La Louvière, The Final Piece Of The Puzzle
La Louvière, the final piece of the puzzle
All roads lead to La Louvière. At least for the medicines that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) produces in Europe. In 2012, J&J subsidiary Janssen opened its central distribution center in this Hainaut city. A milestone in the roll-out of a streamlined European distribution network.
In the past, distribution was supported by 15 local centers spread throughout Europe. The Janssen management thought that this system should be made more efficient, and that set the ball rolling …
“During this streamlining process, cost-savings were not the primary motivation”, explains Distribution Director Luc Peeters, who has operational leadership over the center in La Louvière. “We mainly wanted to improve the service to our customers. For example, if a hospital places an order for medicines that are produced in 3 different countries, our goal is to send it not in 3 deliveries, but in 1.”
Hub for the whole of Europe
Manuella Wilts, Senior Director of Distribution Hubs & Major Projects, was involved in the centralization process right from the start: “J&J had already opened distribution centers in Beerse and in Courcelles which ship narcotics and LifeScan products , and medical and diagnostic tools, respectively. With the infrastructure in La Louvière, the final piece of the puzzle was in place. Today, Belgium is the hub of our European distribution. A trimmed-down, overarching management structure ensures optimal product flow throughout.”
“Every day, trucks from Beerse, Latina (Italy) and Schaffhausen (Switzerland) bring 350 to 400 pallets to our loading docks”, says Luc about the flow of goods. “Our employees register the products and save this information using an intelligent data system. Until they continue along on their journeys, directly to the end customers (hospitals and wholesalers, pharmacists and patients) or to the foreign J&J satellites, who, in turn, distribute them even further."
In the area of distribution processes, we aim to deliver the highest standard of service. Within the J&J organization, and preferably outside of it as well.
Aspirations of ‘1 order, 1 delivery, 1 invoice’
Johnson & Johnson installed its 3 distribution centers in a relatively small geographical area for a reason. Manuella: “La Louvière and Courcelles are situated only 20 kilometres from one another. So J&J also dreams of ‘1 order, 1 delivery, 1 invoice’ for customers who order products from the different branches of Johnson & Johnson. Even if the medicines come from La Louvière, the narcotics from Beerse and the medical tools from Courcelles. Right now that is still a dream for the future, but one that we are working on right now.”
After all, Janssen is never satisfied with the status quo. “In the area of distribution processes, we aim to deliver the highest standard of service. Within the J&J organization, and preferably outside of it as well”, shares Manuella. “Once the roll-out has been completed in all countries, some 20 percent of the total J&J turnover will pass through our 3 Belgian centers.”