SCEA 2021 Winner – ‘Supply Chain Operations – Best Use of People and Process’: DPD Group and AEB International

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Delivery specialist DPD Group and software provider AEB International scooped the ‘Supply Chain Operations – Best Use of People and Process’ at the Supply Chain Excellence Awards on Monday 8th November, fending off some stiff competition in the process. But its answer to the conundrum of Brexit – based around planning, infrastructure, people, processes and technology – is what impressed the judges most this year.

The trophy was presented by Pia Larsen, Director of Procurement & Supply Chain, University College London Hospitals/NHS Foundation Trust.

“This project was a clear demonstration of fast-paced solution design underpinned by collaboration to respond to significant complex changes in regulatory requirements,” the judging panel decided. “The process redesign was achieved through close working between parties who were determined to unblock any blockers and their tenacity came through really strongly.”

The UK referendum on Brexit took place in June 2016 but it was only in 2017 when the truth about impacts on UK-EU cross-border trade started sinking in. Trade between the European Union and the UK would never be the same again and significant red tape would be involved for customs processes. But rather than sit around with a stubborn ‘wait-and-see’ approach, in 2018 DPD kicked off its Brexit project together with AEB.

One of the reasons DPD opted to work with AEB is that both were of the opinion that an existing off-the-shelf Brexit-ready software, and building the logistics and new customs processes around it, wouldn’t be sufficient. AEB proactively proposed a customs-tailored approach to redefining DPD’s EU-UK and UK-EU movements of goods.

Both knew very well that the industry would need strong logistics and technology partners to get through the shock of Brexit once it became a reality.

So what were the ingredients to its success when Brexit finally came home to roost? DPD and AEB were already in the middle of solution design developments in 2018 when most businesses were still in ‘wait-and-see mode – they were prepared and that planning made all the difference.

Two new distribution centres were added to DPD’s network and delivery depots – ‘international gateways’ located in the Netherlands and the UK, dedicated to import and export processing of EU-UK and UK-EU shipments subject to new customs procedures.

To support the significant red tape for all shipments to and from the UK and the EU, DPD invested in strengthening teams and stocking-up customs expertise as part of the operations workforce.

Redefining and refining processes was key. DPD and AEB spent many a long night defining every scenario of every type of EU shipment that crosses UK borders from both sides. Automation, speed and customs compliance stand firmly at the core of all new processes, ensuring efficiency and speed in line with all applicable government rules, restrictions, and involved systems.

Technology of course played a part. UK government systems involve HMRC’s CHIEF, CDS, NCTS and GVMS. In addition to electronic import and export declarations (including bulk import declarations), electronic safety and security declarations and port badges form part of the new UK cross-border processes. DPD’s operating systems and delivery tools including driver and warehouse scanners work smoothly together with AEB’s integrated solutions in both new DPD international gateways in the UK and Netherlands. Seamless and automated data exchange with government customs systems and port operators were crucial. This formed the basis for continued fast deliveries and real-time status including the new customs milestones.

DPD’s smooth flow of EU shipments to and from the UK following Brexit has been setting an example for businesses across industry sectors – many of which still struggle greatly to manage efficient UK-EU and EU-UK goods movements. This success is ultimately driven by the combination of timely and thorough planning, full dedication by the people involved at all points of DPD’s complex cross-border logistics and, importantly, a custom-tailored and innovative solution design that is underpinned by powerful and integrated technology.

What they said… This collaboration and out-of-the-box-thinking empowered DPD and AEB to tackle the unprecedented landscape after Brexit and enabled an innovative approach for the development of completely new and tailored workflows and solutions. This resulted in DPD’s continued excellence and speed in service that its customers are used to.

What we said… Around 145,000 businesses had never even managed customs procedures, so this project was about moving 45 million parcels between the UK and the EU with no more than 40 seconds to handle each parcel. This was a solid solution to cope with Brexit – it identified problems in the national system and was able to tell them that they had a problem. Overall, we thought this was an excellent, adaptive project with unmovable time-frames.

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