Cross Chain Control Collaboration (4C)

Recalibration 4C-Roadmap in full swing

Dinalog is working on a recalibration of the 4C-Roadmap. This agenda for action establishes where research is (still) necessary in order to raise Dutch logistics to a higher level through innovation. During the annual congress for the Top Sector Logistics in Rotterdam on April 1 a sub session was dedicated to the 4C-Roadmap.

The 4C-Roadmap has been established as one of the themes for us in our goal of an international top position in logistics. The Netherlands wants to be the chain coordinator for logistics activities in 2020 and has an attractive innovation and business climate for international shippers and logistics companies.

First experiences

With another five years to go, the moment has arrived for the actualization of the first roadmap. Where are the blank spots? Program manager Bas van Bree is working on this with Dinalog’s scientific director, Albert Veenstra. “There have been multiple initiatives for establishing Cross Chain Control Centers (4C). They haven’t all got off the ground, but they have produced valuable insights. So 4C often evokes the association that the coordination will be taken over, but this is incorrect. It would be better to replace the C for control with the C for collaboration.” It has also appeared that shippers should be more in control. They can drive horizontal cooperation. “Tangible results have been achieved through the bundling of goods and their joint processing.”

Consulting companies

In the past few months, Van Bree had consultations with companies and knowledge institutes and a bottom-up analysis was performed based on the research projects already running in the 4C-Roadmap. The session during the annual congress was a consultation of entrepreneurs, business stakeholders and researchers. Jannie van Andel, logistics manager at Unilever Benelux and panel member, expressed her concerns about the lack of development of standards in the governance structure. “The market is changing very rapidly. How do we keep track of it?”, she wondered. She thinks innovation is lagging behind partly because parties do not believe in cooperation. “Cooperation in logistics is more than sharing a truck. Horizontal and vertical cooperation is mainly to do with how parties deal with each other and whether they can look beyond the length of their own shadow.”

High costs and legal snags also appeared to be hindrances. Panel member Rob ter Brugge of Cape Group opposed that innovation can also be worked on by keeping projects small or cutting them up into phases. “Think big, start small scale fast”, Van Andel added. Only expand when it’s successful. Don’t assume that innovation is something that can be fixed within a year.”

Complete overview

Van Bree thought the ambition to optimize the chain and to work on 4C concepts was tangible during the session. It is up to TKI Dinalog to steer this in the right direction and also not to think too small. As Albert Veenstra put it: “Control issues in logistics are a complex combination of financing, psychology, technology and human capital. I would like us to not only tackle 4C projects in the new road map, but to also devote attention to the integral nature of the 4C complexity.” Van Bree adds. “We have to look for the combination between short-term projects that deliver tangible results, and long-term research. And we keep the dialog open with the market, so that we can keep operating based on companies’ needs.”

Blank spots

Consultations will run until the summer. It is already clear that a number of points will be on the agenda. Van Bree: “Like the mutual trust within the chain and the integration of ICT systems and smart data processing. And e-commerce is experiencing strong growth, resulting in a complex fulfilment issue. This offers us opportunities based on our experience as chain coordinators. Urban distribution is a subject requiring continuous attention. There still is a lot to be gained in the last mile.” The legal frameworks and business models for setting up chain cooperation also require attention. Bas van Bree: “Forms of joint ventures are part of governance. Is it better to engage an independent chain coordinator or to organize it together? For the first one, there has to be real added value, for the last one, there has to be trust between the parties.”

Contribute ideas for the 4C Roadmap?

If you have ideas about recalibrating the 4C-Roadmap, contact Bas van Bree by e-mail ( or telephone: 06 41173072.

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