Smeets Ferry is a major trailer carrier to the United Kingdom. The company performs approximately 22,000 round trips annually. A modular planning system from Yellowstar - Star Flow Transport Planning - helps the logistics service provider 24/7 to keep its promises to customers. Owner Laurens Smeets: “The planning board is the heart of our company. Our planners always have a real-time overview. They can immediately respond to any changes.” The planning board offers numerous other possibilities as well.
- Real-time planning board
- Easily switch, shift and adjust trips
- Directly linked with internal and external systems
- Planners remain leading
The main routes of Smeets Ferry run from Germany, via Rotterdam, to the United Kingdom. The company's 450 trailers are continuously on the move. Both in the UK (84) and in mainland Europe (65), Smeets Ferry operates its own trucks to this end, supplemented with charters where necessary. Operations are planned and managed from the head office in Alblasserdam and the British offices in Immingham and Great Blakenham. “Doing business starts from your heart,” summarises Laurens Smeets his company philosophy. “You have to like what you do and you must also emanate this.” The entrepreneur already recognised the need for automation at an early stage. “Considering the numbers we handle, that is the only way to properly arrange your processes. Without automation you will overextend yourself.” The planning system developed by Yellowstar constitutes the foundation for this. Smeets emphasises that people will continue to play a crucial role in planning. “My planners cannot do without the planning board, but ultimately they perform their jobs based on their own specific knowledge. Automation makes the job easier, but it is not a replacement.”
Quickly switching gears at all times
Smeets Ferry has directly linked the planning board to its own administrative systems for the processing of incoming transport orders and the final invoicing. Following acceptance and verification, the transport orders automatically become available for inclusion on the planning board. Planners have the same real-time overview at all the offices of Smeets Ferry. Thanks to the smart layout of the planning board, they are always able to respond until the last minute to all the changes that continuously occur in transport. “Most importantly, the planning board allows us to see at any given time whether we are actually able to honour our promises to customers,” continues Smeets. “For example, if a car is scheduled to be loaded at 12 noon and the planning board indicates that this is no longer feasible, we can anticipate this in a timely manner. The planning board enables us to quickly switch gears.”
Everything comes together in planning system
The planning board offers many other options as well: automatic instructions to the drivers, status information to customers, bookings of ferry crossings, etc. “Everything comes together in the planning system, it is simply the heart of the company. If I need management information, one push of a button suffices. The planning system puts us in control.” The EDI link-ups with major customers for receiving their transport orders and with ferry terminals for booking the crossings have been arranged for Smeets Ferry via Star Connect in that respect. This digital power strip from Yellowstar allows the company to quickly and securely make use of a multitude of connections to external systems.
Brexit obligations integrated
The Brexit obligations that have been applicable since 2021 have been integrated into the planning system as well. After the customer has submitted the customs data, the information is automatically sent from the planning board to Portbase for the mandatory pre-notification at the ferry terminal by means of a link-up with Star Connect. “Without automation, the chance of error is far too great. If the customer provides the data correctly, the follow-up process will automatically run smoothly.” Smeets point out that the Brexit obligations for ferry traffic remain a concern regardless. The time between booking, loading, Portbase pre-notification and arrival of the cargo at the ferry terminal is simply very short in trailer transport.
Moving forward together with Yellowstar
“Doing business starts with trust,” concludes Smeets, stating the basis for the long-term collaboration with Yellowstar. “That click needs to be there and there must be flexibility. Even if I call at 9 p.m., they will assist me.” Together with Yellowstar, Smeets Ferry is constantly looking ahead. “If we want to continue to grow, we need to automate further.”