Over the years, we witnessed many different approaches to managing the traffic in and out of the distribution center. Each operation has its own unique set of challenges and consequently unique problems. Most of the operations that we come across are very manual – the closest thing to an appointment scheduling system is usually a colourful spreadsheet or that antiquated green screen.
Surprisingly, most operators don’t recognize the real cost of their dock scheduling inneficiencies.
As the saying goes: “The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one”. If any of these five warning signs describe your operation you may want to start looking for help. So in no particular order here they are:
1. Your Key Warehouse Staff are Always on the Phone with Carriers.
- If you are taking appointments today from your carriers and you don’t have an automated system you are running a mini call center. A lot of companies have reduced the number of calls with email or faxes but these are still very time consuming activities that keep your key people from doing the real job that you hired them for.
- Not only do they take calls from carriers and update that colourful spreadsheet, purchasing is calling on a regular basis to make sure the vendors involved with that big promotion is following through on their commitment.
2. There is a Regular Line up of Trucks Outside your Warehouse.
- At a certain point, security just won’t let drivers into the yard. This can be a result of carriers not respecting their appointments or just showing up without one. Another cause to this problem is that the operation is behind schedule because the driver didn’t have payment for the unloading service, or maybe the vendor didn’t load the trailer as the buyer requested making it difficult to unload.
- Regardless of the cause, this problem can result in detention charges from the carriers and potential legal problems with local authorities.
3. The Product You Need Never Seems to be Available.
- How do you make sure that the product involved in that important promotion is given top priority?
- It’s a challenge and to pull it off it involves a lot of last minute changes to the schedule, extra phone calls and emails and overtime on the dock.
4. You’re Paying Too Much Overtime to Your Dock Workers.
- It’s the end of the day and the product absolutely needs to get unloaded and received today! Management will approve the over-time and other charges but you know it’s due to poor planning and scheduling!
5. You Spend Hours Compiling Reports.
- You can’t improve something you can’t measure. Measuring on-time delivery and other vendor compliance metrics are extremely labour intensive. Are you like most operations that end up spending one day of the month just compiling reports? To add insult to injury, most of these reports are based on data that is usually inaccurate or incomplete and therefore easily contested by the carriers or vendors.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
The good news is that it is much less painful to implement a solution than to continue to live with the problem.
If you would like to know more about automated dock scheduling, identify your potential cost savings, determine where to start and eveluate which solution is best for your business, we invite you to download our white paper: 'Understanding Dock Scheduling'.