Improve driver management - interface with your WMS

INFORMATION: Free information is available from CHESS on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

A new touch screen driver booking system developed by Chess Logistics Technology to interface with its warehouse management system (WMS) has saved money, eliminated paperwork, reduced the number of vehicle movements and enhanced health and safety at  the cold store operated by Exel in Melton Mowbray.

The facility, which Exel estimates will pay for itself within a year, extends a relationship that began when Chess implemented a WMS at the site over ten years ago.

The touch screen driver booking system has had a profound and positive effect in several areas of the cold store's activity, says Malcolm Swift, site operations manager for Exel. Once again Chess interpreted our requirements precisely and delivered the modification with speed and accuracy.

Exel operates the Saxby Road Cold Store in Melton Mowbray on behalf of a major pet food manufacturer. The facility operates as a feeder for the customer's factory nearby, taking delivery of full pallets of frozen meat and fish, storing and then delivering them to the plant when they are needed.

Delivery vehicles arrive at the cold store from all over Europe. In the past, vehicles stopped on a weighbridge as they entered and left the site and pallets being offloaded were weighed at the loading bay before being put away. The difference between incoming and outgoing vehicle tares provided a check against the weight of offloaded pallets.

A similar process was used to check vehicles making deliveries to the factory. This generated numerous administrative tasks because vehicle drivers had to record weighbridge readings on multiple forms and details about deliveries and pallets had to be entered onto the WMS. The problem was exacerbated because deliveries from overseas had additional forms and in some cases it took more than ten minutes to complete the paperwork.

Exel employed a clerk to oversee weighbridge operations, check documentation and enter relevant information onto the WMS. A review of operations identified that the   process was inefficient. It also highlighted that vehicle drivers had all the information they needed to manage the process themselves and when a suitable opportunity arose the companyapproached its WMS supplier Chess to investigate ways of introducing some automation.

It's been hugely beneficial addition to the system that Chess was able to implement in a fixed timescale and within our own requirements, says Malcolm Swift. It's exactly as we imagined it.

Chess devised a menu-driven, multilingual touch screenbased terminal for installation alongside the weighbridge. It works in conjunction with a daily schedule that is prepared in advance using information relayed by hauliers and suppliers that is only unlocked when the driver enters their correct booking reference. Information from the daily schedule forms approximately 50 per cent of the input required by the Chess WMS to generate stock control information for the cold store. The remainder is entered as
stock crosses the loading bay.

The system prompts and guides drivers to enter the correct information. Drivers first select their preferred language and then confirm whether they are entering or leaving the site, with subsequent prompts dictated by their response. For example, if they are arriving, the driver is asked to enter a booking reference that can be matched to the  incoming schedule, followed by their vehicle registration number, advice number and the weight of the vehicle as read from the weighbridge. The terminal then prints off a ticket that includes a summary of the information entered and important health and safety advice that the driver takes to the delivery office. The whole process is fully automated and the driver is only directed to check in manually if the system encounters a problem. A similar process is employed as vehicles leave the site when the system automatically authorises departure and prints out any paperwork required.

In addition to the large reduction in the administrative burden for the site, the system has also delivered significant cost savings, making the modification self-funding within the first year of operation, says Malcolm Swift.

Since it went live at the end of 2003 the new system has also helped reduce the number of heavy goods vehicle movements on site by 50 per cent. This is because vehicles no longer need to revisit  the weighbridge to verify their weight against loaded or unloaded pallets. Reduced traffic not only enables quicker vehicle turn around times but also has significantly enhanced site health and safety.

Most of the drivers are regular visitors and soon learned how to use the system, says Malcolm Swift. Collectively the benefits have made this system modification a resounding success.

INFORMATION: Free information is available from CHESS on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

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