Meet at the dock – new service for dynamic optimisation of the supply chain

The Cloud-based service PTV Drive&Arrive provides every link in the logistical supply chain with the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of transport in real-time, allowing them to react immediately.

It makes industrial, trade and transport logistics companies more efficient in their processes before and after transportation and particularly allows them to save on resources and costs at the dock, improve punctuality and reduce complaints and penalties.

Long waiting times at docks are common: according to a 2011 survey by SCI Verkehr GmbH, 85 per cent of transport and logistics company respondents complain about long waiting times at docks. An Internet questionnaire by the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in summer 2012 goes into greater detail.

Assuming a waiting time of up to one hour as acceptable, 69 per cent of the transport companies taking part in the survey and 56 per cent of the industrial firms report waiting times greater than one hour at warehouses and identify with the idea that waiting times are a genuine economic problem. It leads to additional costs for all links in the logistics supply chain: Poor use of resources and added penalties and complaints from customers cost money.

Expected time of arrival with added value

This is often due to the fact that truck drivers are either not informed or not sufficiently informed about delays at the dock operator's end while en route. The dock operator on the other hand rarely has information about whether the driver is experiencing delays.

This is where the new PTV Drive&Arrive development comes into its own: for the first time, everyone involved, regardless of their contractual relation to one another, has the same information available at any one time. This means compete transparency for everyone.

The PTV Group service is a unique tool for estimating the arrival time of road haulage transport: it is vehicle-specific and uses both historical traffic information and up-to-date congestion and road closure announcements. It also factors in the legally required driving times and rest periods for drivers. PTV Drive&Arrive is particularly useful because in spite of proprietary systems it guarantees and accelerates company-to-company information flow for each link in the transport chain.

On the basis of the real-time data, the scheduler can intervene in ways such as changing the stop sequence or re-planning trips. At the same time, the dock operator has the chance to optimise the resources at the unloading dock. All these measures improve punctuality and reduce costs and complaints. This approach also leads to better efficiency among dock staff, drivers, and the docks and trucks themselves. The trips can also be retraced for invoicing purposes.

Networking with positive side-effects

"Networking does not happen by itself, because generally, it brings economic advantages. Cooperation comes about only if every single player sees an individual benefit for themselves," said James de Roo, business development manager UK at PTV Group, explaining the basic reasoning behind developing the new service. "To begin with, the individual perspective on the needs of the specific parties involved is therefore important.

Despite their different aims, when it comes to needs we always come back to two points: an accurate and constantly updated response to the question, 'when is it coming'?" regardless of contractual relations and across the entire supply chain," said de Roo. "PTV Drive&Arrive also helps of course the scarce resource of transport infrastructure to be used more efficiently and to reduce negative environmental effects – that is a thoroughly encouraging side-effect."

Technical networking

But how do you network the participants together as simply as possible? "Consumerisation of IT has been a trend in the past two to three years", de Roo commented. "Our service is also following this development and making the most of the opportunities which modern communication tools, media and online services offer today." A number of transport management system suppliers have already integrated the service into a simple application programming interface (API) in their products. The arrival information can also be received via a web portal and mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

Dynamic transport management systems: an important contribution to the future of logistics

In the final report of the BMVI survey "Dock interface: solutions to avoid waiting times", the authors emphasise that: "The participants view it as an approach with a high success rate in optimising processes across the entire supply chain from dispatch to receipt. James de Roo is therefore enthusiastic: "Soon already, new, dynamic transport management systems will plug large information gaps in the transport chain. They will increase the efficiency of logistics for every single company, but also tap into company-to-company potential for the first time. We are moving from the dock straight to the future of logistics."

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