BSH partners with logistics service provider on sustainability

White-goods transport goes green

BSH Home Appliances has been working to improve the sustainability of its transport for more than a decade. In the Netherlands, the manufacturing company’s partnership with logistics service provider Vonk & Co plays an important role in reducing its carbon footprint for road freight. Net zero is the ultimate goal for emissions.

BSH Home Appliances is the largest manufacturer of white goods in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world. BSH is the result of a joint venture in May 1967 between German technology groups Robert Bosch GmbH and Siemens AG. Robert Bosch GmbH gained full ownership of the BSH Home Appliances Group, which includes all subsidiaries worldwide, when it acquired Siemens’ 50% share at the beginning of 2015. BSH posted annual sales of €15.9 billion for 2022.

Marcel van der Loos and Kasper Westerveld from BSH Group: “Reducing CO2 is inherent in network optimization and cost savings”

Today, BSH has 39 factories worldwide, roughly half of which are in Europe, and a total of 16 brands, of which four are active in the Netherlands: Bosch, Siemens, Neff and Gaggenau. BSH has a central European pool of seven of factories in Germany and Poland producing for seven countries, from where 70% of the goods for the Dutch market are shipped. The remaining 30%of goods for the Netherlands are purchased from BSH factories in Turkey and Spain. “Each country is responsible for its own demand planning. That demand is consolidated and allocated to the various factories, which in turn supply the products to the various countries,” says Kasper Westerveld, Supply Chain Analyst at BSH Netherlands.

At BSH, they have been actively working on sustainability for many years. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions throughout the entire product life cycle, including the procurement and transportation of goods and the use of products sold (i.e. Scope 3). CO2 reduction is an ongoing project.

To reduce carbon emissions related to the logistics process and outsourced transport, the Dutch arm of BSH embarked on the Lean & Green reduction programme in 2009 and gained its first star in 2013. “In that initial phase, we managed to reduce carbon emissions by 27% by combining the Dutch warehouse and distribution activities for Bosch and Siemens-branded household appliances in 2010. This was initiated at the time by a predecessor of mine. Then it was put on hold for a while,” says Marcel van der Loos. When he became Head of Supply Chain at BSH in 2016, he restarted the Lean & Green programme together with Westerveld. The company gained its second Lean & Green star shortly afterwards, in 2017.

“Sustainability is not a primary factor when we’re choosing a carrier. But our customers were asking for consolidation, and sustainability is interwoven with that.”

Kasper Westerveld, Supply Chain Analyst at BSH Netherlands

Logistics service provider Vonk & Co played a key role in the achievement of the third Lean & Green star in 2021. The two parties had been working together closely since 2015. “Our head office makes us issue a new tender every three to five years. That resulted in a direct partnership with Vonk & Co, which up until then had been working for us indirectly,” says Van der Loos. Vonk & Co is a market leader and specialist in white goods, including home delivery, and has a strong focus on sustainability. “Sustainability is not a primary factor when we’re choosing a carrier. But our customers were asking for consolidation, and sustainability is interwoven with that.”

“Because of our specialization, we could offer synergy not only in terms of customer delivery points, but also in terms of handling in our warehouse,” comments Stephan Vonk from Vonk & Co. “After all, pallets are tricky for goods like these – not only because they’re bulky, but also because they don’t allow you to stack washing machines and suchlike effectively and efficiently. That’s why we use special forklifts with clamps for moving the appliances around.”

Stephan Vonk, CEO Vonk & Co: “Because of our specialization, we could offer synergy not only in terms of customer delivery points, but also in terms of handling in our warehouse.”

Stephan Vonk has been CEO since 2020 and is the third generation at the helm of the family business Vonk & Co. He joined the planning department in 2005 immediately after leaving school. “Not long after, I mentioned carbon reduction and carbon reporting to my father but he looked at me a bit strangely at first,” recalls Vonk. “We had been supporting the Wecycle foundation’s product collection activities since 1998 – as one of the few carriers to do so at that time. Fast forward to today, and we’ve been playing an important role in the recycling process of used white goods and also brown goods for many years.”

Vonk & Co takes care of BSH’s business-to-business (B2B) and direct-to-consumer (D2C) deliveries, mainly in the Netherlands. The company’s household appliance sales can be roughly divided into two categories: freestanding appliances and built-in appliances. In the case of freestanding appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines or tumble dryers, consumers will usually buy a new or replacement appliance – either in-store or online – from an electronics retailer such as Mediamarkt,, Coolblue or a local specialist. Westerveld: “For these customers, speed of delivery is important. Nine times out of ten, however, fast delivery means more carbon emissions.”

In the case of the built-in appliances category, consumers usually buy multiple appliances in conjunction with complete kitchens through specialist retailers such as Mandemakers, Grando, Keukenconcurrent or independent operators. “On time, in full is important in this category. After all, multiple deliveries to the same address will increase the carbon emissions for that delivery address.”

