Black Belt know-how cuts truck queues

CHEP’s new express appointment booking service has proven that flexibility and efficiency can go hand in hand.

CHEP’s new express appointment booking service has proven that flexibility and efficiency can go hand in hand.

Piloted at Rosehill Service Centre in Sydney in early 2007, the CHEP Express appointment booking program aimed to improve productivity and cut downtime by significantly reducing truck waiting times.

The company says the pilot delivered some impressive results, with eight months of data showing savings of 15 minutes per truck.

Following the success of the pilot, the express service is now operational at Rosehill (NSW), Clayton and Altona (VIC), with a further four sites — Gillman (SA), Meeandah, Rocklea (QLD) and Canningvale (WA) — under consideration.

The booking service allows truck arrivals to be spread out at regular intervals throughout the day, minimising the impact of waiting and servicing periods.

CHEP NSW Metropolitan Operations Manager, Craig Johnson, said transport operators told CHEP that waiting times were a pressure point they’d like relieved, as idle trucks cost money.

“Customers are now realising value from the new system, which has been well received.

“Rosehill, Clayton and Altona each handle about 150 trucks a day, and it takes about a half hour to service each truck,” Johnson said.

“In peak times such as early morning, a queue of 12 to 15 trucks can take two to three hours to clear. That’s not efficient for transporters, their customers or for CHEP,” he explained.

Using a Six Sigma model to improve productivity and efficiency, the Rosehill project cut waiting times for scheduled trucks, and more than 75% of daily movements are now using the scheduling service.

Similar to its predecessors Quality Control and TQM, Six Sigma is designed to an effective systematic and data-driven method for eliminating process inefficiencies whilst offering a Just-In-Time approach to logistics management.

Led by Frans Helleman, CHEP Perfect Trip Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt, the CHEP Express project was supported by a team with a diverse range of experience and expertise.

The company’s Australian operations require some 350,000 truck movements annually, resulting in tens of millions of pieces of equipment transiting to and from CHEP’s Service Centre network.

“The potential time and cost savings for fleets are enormous. In our CHEP Transport fleet, we’ve seen an average time saving of 15 minutes per truck, which has obvious cost-efficiency benefits,” Helleman said.

To quantify the problem at the outset, the CHEP team used GPS units in CHEP trucks to capture data on service centre traffic and queuing times.

The data showed peak waiting periods early in the morning, dropping off throughout the day.

Modelling indicated that waiting times would increase over time without action. The team identified that the greatest factor affecting waiting times was unscheduled and clustered truck arrival times.

Helleman said that previously trucks were serviced on a first-in first-out basis. While this was flexible and simple, this system operated at the expense of predictability, and resulted in heavy ‘waste’ activity.

Through the booking service, customers elect a preferred three-hour window, and a guaranteed appointment time is offered within the preferred period.

Bookings can extend to multiple loads, which facilitate scheduled programming for up to weeks ahead, significantly increasing productivity.

“We’ve developed a dedicated CHEP Express service point each at Rosehill, Clayton and Altona. Customers not wishing to pre-book an appointment can still use the other service points and queue for service,” Helleman said.

Johnson said he expected uptake of CHEP Express to be gradual, as operators became familiar with the service and the potential time savings.

“We’ll continue to assess the progress and uptake across our Service Centres, and we’re expecting some pretty significant results,” he said.

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