269 fewer lorries a day by growing the beverage network
Competitors co-ordinating their deliveries for the sake of sustainability clearly shows what they stand for. The network in which InQuire is a neutral co-ordinator is now welcoming a new party: DLP, Sweden’s largest distributor of wine and spirits. In addition, Åbro is adding the majority of its Swedish distribution to the network.
The unconventional co-operation began in autumn 2019 when Kopparbergs and Åbro started co-ordinating their deliveries in parts of Sweden. The purpose was to achieve higher sustainability targets together, compared with what they could achieve as individual players.
InQuire acts as a neutral party to co-ordinate the co-operation between the two competing breweries.
Gradually, the beverage distributor KGA Logistik also joined, and now that the network has been in operation for just over two years, we can state that it works. Really well, actually. Delivery quality has improved, as have working conditions for drivers, and last but not least, we have been able to optimise more and more lorries to eliminate unnecessary transport.
It has actually gone so well that large parts of the beverage industry have been in touch and want to join the network. This is fantastic because the more of us there are, the more influence we have. Sadly, we are currently having to reject many players in order to uphold quality.
“If we’re going to do this as well as we can, we need to take things carefully and grow slowly. That’s why we’re developing this step by step and allowing time for operations to build up,” explains Øystein Rønningen, CCO of InQuire.
Despite the fact that we don’t want to rush things, there’s no doubt that the beverage network is actually growing. In addition to Åbro’s increase (which we will get to later) we now present our newest network member – DLP, Drinks Logistics Partner.
Moving away from the traditional
DLP is Sweden’s largest distributor of wine and spirits, with a volume that will practically double the network volume. InQuire and DLP have worked together before, albeit on a much smaller scale, with a so-called HoReCa solution in the Stockholm area.
This mainly concerns deliveries to restaurants, and is a collaboration that started in 2017 and made DLP the first beverage distributor to offer Happy Delivery.
“We’ve never had such good quality and happy customers when it comes to deliveries as we have with this solution. Although we’ve tried to collaborate with InQuire more closely over the years, the timing has never worked until now,” says Jimmy Isaksson, Logistics Manager at DLP.
When it comes to the larger distribution, Jimmy explains how he watched traditional transport setups get worse and worse, while prices were squeezed until hardly anyone made money anymore. This always affects drivers in the form of increased pressure and stress.
But now there’ll be a completely different setup as DLP joins Åbro, Kopparbergs and KGA Logistik, along with InQuire. Although DLP officially joined the network at the start of March 2022, it is taking things gradually and reckons it will take about a year before the working methods and procedures for the new arrangement are completely ready and incorporated.
Just like DLP, Åbro is no newcomer to the InQuire sphere. On the contrary, it is one of the companies we have worked with the longest when we started delivery solutions in Norrland for Åbro more than ten years ago.
In 2019, Åbro was also the first to join the network, along with Kopparbergs brewery, and is now a key player in ensuring a solution like this can work in practice.
From having only part of its distribution through the network, Åbro now retrieves almost all its Swedish deliveries in it, almost tripling Åbro’s share in the network. The part remaining outside the network is Åbro’s exports and its own distribution, whereby Åbro operates its own vehicles in the areas around the brewery and in the south.
One reason why Åbro is now including such a large part of its distribution in the network is its purposeful investment in sustainability. In addition to co-ordinated distribution in the beverage network, it is currently constructing a ten-hectare solar farm directly adjoining the brewery. The solar farm will make Åbro electrically self-sufficient as early as 2022.
Tommie Ekberg, Logistics Manager at Åbro, explains:
“Besides reducing our climate footprint, we’ll also become less dependent on others by producing our own electricity. And the same is true of the beverage network. We’re not dependent on anyone else’s setup for this, but are involved in it and control it ourselves. If we’d just bought a share of the co-distribution, we’d only have been able to join and not have the opportunity to influence.”
Not just on paper
Switching from an antiquated system that is based on squeezed prices to a new solution where the focus is on sustainability instead, brings with it different pricing for deliveries. Jimmy from DLP says that while a lot of people talk about sustainability, few are willing to pay for it.
“We’ve had meetings with our customers, the product owners, about this. Although it’ll cost more money, it’ll result in social, economic, and ecological sustainability. Everyone will make money, everyone will feel good, and nobody will be stressed to the hilt. In the grand scheme of things, we’ll do away with as much unnecessary transport as possible. And when the customers see what this actually involves, everyone gives the thumbs up. So it feels great that our customers are also taking sustainability seriously,” he says.
He emphasises that there are those who are satisfied with the word “sustainability” on paper, while the beverage network is about making a difference in real life.
And what a difference it is making. When Øystein from InQuire goes through the numbers, he states that already this year they will cut transport by as much as 269 whole lorries, every working day, thanks to the network.
“Almost every third bottle that’s sold at Systembolaget [Swedish Alcohol Retailing Monopoly] is now delivered by the beverage network. Apart from the fact that there are four major players who no longer need their own lorries, each delivery also has an optimised fill rate through our processes and systems. The 269 lorries are calculated on pure volume,” he explains.
A growing family of competitors
Instead of the traditional solution with a forwarding agent that takes care of transport, the network is built up around a collaboration with a number of different hauliers. Through this close contact, we have short lines of communication and good dialogue with competent, local hauliers that help us maintain the quality of deliveries.
And what has it been like so far, working with your competitors?
“When it comes to sustainability, we’re not enemies, so it’s very natural to talk about this together. But if the network didn’t exist, we would probably not even have ended up in the same room, and everyone would instead have managed their own parts. Now we have InQuire as an external party taking up the baton, managing and keeping the collaboration going,” says Tommie from Åbro.
“Although we’ve only just joined the network, what I’ve felt so far is that it’s a close, family atmosphere where everyone wants to move forwards, and where everyone is genuinely interested in sustainability and not just on paper. Although we’re competitors, we’re all ready to put that to one side to create a noticeable impact together,” explains Jimmy from DLP.