Thanks to a helping hand from Ryder System, Inc., the Target store chain is finally nearing the bull’s eye when it comes to inbound scheduling in the supply chain.
The problem: Clunky inbound scheduling that lacked data and flexibility and actually relied on fax machines for communication. The solution, according to executives who spoke at the 2015 annual conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals: Useful analytics, more flexible scheduling and solutions that evolve as situations change.
“We’re one year into the journey, and things are going well,” said Ryan Hanson, senior director of domestic transportation with Target. “Already I can’t imagine running a supply chain without this level of analytics.”
Target’s efforts were inspired in part by a growing awareness about the clunkiness of the current system, Hanson said. “The old way of doing business was getting the job done without consistency and visibility about what was really happening.”
After extensive discussions, Target turned to Ryder for help to improve the system. Moving to a new way of doing things was much more than simply flipping a switch: “It’s a whole new way of doing things for every vendor, every carrier, every merchant, distribution centers,” Hanson said.
Now, Ryder’s system allows Target to be much more nimble and use information to its advantage about the timing of shipments. “Our carriers go in and schedule freight and load balances, and we see that,” Hanson said.
In some cases, the numbers have come with helpful revelations. For example, he said, reception centers “moved appointments around in a way would be good for the staff inside the four walls in the receiving center but not necessarily for Target guests.”
The new scheduling process has also produced accountability in other ways. Now, there’s more transparency about carriers who try to reschedule. “Not all carriers like that we have that visibility,” Hanson said, “but they know it’s fair.”
Dave Belter, vice president and general manager of global transportation with Ryder, said the data provide other benefits. “The team members at the reception centers are able to make decisions rapidly whether they’re deploying labor or taking advantage of a down period of time. The data helps them make these tactical decisions.”
In the big picture, “supply chains are getting more complex,” Hanson said. “There a lot of headwinds, and demands are increased.” The good news: “We’ve broken down some barriers, and we’re making more leaps.”
As for Ryder, it plans to evolve as circumstances change. “It’s all about service and adding value,” Belter said. “Focus on that, developing good, strong working relationships with honest, trusting and open lines of communications.”
In essence, he said, “We’re all looking for perfect execution and continuous improvement. Every customer wants that.”