Behind the scenes at Operations
29 June 2023
You hardly see them. You don’t hear them often either. But these Ritra colleagues are very much present! There really is a lot happening in the Operations department. But mostly – and preferably – behind the scenes. For once, we got to spend a day with these silent forces behind Team Ritra. Would you like to read about how Wilfred, Ronald, Johan and Vivian ensure operations run flawlessly, day in, day out?
The team introduces itself
Well, they’d rather not actually. Because they are really rather modest. After all, the Operations team prefers to work behind the scenes. That is where they feel most comfortable. But for once, they agreed to an interview. This gives you – and us – an interesting peek into the Operations department and the people behind it.
This close-knit team has long been held together by Operations Manager Wilfred. With over 31 (!) years of Ritra service on the clock, he knows the organisation like the back of his hand. This proud Spartan and true family man knows how to create a pleasant and friendly working atmosphere. This is evidenced by the number of years he has formed a tight team with the others. Of course, their shared love of authentic Rotterdam humour and ‘good food’ plays a big part in this.
Born Frisian, Johan is a proud father of three daughters and has lived in the Rotterdam region for many years. He has been a familiar face at Operations for almost 23 years. Those years of experience ensure that he knows the agencies like no other. This makes him a great mediator between agents and colleagues. What’s more, Johan never seems to get stressed, and with responsibility over turbulent shipping regions like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea, that is a great trait.
For many years, Ronald has been the point of contact for the China shipping region. After studying at the Havenvakschool for harbour professionals and at Jan Backx, he did holiday work at ECT and internships at a moving company and freight forwarder, among others. But he soon joined Ritra Cargo. Ronald not only celebrated his 40th birthday two years ago, but also his 20th anniversary. Besides being an avid convertible driver and biker, Ritra’s own ‘Lego Master’ is a real doer, who also likes to think proactively. With a wealth of experience and a keen eye for precision, this makes him a valuable team player.
In addition to his usual duties, spider-in-the-web Wilfred supports his team and jumps in when needed. In the background, he ensures that his team – as well as other colleagues – are able to keep on working without delays. Worries about delayed releases, erroneous purchase invoices, Bills of Lading, incorrect sailing schedules and other snags or bumps in the road; he loves to relief his colleagues of these cares. Customer contact also suits Wilfred well. With so much experience, it becomes second nature to pass your knowledge on to others, and Ritra’s clients are only too happy with that dynamic.
The ‘OPS team’ has been complete for a year now. Busy-bee Vivian fights her corner well within the team. This travel-loving lady is the proud mother of a five-year-old son. Her Asian roots previously helped her get jobs with a consolidator and a fellow freight forwarder, but at Ritra she has really found her niche. She is responsible for bookings from India, Indonesia, Japan, the United States, Pakistan and Malaysia, among others. Besides her daily tasks, she loves dealing with clients assigned to her, as this gives her greater variety during the day.
Mornings in Operations
How it is possible that this team is almost invisible to you as a customer? The bulk of their work takes place behind the scenes. They are the ears and eyes of our company. You can compare them to an engine room. The day always starts early, around seven o’clock. The mail gets fired up and queries from overseas agents are responded to, submitted Bills of Lading are checked and other urgent matters are taken on immediately.
In the morning, the websites of ECT, RWG and APM and shipping companies are consulted. This will happen many more times during the day. Are blank sailings, straggling containers or roll-overs detected? They see it here and now. This work happens thoroughly, starts early and ends only when the last colleague goes home (and sometimes even a little later). Proactive as they are, it still sometimes happens that one of our employees will call the shipping company to tell them that their ship has been delayed….
How does this affect you?
So the info obtained and retrieved comes directly from this department. Throughout the day, assurances are obtained whether containers are on board. Followed by our ‘Pre Arrival’, which you’re probably familiar with.
Are there any changes to sailing schedules or arrival times? Then you will be notified of early arrival or ‘Vessel delay’. Delays are obviously not the nicest news to get (or deliver), but it’s good to know well in advance so you can anticipate delays.
Container exemptions are applied for, purchase invoices are checked, agent invoices are checked, bookings are monitored and a check is casually made at the warehouse whether the groupage containers have already been unloaded. Then everything that needs to be adjusted is processed in Ritra’s own software ‘FMS’ and the (new) ‘Dashboard’.
Just a fraction of a second later, this information also enters TRACOS. That way, not only are we always up to date, but you are too. After this thorough preparation, the files go to Customer Service and the Customs department for further handling, customs clearance and preparation for transport to your warehouse.
Team versus Ritra
These lovely quotes, which we picked up during our interview, make us quite proud, so we didn’t want to withhold them from you.
Ronald: “The relatively small club is like a family and is fun to work with. That and the freedom I get to carry out my work means I’ve enjoyed my job for years.”
“After all these years, I still enjoy the challenge of delivering quality every day.”
Vivian: “The working atmosphere is pleasant, the employer considerate. The men in my team are caring and wonderfully relaxed.”
“Often employers claim they will think proactively with you, but here they really do.”
Johan: “There is little staff turnover within Ritra. It’s fun and we really do it with and for each other.”
Wilfred: “Ritra stands for quality. We contribute to that a lot as operations, especially in the background. We do our utmost to enable colleagues to provide the best service to Ritra’s customers.”
“The great thing is that we all do it together. Fortunately we still know who our colleagues are.”
More interviews, behind-the-scenes peeks and other fun facts about team Ritra can be found on our news page!
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