Rob Besten on working at logistics consultancy Groenewout

19 January 2021 4 min. read

After obtaining his master in Business Analytics and Operations Research, Rob Besten joined Dutch supply chain consultancy Groenewout as a consultant. He was particularly attracted to the firm due its track record in logistics processes, as well as the opportunity to work on diverse and complex projects.

Founded in 1966, Groenewout is a consulting firm specialised in engineering and optimising logistics networks, including the necessary technical and data-driven analysis. The 25-strong firm focuses on helping clients – medium-sized companies or multinationals based in the Benelux – with their new-build and logistics redesign projects.

Networking studies

One of the firm’s offerings in the supply chain domain is conducting networking studies. Besten explains the nature of such a project: “As a first step, through computer simulation we determine how the European supply chain footprint should look like, i.e. multiple warehouses versus one single warehouse and the corresponding route-to-market strategy. Then, we identify the optimal strategic location for a newly planned warehouse.”

Rob Besten, Consultant, Groenewout

In practice, there are according to Besten three different approaches to a networking study. “The first approach is based on the client’s shortlist of possible locations for the new warehouse. In this case, Groenewout evaluates the shortlist to decide on the best location for the new warehouse.”

“In the second approach, Groenewout uses its knowledge of the logistics hotspots to draw up its own shortlist of possible locations for the new warehouse.” The third approach however lets go of any geographical preferences, and instead places a range of other factors under lens. For example, cost effectiveness.

“In this case, the main focus is on minimising the costs in relation to the various inbound and outbound logistics flows. This entails that we analyse the road and water infrastructure surrounding the potential warehouse location in order to ensure optimal accessibility, or look at cost of labour, for example.”

Feasibility studies

Groenewout conducts feasibility studies on behalf of its clients to assess the costs versus benefits of potential solutions. “In one example, a company had outgrown its existing warehouse and we looked into alternatives. In another, a client faced inefficient internal processes, and we analysed the logistics and came up with recommendations for improvement.” 

Besten added, “Groenewout’s starting point is the core of the operation: the warehouse processes. Then, moving beyond the logistics systems, we also assess the IT systems, the building and its technical equipment.”

So how does such a project look like? “In general, the kick-off starts with a tour of the warehouse so that our team can gain an understanding of all the relevant processes. After the data-gathering phase, the data is validated and analysed. In the next step, several alternatives are designed, modeled and evaluated.” 

With all information in hand,  Groenewout works together with the customer to select one or two preferred solutions and then “provides a detailed calculation of the alternatives.”

In some cases, the consultants work with constraints, such as the limitations of an existing warehouse. “However, if the customer is building a new warehouse, there is more freedom to design the building first and foremost to support process efficiency. In that case, we can propose some minor changes to the building design given it could enhance performance improvement.”

Working in teams

At Groenewout, consultants always work with at least two – and usually three – colleagues, including one lead consultant. The background of consultants is aligned to the client’s needs – “if technical skills are needed for example, that aspect is always handled by a consultant with an engineering background.”

According to Besten, one of the best things about working for Groenewout is the opportunity to see a process evolve from start to finish. He also enjoys the sense of satisfaction when a warehouse project is completed and the results are clearly visible. Meanwhile, young consultants are given a lot of autonomy while also being part of a team.

The variety in projects, which typically run for three to four months, is another aspect he values: “Since Groenewout has many different types of clients, each with their own unique processes and approaches, no two projects are the same. Working on so many different and diverse projects is the ideal opportunity to enrich yourself.”