Reducing the stress in Logistics

Venturing into a traffic office often gives a unique insight into the systems, processes and ultimately the success of the logistics strategy in that organisation.

They can be a very stressful environment.  Often a beleaguered traffic clerk has had to act as counselor to a driver who has spent three days navigating congested roads, being ignored at delivery locations for hours on end and then attempting to sleep in the same confined space whilst rain and wind pelts the cab.  It is unsurprising that he rings the office to express outrage when he arrives to collect two pallets of damaged product at 13:00 on Friday and is told there will be a three hour wait whilst the requisite paperwork is faxed between four different offices.  Whilst calming the driver she has three calls on hold, one from a customer asking when a load is due to arrive, one from a consultant wanting to sell a new type of fuel card and one from a clearing house desperately in search of a vehicle that was promised 24 hours ago.

If concentration was difficult enough there is usually a night driver in the office apoplectic with rage that an agency driver has left a McDonalds bag, complete with half eaten burger on the floor of his cab.  In the meantime the traffic clerk still has to plan the work of 23 vehicles for the next day.  If they all travel 300 miles the cost to the transporter will be in the region of £14,000; whether they can earn more will decide whether a profit can be turned on any given day.  The systems in place will often not clearly show the clerk whether that target has been met or not.

Making decisions under stressful situations generally leads to ill considered actions.  Is it any surprise that a couple of good re-loads are missed, some drops scheduled in the wrong order, and nobody notices that a unit used for night trunking will not quite be back in time to meet an early morning delivery in Glasgow? Empty mileage increased, revenue reduced and service levels lowered, difficult working environments have a significant and often catastrophic impact.

Having effective systems and processes in place to manage the stresses, communication and strategic planning necessary to be successful requires thought and investment.  Investing in a system that communicates with drivers automatically when things change, plans orders in the most logical way and reduces the administrative burden of scheduling can bring huge benefits.  Working environment vastly improved and simplified, the traffic office has time to be pro-active, service focused and professional.  An opportunity to be profitable in an industry typified by tight margins and impacts from events outside control; where there is always a competitor waiting to pick up the ball if you have dropped it.

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