In 2017 we consulted an automotive logistics company in Mumbai on automating their vehicle inspection and outbound process. In this post we will discuss the problem and share our learnings from the engagement.
What is Automotive logistics
Auto logistics consists of inbound, in-factory and outbound logistics, with most auto manufacturers focusing on optimising the inbound process. Logistics costs for the automotive industry comprises 4.5-5.0% of their total revenue, with outbound logistics contributing the most. Currently, many aspects of outbound vehicle logistics – capacity planning and volume tracking are done using spreadsheets, emails or even faxes.
Key Trends in Outbound Logistics
- Investment in IT & physical infrastructure
- Multimodal transportation
- Rise in 3PL participation
- Intelligent Yard Management software
- Vertically integrated planning (production to sales)
- Blockchain for universal source of truth
The present scenario
Following is the process being followed by the auto logistics company. Each process was done manuallyThe client had identified 4 key issues in its outbound logistics management:
We proposed an end-to-end outbound logistics management suite built on a custom requirements-led framework to gain higher visibility over operations, increase process efficiency and derive crucial data insights from day-to-day operations at various plant RSOs in India. This system facilitates semi-automation of the following manual processes within the outbound value chain, by reducing paperwork, eliminating human error, improving data accuracy and increasing speed and labor utilisation.
The software technology solution will implement and accomplish the following:
- Connect, view and extract data from hardware components on to master dashboard for collaborative cloud-based configuration and management
- Validate inspection data, identify hidden problems and aggregate data for resolving issues
- Blend, transform, and consolidate data from multiple sources on to the Operator Management Console
- Accurately identify and authorise tasks in the value chain
- Forward scalable- Publish, package and send data into larger value chain management software (SAP, Oracle, etc.)
The hardware technology implementation includes the following:
- Geo tagging of each location where units are stored for error free tracking of vehicles
- Scanning RFID tags instead of filling up reports by hand during Inspection cycle
- Tracking the vehicles outward to other internal departments as well as during QC process
- Information capturing & availability- Cross-platform and responsive system that aggregates real-time data from RFIDs at the plant, RSO and trailer dock to make information always available for stakeholders in Operations Management
- Labor utilisation- Communication between the system and the operator will allow the system to pace the operator from one assigned task to the next. The system can select the next task for an operator based on metrics and instructions applied (e.g. priority queue, capability of operator, schedule of tasks, etc.) as well as on the process flow protocol configured for the task. The result is workload management that maximises task accomplishment and minimises labor idle time.
- Vehicle tracking- Easy traceability of vehicles within yard due to real time Vehicle ID Number (VIN) tracking. Mobile-led process flow adherence for inspection & delivery management in a defined operational chain. Increased yard productivity leading to faster vehicle throughput. Logistics/sales managers can themselves monitor and track status of vehicle progression in distribution network.
- Cost Reduction- Reduced yard operations cost due to partial automation, increased productivity, efficient processes, improved labor and asset utilisation. Cost effective solution that can be rolled out across multiple clients in finished vehicle space with ease.
- Scalability- Flexible architecture allowing for easy functional upgrade and scalability to multiple sites and features (sales planning, modal mix planning, transshipment, etc.)
- Technology- Web based open source technology solution that provides flexibility for customisation. Scalable solution that can be deployed in short time across the distribution network. Extensive use of enabling technologies (RFID, GIS & GPS features etc.) for simplified operations and real-time visibility. Fully customisable modules combining best-of-breed global industry practices fulfilling specific client requirements. Flexible architecture for easy functional upgrade and scalability to multiple sites.
Custom framework for Inspection Management
Operator mobile application & web-app
- Role based hierarchical user access management – only viewable to the right person
- Location intelligence based process authorisation & completion – only viewable at the right location
- Mobile app to be able to scan QR/barcode pasted on the car and fetch checklist pertaining to vehicle or view previous completed activities
- Manual data input management system pertaining to Inspection, Checking and Verification – can be fed into the mobile app directly. In case of errors, click a photo and upload the same. Can’t upload a saved image.
- Secured reliable cloud based framework which allows anytime anywhere access – viewable across platforms and devices
- Real-time notifications and alerts – errors, misses, updates
- Complete visibility into the inspection tests performed till now. Builds confidence in the system and drastically reduces recalls
- Increases productivity of the operator – inspection and data capture happens simultaneously. Get insights into performance of workers and support staff
- Reduces plant to RSO cycle times and more vehicles can be inspected in the same time
- Cross-functional and configurable rules engine framework
- Process management and output control
- Continuous improvement framework
- Data visibility & configuration management
- Integration with OTM and SAP
Hardware & setup
- Establish a hardware-based SOP in Operations Management to partially automate checking and inspection process
- RFID controller synching with software to allow only approved vehicles to pass through the gate at RSO
- RFID + VIN integration allows us to measure the duration, delays and alerts at each step of the value chain.
- Shared & Seamless hardware software integration
Data Management Platform
- Consolidated custom data management platform that works in
- integration with the underlying Logistics Management Software.
- Data is recorded and stored in every phase of internal operations in
- outbound logistics, using RFID’s and sensors installed on ground.
- Data sets include:
- Inspection reports
- Location and Transit Times
- Operational metrics and benchmarks
- Real-time vehicle/SKU status