Study visits between companies with customs warehouses

"From a customs perspective, there is much to gain from having started to build this relationship. Both our customs department and theirs are keen to share experiences on all future projects, audits and such. We can invent the wheel together instead of reinventing it, give each other tips and tricks and have someone to talk to."

In our position at PipeChain SCM Tyringe as supplier, we learn about our customers' needs and challenges on a daily basis. With the insights we gain, we often see similarities between our customers. Everything from organizational, industry and operational similarities to systemic ones. Despite great similarities, we see that the companies have different operational challenges that they face and that they have chosen different solutions for how they work and how the system support is used.

As the tech company we are, with expertise in integrations that make all kinds of systems talk to each other, we want to take advantage of insights and experiences from our customers by creating forums with opportunities to exchange experiences and ideas when the opportunity arises. Our goal is to create added value beyond the purely service-related system delivery. In other words, not only to be a supplier but also to function and be seen as an important partner.

We have had the opportunity to bring together two of our most active and largest customers who have customs warehouses where the similarities, in addition to the use of TIS Logistics, are that they both operate in the retail industry with store networks in the Nordic region and use the same WMS system for their inventory management. The goal was to open up for cross-functional exchange between the companies where the exchange of experience, tips and advice results in learning from each other for different operational choices. In other words, provide the opportunity to get to know each other to build future networks where an arena is created to discuss operational challenges and opportunities.

"Before the visit, it was exciting to see someone else's warehouse and their way of working. Once on site, you got a good insight into their business and how they work. It was very interesting to see how they grew and became as big as they are. They have the same work steps as us, work very similarly but also very differently from us."

During the spring, the study visits were carried out where delegations of about 10 visitors participated. In addition to participants from the customs department, staff from the IT and distribution departments (both inbound and outbound) also participated. The arrangement for the visits was to start with a joint company presentation and a tour of the warehouse to review the work processes. The delegation was then divided into different groups based on function and interest for further discussion and exchange of experience at a more specific and detailed level.

Some of the reactions and comments received from the study visits regarding expectations and outcomes of the visits, useful insights and experiences gained, and the potential outcomes of the new contacts made:

"I had great expectations for the visits and most of them were met. My biggest expectation was that we would gain insight into their business in its entirety and personally I think we got this and have discussed many details during the day."

"Given that we are building another warehouse, I was very curious to get an insight into how they manage ALL their warehouses, both physically and in systems. (. ...) Our structure is built in completely different ways but we could still have good dialogues about the root cause. I was also looking forward to building a network of contacts where we can benefit from each other."

In the picture: Question and answer session during the tour on the automation solution used.

"Our work processes as a whole are different, but despite this, there are things we can and should gain experience of and see if something can become a possibility for us. One of the examples is cooperation between the safety representative and the employer when receiving goods and deciding whether the pallets should be plastic-coated or not."

"Most of the thoughts I got were how their warehouse operations work, e.g. they don't use much plastic."

"It was instructive to gain insight into how they work with sustainability, for example, and how they take social responsibility. It was insightful to see how the social responsibility they had taken had yielded an unexpected profit."

"We found it interesting to see how the other company worked on safety."

"Their planning and booking of both incoming and outgoing transports and the systems they plan to implement are also of interest, this is something that is being talked about a lot with us, that we will plan the trucks ourselves in the future."

"We found it exciting to see how the automation worked."

"We see it as an opportunity to work together when faced with new requirements from Swedish Customs, where we can jointly discuss challenges we have."

"As we use the same system suppliers for customs and WMS today, we can gain insight into things that Consafe Logistics and Tyringe have already developed and thus minimize development costs."

"Any changes we are thinking of making internally that we saw during the study visit, we can certainly get more information and knowledge about through the contacts I made during the visits."

"Someone new to share experiences with and maybe help each other solve problems."

"I want to say a big THANK YOU to Tyringe who initiated the contact and to our counterpart in this exchange who gave us a really good day, as well as to the staff involved with us who helped make their study visit here with us a very good one!"

"A big thank you to Nils who managed to listen to our nagging and questions about the visit and for all the coordination and work on study visits."

My own summary of these study visits is, in short, very good and rewarding for all three companies involved. Largely similar challenges but the companies have solved their processes in different ways and we at PipeChain SCM Tyringe are an active part of the change process.

A big thank you to everyone involved for contributing to a successful implementation with your commitment and generous sharing of your knowledge and experience!

Nils Persson, Business Developer

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