The processes at a port company are so specific that until recently, there were no standard ERP packages for these organisations. In its search for a new ERP solution, Molenbergnatie was faced with this exact problem.

The company found its perfect match in the Logiqstar standard package, which was built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

The Molenbergnatie Group is a leading and innovative partner in the supply-chain management of so-called ‘soft commodities’. The company was set up in 1867 and is headquartered in Antwerp, with branches in Barcelona, Valencia, and Santander in Spain, and in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It is one of the leading supply-chain managers in the world for coffee, cocoa, tea, nuts, and spices. Molenbergnatie offers its customers a wide range of services in the field of warehousing and third-party logistics, including forwarding, processing, customs declarations, storage, and distribution. The company is constantly extending its value-added service offer, e.g. by cleaning and treating raw materials. Today, Molenbergnatie has 400,000 m² of storage capacity at the Port of Antwerp, in high-quality warehouses, including a 16,000 m² cool store, 6,700 tonnes of storage capacity in the bulk coffee terminal and 25,000 m² of storage space for general cargo.

A custom package that no longer fit

In 2000, Molenbergnatie launched a customisation process for the management of physical stocks, customs stock management, and integration with a financial package. “Logistics is a very broad field,” says Matthias D’hondt, CEO of Molenbergnatie. “We also have very specific requirements. There was no such thing as a standard software package for port companies on the market. At the time, a custom package seemed the only feasible solution.” Following a long preparatory process, Molenbergnatie started using a custom package. However, the company’s service offer evolved at lightning speed and it proved impossible for the existing solution to support all the new services. “We got stuck in the seemingly endless implementation phase. When we finally implemented the custom solution in 2004, many things had changed in our company compared to four years earlier, when we had launched the process.” Fast-forward another four years and the gap was virtually impossible to bridge. “We were looking for company-wide support. We needed a real ERP solution that would allow us to better manage and monitor our processes. At the same time, we needed a much shorter timeframe between the definition of the process and its implementation, and we wanted to avoid custom packages as much as possible.”

Molenbergnatie approached various ERP providers and also consulted several colleagues at the port. Two of these colleagues were particularly satisfied with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. “Those two companies told us how happy they were to be using that platform,” explains Bart Milloen, Operations Director at Molenbergnatie. “They highlighted one specific aspect in particular: the platform’s flexibility, both for end users and for customers.” At the same time, Molenbergnatie realised that flexibility also implies a degree of ‘danger’ so to speak. “Competent management is a must to avoid endless adjustments and a lack of documentation. Moreover, IT is not one of our core activities. We therefore needed to rely on assistance from an expert external partner.” Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers flexible support not only for logistics processes, but also includes a sound financial core application. That was one of the deciding factors for us to choose this particular solution.

Standard for specific logistics

“Finding the right implementation partner was no easy feat,” says Matthias D’hondt. “Most companies that were in the running excelled in one specific field, but never in all fields combined – from warehousing to customs, finances, etc.” The company eventually opted for the NORRIQ and Xolyd joint venture, as it offered Molenbergnatie exactly what it was looking for. NORRIQ was in charge of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV standard implementation, focusing on finances and business intelligence, among others. Xolyd, on the other hand, was responsible for the development of the Logiqstar standard solution, which they had already launched, and the implementation of specific parts of the project. “We were happy to work with the standard product for the financial aspects,” Matthias D’hondt continues. “Needless to say, we wanted a standard package for the logistics processes too, but in that field, we remained quite sceptical. After all, until then not a single partner had managed to come up with a standard solution to meet our specific logistics requirements.”

That’s where Logiqstar came in, by offering a standard ERP solution specifically developed for port operators, with, among others, support of third-party logistics, customs, etc. “It really is a standard solution,” says Bart Milloen. “Only certain specific features are not included in the standard package (roughly 10%). In our case, this includes integration with commodity exchanges. This allows us, as a port operator, to achieve a good competitive advantage from a solution that, per se, mainly offers standard features.”

Concrete insights into results

In just one year, Molenbergnatie completed the preparatory process, which was three years shorter than for its previous ERP project. Quite impressive, to say the least! The company then proceeded to the actual implementation of the solution, one step at a time. The first phase of the implementation process focused on the financial module and several related services, including the CEPA module for the recruitment of port workers, purchasing, and invoicing. Soon after, Molenbergnatie also implemented the business intelligence module. “It was important for us to quickly get a good overview of our financial processes,” Matthias D’hondt explains. “Port workers account for about one fourth of our expenditure. Being able to immediately link that module to financial management was truly a blessing. It gave us a solid foundation to work with activity-based costing.”

As such, the ERP package gives Molenbergnatie a better insight into its business operations. The company can now immediately identify where and when it needs to change course. Molenbergnatie also opted for a phased roll-out of the system per department. The cocoa department went live in June 2011. “The ERP package covers the entire chain, from order to invoicing. Once that is completely operational, we can start the roll-out in the other departments,” Bart Milloen explains. In the spring of 2012 Molenbergnatie wants the package to have been successfully implemented in Antwerp. By mid-2012 the other sites too should have switched to the new ERP solution.

First and foremost, Logiqstar has given Molenbergnatie a solution with a broad range of features. The package allows the company to gear its services to customers even further. “This makes IT one of our distinctive features – or assets even. That is a must for any logistics service provider,” Matthias D’hondt explains. At operational level, the new ERP solution offers several important advantages. It is a company-wide integrated solution. Information needs to be entered only once, which results in data of higher quality and higher operational efficiency. Internal control has also been given a serious boost. “We have a much better insight into financial flows,” Matthias D’hondt concludes. “We now know at any time where our strengths lie and where we need to do better. This improved internal control allows us to respond to challenges even faster. In the past we were unable to do so, because we didn’t have a clear view of our finances.” Meanwhile, Logiqstar continues to evolve. In fact, Molenbergnatie aims to further integrate the package with the other solutions the company is currently using.

Logiqstar supports the specific requirements of port operators and ensures that IT is no longer limited to the back office, but affects all processes, all the way to the operations in the terminals.

Matthias D’hondtCEO of Molenbergnatie

Fact sheet

Country: Belgium

Sector: Logistics/Port operator

Profile of Molenbergnatie

Molenbergnatie is one of the leading supply-chain managers worldwide for coffee, cocoa, tea, nuts, and spices. The company was set up in 1867 in Antwerp and has branches in Barcelona, Valencia, and Santander, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Today, Molenbergnatie has 400,000 m² of storage capacity at the Port of Antwerp, in high-quality warehouses, including a 16,000 m² cool store, 6,700 tonnes of storage capacity in the bulk coffee terminal and 25,000 m² of storage space for general cargo.

The challenge

As the custom solution in place did not offer the support the company required for its evolving service offer, Molenbergnatie set out to find a standard package that offered integrated support for all of its business processes. The priority was to translate the services offered into concrete financial facts and figures to ultimately generate reports quicker and boost efficiency levels.

The solution

At Molenbergnatie, Logiqstar implemented a standard solution for port logistics companies based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Today, about eighty staff members at Molenbergnatie use the Logiqstar platform.


  • Transparent support of the entire supply chain – from order to invoicing – including Molenbergnatie’s specific port-related services, such as third-party logistics and customs.
  • Targeted IT support for specific business processes puts Molenbergnatie one step ahead in its highly competitive market.
  • Quick and detailed financial reporting is used as input for management decisions.