Tasma stresses that Broekman Logistics has made sure that it has the right group of people to call upon, enabling it to solve challenges on the go.
“You need to be flexible, because in the past you could plan, and you could plan long time ahead, but on the last day the carrier can decide to roll you and move you on to the next vessel, you need to go to plan B, you need to be flexible, you need to step in to solve these challenges on the spot. Then it is all about the right people,” Tasma says.
Adding to that, Vlasman noted that it is always good to plan in advance and explore different options as “only a few centimetres can make a difference”.
Broekman Logistics keeping pace with energy transition
European countries have certainly picked up pace with the energy transition agenda, but it is not all about the project cargo enabling the energy transition and the projects, but also about how companies within the supply chain use the available energy.
“From the company standpoint, we are adding solar power to our warehouses, we are adding battery packs storage to our warehouses to take the peak loads if needed and not to drain the system unnecessarily,” says Vlasman. He pointed out developments at the Port of Rotterdam, and as one of the port companies it is increasing its efforts towards becoming more green. The company has recently been awarded with the 2022 EcoVadis Silver Medal for sustainability.
“This is a really good step for the company,” adds Vlasman, and the company has a two-year plan to get the gold medal with this certification.
Tasma adds that while the pace has picked up, the company is still on hand to advise and work with its partners to expedite their agenda. Being involved in freight forwarding, Broekman Logistics can see the steps made by every mode of transport within the supply chain. Tasma stressed that there are improvements across the board with the pace also picking up in road transport and rail. “We see shipments coming from China for example, of course the Northern Route is a bit of a challenge now, with Russia, but there are also more options there from China to Europe, and we see that more and more customers are interested to move in that direction,” he says.
Digitalisation with a personal touch
Project logistics is a tough market to digitise as almost no project is the same. Broekman Logistics is, however, investing in digitalisation to take advantage of streamlined processes.
“We do have a lot of assets as well with terminals and warehouses, and we have a lot of customers with slow moving goods, or fast paced goods, and here we do need and are investing in digitalisation, to indeed minimise the human input and decrease the potential for error, because if you are booking out different cargoes it can have effects on many things in the whole chain so this is still very important topic for us,” says Vlasman.
But the company also takes pride in providing a personal touch and making sure it has the right people on the job. “I think in the end it is always about that. You need to ensure that you have the right vision of where you want to go. You need to ensure that you have the right people on the bus, and you have to make sure that with the people you have you deliver that personal touch,” stresses Tasma.
He added that Broekman Logistics is partnering with CargoWise to automate the background processes needed to arrange a shipment. This allows the company to give more attention to its clients throughout the whole project, working closely with the clients to make sure any changes that have to be made on the spot are addressed and done.
View the full interview Project Cargo Journal team recorded with Tasma and Vlasman during the Breakbulk Europe event in Rotterman.