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Here’s how Bunzl outsmarted the logistics labour shortage

written by Norbert Padt
Published on:
Future logisticsImpact by responsibility
Build-to-suitWell-beingLogistics & Supply Chain

A look behind the façade of our new distribution centre for Bunzl Retail & Industry in Arnhem shows that this packaging specialist invests more than average in the working climate: lots of light, state-of-the-art reach trucks, plants, a relaxation area, a healthy company restaurant, fitness facilities, etc. This is their way of responding to the scarcity on the logistics labour market. And it’s paid off because the average career length there is over ten years.

Wilbert van Wachtendonck, managing director of Bunzl Retail & Industry in Arnhem, zooms in on the five sustainable ideas that lie at the heart of the over 20,000 m² distribution centre.

We want employees to be proud to work here.”

Distribution Centre 3.0

From a technical point of view, the DC in Arnhem is one of high quality: sustainable materials that insulate well, a sound ventilation system, and plenty of light. This way, the indoor climate in our warehouse and in our offices remains pleasant in winter and summer.”

Happily coming to work and being there

Bunzl has high employee expectations and therefore creates a high level of commitment between employer and employee. For example, we motivate employees before, after, or between working hours with a company restaurant with a roof terrace, a quiet room, and a relaxation area. Each one is decorated with a contemporary, green look.”

Higher degree of mechanisation

Bunzl Retail & Industry grew 8.5% last year, which is quite a lot. Yet we do not necessarily need more people thanks to our high degree of mechanisation. Where we used to send the warehouse worker to the product in the past, we now try to bring the product to the employee. In addition, simple activities are taken over by a computer, such as a carousel that picks each small item fully automatically, resulting in fewer errors and lower operational costs.”

Warehouse efficiency

Together with WDP, we brainstormed on process improvements in the order picking; things like more efficient walking routes and 12-metre-high shelves. We also opted for state-of-the-art reach trucks with cameras and a tilting seat. This requires employees who have been well trained in specific training courses. It’s a continuous operation because – in such a scarce labour market – we want to be able to rely on our people and vice versa.”

High degree of flexibility

A large part of our growing turnover is driven by e‑commerce. In order to respond to this market change, we need our warehouse and employees to be highly adaptable. For example, we opted for a spacious DC, of which the occupancy rate is currently less than 70%. Still, we use all 18 docks to process more incoming goods, so the waiting time is reduced. The next step is to make working hours in the warehouse more flexible because orders come in around the clock.”

Blog post

You can read why Bunzl Retail & Industry chose to stay in the Arnhem-Nijmegen region here: Sustainable construction project for Bunzl in Arnhem

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