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2008 Best In Supply Chain
By Kassandra Kania
Submit Your Entry For The 2009 Mobilizer Awards here.

During a severe storm on the East Coast, Rick Crawford, NYK Logistics' VP of Operations drove six hours through the snow to see a yard management system (YMS) installation from WhereNet, a Zebra Technologies Company.

"It was well worth it," says Crawford, "because once we saw it in action, it solidified our decision to move to the WhereNet solution."

After an extensive search, the shipping giant decided to implement WhereNet to replace an inadequate YMS that it inherited when the company took over an existing operation. The YMS was faulty to the point that NYK Logistics had to conduct manual yard checks every hour to keep track of its containers.

"At that facility, we had 100 to 150 containers a day, which results in about 100 outbound trailers a day," says Crawford. To keep up with demand, NYK Logistics needed real-time information to improve asset
visibility and management as well as workload planning.

WhereNet's application consists of an active RFID real-time locating system and Wi-Fi technology coupled with a rules-based yard management system. When a container or trailer arrives at the gate, an active RFID tag is attached to the top of it. Location sensors installed on the exterior of buildings and on existing light poles serve as antennas for receiving RTLS (active RFID) tag signals. The sensors also enable mobile communication between switchers and the YMS.

"Within the yard itself, RFID tags allow us to know up to the moment that container's location and help us keep track of assets," says Crawford. "Once the container is emptied, it is tracked back to the harbor to ensure the customer doesn't incur any per diem charges for delays, and it allows us to balance a very large inventory in our yard."

Using the YMS software, NYK Logistics is able to determine the number of trailers needed for outbound shipments, as well as which trailer belongs in which slot on the cross-loading dock. Movements within the yard are also controlled automatically by the YMS, and information is communicated to the drivers wirelessly on LXE computer terminals mounted in the yard trucks.

WhereNet has had a substantial impact on NYK Logistics' productivity. "The biggest difference is level of service to our customers," says Crawford. "The facility we took over was never able to get above an 85% level of service measurement with our customers previously. With the installation of our software and our processes, we've consistently been above 96% since that point, and that's continued to rise to a higher level since then."

Drivers' turn times have also been greatly reduced. "The time it took drivers to come into the facility, turn around, and leave was in excess of 45 minutes," says Crawford. "Now those turn times are under 20 minutes."

WhereNet is directly responsible for a 30% gain in operational efficiency and capacity. And, instead of the projected 12 months, ROI on the project was realized in nine months. "In supply chains, the best thing you can do to decrease costs is reduce variability. That's what drives up costs in the supply chain," says Crawford. "WhereNet has brought us consistency, and that's huge in the transloading business."

>Honorable Mention: Chevron
Ruggedized PDAs standardize best practices at eight refineries

Field operators at Chevron's refineries needed a consistent way to perform routine duties that surpassed the company's paper-based system.

"We felt we could improve accountability as well as our ability to catch equipment problems before they led to catastrophic failure," says Eric Rearwin, Program Manager. "We also wanted to improve compliance activities and demonstrate compliance efficiently."

After standardizing its best practices for processes, Chevron turned to SAT Corp., which has since been acquired by Wonderware, a division of Invensys, to implement IntelaTrac on Motorola ruggedized handhelds for use in hazardous environments.

As they walk through the plant, field operators enter numerical readings from equipment on the PDAs. They also enter safety information and collect data for environmental compliance.  At the end of the shift, the operator returns to the control room and uploads data from the device onto the server. "Information is available via Web report to other employees, so we immediately have an idea of the condition of the equipment," says Rearwin.

Making information visible to other employees at the site has been a major benefit of IntelaTrac. "Engineers, rotating equipment inspectors, and environmental staff can all access the system and see data that's been collected in real time," says Rearwin.

Reporting is simplified, which allows Chevron to quickly identify problems and address exceptions. Payback has been significant, from improved refinery reliability and reduced maintenance costs to better knowledge retention and improved environmental compliance.

Chevron estimates that these process improvements will save the company $3 million - $5 million annually.

>Honorable Mention: C.R. England
Trucking company strives for 100% on-time delivery with GPS

C.R. England, a refrigerated transportation business, needed to improve tracking of its delivery fleet and managed loads. With 2,600 trucks and 5,000 drivers, accurate GPS data was crucial for on-time deliveries and customer satisfaction.

"Our service wasn't where it needed to be as far as delivery, pickup, and satisfying our customer needs," says Tom Slaughter, Senior Operations Manager. "They require 100% on-time service, and we were around 96%."

The company was using Qualcomm, which allowed it to pinpoint drivers every 15 to 30 minutes. To improve tracking and communication, C.R. England worked with AT&T to upgrade its voice and data plans and deployed TeleNav Track on its existing BlackBerry 8310 smartphones with Push-to-Talk. "Our tracking is down to one-minute intervals so we know where that truck is every minute," says Slaughter. "We're now averaging 99%-plus on-time delivery every week," says Slaughter. Improved customer service has led to more business for the national trucking company, resulting in $1.8 million in additional revenue annually and an impact on the company's bottom line of around $1 million. With an initial investment of around $6,500, C.R. England has more than realized its ROI.

Slaughter  gives TeleNav a 99% rating--right in line with the company's improved delivery service. "Our plan is to grow and do more with this type of technology," he says.

See who won in the other categories:




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