Jos Miermans, co-founder and Business Partner
In 2015, Marnix Van Bockhaven and Jos Miermans, pioneers in the home delivery of food and medication with a long track record in project management, logistics, customer service, and cold chain management, embarked on a journey by founding Etheclo, which stands for Thermo Controlled Logistics.
They noticed that the retailers, logistic players, food producers, and pharma companies are all looking for “safe” but also affordable ways to get into the e-commerce business. However, their main concern was the transportation of temperature-sensitive goods. This kind of transport requires a network of cooled vans and causes multiple effects: an increase of the logistics costs by on average 30 per cent since they require more fuel, more delays in product deliveries because they contribute to traffic jams and last but not least they have a negative impact on carbon emissions.
"What we saw was, these players were using cooled vans to deliver temperature-sensitive goods to a locality which was already being served by their regular vehicles," says Jos Miermans, co-founder and Business Partner, Etheclo. As a result, many companies in the e-commerce space were looking for alternative distribution channels to transport their temperature-sensitive goods in a safe way to their customers while reducing the cost of logistics and maintaining cold chain compliance. Fulfilling this need is Etheclo’s reusable passive cooling box—Etheclobox that maintains the temperature of the chilled and frozen good. It stores them for longer periods and in a compliant way, removing cooled vans from the equation and allowing clients to combine all their goods in the same non cooled van. And in the same time, this increases the customer experience of the “delivery moment”.
The Etheclobox offers an end-to-end unbroken cold-chain up to 36 hours for first- and last-mile, home- and non-home, B2C as well as B2B delivery. “Our cool box enables longer logistic trips, thus ensuring to all parties that their shipments will reach their destination safely at an affordable cost,” remarks Miermans. Etheclobox can be used for the delivery of fresh-pressed juices, exotic meat, fish, cheese, meals, pastries, chocolate, and even wine. Tested under both normal and extreme weather conditions during winter and summer, the cool box gives the perfect result in all scenarios.
The Etheclobox is highly isolating, lightweight, easy to handle (open/close), and clean, and it comes with firm, almost hermetic closing. Besides, the cool box is reusable up to dozens of times, contributing in this way to a more circular and sustainable economy. “We can conclude that the Etheclobox is a safe solution that contributes at the same time to a better environment and more viable streets,” states Miermans. And the last but not the least aspect, at the end of its life, the Etheclobox can be entirely recycled.
Etheclo understands that food and healthcare products are very sensitive to temperature variations. Therefore, they should comply with strict rules for temperature endurance and monitoring. To address this requirement, every Etheclobox can be equipped with sensors that record the temperature of shipments in real-time and transmit the information to the company’s cloud platform, Etheclomonitor, for interpretation. And if any anomalies are seen, the concerned persons are informed through a notification to their personal devices, so that they can take the required actions. Besides, the barcode and RFID-tags implemented in the identification label on the cool box allows shipment traceability that reduces the risk of shipment loss and adulteration.
Depending on the clients' requirements, Etheclo offers Etheclobox in two versions—standard cool box and the lowered cool box. Both versions of cool boxes can keep the temperature-sensitive items safe for up to 36 hours. The only difference between the two is their capacity, while the standard one is ideal for the shipment of 30 litres products; the lowered cool box is suitable for the delivery of 18 litres products. However, if a client needs more specifications than these two cool boxes, Etheclo can also provide a tailor-made cool box. In that case, the company sets up a personalized process from prototype to final cool box together with the client. It also tests the customized cool box extensively in the Etheclo’s climate room according to the customers’ requirements.
Along with the food and beverage industry, Etheclo also serves smart cities, short-chain, e-commerce, events, and B2B deliveries. At present, there are around 35 customers of Etheclo in which most of them are Belgian “niche” players. One such customer of the company is Deeleenkoe. It is a cow butchering firm that works on the concept of “share a cow”. Deeleenkoe shares the picture of the cows online that are soon to be butchered. The customers of Deeleenkoe can go on the company's website and can place an online order requesting the cow’s meat. However, orders come from different locations; some deliveries are nearby while some far. Also, meat cannot be preserved for long. To this end, Etheclo helps Deeleenkoe to safely deliver more than 100 meat packages in the Benelux in a week.
To expand and enhance its services further, Etheclo will soon enter into the healthcare and pharma sector. The company is also planning to add other metrics than temperature, like humidity, shock, and more to the Etheclobox, besides, integrating new future technologies into it. “We continue our innovation track: longer trips, alternative cooling solutions, and monitoring systems - let's think in and around the box!" concludes Miermans.