The Heart of the Supply Chain
Within the supply chain of a postal company a parcel hub can be considered the heart of the whole network: its performance is decisive for the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire system. As the focus of most operators lies on the modernisation and automation of the sorting centre processes, the yard is often a neglected part of this complex entity. Even though it determines the heartbeat of the whole supply chain by linking a high-end sortation system and a dynamic transportation network, the focus often does not go beyond the sortation equipment.
Surrounding the sorting complex, this crucial area turns out to be a major risk factor for the whole value chain of parcel management: Though sorting and warehousing processes are fully automated and accordingly optimised, in the yard incoming and outgoing consignments are often managed using the traditional clipboard. Efficiency gains in the sorting process are diminished while the agility of the transportation network is considerably impaired by improvable yard processes: Both endanger the efficient flow of the entire supply chain.
This need not be. There are powerful intelligent software solutions for yard management that optimise all yard processes by closely integrating all relevant stakeholders and ultimately removing this limiting bottleneck in the value chain.
In the Context of Value Creation
In order to examine the importance of yard management for value creation, this paper will compare two companies, using alternative yard management approaches:
- Silver Ltd.: Manual pen-and-paper processes
- Gold Ltd.: Integrated intelligent yard management software.
The scenario assumes adverse conditions for both companies: heavy snow in mid-November has led to the closure of major motorways throughout Germany, keeping a vast number of trucks on the road overnight. All these vehicles are now simultaneously approaching the yards and there is the additional problem of a number of unloading bays malfunctioning due to freezing conditions at both sites.
1. Looking ahead
The yard manager at Gold Ltd is instantly informed about the new estimated arrival time of the delayed trucks. Via the online-interface between the yard management software and transport planning system, she is up-to-date on all transport-related matters. Having all relevant loading data available at a glance, she is able to prepare for the arrival of the vehicles in due time.
Figure 1: The yard dispatcher is relieved of routine-tasks and can concentrate on driving productivity.
Meanwhile at Silver Ltd the yard dispatcher is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the delayed trucks, being informed by one of the drivers via mobile phone. To be able to handle that number of vehicles arriving at the same time, he had to ask his colleague to come in earlier and make arrangements for the sorting centre staff to work double shifts.
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