AMEND was recently contacted by Frosty Freight, an international air freight company, to assess their operations following an unexpected service disruption while experiencing extremely heavy demand. Some names and references have been changed to protect the client’s identity.
Frosty Air Freight is having an explosive busy season – completing nearly all fulfillment in a 24-hour time period. Historically, Frosty Freight has been the gold standard of air fulfillment but, in recent years, rumors have been swirling about the validity of Frosty Freight’s distribution methods. With various alternative distribution and logistics giants populating the space, this year’s busy season has never been more important. Luckily, Frosty Freight’s R&D team introduced the Cringle 4000 propulsion engine – an upgrade from their previous model that would massively reduce air transit time.
But then – disaster struck! During a routine test flight near New York City, the prototype engine failed and detached from the aircraft. The pilot was able to glide and land safely intact but is now without an engine. Coming to terms with reality, Frosty Freight’s President decided some outside help was required. AMEND to the rescue…
Without the time-savings from the Cringle 4000, delivery time has dramatically increased to levels that are not feasible for the demand. Under current constraints, Frosty Freight’s supply chain is spread wafer-thin and needs a massive overhaul to fulfill all open orders. What should they do?
- Due to proprietary technology, Frosty Freight can carry all cargo at almost zero weight with a potentially infinite amount of storage space
- With the recent loss of the Cringle 4000, Frosty Freight will be using multiple slower vehicles rather than a single, hyper-fast option
- Frosty Freight fulfills all orders from a single distribution center
- All toys – err… products – have already been completed by the workforce. All that is needed now is distribution.
Consider a 3PL (Third Party Logistics) partner. No matter what portion of Frosty’s supply chain a 3PL can be involved in, the right partner can leverage massive improvements throughout the organization. In Frosty Freight’s case, a 3PL could help create the optimal plan for delivery – from flight routes to the order in which each
sleigh “truck” is filled. Plus, with additional options like advanced shipping notices and estimated delivery times, Frosty Freight would know ahead of time if another “truck” was needed to fulfill a specific area on their route to fulfill all orders in their distribution blitz. Utilizing a 3PL effectively would allow Frosty to continue operating their global logistical network but with lower risk, lower costs, and lower stress during crunch time.
Dedicate loading bay areas for staging orders. With the end-goal being mass fulfillment, “trucks” need to be coming in and out as efficiently as possible. Considering Frosty’s distribution center has a finite number of loading bay doors, this a part of the process that cannot be augmented – at least, not much – with more labor. However, Frosty Freight could increase the number of “trucks” loaded by reducing the time it takes to embark. One of the best ways to achieve this is by pre-staging all product BEFORE the “truck” arrives to take it away. This could be via palletizing product or grouping together parcels in a pre-stuffed magical bag. Either way, the goal is to minimize idle time for each “truck.” The faster the “truck” is loaded; the faster products get delivered.
If labor is affordable (which is VERY MUCH SO the case for Frosty Freight), Frosty Freight should consider augmenting the work force with overtime and seasonal labor. Additional lift from a man hour standpoint could ensure faster picking and packing but, as with many things, more does not always mean better. Without proper direction, staffing 50 extra
elves team members could potentially create jams. Best practice would be to set up small, autonomous teams with very specific goals. For instance, if Frosty Freight decides to stage orders for loading, it makes sense to have two separate teams – one for loading and one for staging. The staging team would be responsible for quality control – double checking that all products are accounted for, stuffing bags, and generally tying all the bows and crossing all the t’s. This allows the loading team to focus on speed. When a “truck” arrives, the shipment would already be “signed and sealed” and waiting at the loading door. There would be no need to walk away from the “truck” to look for “that one gift” in the land of lost toys products. “Trucks” would be in and out without a hitch, opening the physical space to begin loading another “truck.”
With any type of team though, level loading is the name of the game. If done correctly, it is safe to assume that staging will take notably longer than loading – especially due to Frosty Freight’s innovative product transportation sacks. Ideally, Frosty Freight would deploy more teams of stagers than loaders. AMEND would recommend two to three teams for staging and a single team of loaders to fill “trucks” with staged orders.
By introducing some simple systems – like different colored flags – teams would be able to communicate the status of each staging. A colored system, such as the example below, helps direct attention to where it is needed rather than requiring every employee attempt to remember on their own.
Operational changes like these don’t take long to implement but return quick results, reduce indirect labor and create faster turnaround times.
Frosty Freight agreed to AMEND’s recommendations and has partnered with us to implement these changes. The Frosty team will see peak fulfillment this week. We’ll share a post-route debrief and recommendations for the future.
Joseph Emsley is a Project Leader at AMEND Consulting. Joseph is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and specializes in Operations Management and Business Analytics. Aside from work, Joseph avidly invests in the arts – both personally and by supporting others.
Frosty Freight may not be a real company, but unexpected supply-chain and operations issues are very real. Our team develops solutions to fit your performance-driving KPIs and support your short and long-term strategy planning. Fill out the form below if you’re interested in partnering with AMEND to achieve operational excellence.