Bulk Materials Handling Review: Time slot management in building materials logistics

Press Review

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Loading point optimisation

'Fast' and 'smooth' are the two basic ingredients for any efficient loading operation. INFORM's software for construction materials transport optimizes loading point management, both in preliminary planning and real time processing.

Long lines of idling diesel trucks in front of the entrance gate waiting to pick up cement loads are neither a pleasant sight nor an efficient way to do business. Scheduling software offers relief by allocating time slots to hauliers. Combined with powerful algorithms, the air and roads around the plant will be soon clear.

Queuing and waiting outside stores might be part of the business model in some industries – for example, people lining up to be first to own the latest smartphone. But customers and hauliers in the cement industry are certainly less enthusiastic about waiting when it comes to buying or collecting products. Many hauliers are independent contractors who depend on quick turnarounds at the plant to keep their business profitable. Many customers depend on reliable delivery times to keep their operations running. So if there are delays, some may start to turn theirs truck around and send them to competitor nearby. A 5% loss of orders due to long waiting times can easily add up to a US$ 1 million turnover loss per year.

But there are more issues behind the exhaust smoke causing operational and financial headaches for all parties involved. Health and safety concerns are of course among them. According to a study published by the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), driving-related incidents are the single largest cause of fatalities among their member companies. Over 200 employees, contractors and third parties lost their lives in a 2-year period (CSI report from 2012). Over 60% occurred off-site; about 40% onsite. Drivers walking around moving trucks – for whatever reason – are a potential safety hazard. So controlling traffic and reducing the number of trucks within the plant is a major step towards a safer working environment.

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