Appointment Scheduling - Achieving the Positive Ripple Effect Part 2: A Solution
Written By: Rachel Nemecek
Published On: June 28 2002
Scheduling Achieving the Positive Ripple Effect
Author - Rachel
- June 28, 2002
Part 2: A Solution
With far-reaching scheduling problems pinpointed and improvements for
these problems identified, it must be determined how these improvements
can be implemented and desired results achieved. The prime way to achieve
these results is an Internet based appointment scheduling system, which
provides access to information, 24/7 scheduling and limited manual contact.
An Internet based system also provides a centralized repository for all
data concerning appointments and shipments where information is accessible
to everyone involved in the scheduling process. It can be updated at anytime
by anyone with access to the network, streamlining the flow of information.
effective solution should provide maximum flexibility to the schedulers
while enforcing business rules for the carriers and vendors. The system
owner would need the ability to uniquely configure each of its facilities
with its own capacity constraints, standard loading/unloading times, hours
of operation, scheduling cutoffs, and acceptable products down to the
dock door level. Individual business rules for each facility would then
serve as the guideline for carriers and vendors when scheduling on-line,
ensuring appointments made met the receiver's requirements.
between the appointment scheduling system and other systems would be necessary
for maximum usability. Integration from an order management system offers
order visibility necessary to completely automate the cycle and ensure
that correct information is carried through all the way to delivery. Integration
would allow for information to be sent back from the appointment scheduling
system to the order management system; keeping buyers constantly alerted
of their order's status. Linking an Internet based appointment scheduling
system with an integrated voice response system would enable carriers
to receive appointment information and to make schedule changes over the
phone. This would be extremely beneficial while traveling or any other
time when direct access to the Internet is not available or practical.
of the systems currently in use are mostly homegrown by shippers and receivers
and are designed to address transportation appointment scheduling. The
primary benefit of the existing systems is the ability to transition a
company from maintaining paper schedules to those that are electronic.
However, because they are client-server based, they are unable to give
carriers or vendors access to schedules, thus, still requiring appointment
scheduling via the telephone. The architecture of these systems is limited
in scope and consequently does not allow for the next level of automation
possible with the Internet, and it is undeniable that significant improvements
may be realized through the appropriate use of technology.
is Part Two of a three-part article. Part
One discussed the problem. Part Three will be a case study illustration.
and implementing the above mentioned improvements through an Internet
appointment scheduling system would widely increase the opportunity for
many more benefits to be gained from better information. SKU level visibility,
increased capacity utilization, decreased rates from carriers, compliance,
access to historical data, and improved efficiency are just some of the
benefits to be realized.
SKU level visibility of what product is actually on the truck at the time
of scheduling is believed by one national retailer to be the greatest
benefit gained from an Internet based scheduling system. While the delay
of any product is costly, the delay of advertised or high-velocity goods
is particularly expensive. If the scheduler could determine exactly what
items were on the truck for each appointment, correct priority could be
assigned for loading and unloading. SKU level visibility ensures that
the most crucial product can be delivered when needed.
product visibility also serves to boost the practice of cross-docking.
Cross-docking, the practice of picking product off an inbound truck and
loading it directly onto an outbound trailer, can generate great cost
savings by eliminating put-away and picking; two of the mostly costly
activities in the warehouse.1 The implementation of cross-docking
requires the warehouse to be continually aware of what products are coming
in and when, so that the appropriate outbound trailers can be staged.
This level of visibility is easily and automatically facilitated through
an Internet based appointment scheduling system.
An increase in overall capacity utilization can be achieved as the scheduling
process is improved. Based on current processes, the total number of hours
America's 3.1 million truckers spend idling each year comes to almost
6.2 billion squandered man-hours;2 an unbelievable amount of
wasted capacity. For each driver sitting idle there is one tractor and
at least one trailer idle, thus creating the need for even more drivers
and equipment to handle demand. By reducing wait time, more miles can
be put on existing equipment, which would lower costs significantly. For
every 1% reduction in wait time, an additional $15.6 million per year
in cost savings3 could be realized by carriers and others.
1. Douglas Chandler, "Conquering Transportation Woes",
Wells Tower, "The Long Haul", The Washington Post, August 2001
Linda Longton, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights", Overdriveonline,
Rates from Carriers
has been determined that decreased wait time at the dock can directly
correlate to decreased freight rates. Because there is a growing trend,
especially among larger truckload carriers, to quantify the impact of
delays on their revenue by an individual shipper, the costs of delays
from a particular shipper are used to calculate rates that more accurately
reflect the carrier's costs.4 Therefore, if the carrier's productivity
can be increased, providing lower rates can be afforded. Greg Smith of
Landair Transport states, "The faster that our equipment can be turned
around and on its way, the more positive consideration we can give when
contracts are negotiated. A shipper can expect a significant difference
in cost by implementing efficient dock practices".
common request from receivers is to have the ability to determine the
compliance of their vendors and carriers based upon required delivery
date of product. By transmitting the order information and desired delivery
date directly to the shipper, the receiver should be able to track the
number of times the supplier sends out loads with non-compliant dates
to their carriers. Additionally, the number of times the carrier schedules
delivery appointments for non-compliant dates and how often the carrier
is actually on time for their scheduled appointments can be tracked. This
provides receivers with performance information on their partners so that
they may focus on the areas of greatest concern to improve dock operations.
Partnership breakdowns can be identified and rectified in a timely manner.
to Historical Data
The maintenance of all appointment data in a centralized repository enables
the analysis of historical trends. Analysis of historical trends is extremely
beneficial from two points of view. First, the tracking of past volumes
allows for the prediction of future resource requirements. The more accurately
a warehouse can respond to forecasted demand, the lower their overall
costs will be. Second, establishing historical trends would help to identify
any patterns that negatively impact dock performance. Once identified,
these patterns could then be addressed and corrected. The more information
that is available, the more proactive a shipper or receiver can be in
streamlining dock operations.
Toby B. Gooley, "Cooperation + Communication = Lower Costs", Logistics
Management & Distribution Report, January 1999
Automating day-to-day appointment scheduling activities would allow personnel
resources to focus on other activities and would dramatically improvement
in efficiency. A prime example of this can be seen with the Ralph's grocery
chain when they implemented their appointment scheduling system and were
able to cut the number of people devoted to scheduling by 50%. The time
generated from these extra resources can then be used to accomplish other
tasks, further improving productivity.
concludes Part Two of a three-part article on Appointment Scheduling.
One discussed the problem. Part Three is an illustration of how the
Nemecek is a Senior Business Analyst at Elogex, Inc. a collaborative logistics
software provider (www.elogex.com)
and has several years of industry experience in supply chain operations
and application development. Her background includes supervisor positions
in export operations and international trade logistics at Schenker International
and E.Boyd & Associates. Nemecek has a deep operational knowledge in all
forms of transportation - road, rail, ocean, and air and several software
methodologies including the Rational Unified Process. Nemecek graduated
with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.