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Green Inventory

Sustainable inventory management process while increasing efficiency

A US-based logistics provider needed to reengineer its inefficient systems at the US-Canada border. The ECG team developed a custom inventory management system that increased the average speed packages moved through the facility by 70% and decreased inventory waiting at border facilities by 20%.

Industry

Transportation

Scope

Supply Chain / Inventory Management / Sustainability / Process Re-engineering / Change Management

Timeline

Six months to develop this piece of a larger, several-part project

Impact

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Operational Outcome

70%

reduction in average holding time

20%

reduction of packages held

5%

reduction of floor space needed for inventory storage
Fewer damaged or lost goods
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Sustainability Outcome

Lower energy use due reduction of floor space needed
Improved employee morale and efficiency

Business Need

To comply with new regulations put in place to safeguard US borders post-9/11, the client needed to reimagine and reengineer the processes and systems it used to track, organize and distribute shipments crossing the border from Canada into the US. To address the requirements the company concluded it was necessary to build a custom supporting infrastructure at its four international ports at the Canada/US border.

Challenges

The processes and systems used by the transportation company were not set up to meet government regulations. Several challenges made effective communication and efficacy impossible:


Manual system: Shipments were tracked only by paper with no way to view where a package was in the customs process.

Lack of standardization: Each facility had its own inventory process, making it difficult to communicate effectively between facilities.

Limited, unorganized storage space: Packages were often stored in groups on the floor while waiting for the full shipment to arrive, resulting in damage and loss.

Fractured employee focus: With no visibility to the status or location of a shipment, border facility employees and delivery drivers had to physically look at individual packages to locate them for customers and customs agents in the facilities and within the trucks.

Solutions

The team developed a custom inventory management application to meet the new regulatory requirements and interface with a preoperatory scanning system. At the time, sufficient commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) inventory management applications did not exist. The custom application had two key features:

  • Inventory management for international packages

  • Tracked customs clearance status.

  • Tracked and linked packages belonging to a single shipment.

  • Provided the location of packages within an inventory facility.

  • Electronic manifest creation

  • Manifests were electronically generated with all shipments scanned as they were placed on the truck.

  • Provided the location of packages within the truck.

Outcomes

  • Decreased average holding time of a package by 70%.

  • Decreased the number of packages held in staging at border facilities by 20%.

  • Reduced floor space needed for holding shipments and storing government paperwork, which led to lower energy use and facility maintenance, decreasing warehouse costs by 5%

  • Improved visibility and transparency to customers by providing real-time shipment status.

  • Improved employee morale, efficiency and satisfaction.

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