Daily Archives: February 8, 2011

Why You Should Optimize Your Logistics

Because half of the time (on average), that truck you use is running empty. But you’re still paying for fuel, maintenance, driver time, etc. Consider this statistics from a recent article on How to Combat Logistics Inefficiencies in Your Organization over on Environmental Leader.

  • 25% of all freight vehicles in Europe run empty
  • 50% + of all freight vehicles in Europe run only part-full

As the article states, this is a monumental waste and has a staggering negative impact on the environment. In Europe, freight transport is believed to account for 1/4 of all carbon emissions. That’s 25% — and one sixth of the emissions are 100% unnecessary (as the equivalent of half the trucks are running empty and road transport accounts for 1/3 of the emissions). Given that road freight alone accounts for about 420 Million tonnes of CO2 per year in Europe (more than the entire carbon footprint of some countries, including South Africa, and 1/3 of global road freight emissions), that’s a lot of environmental damage!

And don’t tell me it’s not your problem, or that it’s your logistics carrier’s problem, because it’s not. It’s your freight, and you can do something about it. When you send out that RFI that asks if a carrier can service a given route, also ask if they currently service that route, how many trucks travel down the route on a weekly basis, and what % of trucks go FTL, LTL, and empty each way. Then you can define empty transport costs, carbon costs, and efficiency discounts in your sourcing model based upon how many empty trucks you will create or get rid of. If there are no full trucks going to the vicinity of your warehouse now, then the carrier will have to add trucks which will go to your warehouse empty, adding cost and carbon to your supply chain. But if there are full trucks going to the vicinity of your warehouse that always leave empty, you will be increasing the efficiency of the carrier while reducing the overall carbon footprint of the logistics carrier’s operation — and be in a position to potentially negotiate even better rates. And while the exact breakdown of FTL/LTL/empty on any lane varies by week, carriers on top of their game have these stats for the last month, quarter, and year at all times. The data is there. You just have to get it and make use of it. (And with a good optimization platform, you can!)

Trade Extensions Keeps Extending the Platform

The fact-sheet based RFX module is not the only improvement that Trade Extensions has made since it last traded up its UI and improved its optimization and reporting capabilities. Since Trade Extensions was last covered on Sourcing Innovation, it has made a number of significant improvements to its platform, including:

  • RFI-driven supplier data requests
  • multiple dimension ranking in e-Negotiation
  • integration with Google Earth
  • more cost support and new incumbent rules in optimization
  • conversion of all reports to OLAP reports and implementation of a new n-way comparison report

RFI-driven supplier data requests

In the Trade Extensions platform, supplier data collection can be configured to be dependent on supplier responses. If a supplier indicates that they don’t have a certain capability (or don’t wish to bid on particular item or category), then they don’t see the associated fact sheets (which they can download as an Excel Spreadsheet if they like). Also, if they indicate they do perform a certain function, the RFI can be configured to request additional information.

Multiple dimension ranking in e-Negotiation

Most auction platforms rank by bid, volume, or another relevant factor to the buyer. The Trade Extensions platform can be configured to rank (and report on) bids on multiple dimensions, such as supplier and location or supplier and quality. This makes it easy to quickly see how a bid stacks up against multiple relevant factors.

Integration with Google Earth

Often times when I hear about integration with Google Maps or Earth I say “that’s nice” because it usually doesn’t add much value. But the TE implementation actually makes Google Earth useful. Not only can you quickly see the lanes, relative volumes [by line thickness], and carrier distribution [by line colour] at different scales, but, with a click, you can pop up a box that provides the full details of what is flowing down the lane (products, volume, from, to, frequency, total weight, etc.). A warehouse manager can quickly zoom into her facilities and see what is coming and when. It can take a scenario with thousands of allocations and make the information quickly comprehensible.

More cost support and new incumbent rules in optimization

Relative and absolute fixed, on-, cost support has been greatly improved in the application. A buyer can define a cost on supplier selection, on a certain volume threshold, on a specified property, etc. This allows for incredibly detailed and accurate costing formulas to be created. Trade Extensions has also added four new incumbent rules to the optimization solution, two new allocation and two new keepers. The user can now choose to allocate an incumbent volume at least equal to what they have now, or to the current percentage of volume, or to incumbent proportions and allow redistribution between incumbents, or between winners in incumbent proportions.

Conversion of all reports to OLAP reports and implementation of a new n-way comparison report

When Trade Extensions last traded up their UI, they had just implemented their new OLAP reporting feature and were in the process of converting their existing reports. Now that the OLAP reporting feature has been fully implemented, all of the reports have been converted and the new report creation facility is complete, allowing users to define their own OLAP reports on the dimensions of their choosing. Also, the user can now create arbitrary n-way comparison reports and “glue” reports together from existing report definitions.

And Trade Extensions has no intention of slowing down. In addition to a commitment improve SIM/SPM/SRM, Trade Extensions is also working on:

  • auctions – simplifying them for low-end spot buys
  • e-Negotiation – instant messaging, better charting, etc.
  • enterprise features – search across projects, track cross-project metrics, integrated BI
  • roles – admin, project manager, buyer, viewer, etc.
  • new project types – to simplify auction setup
  • on-demand training – the wiki is under constant development and walkthrough videos will soon be available

It should be an exciting year for this European company that has just started to gain traction in North America (where they opened a new office last year).