Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2006. Source: based on Rodrigue and Notteboom (2009).
JVC Belgium was set up in 1999 and is responsible for the European distribution of the products of Japanese electronics producer JVC. The European Distribution Centre is located in Boom, halfway between Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium. JVC Belgium uses inland barges to transport the containers with imported electronics (mostly with an Asian origin) to the EDC in Boom. The containers are handled at the inland terminal TCT Belgium, part of ECT/Hutchison. The terminal maintains a daily barge connection to Rotterdam and three daily sailings to Antwerp.
Over the years, JVC has developed a simple and effective system for the transport of containers between Rotterdam and Boom. Instead of giving shipping lines a separate transport order for each container, the company follows the four day rule: each container discharged in Rotterdam should be at TCT Belgium within three days. Every morning TCT Belgium informs JVC about the number of containers that are waiting at the inland terminal or will be arriving later that day. JVC picks the containers they like to have in their warehouse that day and these are subsequently delivered by truck in the morning to the warehouse. Trucks take empties on the way back to the inland terminal facility. In the afternoon, the truck bays at the EDC are solely used for supplying the regional distribution centers in the European Union. The warehouse management system of JVC considers full containers stacked at TCT Belgium to be in stock like any other inventory within the walls of the warehouse. If a full container load of a specific product needs to be delivered to a regional distribution center somewhere in Europe, JVC might leave the stock in the warehouse and send directly a full container stationed at TCT Belgium, since it has to be moved anyway. There, the the cargo of floor loaded containers are likely to be palletized and brought by truck to inland destinations.
The streamlined supply system of JVC Belgium makes optimal use of the free storage time at the deepsea terminal in Rotterdam and at the inland terminal. Free time in Rotterdam is limited to around 5 days, while free time at TCT Belgium amounts to 21 days. By imposing the four-day rule to shipping lines, JVC Belgium guarantees the dwell time at the deepsea terminal never exceeds the free time. In other words, JVC has successfully externalized a significant share of its warehousing costs through an optimal combination of deepsea and inland terminals use.