Industry examples

Time to stop the trouble at the loading dock.

Focusing on hot spots during digitization that many leave behind: Brüggen and Tudor Rose manage loading docks to their advantage with time slot management.

Just about a year ago, I’ve given an introduction to the topic time slot management (TSM) in my blog post “Get all trucks in a row”. And even a year on, loading areas of businesses around the world remain a common “scene of the trouble” – still causing many conflicts between shippers and transport companies today. It seems so unnecessary, doesn’t it?

With all the developments in streamlining supply chains, digitizing businesses, and advancing autonomous driving these days, it seems completely inappropriate to lack visibility of incoming deliveries, incur truck waiting times, struggle with staffing, or experience traffic jams in the yard.

Clearly, businesses need to realize that it’s a fairly simple problem to solve today. There are straightforward solutions available that integrate easily into existing IT landscapes, offer convenient, online access for transport partners, and deliver an excellent ROI.

But rather than explain what and how, I’d simply like to share some insights from a case-study today: meet German cereal foodstuffs manufacturer Brüggen.

From firefighting to streamlining

Enduring six-hour waiting times before loading can even start. That wasn’t an unusual faith for truck drivers at the loading docks of the company Brüggen – just some years ago. The trucks would arrive in an uncoordinated order and be processed in the order of their arrival.

A quite common scenario still applicable to many businesses today. For Brüggen, this resulted in some cases in very long waiting times, contract penalties, or demurrage charges. And then, two years ago, the company introduced a TSM solution for streamlining all incoming and outgoing shipments to solve the problem.

  • “Everything is running very smoothly now. Today, on average, we are completing load handling within 1.5 hours,” says Marek Schröder, Head of Logistics at Brüggen.

Happy staff: lean resource management

Now, Brüggen’s teams at the loading docks can make the goods available in time for loading because they know exactly which shipments are scheduled next. If not much is going on, the head of the team can decide to send staff home. Before, this would have been unthinkable since no one knew when the trucks would arrive.

Costly overtime has become a thing of the past. Teams can also issue picking orders with much greater precision now and ensure that necessary resources are available when needed: the right number of workers or the conveyance technology required to put away stock, for example.

  • “Our employees at the loading dock were very skeptical in the beginning since they could not imagine that the chaos could be controlled with an IT tool. In the meantime, they can no longer imagine working without the TSM,” Schröder explains.

Happy partners: dynamic scheduling

But not just Brüggen’s own teams are happy with the new solution. Brüggen’s transport partners benefit, too. Since all involved parties are connected now, they have developed an excellent communication basis.

Trucks that arrive at Brüggen’s docks with delay do not have to join the very end of the line, but will be automatically assigned the next free time slot. The system offers complete transparency in line with access rights – across all used loading docks, timed collections and deliveries, as well as all booked and free time slots.

  • “The odd truck can still be a bit late every once in a while, but we can cope with this much better now and handle it comparatively quickly,” Schröder explains.

Benefits far beyond the loading dock

The objective of TSM solutions is to avoid peaks at the loading docks and to balance the number of loading activities throughout the course of the day and of the week. But most importantly, the integration of such solutions into the overall intra-logistics process also enables better planning and coordination of the entire logistics chain.

This has positive effects on warehouse resources, but also on customer centricity or on production supply and planning, for example. For Brüggen, the impact is noticeable even in sales where people used to call asking about the whereabouts of goods. Via an easy-to-access web-based platform, everyone can now see the status and can also provide information at any time.

  • “For me, the TSM leads to an optimization of the overall process and not only to an improved situation at the loading dock. Everything has become much more relaxed and we get much more done nowadays,” Schröder concludes.

TSM – The right way for you?

Of course, Brüggen is only one example. Tudor Rose International, is another. Based in the UK, this is Europe’s leading export market management company, specializing in building brands around the world.

After 15 years, Tudor Rose’s custom developed in-house solution for the commercial and the logistics side of its business was struggling to support growing business volumes efficiently. It was time for IT improvements. The decision to upgrade the system landscape kicked off a major project, involving all business areas, from sales and procurement to operations and fulfilment.

Checklist
Checklist

The company mastered its end-to-end logistics modernization successfully: from order confirmation to final delivery – and including time slot management. You can read the full Tudor Rose case-study here.

What is the situation at your loading dock?

Take a look at the check list on the left – click to enlarge it.

If several of those points apply to your operations, it’s high time to take a look at solutions that support your business and fit your current IT landscape.

I’m happy to discuss your operational scenario in more detail with you – just contact us, or go online to explore TSM solutions a bit further.

I’m looking forward to your feedback on LinkedIn.