As part of its work to optimize its logistics operations, Sodiaal, the leading French cooperative group, has signed a partnership with LPR – La Palette Rouge. The partnership will see 1.5m pallets being delivered to Sodiaal Group’s distribution customers in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Benelux, Poland, and Great Britain.
With 4.7 billion liters of milk collected each year, Sodiaal is the leading dairy cooperative group in France, whose business activities include the sale and marketing of milk powders, milk in cartons, skimmed milk, butter, cheese, and frozen by-products.
La Route Du Lait – a certified quality and environmental management system – demands the active involvement of each individual in the Group, which has placed logistics flows at the heart of its strategy. For more than five years, the Purchasing Department has been responsible for all the transport and goods-handling operations to ensure the most uniform, seamless service possible for each activity. The department’s objective is to promote the Group’s products by giving its operations added value while constantly working to optimize its business activity.
Pallet exchange to pallet pooling – Increased automation, responding to the expectations of carriers and simplifying operations
Until now, the Sodiaal Group had used the pallet exchange system to transport Candia milk, but the many constraints linked to using the system led the Group to review its strategy. “We are in the process of automating our factories and warehouses, just like our customers,” stated Laurent Dal Grande, Sodiaal’s Director of Logistics and Transport Purchasing. “To achieve an increased level of automation, we need pallets that are standardized and of impeccable quality. As the pallet exchange system does not provide uniform quality, it is no longer suited to our activities, nor does it meet our customers’ expectations.
“Another factor to be taken into account is the pressure from the transport market, where haulage contractors are increasingly reluctant to use Euro Pallets.”
Optimizing logistics operations also involves simplifying them and reducing the number of suppliers. The pallet exchange system means having several suppliers and being dependent on local operators. “With pallet pooling, we only have to work with a single operator, which greatly simplifies the management of goods handling equipment,” he continued.
LPR’s expertise and day-to-day support
Sodiaal was already working with LPR for half pallets, and as an expert in pallet pooling and the management of reusable packaging, LPR was naturally consulted concerning the move to 800×1200 pooled pallets. LPR provided the best proposal; meeting the dairy cooperative’s expectations not only in terms of its business objectives, but also of its strategic and environmental issues.
LPR worked closely with the Supply Chain Department and the various sites, as well as with the Group’s Management Control Department, in order to fully understand the challenges and actions to be implemented. The clear desire to build a strong, long-term partnership and to find collective solutions for improvement were decisive factors in the Group’s decision to choose LPR. “This partnership is based on objectives that we share with the Sodiaal Group,” explained Hervé Fourcade, French Sales Director at LPR. “Our knowledge of the market and our expertise will enable us to support their logistics activities while meeting their quality requirements and reducing costs.”
LPR provided comprehensive support, starting with assistance in buying back the existing pallet pool. LPR’s expertise in inventory management and pallet-movement tracking – for which all information is available on its web platform in real-time – is crucial for achieving optimised logistics flows. “We really appreciate the quality of support we have received from LPR. This includes operational support, as well as the daily monitoring of our pallet activities. This is one of the key factors behind the success of the deployment,” said Dal Grande.
LPR’s environmental approach is also in line with the Group’s cooperative values
In Laurent Dal Grande’s view, “LPR had a very positive image as an eco-responsible company among our distribution customers and that was a key differentiating factor as far as we were concerned. We are now reviewing our activities to see where they might benefit from the move to pallet pooling.”
Euro Pool Group is the European leader in logistics services for returnable packaging in the fresh produce sector. Euro Pool Group is composed of two divisions, Euro Pool System (EPS) and La Palette Rouge (LPR). www.europoolgroup.com