Consultants in Logistics

Steadmans: Improving Vehicle Utilisation to Drive Down Costs

Steadmans manufacture high quality insulated architectural wall and roof panels, to order, at their manufacturing location in Welton near Carlisle. The Company has a sales turnover of circa £60m. Distribution is to the whole of the UK utilising a range of contractors and carriers. Many of the deliveries require the use of a ride on forklift
truck.

Transport planning is a particularly skilled activity as it requires a good understanding of the product with regards to product volumetrics, how product can be stacked, and whether the planned orders can fit onto a vehicle. The loading of the vehicles is very demanding as the products need to be separated, supported and strapped for damage free transit. Each trailer can take several hours to load hence the need for stand loading of trailers. Unloading also requires a good understanding of the product and how it should be handled. 

Steadmans invited Davies & Robson to undertake a review of their transport operation to determine how to reduce costs whilst maintaining, or improving, service levels. The Project started with a detailed review of the contractual arrangements with existing contractors followed by a benchmarking exercise to evaluate current costs and a review of the transport planning process.

The conclusion of the study was that whilst the operation is fundamentally sound and the charges competitive there were, however, ways to reduce costs which included:

  • Developing more effective ways of working with the sales team to build more economic loads
  • Improving the effectiveness of the load planning function with better systems support and increased staff training
  • Working with the contractors to improve backloading and the use of Moffett’s to the benefit of both parties
  • Maximising effective communication with customers to minimise the risk of failed deliveries
  • A change in reporting focussing on improving better vehicle utilisation and route planning. Whilst this is not straightforward, it is important that the planners are able to monitor and report on effectiveness in this area
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