Febelco Group is an association of companies that together pursue one common goal: to defend the interests of independent pharmacists and the pharmaceutical industry via an extensive distribution network and a wide range of high-quality services. The Febelco Group includes the cooperative company Febelco, Pharma Distri Center, Sodiap and Axone Pharma, among others.
Febelco is a cooperative wholesaler whose share capital is fully owned by its customers, who are independent pharmacists in Belgium. Febelco’s customer base consists of more than 3,200 pharmacies that are supplied up to three times a day by 250 trucks from eight locations throughout Belgium: Bruges, Izegem, Kortenberg, Olen, Sint-Niklaas, Wijnegem, Zolder and Frameries. Febelco has 1,200 employees and has an annual turnover of €1.5 billion. This places Febelco among the top 100 Belgian companies.
PDC, or Pharma Distri Center, is also part of the Febelco Group and is an independent logistics partner (3PL) for the pharmaceutical industry. From several warehouses, Pharma Distri Center handles the storage, picking, packaging and distribution of pharmaceutical products for customers all over Europe.
Track & trace from warehouse to pharmacist
Major pharmaceutical producers, including Sanofi, had expressed a wish to be able to track and trace certain smaller deliveries and supply pharmacists from PDC. As Febelco wholesale already had this transport network at its disposal, it was decided, after mutual consultation, to work together and draw on the strength of the group: PDC would take care of the first part of the tracking (from PDC’s warehouses to Febelco’s wholesalers), after which Febelco’s wholesalers would deliver the parcels to the pharmacists.
This meant that Febelco needed to implement a solution that would make it possible to trace all deliveries up until the pharmacy. To this end, Febelco uses PHI DATA’s Proof of Delivery solution, IDdelivery®. Thanks to this solution, the delivery of goods (including packages or individual items) can be tracked in real time, meaning that every parcel can be tracked effectively from start to finish. All packages or pallets have a barcode with a unique number that is linked to a packing slip. Each driver delivering the packages has a mobile device with a built-in barcode scanner, the Unitech EA602, which is connected to a central database in real time.
The system makes it possible as early as the loading stage to check whether the correct packages have been loaded on the truck. Delivery errors are generally attributable to an error at the loading stage, such as a forgotten or incorrect package. After the packages are loaded, the system displays a list of all the delivery addresses of the round. With just one press of a button, the driver can set off to the address. If a package cannot be loaded for whatever reason, it can easily be moved to the next round, if of course this is still possible bearing in mind the agreed delivery time.
Every package is then scanned and delivered to the customer. If there are any problems with the delivery, these can be indicated, using photos if necessary. After delivery the details are immediately available, allowing the administration to be finalised or for customer service, without the driver having to bring in the paperwork first. Not only does IDdelivery® avoid complaints and frustration for the customer, it also increases the efficiency of the driver.
Project building blocks
The Febelco project partly consists of software, via IDdelivery®, for handling the delivery orders, communication and integration with the back office, and partly of hardware. To this end, 280 Unitech EA602 PDAs were purchased and installed in Febelco’s vehicles. Implementation of the POD solution started in April 2019 and was completed as early as June.
In addition, it was decided to use MobiControl, the SOTI MDM tool supplied by PHI DATA, in order to achieve end-to-end management from Febelco’s IT perspective. Updates, if necessary, are easily pushed to all 250 users (e.g. at night).
Whereas previously drivers worked with pen and paper, they now simply have to identify themselves with a badge containing a 2D code. After logging in, the driver will see which parcels have to be delivered. After loading, the screen shows which parcels have to be delivered to which pharmacies. The relevant route is also immediately indicated. This significantly reduces error rates.
This way of working has various advantages. Bruno Mortier, General Manager of Febelco, explains: “In general, we now have a much better view of deliveries and transport. And that means we have the knowledge to improve our existing processes and offer additional services to our customers, the independent pharmacists, in the future”.
PHI DATA’s solution also offers a range of other advantages: “With the new PDAs, we also have an extra method of communication with our drivers”, explains Pieter-Jan De Bock, Supply Chain Project Manager at Febelco. “We can send our drivers information, and at the same time they can also contact us via pre-programmed numbers in the PDA device. In addition, in the next phase we will also use the devices to automate subsequent administrative flows, such as accident protocols, etc. Another advantage of the solution is that the system stores all customer-specific needs and information about pharmacists after the first route. This also significantly reduces training time, which makes it easier, for example, to deploy student workers quickly.”
“We are delighted with the PHI DATA approach”, Pieter-Jan De Bock concludes. “Unlike other parties, from the outset they have been on our wavelength in terms of how to approach the project. They didn’t just say yes to everything straightaway, they regularly challenged our suggestions and gave us real advice.”
Kurt Nauwelaerts, Business Development Manager at PHI DATA IDdelivery, explains: “PHI DATA is always happy to be involved in projects like this one. It means we can also gain better insight into how our customers tick. The FEBELCO project also highlighted the fact that it is no longer just a question of Proof of Delivery, but that the importance of Proof of Collect is also constantly growing in the market.