Satisfying high requirements of the European customers, optimization of the transport management process and, last but not least, decreasing the number of late deliveries – these are just some of challenges recently faced by Interpipe, a Ukrainan industrial company. Svitlana Suvora, the Interpipe logistics director, tells us how they managed to turn these goals into success.
- Interpipe – a Ukrainian industrial company, manufacturer of steel tubes, railroad wheels and castors. It is one of the TOP10 of the world’s exporters of seamless tubes and ranks. It is the 3rd among rail wheel manufacturers on the global market. The company delivers products to over 80 countries in the world and its customers include refineries, construction and automotive companies, as well as railroads and rolling stock factories in Europe, the Middle East, North America and the CIS.
Before the Covid pandemic, the process digitization was trendy and today it is an indispensable requirement for businesses, which want to stay competitive. Online track&trace service of freight is one of the services needed by more and more companies. Why did you decide to implement this solution in Interpipe?
For a number of reasons:
- the company as a whole needed such a solution. Interpripe delivers its products directly to customers’ warehouses. Therefore, it is important to monitor timely deliveries in order to fulfill our contractual obligations. Furthermore, we digitize more and more processes within the company, both in production and services. They become fully transparent, credible and manageable. The supply chain is not an exception here.
- our key customer needed such a solution. Most of our European customers have a booking system for unloading time slots by date and time. While delivering a load, one needs to cover thousands of kilometers – the vehicle may not meet the delivery schedule, be late for unloading or arrive early. That is why we need to inform the customer about changes in the schedule not later than 48 hours before the start of the booking so that the customer can reserve the next available slot. Otherwise, the vehicle will need to wait for the next one for an unspecified period of time.
- our logistics department needed such a solution. It is necessary to monitor deliveries of each vehicle every day. This part of work took quite a bit of time. Sometimes we had to deal with the problem of misinformation on both the driver’s and the carriers’ side.
What criteria did you apply to select a contractor?
First of all, we rely on the experience of companies. For example, some contractors proposed that we either put all carriers into one navigation system or give them trackers during unloading to connect all drivers through the mobile application. None of the options was good for us because each of them had some flaws, e.g. how to explain to the carrier that he must terminate the contract with his supplier and connect to a supplier recommended by us? How would the trackers be returned? Who will take material responsibility? Who will keep the record of trackers in the company assets? How to provide all the drivers with mobile phones with a stable internet connection in both Ukraine and Europe?. The Trans.eu Platform was a clear leader in these issues because it offered integration of the maximum number of suppliers in one system, whereas carriers would not have to renegotiate contracts and change suppliers. What is more, until that time Trans.eu had already been integrated with around 100 suppliers, whereas vehicles connected to any of these providers could be monitored from the very first day.
How did the track&trace system of deliveries look like before?
Before implementing the project, this process was entirely manual. Every logistician used to himself monitor his vehicles by phone. All data was entered into one table and sent to customers. In times of the greatest workload we needed to hire another employee (dispatcher), who was directly involved in collecting information from drivers and carriers about location of vehicles and the expected date of arrival at the unloading place. It was due to the fact that logisticians could not keep up with searching vehicles and monitoring them until the time of unloading.
What does the process look like today?
The process of tracking&tracing vehicles is now automated and simplified. We have designed a single report containing all deliveries in real time. To inform the customer of the location of a specific vehicle, the report is simply updated. Another feature that is worth mentioning and which has been improved by our experts is an online map of all the vehicles on the road. On this map vehicles are grouped by colour (like traffic lights) – en route in accordance with the delivery date, delayed or ahead of the delivery date. By hovering the mouse over a particular icon, you can see details of the vehicle number, carrier/shipper, driver, order number and what the vehicle is carrying. It is very convenient and comprehensive in terms of data for both the logistician and the customer. It is also worth noting that thanks to the project the logistician is involved in the process only when in the calculation of the scheduled arrival date the system indicates early or late arriver of the vehicle. At present, together with Trans.eu we are working on implementing another task in the track&trace project – customer area. It is necessary for the customer to be able to monitor his own order from the moment of production to delivery to his own warehouse door.
What results of service implementation do you consider to be crucial?
Delays are a nightmare for us because customers have strict limitations on dates and times of unloading. Owing to the project, this challenge has become risk that can be managed. We were able to minimize supply disruption with two solutions:
- carriers/forwarders know that at any time the logistician can check where the vehicle is located, thus, they take a more responsible approach to respecting time slots (booking the time of shipment);
- the logistician sees when a delivery may be disrupted (the vehicle is significantly ahead of the schedule or, on the contrary, late) and informs the customer about this in due time – no later than 48 hours. For instance, before implementing the project, the percentage of delivery disruptions amounted to 30.4% of all transports. Currently, this figure is approaching 3-4%.
Thanks to this project, calls with drivers and carriers/forwarders have also been shortened. Logisticatians can now focus on looking for new partners, implementation of new projects and other strategic matters for the company.
Svitlana Suvora, Interpipe logistics director
-------------- If you have questions about track&trace service or if you are interested in cooperation, send a message to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org or to Olha Venzlovska, Regional Implementation Team Leader in Trans.eu: email@example.com.