Annual report 2023

At Van Leeuwen, the priority is to effectively and flexibly meet the customers’ needs, with emphasis on guaranteeing reliable delivery. We constantly aim for improving our operational, logistics and IT processes, and we continue to invest in optimizing our warehouses. In 2023, we once again took major steps forward in this respect.

Investing in our network
Van Leeuwen relies on an extensive, international network of storage facilities to be able to meet customer needs. We continue to invest in our global network of stock-keeping locations, and service, treatment and processing centers, in order to further expand customer service. These investments among other things include advanced technologies and systems that add value to our services. Optimal operational processes enable us to service our customers as efficiently as possible and with a large variety of products. Last year we once again made considerable investments, with projects in various countries. For example, in Vyškov, Czech Republic, we invested in the expansion of our warehouse and in the implementation of an automated storage system. In Belgium, we consolidated two locations and in Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands, we invested in the construction of a Monorail and the World Tube Center.

Plant and machinery
Due to our recent investments in plant and machinery, we were able to considerably strengthen our value added services last year. Because of these improvements we are even better able to meet the growing demand of our customers for custom-made (assembled) components. In 2023, we carried out various ‘bottleneck reduction’ studies, with the objective of optimizing our production processes and improving our delivery performance. Due to the valuable insights gained by these studies, we are able to more efficiently make use of our existing installations and make increased use of our production capacity. Key steps were taken in France to further improve our customer service. We invested in a plasma cutter here, and we will be managing various value-added services in-house. This gives us better control over the process and also enables us to even better respond to the specific needs of our customers. This strategic decision makes it possible for us to provide our customers with an even higher level of service and quality.

Office and building upgrades
In 2023, we also made considerable investments in our offices and buildings. Our German employees in Vaihingen will have a new workplace. A new office building is under construction and is expected to be complete in 2024. The OneHalmstad project in Sweden was completed successfully. This project has resulted in the construction of a modern and efficient office building that was opened in a festive atmosphere in December 2023. In Zwijndrecht, work is well underway on the construction of the impressive World Tube Center (see sidebar).

ISO standards
Van Leeuwen’s quality policy has been ISO standards-based for many decades. The ISO 9001 standards are entwined in the procedures, processes and culture of our organization. Currently, 64 locations are ISO 9001-certified and we aim to increase the number of branches with an ISO 14001 certificate. A strategy has been developed to certify all production locations in accordance with these two ISO standards by 2026, in order to further embed the ISO 45001 safety standard and the ISO 14001 environmental standard into the organization. This comprises a total of 47 locations that will have to be certified over the medium term. In 2023, Van Leeuwen Essen successfully completed the ISO 19443 certification audit. This quality management standard applies the principles of the ISO 9001 international quality standard to the nuclear sector.

To ensure the highest quality of the materials we purchase, we work with a carefully selected network of suppliers. Before adding these suppliers to our Approved Manufacturers List (AML), their processes and quality standards are thoroughly validated. Specific standards are used for branches that supply the Automotive industry, and these branches are IATF-certified.

Quality, environment and safety
Van Leeuwen attaches great importance to the wellbeing of its people and promoting a sustainable living and working environment. We use a strict safety standard in all of our processes, whereby our safety culture is based on globally recognized standards and procedures that are translated into the 'Van Leeuwen Life Saving Rules'. These rules and procedures comply with the ISO 45001 guidelines. Since 2021, we have been working with a renewed safety campaign. In 2023, we once again emphasized the importance of safety with a Steel Safety Day. By setting objectives, tabling potentially unsafe situations for discussion and emphasizing personal responsibility, the number of accidents resulting in absence from work once again decreased in 2023. With a 37 percent reduction in comparison to 2022, we are on the right track and continue to aim for further improvement.

In selecting suppliers, we use strict criteria, including the mandatory possession of certified quality, environmental and safety management systems. Our Sustainability Manager plays a leading role in promoting and providing guidance for making our business processes more sustainable. An increasing number of trucks drives on HVO100 renewable diesel (biodiesel). Optimizing our load factors continues to be a constant priority. In addition, we aim to make use of return loads, which means that we are attempting to have trucks return empty less frequently following a distribution trip; for example, by picking up goods at suppliers.

