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Hello and welcome back to another episode of “The Freight Project Podcast!”
On today’s episode we welcome Sandeep Patel. Sandeep is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Veridian. Veridian is a company who specializes in the successful software selection, implementation, and optimization of supply chain systems that enable omnichannel fulfillment.
In this episode Sandeep and Cerasis’ Marketing Manager & “The Freight Project Podcast” host, Adam Robinson, will speak about the role of supply chain technology to help supply chain leaders realize success in effective inventory and warehouse management.
In this “The Freight Project Podcast” episode Sandeep provides answers to the following questions on supply chain technology:
We hope you enjoy this episode of the freight project podcast.
Editor’s Note: This is a blog post about remembering the fundamentals in order to achieve success. Of course, we live in a high technology powered supply chain world, but often, as we noted in our 5 Upfront LTL Tips post, if you don’t remember the basics and best practices, no technology is going to fix those issues, but only make them more apparent. We hope you enjoy this great story about supply chain without technology.
Is your supply chain running as effectively as it should be? Are orders being missed? Do you carry too much inventory? Is your lead time too long? If so, it may be time to go back to basics. Read on to learn about Dabbawala, a lunch box carrier company based in India, who has their system down to a science.
When it comes to supply chain management, many companies use corporations on lists like the “Gartner Supply Chain Top 25” as a benchmark. These lists typically include big name companies like Apple, McDonald’s and Amazon. These companies have huge supply chains with a global reach. They have the funds to access the latest technology, complete extensive R&D and implement new innovations surrounding logistics and supply chain management. Not every company can compare themselves or realistically strive to be as good as McDonald’s. However, it seems that many companies fail to even think about going “back to basics” when it comes to supply chain management.
Dabbawala’s are lunch box carriers in India, most commonly found in Mumbai. Their job is to pick up tiffins (metal lunch boxes) filled with home cooked meals from the suburbs in Mumbai and deliver them to the rightful owners by lunch time in the downtown offices of Mumbai. This system is a hundred year old lunch delivery service. When I say system, I truly mean it. They have it down to a science, and they really must all work together to maintain their six sigma performance. That’s right, out of the 175,000-200,000 lunch boxes moved to and from offices each day, they only make a mistake maybe once every two months. That fill rate gets you thinking. So how do they do it?
The key to Dabbawala’s system is that it’s basic, easy to understand and easy to follow. Everyone gets it and works together! Each tiffin is coded. The code tells the Dabbawala which rail station it must be delivered to, which rail station it originated from, the area it was collected from, the area to be delivered and the floor of the building it is to be delivered to. This code is painted on the top of each tiffin. They are all done the same way.
At 9:00 am the tins are collected from the homes in the suburbs each working day. Then the Dabbawala’s make their way to a sorting place where the tins are all organized based on destination. They are then transported via bicycle to the train station. Once the tins meet the train station, they are managed all the way to their destination rail station. That’s where the tins change hands for a fourth time. They are then passed off to another Dabbawala on a bicycle. He then delivers the tin to the rightful owner in the right office building.
Theoretically, one lunch tin can switch hands about 5 times and still makes it to the hungry office worker who is eagerly awaiting his home cooked meal. Reverse logistics occur in the afternoon, taking the tins all the way back to the suburbs. Even through monsoons and political downturns they still ensure the lunch kits get to their rightful owners on time; during these times they are known to collaborate even more and share short cuts and other low-profile routes. Policemen even give them the right of way on the roads – they can be recognized by their little white hats. Today, they are beginning to integrate some technology into their routine—some Dabbawala’s now accept text message requests for tiffin pickup.
It seems that Dabbawala’s are masters in communication, collaboration and trust. They are all counting on each other to ensure each tiffin is successfully delivered. They have managed to achieve (not fully knowingly), six sigma rates with very little technology—and no automation. Without their commitment to communication, collaboration and trust, they wouldn’t have the fill rates they do, or the customer satisfaction levels… let alone the world renowned respect. It doesn’t seem that those factors are high priorities in today’s supply chain. Companies are trying to independently fill their demand and keep their heads down rather than working with their suppliers and vendors to succeed together.
If you’re ready to go back to basics and create a more reliable supply chain through increased communication, collaboration and trust, contact GO Productivity and ask about our Supply Chain Collaboration Simulation
Supply Chain technology has improved immensely in the last decade, yet there are still some huge gaps. As a provider of supply chain technology solutions we are continually meeting prospective customers that are trying to bridge a technology gap in their supply chain logistics process. This inspired me to write this blog with the intent of driving home two points:
Allow me to cite a few examples of supply chain technology gaps in order to lighten the subject. In the grocery industry, we’ve seen a state-of-the-art automated warehouse using spreadsheets to schedule the delivery appointments. At a flagship truck manufacturing plant, they’re using RFID technology to track all the trailers in the yard but they still don’t have a tool to schedule trailers to any of their 100+ doors. To paraphrase their sentiment, they feel like an airport control tower trying to land planes without a planning schedule. A 3PL managing a cross-docking facility has GPS tracking technology on all 200 trailers and cabs but has an employee walking the yard with pen and paper to write down the trailer numbers and parking zones. I suspect that most readers of this blog could also cite a few additional examples of their own.
First of all, you need to realize that communication between various software systems is easier than ever. Many applications have their own file upload options and standardized data formats such as XML and EDI, in combination with transfer methods such as web services or FTP. These technologies provide many possibilities for companies to exchange data between information systems. Most companies have their own internal data exchange experts, and if they don’t, there are several companies who specialize in this type of service and are real pros at it. Bottom line, communication between information systems is no longer a barrier to bridging the technology gaps in your business.
Secondly, for warehouses managing anywhere from 20 appointments or more per day, implementing a dock scheduling solution takes less than a month. It isn’t a big capital expenditure like a WMS or ERP; and the ROI is usually less than 6 months.
The supply chain technology gaps that the dock scheduling system fills depend obviously on each business’ inbound freight shipping and outbound process. If you’re using a TMS to plan inbound loads, it probably works great for collect freight but no so well with prepaid. The stand-alone dock scheduling application is flexible enough to plan, schedule and communicate to both collect and prepaid loads – and exchange data easily with the TMS. Similarly, the world of the WMS revolves around the purchase order number and thus it doesn’t do a good job at planning truckloads (unless a PO = a truckload). If you’re looking to plan and prioritize your shipments, you need a scheduling application since a WMS provides no visibility on activities not yet received. Furthermore, many ERP systems receive ASN information via EDI that is then transferred into a spreadsheet or printed before being handed over to the receiving department. These ASNs can be fed directly into your scheduling tool, saving all the tedious labor and providing your dock employees a productive tool on which they can comment loads and update statuses in real time. Finally, how can you plan your dock labor if you don’t have a schedule? Why use a paper schedule or transcribe appointment information into your labor management system (LMS) when a dock scheduling software can feed the appointment data (quantities, load types, etc.) directly? These are all technology gaps that can easily be bridged by a scheduling application.
Let’s face it; your dock activities are pivotal and just as important as the rest of your warehouse and transportation operations. The good news is, there are solutions out there that are easy to implement and they won’t break the bank. There’s no reason to not bridge the supply chain technology gap between these solutions and your current supply chain IT infrastructure.
To know more about our web-based dock scheduling solution, please contact C3 Solutions for a live demonstration.
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