Another best practice that you can implement in your distributions center is something called appointment scheduling. So basically what this means is when the truck drivers are arriving to your DC or when when they’re about to come to your DC they call ahead through their transportation companies and say “hey please give me an appointment, and I’m going to be there at this time, this date”. Booking the appointment makes it easy to make sure when the truck arrives you have a dock door that’s open and people that are ready to receive this product, so the truck driver can come drop off the shipment and then leave. From a transportation perspective it is very efficient for them. When you work with them by having an appointment, and not make them wait then you will be able to get better deals with the transportation provider.
This is helpful especially if you’re paying for the freight transportation. I still remember, it’s so fresh in my mind and this was as part of MBA – we all went to China because one of the courses was that international residency. We went to China and Korea and we spent three days in Beijing and three days in Shanghai. As a part of the Shanghai tour we also visited the port. In the port we actually visited a Meyers DC and on the way to the DC we have seen this long line of trucks. At least a mile long, they’re all these trucks small-small trucks waiting to drop off the shipment in the Meyers DC. We walked into the Meyers DC and then we saw these nice Jew H boxes and Jew H containers that were all being loaded in the container that travels on the ship so it was very fascinating to see you. China is evolving and they don’t have all the sophisticated systems and processes like how the US does, I mean they are getting better and better.
Because of this lack of appointment scheduling process these guys were literally waiting for a mile. The trucks were parked one after another and the truck drivers were either sitting there or sleeping in the truck. It’s not just having the time wasted for all these guys because they could have obviously spend that time doing something else and making money. These guys were literally waiting barring the worst, with no proper appointment scheduling process. Had the appointment scheduling process been there they wouldn’t be waiting for that long.
They would call ahead, booked their appointments and they would show up at the right time – appointed time and then they would come to drop off the shipment and return. It makes everything so much easier and that’s what I’m talking about. The appointment scheduling process is really important, especially in the food because the wall in the handle is so big and we had a food customer that had this hectares of land and the trailers.
The containers were parked all over and sometimes they wouldn’t know how many containers, how many trailers are there sitting and these were all some oils. The oils that were used for their food processing plant and so forth. It was very fascinating to see their problem and they said “hey you know we want a really good appointment scheduling process and automate that!”, but something of RFID and things like that. It is very fascinating to see all these different challenges that these guys deal with. Appointment scheduling is something that you want to think about especially when you have a lot of trucks coming and going. If you see that you’re not getting better deals, good deals with all these transportation service providers because they are sitting there waiting for a long time, that would be definitely called ahead and there will be a check-in. That means there will be a guard that will be there to check in the truck. The truck will come in and there’ll be an appointment for the truck and that truck will pull at the dock door at the right time based on the appointment and then they would unload everything fast, finish their unloading and then basically turn around and go out.
There will be a guard checkout and then they’ll go out and then you can see between the vendor that you are buying from and whoever is paying for the freight between the transportation company. The driver itself right sometimes runs into some weird issues I mean such as they have a breakdown or they may have a weather situation, they may have traffic situation etc. Anything that comes in their way, like having all this guard check-in, guard check out. Appointment scheduling also helps you to have records as to “hey you know this is the time that truck showed up, this is the time the truck left you”. It systemically tracks information that you can share it with people. If there is any issue later down the line all that it’s nicely systematically note tracked, so that’s something to think about if you have any issues with your transportation service providers or if you have delayed shipments or if you find that there’s a lot of time being wasted people sitting, like the truck driver sitting there and things like that.
That’s another benefit that comes with the shipment ASN. If it is available then you can book appointments against that shipment ASN. Would love to hear your thoughts and please share your comments below and thank you for take the time to read this blog.