To achieve the third Lean & Green star for BSH, the two companies intensified their partnership. As part of the strategic collaboration, Vonk & Co invested in a longer heavier vehicle (LHV). The logistics provider also took a number of additional measures, such as installing LED lighting in the warehouse, training drivers, setting up reports from on-board computers and improving the planning efficiency.

About Vonk & Co
Vonk & Co is a family business founded in 1947, specializing in the transportation of white goods in the Benelux. It has a total of approx. 85,000m2 storage capacity. The biggest warehouse is now in Tiel, with over 42,000m2 and 72 loading docks. This is where Vonk & Co stores appliances from regular clients. Upon receipt, returned goods are sorted/stored, processed in the WMS and if necessary disposed of in the appropriate containers for recycling. The old location in Lienden still provides storage for around 22,500m2 of household appliances, plus the logistics provider uses some external locations.

Carbon emissions have also been reduced thanks to the distribution centre being moved from Lienden to a larger and more centrally located warehouse at Business Park Medel in Tiel. “This is 7km closer to the motorway. If you have 100 vehicles on the road, that soon adds up,” says Vonk. “Another factor from a CO2 point of view was the business park’s container terminal.”

Gathering data for a baseline measurement for the Lean & Green programme was a monster task. “We collected data in Excel, which was very time-consuming. And just attempting to open the 80MB Excel file would often crash my computer in those days!” recalls Vonk.

Consultancy firm Districon (now part of RHDHV) did the analysis. “They used the Lean Analytics application – the forerunner of what is now software vendor BigMile’s Carbon Analytics – to calculate and analyse CO2 and then extracted the right data for BSH,” says Westerveld. “Fortunately, that issue has since been solved. Today, BigMile has good data-sharing functionality that allows us to exchange data with each other securely.”

“However, it is not so simple, because it creates a scheduling issue for kitchen retailers.”

Marcel van der Loos, Head of Supply Chain at BSH Netherlands and Coordinator Demand Management Western Europe at BSH Group

Nowadays, Vonk & Co feeds BigMile with data from its customized TMS. “We need a total overview, whereas BSH wants visibility into its own brands and specific customers. We send all the order data to BigMile, including from other clients. BigMile can then share the relevant data with BSH,” says Vonk. “So we no longer have to send files containing sensitive information back and forth. Vonk must retain ownership of the data,” Westerveld adds.

BSH and Vonk & Co both purchased a licence for BigMile in 2021. “This licence runs concurrently with our partnership agreement, because it only makes sense to exchange data in this way as long as we work together,” Westerveld explains.

By 2021, the carbon footprint had been reduced by a further 10% thanks to a focus on planning efficiency and collaborating with customers. Rather than being based on carbon emissions reductions or other sustainability metrics, the KPIs revolve around the load factor per truck and drop volumes per delivery address, Van der Loos reveals: “Both have to improve. It’s difficult to set specific targets for that.”

In the kitchen retail channel, BSH is currently looking at ways to decrease the number of days on which it delivers to its 700 to 800 smaller retail customers. “We live in an economy where everything has to be fast. We now work with five standard delivery days, but many smaller customers aren’t keen on having trucks on their doorstep every day, so we want to see if we can bring this down to three. This will reduce the number of stops and increase the drop volume,” Van der Loos explains.

“However, this is not so simple, because it creates a scheduling issue for kitchen retailers,” adds Westerveld. “It requires a certain maturity in their demand planning to reduce the number of trucks at the door and still have everything arriving on time.”

Both BSH and Vonk & Co recently secured their third Lean & Green star. Now, the target is a further 15% reduction in Scope 3 emissions by 2030. Both companies will have to look beyond their own walls to achieve this. “I think it’s still fairly unique that we have such openness with our logistics service provider. We’ve now reached the point that we and Vonk & Co can’t do it alone, but also need all their other clients. After all, sustainable transport only makes sense if they also participate. It’s a social problem and the responsibility of the whole chain.” In this context, BSH is keen to work more closely with Vonk & Co’s other clients, and a process has now been set up together with Top Sector Logistics and Districon to facilitate this.

About the Lean & Green Programme
Lean & Green is an international CO2 reduction programme for shippers and logistics services companies. The programme is aimed at fundamentally reducing carbon emissions within logistics by activating partnerships, sharing knowledge and deploying smart and effective measures.

Based on annual measurements of CO2, Lean & Green recognizes improvements in carbon performance with its Lean & Green 5 Star Framework. Lean & Green currently has over 500 participants across nine countries in Europe, and the programme recently expanded to the USA.

In Vonk’s opinion, the current demand for carbon information is disappointing. “It is our shared responsibility and we all have to comply with the climate agreement. Ideally there should be more involvement, but we see that many companies – and especially the smaller ones – don’t really know where to start.”

He does not believe in an all-electric fleet for now. “Electrification is necessary for the zero-emission zones, but it’s not a goal in itself. What matters is reducing carbon emissions. We now also have solar panels on trucks, which results in 6% savings, but they’re not allowed into city centres. Fortunately, the range of electric trucks is improving and new solutions such as hydrogen are emerging for the longer term and longer distances.”

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