Together for one goal: efficiently supply 94 French Colruyt stores

The largest project in the history of Colruyt Prix Qualité is taking shape: in three years’ time we will double our logistics surface area in France. In April 2021, the new 12,000 m² distribution centre in Gondreville, near Nancy, will open. The distance to the northernmost French stores will therefore be considerably reduced. The result: lower transport costs and emissions. And an interesting IT project preceding it: the new transport planning software for efficiently supplying the French Colruyt stores. Lead software engineer Tine Verrue is an indispensable link in that chain.

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New distribution centre Gondreville

In a small country like Belgium, it doesn’t matter that much which distribution centre supplies to the stores. On the basis of various parameters, stores are sometimes supplied from one warehouse and sometimes from another. With the arrival of the new distribution centre in France, it makes more sense to supply the northernmost French stores from Gondreville, instead of Rochefort-sur-Nenon, some 250 kilometres south. Tine Verrue set to work to optimise the existing transport planning for the new situation in France.

Distribution centre Gondreville Distribution centre Gondreville

Logistic chain

“IT projects in logistics are totally my thing,” says Tine enthusiastically. “I like that chain, the links, the steps that follow each other. Goods arrive at the distribution centre, the orders for the stores are calculated and the necessary goods are picked up in the warehouse. The goods are then transported by truck to the store and finally reach the shelves for our customers. If you change something in this flow at place x, it also has an immediate impact at places y and z. It involves a lot of technologies, connections and databases. Those links are what makes it interesting.”

Puzzling for solutions

“As lead software engineer, I translate the analysis of the solution analyst into technical designs,” Tine goes on to explain. “That’s what I like best: the puzzling, figuring out the impact on different systems and applications and trying to find the best solution. In this phase, I have many consultations with colleagues. Because I can read the existing code, but I don’t always know why certain choices were made in the past. With these practical questions, I can go to the senior software engineers, the application manager and others. During the daily stand-up we go over the status of the project and further planning with the project manager, solution analyst and software engineers.”

Tine Verrue Tine Verrue

Roll up your sleeves and go

“Once the technical designs are approved, it’s roll up your sleeves and start programming, so to speak. In this project, we work with four software engineers simultaneously. As the lead, I remain the point of contact for the various parties. I keep the overview, while also being responsible for meeting the agreed deadlines. During programming, the concrete details of the project do not really matter and we work out a more abstract technical solution. Exactly which warehouse it is, and whether it is one or fifty, doesn’t matter much at that point.”

The moment of truth

This project is currently going through its final step: the test phase. “Fixing bugs is part of the job,” Tine continues. “The foundation of the design is right, we just need to make some adjustments to the links here and there. We are still on track, though. Fortunately, because the distribution centre in Gondreville will soon be up and running!”