Executive Briefings

Dimensions for the Supply Chain - Made Easy

Using automated tools to record the physical dimensions of packages, pallets and loose freight helps carriers and shippers capture additional revenue and optimize available warehouse space, says Jerry Stoll, marketing manger at Mettler-Toledo, which makes dimensioning systems for the supply chain.

"Our tools are basically a high-powered tape measure," says Stoll. Mettler Toledo has been making precision instruments for around 100 years old, but it entered the freight dimensioning business in the mid-1990s with mass flow products that measure packages on conveyor belts at very high speed. "This allowed companies to increase their speed from about 1,500 packages an hour to up to 30,000 packages an hour, which was significant for their throughput and revenue," he says.

In 2006 the company introduced pallet "dimensioners," which took it into the less-than-truckload side of the business. Pallet dimensioning systems use the same technology as conveyor systems, Stoll says, with the added ability to measure very large or irregular shaped items. "If there is something that isn't on a pallet, like chairs or tables, we can measure those and get an accurate volume that allows carriers to calculate the density, which can be incorporated in the freight classification system and used for pricing."

The main benefit of these systems is revenue recovery, says Stoll. "Transportation companies are selling space and it is critical for them to know how much space is being taken up by a unit of freight so they can charge shippers appropriately." Using space as efficiently as possible also has "green" benefits and offers improved labor productivity, he says.

From a shipper's perspective, it is important that they charge their customers correctly in terms of shipping costs, says Stoll. "In many cases, companies ship products directly to consumers. If they undercharge them for shipping and handling, there is no way to recover those costs."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.

"Our tools are basically a high-powered tape measure," says Stoll. Mettler Toledo has been making precision instruments for around 100 years old, but it entered the freight dimensioning business in the mid-1990s with mass flow products that measure packages on conveyor belts at very high speed. "This allowed companies to increase their speed from about 1,500 packages an hour to up to 30,000 packages an hour, which was significant for their throughput and revenue," he says.

In 2006 the company introduced pallet "dimensioners," which took it into the less-than-truckload side of the business. Pallet dimensioning systems use the same technology as conveyor systems, Stoll says, with the added ability to measure very large or irregular shaped items. "If there is something that isn't on a pallet, like chairs or tables, we can measure those and get an accurate volume that allows carriers to calculate the density, which can be incorporated in the freight classification system and used for pricing."

The main benefit of these systems is revenue recovery, says Stoll. "Transportation companies are selling space and it is critical for them to know how much space is being taken up by a unit of freight so they can charge shippers appropriately." Using space as efficiently as possible also has "green" benefits and offers improved labor productivity, he says.

From a shipper's perspective, it is important that they charge their customers correctly in terms of shipping costs, says Stoll. "In many cases, companies ship products directly to consumers. If they undercharge them for shipping and handling, there is no way to recover those costs."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.