Integration and APIs Crucial to Van Gelder’s Success
Van Gelder vegetables & fruit provide the hospitality industry with the freshest fruit and vegetables, using cutting-edge technology to make it happen.
Dutch family business Van Gelder is an ultra-modern fruit and vegetable supplier. To optimize their supply chain and online ordering process, Van Gelder connected their eCommerce system, ERP and WMS with hybrid integration from Microsoft BizTalk and Azure Integration Services.
Van Gelder and Codit go back a long way. Since 2016, they have employed Codit’s services to link various parts of their IT landscape together. This was done using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2016 on-premises. However, Van Gelder is continuously optimizing their business, and a new online ordering system as well as various clients and suppliers called for new integrations.
Codit not only helped Van Gelder’s systems work together, but also prepared the client for the future of integration.
Van Gelder vegetables & fruit is a typical Dutch, but also highly modern fruit and vegetable supplier. They have been delivering fresh potatoes, vegetables and fruit as a family business for more than 65 years. It is their mission to provide restaurants, hotels and the catering industry with the freshest and healthiest products on a daily basis.
To achieve this, Van Gelder tightly controls the complete supply chain, from source to serving. With the highest turnover rate in the market, clients are assured of fresh, seasonal products from certified suppliers.
When Van Gelder developed its state-of-the-art headquarters, it immediately became the most sustainable building in the Netherlands. The modern facility in Ridderkerk, The Netherlands, also contains an Experience Center where both business customers and private individuals such as school children and the general public can experience all of the possibilities that access to fruit and vegetables offer.
As Van Gelder is always optimizing their business and their former webshop builder wasn’t innovative enough, they decided to use relatively new Dutch company CloudSuite. This multichannel eCommerce environment is now the hub for online product ordering, responsible for more than 95% of all directly sourced orders. To make the entire IT landscape work together, CloudSuite had to be fully integrated and work together with the ERP and WMS software.
Codit has been a reliable partner from the start. They keep our integration running perfectly, which is essential to our business. ”
Codit Consultant Pim Simons has been the contact for Van Gelder for years. He and the team in Utrecht help Van Gelder with BizTalk integrations. This included linking the ERP and WMS together using a standardized messaging system.
Pim explains: “Around 2021, we advised Van Gelder to start using Azure Integration Services instead of solely relying on BizTalk. Azure and BizTalk now work next to each other, doing various integration chores, and it is not necessary to abandon BizTalk yet. But Van Gelder does want to be ready for the future of integration, which will be in the cloud.”
Next to integration via messaging, Pim and his team have developed various APIs. The APIs have a higher availability than BizTalk, prevent extra load on local servers and allow clients to place orders directly.
By using the CloudSuite system, Van Gelder has made a big step in its online ordering process. Clients can log in and order all kinds of fresh produce and see its availability and shipping time.
A lot goes on behind the scenes. Van Gelder offers different variants of a product. Potatoes, for instance, can be obtained ‘dirty’ (straight out of the soil), washed, peeled, or even cut into wedges. Some customers order whole crates of produce; others require that various vegetables are placed in one crate. Van Gelder’s ultra-modern facility can handle it all.
Patrick van der Velde, Project Leader IT, says: “All produce comes into our cooled facility. Robots can stack and de-stack crates, while conveyor belts and automated shuttles move them around. Since we have the most recent overview of orders, we know where each crate needs to go: short-term storage or prepared to ship immediately. Not everything is automated: we still need dedicated people to fill crates with individually ordered pieces of vegetables and fruit.”
He adds: “When clients place their online order in the evening, they receive fresh produce in the morning. We do see an increase in orders for washed or cut potatoes and vegetables, since kitchens are short on staff these days.
The vast majority of orders now come in through the cloud-based web shop. An API, built by Codit, sends order data to BizTalk, which moves it into the ERP system. From there, other BizTalk interfaces direct information back into the web shop and towards the Warehouse Management System. This gives Van Gelder the high availability and guaranteed delivery of Azure, while retaining the low latency of their BizTalk integration.
Without all this, the systems could not use each other’s information and the complete logistical process would grind to a halt.
Patrick van der Velde outlines how Van Gelder’s customer service has improved: “With our previous web shop, we downloaded orders into our ERP through FTP. Using the new system and Codit’s API, we can update orders every 2 minutes. All other information, such as customer info, availability and shipping times have a maximum latency of 15 minutes. This allows our customers to place orders quicker and easier.”
“We rely on integration to keep our business running 24/7. Codit know their stuff and keep BizTalk and Azure functioning perfectly. If anything does go wrong with an order, Codit’s dashboard can tell me immediately where the message is and what might be wrong.”
For such a high-tech business, there is a surprisingly small IT staff at Van Gelder. As Patrick explains: “We have a small staff with key people here. I oversee all IT projects, but we rely on others to execute the details. We want to fix small hard- and software issues ourselves and call on reliable partners for the rest.”
Patrick also talks about the advantages that working with Codit has brought: “We can always rely on the Codit team to be available to us. The consultants discuss possible solutions and enhancements and often come up with new insights.”
As for the integration, Patrick finds it stable, scalable and open for new business initiatives. For instance, Van Gelder wanted to facilitate large customers that place orders directly into their system, bypassing the web shop. Codit built an API for this purpose.
Van Gelder always have plans to further optimize their offering. As Patrick tells us: “We are looking at a solution to better manage the reusable crates we send to our customers. Since they pay for the use, we want to make it very clear how many they are getting and how many are returned. This means that we need to get data from our WMS to our transport managing system, and also into the web shop’s customer account section. This is another example where integration will be crucial.”
A word from the client
“I appreciate Codit’s inside knowledge, their high availability, and their commitment to future-proofing our business. ”
Patrick van der Velde Project Leader IT, Van Gelder
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