Planning Transport Better

Foto: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

The question of whether it is better to ship manufactured parts ad hoc via a parcel carrier or to go for the truckload carrier option is far from trivial. And, depending on the frequency of shipments, the choice that is made can have a direct impact on freight costs. However, it’s not as simple as looking at ways to get parts to the customer a bit faster or a bit more cheaply. “It can sometimes be a question of rethinking the entire distribution network from the ground up,” explains Andreas Gmür, Head of Logistics Practice and a partner at Camelot Management Consultants. Consequently, this topic can rapidly assume strategic significance. Procurement departments ask the same questions as shipping departments – but from the opposite perspective: What is the most efficient way for us to procure the components and spare parts we need? What is the ideal number of trucks for plant-to-plant transportation? “It’s all about clustering shipments and being able to decide which cluster makes the most sense,” says Gmür.

Analyzer tool uses SAP HANA in-memory technology

It was precisely for this purpose that Uwe Sester from SAP partner Camelot ITLab developed a tool that is designed to help answer these questions on the fly. The Camelot Transportation Analyzer does this in two steps:

– First, it checks the integrity of unstructured data and removes unnecessary information.  The SAP BusinessObjects Data Services are capable of recognizing not only typing errors but also of pulling address data out of various systems and consolidating it in a single table.

– Second, the tool analyzes the usable data obtained in the first step using SAP’s in-memory technology, SAP HANA. When it comes to rapid analysis, SAP HANA is generally the solution of choice, according to Sester. Transaction-based ERP systems may also be fast, but they are customized solutions, whereas the Camelot Transportation Analyzer is standardized.

Next page: Analysis time reduced from days to minutes

Benefits in analyses for a wide range of industries

“Analyses that used to take two days are now complete in just a couple of minutes,” says Gmür, who has used the analyzer tool on a test basis at several customers.  Firstly, for an as-is analysis, to establish the current situation. Secondly, for complex simulation scenarios that allow company managers to compare and analyze the options for transportation and clustering themselves. The Camelot Transportation Analyzer is designed for use in a wide range of industries, from automotive and retail to pharmaceuticals and chemicals. “Basically, this tool can be deployed by any company that buys or sell goods, products, or spare parts,” adds Gmür.

At the moment, he is reluctant to speculate on the savings that the tool might ultimately achieve. “It could be a couple of percent,” is his cautious prediction, “but the potential window for savings on network costs is between 10 and 15 percent.”