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The Power of Intelligent Automation in Supply Chain!!

If there is something that assures me of existence of God, it lies in the fact that nature around us has an organization, symmetry and pattern. Every living thing on earth creates a design for itself, a space of its own, progresses and eventually perishes with time, all along with the single-minded focus of achieving maximum output from minimum input, in short, optimization.

After all, Energy saved is energy earned!

In this relentless and constant pursuit of developing means of saving energy (product of saving time & space), we have come a long way from the stone age.

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From the simple means of transportation which involved ponies and bullock carts, today we have steel machines flying on gas which can deliver our needs, wants and desires across the Earth. And it is hard to imagine today that once upon a time, it would have taken an entire life of a person to travel a distance that far.

Of all the transportation machines, trucks are the most critical piece. Naturally, you’ll find trucks everywhere. However, with such a large variation in the types of trucks, it becomes overwhelming for anyone who’s dealing with shipments via trucks.

No doubt, firms employ an army of personnel, working day and night for planning these shipments.

We, at Quifers, love Logistics and understand how critical it is, and are a core believer of optimizing energy.

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One of the smartest product that we came out with is the Truck Load Builder (TLB).

Just feed in the supply and demand from various point locations and TLB suggests the best combination of trucks to move goods between these locations.

The output result accommodates several constraints like :

  • Freight rates with any additional costs (detention, etc)
  • Correct delivery sequence arrangement inside the trucks
  • Keeping load of a particular client, together as a block within a truck
  • Layering of fragile items over non fragile items
  • Minimizing empty spaces and also suggests delivery by courier for cases that are more economical

    You’ll find the platform to be super flexible with options to remove or include any combination of the constraints.

    Every industry has a totally different supply chain process and a structure with unique characteristics and challenges.

    Some have to deal with distributed demand from several locations, while some others operate only between point A and point B. Some have to deliver very large amount of material once or twice every week while some others have to deliver material on a daily basis. Some follow a hub and spoke model where manufactured goods from various factories are accumulated at one central location and then delivered subsequently, while some others deliver goods directly from their respective factory.

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    In short, we have so many combinations, like :

    Single source -Single destination;
    Single source – Multiple destination;
    Multiple source – Single destination;
    Multiple source – Multiple destinations.

    That said, Quifers truck load builder (QTLB) evolved to cover them all and has become an intelligent hybrid model in a true sense!!

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    So, how did all this start?

    Two years back, one of our current clients approached us to deal with the problem of stock-outs at some locations and to convert some of their normal distribution centers to regional distribution centers, based on the demand changes they were facing.

    We started with devising a transportation network for them and validated their decision to upgrade some distribution centers(DC) to regional distribution centers(RDC) and to downgrade some others from RDC to DC.

    However, with all the network redesign, planning for dynamic demands was a challenge (especially when there was no historic data to analyze demand with the changed network).

    There’s no single type of truck that can be considered as a consistent best fit, as demand fluctuates every day.

    Also, with the re-design, came the question of how to club loads. For example, a load is to be sent from Siliguri to Lucknow, should it be sent in a truck destined to Chandigarh or the one going to Jaipur?

    It takes a lot of time and effort to decide on how to club the loads and no supply chain manager can be sure of one’s decision.

    Another challenge that comes up with so called “intelligent planning softwares” or “intelligent manual planning (read Excel)” where people employ the simple formula of utilizing biggest trucks first (after all this can safely ensure to optimize the number of trucks). However, this usually never means minimum cost.

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    Yet another challenge comes up in the form of incentives for the transporters (who have self interest in sending those particular vehicle which increases their own profit – without thinking twice about the optimization).

     A bigger truck is costly and there’s no point if the bigger trucks can be easily substituted by a smaller truck without increasing the total cost and maintaining the SLA.

    We have successfully proved this by reducing 20%-30% of transportation costs of all of our clients using Quifer’s Truck Load Builder.

    No matter what happens with the load amount and truck availability, TLB solution will always give the best result and the best combination of routes.

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    How do we achieve this?

    We calculate the cost of each possibility using linear programming.

    With our solution, the only thing a supply chain manager has to do is, simply upload the order sheet and click a button “Plan”. Corresponding run-sheets with combined load for different locations and distributors are generated automatically.

    However, our love for building Logistics solution didn’t just stop here.

    We decided to achieve more and make things more realistic for our clients. That’s when we came up with three dimensional rendering of packed goods inside a truck.

    Now the client can see each and every packed item and understand its orientation and positioning inside the truck easily.

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    Let’s give you some context on what we’ve achieved.

    A typical packing solution that shows three dimensional packing :

    1. Does not suggest the truck type to be used.
    2. Is very slow to operate (since they are based on permutations and combinations, building a model for 1 truck usually takes 2-3 minutes).

      Instead of relying on permutation and combination based packing algorithm, we have defined various layers of packing based on the very characteristic of dimensions of sku’s to be packed. As a result, in the time a generic packing solution would take to model a single truck, we generate 3D packing models for all the trucks.

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      That said, with a team of super nerds that love solving challenging problems, rest assured you’re in a company of good company. Why not say hi to us!!

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