Company X’s Denver facility has suffered through on-going customer service issues. The facility was built in the 1930s and has grown incrementally since then. As a result this facility has grown quite large and has not be restructured to fit Company X’s changing nature. With over 250 trucks transiting through the facility per week, the situation in Denver has reached critical mass. The time has come for Company X to re-evaluate the Denver facility and implement changes to reinvigorate the facility and make it a viable part of the Company X operation.
The Denver facility is currently faced with three primary problems. The facility is only responsible for scheduling roughly half of the pickups. This results in trucks arriving to make pickups without notice and with no guarantee of product availability. Additionally, these unscheduled trucks upset the traffic flow through the facility and result in increased wait time for all drivers. This is compounded by the second problem regarding the layout of the facility. Drivers that need to pick up multiple items are forced to make several stops through the facility in order to complete their order. This increases the amount of movement through the facility and results in an overall increase in traffic. Finally the layout of the facility requires each truck to transit through the entire facility. Although a truck may have completed its pickup, it must then negotiate its way through the rest of the facility.
Company X must first work to get all customers using the Denver facilities scheduling system. At the moment, over 260 trucks transit the facility each week. Due to the high number of unscheduled pickups, more than half of all trucks arrive on two days: Tuesday and Friday. Requiring customers to use the facilities scheduling software can guarantee a balanced mix of trucks on each day of the week. This has the benefit of decreasing the amount of traffic in the facility on Tuesdays and Fridays, and ensures that product is available for each truck as it arrives. Decreasing traffic will also reduce the safety concerns of the union’s safety committee. Finally, decreased traffic will lower wait time giving Company X a competitive advantage and making drivers happier.
Trucks entering the Denver facility will make multiple stops based on the variety of items they must pick up. This increases the gate-to-gate time as trucks make multiple moves within the facility. If all customer pickups are scheduled, the facility can have each customer order waiting at a single dock for pickup. This will decrease the time taken per truck and increase the number of trucks able to transit the facility in a single day. Additionally, the decreased traffic through the facility and increased accuracy of each order will result in higher customer satisfaction. Supply chain management (SCM) software vastly increase the accuracy and speed of order completion (Wood, 2008).
Finally, the traffic flow through the facility must be redesigned to allow trucks to quickly exit the facility once their order has been completed. Although the implementation of a plant-wide scheduling system and improved order handling will have a positive impact on traffic flow, the basic transit system within the facility must be examined to remove any remaining bottlenecks. Company X can use techniques pioneered by transportation engineers to assist in their own traffic problems. One process, Link Capacity Estimation, assigns a capacity rating to each link in the traffic chain and design the facilities transit pattern accordingly (Dheenadayalu, Wolshon, & Wilmot, 2004). The result of this analysis should be less traffic on more easily congested links. This might require additional exits to be added to the facility.
Dheenadayalu, Y., Wolshon, B., & Wilmot, C. (2004). Analysis of Link Capacity Estimation Methods for Urban Planning Models. Journal of Transportation Engineering, 130(5), 568-575. Retrieved April 14, 2009, doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-947X(2004)130:5(568)
Wood, L. C. (2008). Face-Off: Supply Chain Management Software. Faulkner Information Services. Retrieved April 14, 2008.