Logistics lifehacks: How to organise and optimise facility schedules

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By Tyler Nickel, Senior Product Marketing Manager, FourKites.

Wouldn’t life be easier if you only dealt with one commodity going to or from one provider, serviced by a single carrier? 

Unfortunately, reality is much more complicated. Today, shippers combat tough schedules while navigating rules for when and where certain products, commodities, customers, vendors, load types, or carriers can be serviced. Even the simple concept of managing inbound and outbound schedules can become tricky when trying to balance the litany of special business rules that might influence how those are created.

For example, if a grocer wants to receive fish at a certain time of day or a load requires someone with a unique certification to handle it, then aligning your facility’s schedules to the unique needs of your freight becomes much more difficult.

The Need to Fool-Proof Complex Schedules

Your scheduling method can hold you back when you can’t digitize and standardize the process. Complex scheduling rules are a great way to ensure that you avoid any missteps in the handling of shipments, but they can create an unnecessary burden for your teams to develop and manage a system that works.

How to Make Complex Scheduling Scenarios Easier to Manage

  • Delineate clearly between standard pickups and deliveries, as well as those that require special attention or that you would like to categorize separately.
  • Identify shipments with unique circumstances and labor needs — like avoiding frozen goods sitting in the midday heat or ensuring your lift operator is available — and set recurring schedule blocks for them in your calendar.
  • Consider digitising your calendar and picking a tool that allows for easy customisation and implementation of business rules – a bonus if you can have carriers schedule themselves.
  • Continue to monitor KPIs for pickup and delivery performance, including carrier schedule compliance, on-time pickup and delivery, forecasted deliveries and more, to help drive continuous improvement initiatives.

Whether your facility operates out of spreadsheets, an older scheduling tool, or is simply too complex to do anything other than first-come-first-served, you could be putting your teams at a disadvantage. Optimising and digitising  site schedules and creating custom parameters, improves labor efficiency and predictability, reducing costs and  maximising productivity.

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