“Problems included unreasonable delay (23%), a missing parcel or failure to deliver (14%)” Jemma Castle – Choice.
While the above was a survey of just over 1000 Australians, it’s jaw-dropping in its findings, yet probably not shocking to the average parcel recipient. Unfortunately, very few have insights into why this happens, and very few logistics companies have processes and capabilities to reduce these figures dramatically.
So where do these parcels go missing? Many disappear during the ‘cross-dock’ process, that is the transfer of parcels in a warehouse between one vehicle completing its route, and the next set of vehicles about to head out on their own assigned routes.
Think about it like this. One hundred and twenty students head on school camp on four busses of 30 people each. Every student arrives at the first stop of the trip at a park for lunch, and after everyone eats, there are 4 pre-registered options for the afternoon’s activities in different locations. The kids remove all their bags from the first bus and get on to the bus corresponding to the afternoon activity they are participating in, and off they go.
Except it’s not quite that simple. If these were the only steps, you would be sure to have some kids on the wrong, and some kids miss the busses altogether. This is the identical problem to what is occurring in many logistics operations in a process called ‘Cross Docking’.
Schools always conduct roll-call before any movement to validate the presence of all objects (people) against the manifest (roll), the same way airlines scan you onto a plane. Logistics companies however rarely do this with the level of accuracy a school bus, for example, require to leave a location.
In the logistics scenarios, the park is the cross-dock, the area designated to unloading, sorting and reloading items onwards to their planned destination. Most logistics companies best practice would be to stand all the kids in the park, have four sections mapped out on the ground and tell all the kids to stand in their section, then proceed to the corresponding bus. Yep, its a recipe for error with little validation at the key point of confirming who got on each bus.
This is a technology process problem, really only looking at the cross-dock milestone of [being in the park], and not correctly authenticating the ‘steps’ that occur (1. unload, 2. sort, 3. load, 4. depart). All four steps can be places in which items can be lost or misplaced, however, without critical data it can be hours or days until an error can be identified (at the first roll call at the next destination).
Then you are asking:
- Did the child get off the first bus? (expensive search costs+delay)
- Did the child leave the park? (expensive search costs+delay)
- Did the child get on the correct bus? (expensive search costs+delay)
- If the child is on the wrong bus how many hours/days until we can get the child to the correct location. (expensive sorting and double transit costs + delay)
A lot of this happens when high volumes, low planning capabilities, and insufficient validation processes are in place. This peaks at times like Christmas and causes terrible problems for both carriers and recipients.
The Roll-Call is the most critical part of cross-docking and needs to be done efficiently to validate existence, location and holder of an item at any point in time. It helps both prevent and recover from errors and manage quality control throughout a network along with supporting the long term machine learning based objectives of carriers.
School camps have 99.9% accuracy because you want that for your child, so why not want that for your parcel as well, especially if it is a simple, cost reducing strategy.
At Yojee, we have done some clever things in this area to increase the accuracy and efficiency of the Cross-Dock process. We think that the 14% missing and 23% delays can be a thing of the past, dramatically reducing costs to businesses and would love for you to contact us to find out how.