With the supply chain world becoming ever more just in time, does it make much sense to continue to engage in time-consuming and time-wasting practices? Not really, but that's largely the situation that yogurt maker Dannon came to see was hampering its carrier-related processes. It was time to do something about it.
Because its outbound and inbound appointment scheduling was manual that meant communication among the parties - numerous parties at Dannon, the carriers and the shipping facilities - was phone- and fax-driven. The dock scheduler was king as he was the only one with a view to the whole schedule. That, says Steve Stein, national transportation manager for Dannon, created bottlenecks and crimped possibilities in other areas. Of course, customer service was affected by murky visibility to shipment status and no efficient way to keep tabs on on-time delivery.
Obviously, communication flow among all the parties had to improve at Dannon facilities, which now include three manufacturing plants and six distribution centers across the United States.
Ultimately, the manufacturer would implement the On-Demand TMS from LeanLogistics, which includes planning, execution, claims and the crucial appointment scheduling management capabilities, Stein says. The system would be integrated with its SAP and home-grown legacy systems. The latter is being kept for now because it has some applications unique to Dannon's business, and it has some useful checks-and-balances functions.
In addition to improving freight spend, automating the shipper / carrier dialog - from shipment tendering to proof of delivery - gave the manufacturer a complete record of the shipment transaction for day-to-day shipment management as well as shipment visibility throughout the organization.
If anything, the appointment scheduling module was the prime benefit. How does it work? On one end, it enables the carrier to choose a pick-up appointment time slot; on the other, it allows Dannon to define each facility's dock configuration, calendar and load/unloading rules and times. The system itself is now king of the dock, maintaining a master dock schedule as well as appointment history. It provides real-time, at-a-glance appointment availability information and detailed load information.
Obviously, data is collected from the actual shipment pick-up and delivery, with which the parties can audit their execution and performance. Moreover, shipment status is no longer a mystery since the On-Demand TMS has track-and-trace monitoring capability.
Complete visibility into its transportation has enabled Dannon to work to improve shipment consolidations, dock management, centralize claims management, enhance business intelligence, and boost customer service levels through better carrier performance and event notifications.
Dannon could have contracted with another provider, and in fact others were considered, Stein says. "We did evaluate some others, but we went with LeanLogistics because of the high visibility this system gives us," he says. "We can have users in any part of the country or in this company or with our associated 3PLs have visibility to these orders, to seeing the truckloads, the appointment times, and the efficiencies. That was the biggest key right there: so that we could, for example, have a customer service team in Texas be able to see what was happening at a dock over in Pennsylvania."
That ability to check the status of things also means efficiencies of carriers - or the lack thereof - can be tracked in real-time, a benefit that Dannon did not enjoy previously. The manual, labor-intensive process Dannon replaced was itself inefficient and somewhat of a bottleneck in terms of labor allocation. Many of the people involved in scheduling and monitoring performance could have been used on other projects, says Stein.
The online appointment scheduling that the On-Demand TMS system allows is a far cry from what Dannon used to rely on. The company always allowed carriers to try to select dock usage times, but it never gave them adequate tools, Stein says. Instead, they left voicemails and emails or spoke with whomever they could. "Now, they just go into the TMS, push a couple of buttons and it's scheduled."
Another benefit of the implementation involves controlled detention, the time drivers are tied up, Stein says. "What we found is that with the increased availability of the appointment times is that we were able to reduce our controlled detention dollar by more than 80 percent in one year."
For his part, the beauty of the technology built into the On-Demand TMS allows the user (or users) to take a "holistic" approach to transportation management, says Chris Timmer, chief operating officer for LeanLogistics. Dannon wanted visibility to inbound and outbound. They have that now, and more, in Timmer's view: from order creation to planning the load, selecting a carrier through routing guides, assigning that carrier, tendering to it with all the necessary load information, and then having the back-and-forth electronic dialog that's needed through delivery.
The interplay between the transport provider and shipper can get quite cumbersome, Timmer says, particularly between the carrier and a specific warehouse or transportation facility. "There can be a lot of calls back and forth, and a lot of efficiency issues with that whole process."
Implementation of the LeanLogistics system, however, has changed that, Timmer says. Now that the appointment scheduling process is automated, the carrier receiving tenders can immediately see online what spots are available and issue a request."What they found is that they have a better way of planning and optimizing their transportation as well as communicating though their entire organization, both inbound and outbound."
In addition, the system allows schedulers to forecast labor needed around the "idiosyncrasies" of shipments. "It really puts intelligence around what was fundamentally a blocking and tackling process."
To cap it all off, there was an environmental benefit to the new process, says Timmer. A Dannon "green initiative" is based on moving trucks in and out as quickly as possible, limiting their idle time and the emissions from both the trucks and the refrigerants in the cooling systems of those vehicles.
"They talk all the time about how successful they were at that."
Nevertheless, visibility is the greatest gain, Stein says. If events and delays occur now, immediate notice and feedback is made possible through the TMS. "Before that it was a chain of events, phone call upon phone call, just trying to find where the load was."
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