Digitalization and delivery information
An increased focus on the use of the electronic data system (EDI) in our supply chain is a key theme at Van Leeuwen. We not only receive customer orders and send confirmations, we also provide real-time delivery information, and make certificates and invoices available via this system. Moreover, EDI facilitates communication with our suppliers and carriers, which gives us quick insight into product availability and delivery times.

In 2023, we carried out a trial project involving accurate delivery preannouncements. This means that our customers, on the planned day of delivery, are provided with a specific timeslot within which the order will be delivered, which enables them to more efficiently process the goods received. Furthermore, we have expanded access to detailed track-and-trace information for various carriers, and the confirmation of receipt is now sent digitally and automatically processed in our systems.

To create an efficient and smoothly running transport network, we exclusively work together with reliable carriers that are known for their service. We continuously spend time on thoroughly analyzing our logistics flows, always looking for the most cost effective solutions that meet our rigorous demands for delivery frequency and speed. Thanks to the careful segmentation of our logistics flows and the implementation of various logistics concepts, we are able to provide our customers with custom services that exactly meet their needs.

Our key goal is to deliver goods efficiently and on time, while endeavoring to limit transport costs and minimize our ecological footprint at the same time. This is why, in 2023, we started to use HVO diesel for our first carriers, a fully sustainable diesel produced from waste and residual products. In addition, we invested in a fleet of electric trucks, which further emphasizes our aim of creating an environmentally friendly transport network.

Delivery reliability
The timely, full and accurate delivery of goods is the most important priority, focus and responsibility of our logistics operations. In recent years, various factors in our supply chain put this critical aspect under pressure, including the limited availability of materials, reduced transport capacity and personnel challenges on the labor market. We use a structured and targeted approach to constantly improve our On-Time-Delivery. This includes focused efforts relating to process optimization, system improvements and better cooperation among various disciplines. The results of our efforts are clearly evident in the improvements that have been achieved between 2022 and 2023. We have achieved a higher service level as a result of these improvements. In 2024, we will take further steps to improve service levels for our customers.

Productivity plays a crucial role in our investment decisions, as a key to maximizing our operational efficiency and enhancing our competitive position. We invest in automated systems, such as the Monorail, storage systems, robots and cobots. Furthermore, we leverage the latest digitalization developments in order to improve our processes. We aim for more efficient and effective processes. We have an improvement program at every location and monitor developments in the area of productivity.

Van Leeuwen has experienced international project teams that support customers in every aspect of the delivery process. From the very first phase of providing information and requests for quotation up to the final packing and shipment of pipes and components. With the help of our advanced international projects database, our own project teams, as well as those of the customer, can monitor a project’s progress in real-time. This ensures that customers at all times are aware of the status of their materials and their final destination. Furthermore, innovative software solutions are being tested to be able to respond even faster to a Request for Quotation (RFQ) by automatically recognizing items.

World Tube Center

In September 2023, Van Leeuwen started construction of the World Tube Center (WTC), located at the corner of the Swinhaven location in Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands. The first 24-meter foundation pile was driven into the ground by Chairman of the Management Board, Peter Rietberg, on September 5, 2023, thus starting up the construction process. The WTC will be an experience center where we can welcome our customers, suppliers and business partners and where we can show them, and let them interactively experience, what 'more than tubes' really means. Furthermore, it provides a great view of our advanced 315-meter-long Monorail system.

Opening OneHalmstad

As a result of the OneHalmstad project by Heléns Rör AB in Sweden, the warehouse, production and head office have been consolidated at a single location at Olofsdalsvägen street in Halmstad. In 2022, the expansion of the warehouse and the construction of the production facility were completed and the last machines were relocated and installed. In January 2023, the warehouse, as well as the production facility in Halmstad became fully operational. After that, the focus shifted to completing the construction of the head office. The official opening took place in December 2023. The completion of the OneHalmstad project now enables Heléns to respond faster, and with greater flexibility and capacity to customers’ demands, and to provide even higher quality in its treatments.