DHL Supply Chain’s Life Sciences & Healthcare Campus in Nijmegen distributes thousands of medicine packages to places worldwide. “East Netherlands is the perfect place within Europe for international logistics companies”, says Peter Korte, DHL’s vice president of Life Sciences & Healthcare Benelux and Denmark. Thanks in part to the knowledge and network of Oost NL, the logistics provider was able to expand its existing premises at Bedrijvenpark Bijsterhuizen – located in both Wijchen and Nijmegen – with a brand new distribution center.
About 525 employees work at the DHL campus in Nijmegen. The company focuses on the European and global markets for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. “Manufacturers use our location as a European or global distribution center”, says Korte. “We manage stocks for our customers and prepare shipments to deliver to hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare institutions. Medicines can be stored at different temperatures in our facilities. From 15-25 degrees to minus 80 degrees Celsius.”
(Re)packaging medicine is also a big part of their work on the DHL Campus. “We adapt packaging for a specific market on behalf of our customers”, explains Korte. “We have blank medicine bottles in stock from several companies. We use these to, under the supervision of pharmacists, make final products that comply with the laws and regulations of a particular country. We then print the packaging box with a serial number and an expiration date, after which we ship the medicine.”
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The campus also offers a service called ‘order-to-cash’. DHL helps, for example, American start-ups that want to serve the European market with logistics and the financial process. “So we not only have their medicine in storage, we also take orders from hospitals and other customers. We then send invoices, collect the money and ensure that the money reaches the client’s account.”
The new distribution center in Nijmegen is climate neutral. “DHL wants to be CO2 neutral throughout the organization by 2050, but we want our premises to be so by 2030. Our buildings on the Bijsterhuizen business park are already completely climate neutral. We generate 60 percent of our energy needs through solar panels there, and the buildings do not use gas. The buildings are also incredibly well-insulated, and we made the roofs white, so heat stress has less chance”, says Korte.
The DHL campus in Nijmegen has grown from 34,000 to 90,000 square meters in recent years. And there’s a reason for that. “The region of Nijmegen is the perfect base of operations within Europe for us and other distribution centers. We are close to important air and sea ports in the Netherlands and Germany. Another advantage is that Nijmegen is a student city, so there is enough well-trained personnel. All this makes East Netherlands the ideal location.”
DHL consulted with Oost NL on several occasions in 2019 when they expanded the campus with a distribution center. Korte still meets with them multiple times each year. “Oost NL contributes to a good business climate for international customers in East Netherlands. Oost NL is the connecting factor for us within the ‘life-science-and-healthcare-ecosystem’ in the region of Nijmegen, with its network within the pharmaceutical industry and its knowledge of this sector.”
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For example, DHL has agreed that Oost NL will sit down with potential DHL customers as an independent party. “If they still have to decide where to locate, Oost NL can explain why the business climate in East Netherlands is better than in Germany, for example. Or what the tax advantages are. They have all that knowledge at their disposal. In addition, Oost NL opens a lot of doors. Good relations with the government are important.”
Even though there are no concrete plans for new expansions in Nijmegen, Korte would immediately contact Oost NL if there were. “Oost NL is the connector you need to grow as a logistics service provider in Overijssel or Gelderland.”