Lean Logistics: How To Set Up A Loading Dock Schedule

Lean Logistics: How To Set Up A Loading Dock Schedule

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A common complaint I often hear from folks in shipping and receiving is that they are either waiting on trucks or trucks are waiting on them. The immediate next question to ask is, “Do you have a receiving schedule?” - to which many answer “No” or “Well, we used to have one, but it didn’t work.”

For those that do not have one, here’s how to create one:

1. Calculate the takt time for your docks (Takt Time = Available Time / Demand). IE: If one 40 hour week’s demand is 120 trucks, you’d reduce it to 2400 minutes / 120 Trucks = Takt Time of 20 minutes / truck.

2. Determine the process time for loading/unloading a truck. This determination may require some time studies on the docks. Variation is typical; use a time that would accommodate at least 75% of your volume. For our example we’ll use 60 minutes. Note that the variation can be an opportunity to improve upon after a schedule is in place.

3. Calculate the number of resources to allocate to the new dock schedule. Take your Process Time divided by your Takt Time (PT 60 min / TT 20 min = 3 resources). This means you need 3 dock doors, 3 fork trucks, etc.

4. Set rules for carrier pickup/delivery times and communicate to carriers. These should include necessary “what if” scenarios, who to call, and how early/late arrivals will be handled. Typically early routes will need to wait before they can approach the dock, and late routes will need to be rescheduled with no demurrage penalty incurred at the dock.

5. Begin planning inbound or outbound loads within those constraints and communicate it to carriers. Slot incoming/outgoing shipments into the 60 minute time slots on the dock schedule. Communicate those pickup/delivery times with carriers. Enforce the rules and PDCA.

Whether you “used to have one” or are just implementing one, rest assured that failure does and will happen. There will be over-the-road conditions, hot shipments, and carrier compliance or capacity issues that will try to destroy your dock schedule every day. What separates successful dock schedules from those that fail is the discipline in problem solving and exception management. Since there will inevitably be problems, plan for them proactively with containment strategies. As problems occur, solve and learn from them rather than giving up. A dock schedule should evolve over time as idiosyncrasies with carriers, processes, and suppliers or customers are discovered. Let it evolve rather than letting it go extinct!

Written by Derek Browning, Lean Deployment Executive at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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