News Article Home International Project Management Day: ‘From theory to practice, it’s satisfying to see everything come together through teamwork’

International Project Management Day: ‘From theory to practice, it’s satisfying to see everything come together through teamwork’

Today, 3 November, is International Project Management Day. Tight lead times, complex needs and demanding quality requirements call for meticulous project management to achieve the desired results. Project engineer Katrien Machiels is an expert and is eager to discuss her project for our pharmaceutical client Novartis. ‘I am always looking for new ways to support our client and optimise their supply chain with the help of all team members.’

Katrien Machiels joined H.Essers as a project engineer in September 2021. ‘Senior project engineer Fons S’Jegers had drawn up the plans for the Novartis project and started preparing the various work flows, such as IT and contracting. Given the scope of the project and the challenges, I joined the team for extra support.’

Every project starts with a challenge. What was the challenge for Novartis?

‘As a pharmaceutical company, Novartis was looking for a reliable partner to expand its 4PL – or fourth party logistics – network. A 4PL operator manages and optimises the client’s supply chain. This client’s challenge was two-fold: During the first phase, they wanted us to take over a large part of their road transport and find a suitable transport solution through H.Essers or a different carrier. This was for final destinations throughout Europe, in CIS countries like Uzbekistan, but also for countries like Iran and Turkey. The road transport orders were from seventeen different Novartis sites.’

‘In the second phase, Novartis was looking for a solution for sea transport. The company wanted a partner that could consolidate shipments around the world. We managed to do just that in our Genk pharma cross dock, where we optimise container packaging and organise and monitor shipments around the world in collaboration with different carriers.’

What were the biggest challenges you faced when setting up this project?

‘I think Fons developed a strong blueprint, which helped us put theory into practice. As with any project, we encountered some challenges as well. For example, the IT interface we had to set up to receive and process orders directly from H.Essers. We also had to find a way to send shipment updates to their systems and set up a single-process workflow, despite each site having its own separate operations. A major change like that takes time and can only work with the support of all stakeholders. We’re still working closely to create the ideal process, but we’ve come a long way so far. That’s the value of our role as LLP: as a partner, we proactively search for ways to optimise the flow while adapting to our client’s needs and evolving along with them.’

‘Different challenges call for different types of expertise. That’s why we set up workshops with the various stakeholders and departments to analyse the needs and come up with solutions step by step, I loved sitting down with all those partners and playing a coordinating role and watch as the puzzle pieces fall into thanks to good teamwork.’

H.Essers recently opened a new cross dock. Will this affect the project?

‘The new cross dock couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re further expanding our sea transport and the number of shipments is expected to double from 1,500 to more than 3,000 per year in the near future. The new pharma cross dock gives us the capacity we need to accommodate this and helps us optimise shipments. We are also adding several destinations, which will contribute to the further consolidation of containers leaving Genk. This consolidation is more cost-efficient and more sustainable. H.Essers also expanded the temperature-controlled transhipment options between 2°C and 8°C, which is hugely beneficial for our client. In other words: plenty of options to further improve our client’s supply chain in the future.’

If you would like to learn more about our projects and what we can do for your company, contact Tom Gielen, Director Strategic Transformation (tom.gielen@essers.com).

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