Marc van Gelder (48) from Markelo, father of two teenage sons, works as site manager at AL-West BV in Deventer. He previously worked for Shell and the University of Groningen. AL-West BV has been working with TerraIndex since 2006 and now receives more than 85% of its assignments digitally.
‘Because most assignments are delivered digitally, we can provide our clients with reliable results ever faster.’
As site manager, I am ultimately responsible for all the activities of AL-West BV.
In 1986 AGROLAB was founded in Germany by its current CEO Dr. Paul Wimmer. At the time, he started with three employees. In 2005, AGROLAB took over the laboratory branch of Tauw. Meanwhile, the AGROLAB GROUP has dozens of branches throughout Europe and more than 1,900 employees. The AGROLAB GROUP has won several awards and was among the winners of the Bayerns Best 50 for the 6th time in 2021.
I have been working for AL-West BV in Deventer for 10 years. I started as head of the organic department, now I work as a site manager. Our site currently employs more than 220 people. We are really a production site and perform various analyses, including those for soil research. Each year we receive over 400,000 sample containers. Depending on the assignment, these are broken down into several sub-samples – and thus analyses. As site manager, I have final responsibility and ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. I also keep an eye on cost savings and make sure that our people can do their work efficiently. The digitalization of processes plays an important role in this.
Our IT department has worked closely with TerraIndex
The cooperation with TerraIndex started back in 2002. At the time, we worked together with TerraIndex, Alcontrol and Analytico, on a uniform exchange protocol for research agencies and laboratories. From there, the TerraIndex soil survey software emerged. In the past, it was quite a challenge to convert data to the SIKB digital exchange format. This was necessary for orders from clients to end up directly in our LIMS system (Laboratory Information Management System). This can now be done without any problems, which helps us to process orders directly and serve our clients faster. At the time, our IT department worked closely with TerraIndex to make this happen. A pleasant collaboration.’
Digitalization is important for efficient and error-free work
In the Netherlands, we are truly ahead of our market in terms of digitalization. In Germany – and other European countries – for example, much is still done by hand. Digitalization is important for us to be able to work efficiently and without mistakes
Digital orders and samples with a scannable barcode can be transferred flawlessly into our own LIM system. Samples are traceable and research results can then be easily uploaded for the customer. Paper orders and samples with handwritten labels still must be entered and split manually, numbering labels again by hand. This is a time-consuming and human centered task, with the possibility of clerical errors. Of course, it would be best if all customers worked with one system. But this is not always possible. For smaller customers, for example, the step to digitization may not yet be worthwhile.’
We can provide customers with reliable results increasingly quickly
Because most assignments are delivered digitally, we can provide our customers with reliable results increasingly quickly and efficiently. Because we can perform more analyses in a shorter time and with fewer people, we can also reduce our costs – and thus the prices for the customer. It is our mission to provide customers with reliable and accurate analysis results on time, at an optimal price and performance ratio, with excellent customer service. Digitization certainly helps us accomplish this mission.
Currently, we provide our customers with analyses results within 5 working days as standard. Analyses that require faster results can be requested separately. Our goal is to go from the standard 5 to 4 working days. By further digitalizing the processes, partly in cooperation with TerraIndex, we expect to be able to better serve our customers. ‘