Raising the Bar in Ready-mix Logistics

by Dirk Schlemper

Sitting on a couch watching TV is not good for your health, unless you watch the Olympic Games. According to research, there is a positive correlation between extensive media coverage of the Olympics and people showing an interest in playing sports and being more active. I started my personal Olympic TV spectator career four decades ago, without missing a single game ever since.

One year out from the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, I cannot wait to see the world's greatest athletes once again, particularly in the track and field events. High jump is just one of the many fascinating disciplines, where athletes defy gravity and propel themselves into heights beyond most people’s imagination. 1992 gold medal winner and world record holder Javier Sotomayor raised the bar to a staggering 2.45m, making him the only person in the world to have ever cleared eight feet.

The Daily Ready-mix Competition

When logistics departments talk about their goals, they often use the idiom “raising the bar”. However, the daily competition of distributing products like ready-mix concrete is better served through a ‘clearing the bar’ approach. A high jumper’s aim is to clear the bar with minimal effort. Jumping too low results in failure and jumping too high, while it may receive applause from the audience, is a waste of valuable energy. Balancing the effort required to achieve the correct outcome is crucial. For ready-mix deliveries, orders must clear the bar by achieving a combination of service level expectations and transport cost requirements. Providing a higher level of service than was committed to may result in a positive customer experience but could run the risk of additional costs.

Most goals are not achieved through the efforts of a single person, but by several people in different departments across an organization. Like the high jump athlete, who must have so many things come together to clear the bar – speed, timing, take-off, and body control – a ready-mix company must have planning processes in place that allows it to achieve constant performance levels, while preventing it from jumping too low and, equally important, too high. That extra height, or energy, should be redirected to other sectors along the supply chain.

Performance-Enhancing Tools

This is where algorithms come into the game. They can analyze a virtually endless number of scheduling decisions in real time and identify those that are ideal for minimizing costs and maximizing service quality – based on the business criteria and goals defined. Like an Olympic medalist, latest transport planning tools powered by algorithms allow dispatchers to gain full control over their On-Time In-Full performance (OTIF).

Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m is a world record that still stands. 10 years before his stunning jump, I had set my personal all-time high-jump record at a local school games event: 1.45m.

What is your personal high-jump record?

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About the author

  • Dirk Schlemper

    Dirk Schlemper is responsible for Marketing and Sales at INFORM's Logistics Division – with a focus on container and bulk materials logistics. Bringing over 20 years of marketing experience and having completed over 30 marathons, he loves to create results for the long haul.

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