Home News Article ‘Building the supply chain of the future together’

‘Building the supply chain of the future together’

The transformation of the logistics sector is in full swing. Soaring energy prices and a growing interest in sustainability are driving innovation. H.Essers strongly believes in a modal shift from road to rail, including in less obvious industries. Our company joined forces with pharmaceutical giant Zoetis to develop intermodal logistics solutions between a manufacturing site in Italy and the central DC in the Netherlands.

The partnership between Zoetis and H.Essers dates back to 2006. ‘We’ve noticed a significant disruption in the transportation market recently, particularly in the UK, Spain and Italy,’ says Jef Molenaers, Senior Sales Manager H.Essers. ‘This challenge, combined with a shared vision on sustainability and interest in developing sustainable transport solutions, inspired us to design an intermodal solution between Italy and the Benelux. Rail transport only requires a driver for the first and final leg, which means the driver doesn’t have to leave home for days on end. In addition, this specific trajectory is fully electrified, which means no fossil fuel is required to power the train resulting in a reduction of Zoetis’ carbon footprint of 70%. Clear benefits for both driver welfare and sustainability.’

Understandably, implementing a solution like this for a pharmaceutical company – where safety and quality are paramount – is no easy task. Jef: ‘Quality is imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, which makes companies sceptical and sometimes resistant to change.  After extensive testing, Zoetis is confident in the robustness of our intermodal solution and has decided to move forward.’

In concrete terms, the logistics process runs from the Zoetis production site to the terminal in the Milan area, where the H.Essers pharma trailer departs by rail for the terminal in Venlo. From there, the final destination is less than 50 kilometres away. Given that over 25% of the H.Essers Pharma fleet is equipped for intermodal transport and can be monitored 24/7 by our control tower, this solution is ideal for our existing fleet.

Jef: ‘The main complicating factor is flexibility, which is somewhat limited with rail transport. You can’t just halt a train when a technical problem with the cooling unit arises – something that tends to deter a lot of companies. We therefore went in search of a more reliable route that meets the requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. We now ship three times a week to guarantee interesting lead times and to keep transit times to a minimum.’

Gergely Szorcsik (Gobal Distribution Director): ‘Zoetis is happy to cooperate with H.Essers to extend our partnership and switch more road lanes to rail in the coming years. We are looking for a more environmentally friendly, cost-effective solution that can boost our capacity, which is exactly what the intermodal solution provides.’

Will the solution be rolled out further in the future? ‘Absolutely,’ says Jef. ‘Thanks to our innovative infrastructure, continuous monitoring and specific routes, we can meet the flexibility, safety and reliability needs of the pharmaceutical industry. This approach paves the way for the further expansion of our intermodal solutions for customers in the pharmaceutical and other sectors. There will always be a role for road transport, across both short and long distances, but the way it is implemented will change. It’s a privilege to be building the supply chain of the future together with Zoetis.’

Are you interested in intermodal solutions for your pharmaceutical supply chain? Don’t hesitate to contact Jef Molenaers (jef.molenaers@essers.com).

Get the latest H.Essers updates

Subscribe now