Optimised time slot management – time slot booking has never been easier!

Bastian Späth, CEO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Truck is standing at the ramp with the loading flap open and is being loaded by a worker in a high-visibility waistcoat.

A forwarder, a truck and the needed goods meet at the ramp at exactly the right time. Sounds like a joke – but it's not! How does it work? With a well-organised yard that works with fixed time windows. Time window control and yard management often still represent "black information holes" in logistics. There is an urgent need for optimisation, because efficient processes and coordination can make a big difference here: Especially when it comes to the time-sensitive loading processes in logistics, time is money and therefore a valuable commodity. We show how software fills the information gap between transport and warehouse and thus simplifies and streamlines loading processes.


EIKONA Logistics Cloud

Software for time slot management

With EIKONA Time Slot Management, loading points control their scheduling for optimal loading and unloading. Without any jams at the ramps.

Traffic jams – one of the most inefficient ways to spend your time. There are few things worse than having a long to-do list in front of you while you are forced to do nothing and wait for things to finally move on. While waiting, the driver briefly closes his eyes and dreams ... birds are chirping in the trees, the sun is shining, the sky is blue. It is a beautiful spring day. There is a cheerful bustle on the factory premises, not a trace of hectic. Everyone has their fixed tasks and knows exactly what to do next. The trucks arrive one after the other, and thanks to the transparent and digital communication in the time slot management system, the loading manager has an overview of everything that is happening on the premises and can control and organise all the simultaneous processes.

Time slot management optimises loading processes

How can this dream become reality? Everything that happens on the factory premises depends to a large extent on how the incoming goods flow into the yard, when which trucks arrive, whether the loading processes start on time and how quickly the trucks leave the premises again. So, if the throughput times are reduced and, thanks to good planning, the idle times of the trucks on your premises are also reduced, then this is a win-win situation for everyone involved. This is where the time window management system comes into play.

Time slot management system takes over communication between warehouse management and transport

White truck drives backwards, with the loading flap open to the open ramp.

 

Let's go into a little more detail: If fixed time windows are booked for the delivery and collection of transport goods, then this offers a lot of advantages for everyone involved. Goods can be made available for loading at the ramp in good time and it’s always clear which truck will arrive next at which ramp – delays and deviations are directly included here. If something does not go according to plan, for example because the carrier is stuck in a traffic jam, the system automatically informs the driver of the delay. This means that the drivers do not have to take this extra step and the loading master can reschedule directly, for example by swapping time slots. Thanks to real-time information, time planning is always up to date. This scheduling reliability is particularly important for the further course of the transport chain, because in the event of a delay, all subsequent tasks would also be postponed indefinitely.

Time slot management has never been easier

The special feature of this solution: the tool takes into account the (un-)loading time windows in direct traffic when planning the time slots. For this purpose, the application calculates the optimal route as well as the required journey time and thus determines when a consignment must be dispatched so that the unloading time window at the destination can be met. The graphically optimised and individually configurable user interface further increases user-friendliness. For example, the "unbooked" and "unscheduled" tracks provide a quick overview of tours that arrive during the day without a fixed time window ("unscheduled") or orders whose time window has not yet been confirmed ("unbooked"). The overview of all vehicles and means of transport on the factory premises is thus significantly simplified. Another absolute plus point in planning: any number of areas can be assigned to each location. If the user already knows, for example, that the goods have to go to the external warehouse, he can preassign this on the tour and only has to select the loading bay later. The resource overview, which is designed like a heat map, also provides information about the exact utilisation.

Yard Management: Precision landing at the loading bays

While a man's hand taps on a smartphone, the message is displayed: Please drive to ramp 47.

 

As we all know, good organisation in the yard starts at the yard gate. The registration process for incoming vehicles as well as the subsequent ramp management therefore run completely digitally: A camera records the number plate, the vehicle is registered and from now on optimally controlled in the yard – this refers to the allocation of parking spaces, the handling during loading at the specially designated ramp and finally the departure. The driver is informed via text message (or by another desired medium) as soon as his ramp space is free and can quickly go there. The occupancy of the individual parking spaces can be inspected in the system at any time, while time stamps are used to keep record of every step, so that you can react quickly if there are any discrepancies in the planned arrival or departure time. You receive status messages in real time: Is a truck waiting, is it being loaded or has it already left the depot? Waiting times are thus minimised for all parties involved, while the use of available resources, such as employees, docks and service vehicles, is maximised. This makes dock and yard management mere child's play.

This is how time slot and yard management increase the efficiency of your loading planning:

  1. Time slot booking: The scheduling department in the freight forwarding company takes care of booking the appropriate time slots. These can be booked conveniently via a direct link by e-mail or via an online portal. Thanks to the new calendar overview with tracks for “unbooked” and “unplanned”, you are always up to date.
  2. Registration at the factory: When the truck arrives, information about the transport, checklists and regulations are automatically displayed. The ramp staff is informed and prepares for loading or unloading.
  3. Ramp management: After a short waiting time, the driver is informed of the appropriate loading ramp via text message. The staff is ready at the ramp with the required goods and resources (such as means of transport, etc.) and carries out the loading process.
  4. Completion: The status turns to “completed”, the ramp is released again, and the truck leaves the factory premises. Thanks to real-time communication and time stamps that log every step, everyone involved is fully informed.

Conclusion

Yard and Time Slot Management: Efficient processes

Stress and loading peaks in the early morning, forcing truck drivers to wait while employees rotate on the factory premises and can hardly keep up with the work – all this is a thing of the past thanks to the intelligent solution for time slot management. Staff deployment and ramp occupancy are now optimally coordinated with time slot management. Whereas there used to be empty periods in the afternoon, the workload on the ramps is now evenly distributed throughout the day thanks to the time slot management system and structured yard management. The optimised calendar software ensures that you can really rely on booked time slots. Your loading processes thus gain immensely in efficiency because the cooperation between warehouse management and transport runs smoothly, and your loading ramps are optimally utilised. This way, it is no joke that in logistics all parties involved are in the right place at the right time – i.e., when a forwarder, a truck and the needed goods meet at the ramp at exactly the right time.


Bastian Späth
Bastian Späth
CEO

As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.


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