The holiday shipping season was in full swing and stress levels were at an all-time high for employees throughout the organization of a nationwide, food service client. Both inbound and outbound truckload volume was at overwhelming capacity with as many as 40 truckloads per day moving to and from the facility and only five dock doors were available to use.
The warehouse personnel was frustrated with the limited dock space and excessive volume of traffic. Outbound customer shipments were naturally taking precedence, and buyers within the organization were getting anxious about receiving their raw goods in a timely manner due to the lack of predictability. The customer service department continued to prioritize the finished goods leaving in order to make clients’ due dates. Both the Ops Center and the client believed arrivals and departures both needed equally successful scheduling execution and the limited number of docks needed to be able to accommodate more volume.
Individuals and departments often have their own set of initiatives and goals, and sometimes these priorities conflict with one another, causing the supply chain to be disrupted and personnel to become frustrated. To service providers tasked with facilitating effective pickup and delivery routes, the clock can be the enemy. Most pickup and delivery scheduling notifications were communicated to the client via email from an Ops Center member. As the dock space filled at multiple warehouses and volume continued to soar, the scheduling process became more difficult and more complex to maintain. Truckloads weren’t being scheduled efficiently, and a system was needed to handle higher demand requests.
When coordination of product availability and pickup schedules can not be matched seamlessly, layover holds, and excessive wait times can cause increased expense for the customer. Additionally, obtaining and holding pricing from a vendor when the delivery time is not secured at the time of the agreement is also a high-risk challenge for the provider.
The Ops Center’s Approach
The Ops Center identified the need for a new system in order to assure both arrivals and departures were treated with equal importance while minimizing potential expenses caused by errors or delays in scheduling. Through a collaborative approach, The Ops Center and the client investigated solutions that would allow an Ops Center team member to have full visibility of the scheduling calendars for all dock locations, client-approved inbound and outbound arrival times, and daily volume allotments.
The client’s IT team provided The Ops Center with full access and editing rights to the warehouse scheduling system. With this access, Ops Center dispatchers could make immediate buying and scheduling decisions. The authority to make these decisions allowed for more utilization of truckload time slots as well as the ability to secure cost-effective rates thanks to more reliable predictability for the vendor.
The delay originally caused by the previous scheduling process was effectively eliminated, making room for a higher number of truckloads to flow weekly across the customer’s dock. Elimination of this significant scheduling delay allowed a 25% increase in truckloads per week. Additionally, the quicker buying process allowed The Ops Center to help our client realize a 5% decrease in their truckload pricing after the first month of implementation of the new system.
The calendar capabilities hold The Ops Center staff accountable for managing and overseeing the arrival and departure times. Pressure is taken off the client’s individual departments to struggle to get what they need, when they need it, at the expense of other divisions and their corresponding goals.
Strategy and planning are fundamental to businesses in every industry, and when the client and logistics provider both have access to the same real-time information, savings and time-efficacy are always the end result. Creating processes that allow for information and data to flow more quickly and with more accuracy should always be essential priorities in keeping up with demand and volume as any supply chain grows.