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Sideload Truck Deliveries: To build by order…or not?


Mobile Delivery DriverWhen I first started implementing warehousing solutions for direct store delivery (DSD) and mobile delivery customers, I had come from a WMS background where picking activities were specific to a customer. The idea of aggregate picking was basically a foreign concept. So when a customer would ask for my insight into which picking method I would suggest, the answer always seemed obvious. My belief that this was the best way seemed to follow the industry “trends” at the time as well.

After gaining more experience, and perhaps more perspective on this issue, I now ask customers to question these points prior to committing to a build by order (or palletized) solution suggestion versus building by package (or aggregate) for their sideload truck deliveries. Given some of the responses I have received I think that the trend of palletizing may be losing some steam too.

Labor Cost

The most basic argument for palletizing versus aggregate is that labor costs more for delivery drivers, so you should try to minimize their effort. At face value this seems straightforward and an obvious reason for palletized order building. However, you should be sure that you are able to reap the benefits of reducing the delivery driver labor. If your driver takes an 8 hour shift to deliver while handling aggregate loads, do they really cut their time down to 7 hours (or less) if you provide them with palletized loads? Compare this with your warehouse staff where you have active management in house and stop the shift at the end of the work (or redeploy to other tasks). This type of control over a delivery workforce is difficult to achieve

Cost of Damage (Damage Prevention)

I have never done any research or statistical analysis on the frequency of damaged product that has been built aggregate versus palletized…but I have listened to a lot of warehouse management voice their concerns! A typical first step to alleviate this damage issue is to wrap customer pallets. This normally addresses the issue, but now you have to account for an additional time & materials component when comparing the costs between aggregate & palletized. 

Vehicle Cube Utilization

This is probably one of the most basic arguments against palletizing. Utilization of vehicle cube is obviously much higher while building aggregate. The utilization argument assumes that there is sales volume to get to that level of capacity, which may or may not be the case…but assuming you do have the available volume, by improving cube utilization you may be able to remove vehicle(s) from the road.

Depending on your customer base you may also have to consider dock access. If your sideload trucks are servicing customers with docks where there is the potential of forklift pallet removal, this is a huge swing factor obviously. 

If after considering these factors you decide building palletized orders by customer is the way to go, then more power to you! However, I hope that you consider some of these points before you make a decision based on the assumption that it is “cheaper.”

Comments for Sideload Truck Deliveries: To build by order…or not?

Name: Ron James
Time: Saturday, March 27, 2010

Its not a matter of being cheaper but I guess it's a matter of saving on delivering. Building it according to your workflow I guess is beneficial, aside from maximizing time and volume of delivery, it also makes your work faster.

Name: Tina
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

While it it true that labor costs are less expensive for our warehouse crew to build, we tend to place all of our palletized goods onto larger semi's with trailers rather than on a 10 bay truck. We are fortunate in our warehouse design to have a drive through lane located down the middle of our warehouse, which makes picking orders a lot easier. The most commonly sold items are in that middle lane. Most of our 10 bay trucks deliver to vending machines and don't have a predetermined order, however, we have orders that do get added to the truck as well. For safety reasons, we can't add a pallet on one side and run the other side of the truck light, so we load in a standard order. All of one package is in one bay, thus taking the question of how to pick an invoice an easy one! They can pick one item at a time for the written order itself from the same bay that he always gets it from and is distributed equally on both sides.

Name: Lawrence Pugh
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

We tried palletizing and the workload for the warehouse almost doubled. The side loaders limited space could not make up for extra time spent in the warehouse. It did cut down on misspicks. Semi delivery is the only only way to make it up on the other end.We are back to aggregate.

Name: Bruce H. Anderson
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

If you can build a palletized order for a customer, and the customer can take it off the truck, then it is simple. Add a hand truck, variable order quantities, multiple points of delivery, reach distances for the driver, and so forth, and it gets very complicated. Mr. Curtis' counsel to consider all the questions is well taken.

Name: Kirk Baldwin
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two additional concerns for us was the customer shrinking their receiving hours to reduce their own costs and the fact that we could not deliver the necessary volume off side loader vehicles during peak holiday periods.

Name: Derek Curtis
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Great comments everyone! I noticed one common theme here that I would like to share some thoughts on. Space limitations on a sideload trucks is a huge factor, and perhaps one I should have spent more time addressing above. One potential method of addressing this issue is with a loading solution like HighJump's Load Management software. Beyond selecting whether the truck will be build aggregate or palletized, this offers you two hybrid solution options. First, let’s call it a primarily aggregate solution. With the ability to selectively palletize (i.e. C-stores with larger orders) by manually selecting these stops on any given day, or defining them at customer master level you get the bulk of your truck built by aggregate while maintaining your delivery benefit for larger stops. Second, let’s call it a primarily palletized solution. Here the system logic looks for smaller palletized customer orders to combine. Based on interactive thresholds defined by user you define what you consider to be a "small" order, and the maximum number of "small" orders you can put on one pallet. This type of combination may be able to provide you with the best of both worlds – but as state above…make sure you know where you intend to land before you make operational decisions to jump in one direction!

Name: Steve Murray
Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010

I am no foreigner to the warehousing and supply chain industry and it's terminology, but I must admit the term "Aggregate Picking is new to me, new to WERC and new to CSCMP. Help us with a concise definition of what I think you mean here (similar to a wave pick) so that I can ensure that our glossaries are updated.

Name: Derek Curtis
Time: Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hi Steve, Aggregate Picking is something that is pretty common within the arena of Direct Store Delivery, but probably limited in scope outside of it to be honest. This is due to the limited real estate available in a common delivery method in DSD, the sideload truck. Whether it is 6 bays, or 20 bays, the sideload truck provides a great service to DSD providers, but as mentioned above, it does come with limitations. Rather than picking product destined for a common customer (i.e. Palletized Orders), Aggregate picking is driven by product (or groups of products). For example if a soft drink supplier is loading their trucks for delivery, they will consolidate all 20 oz Bottles together on a pallet (possible multiple pallets volume depending), and place that in one of the sideload bays, another pallet will contain all of their 12oz Cans. So rather than building for one customer, the pallet is composed of SKU's destined for many customers (hence the load is built by aggregating customer orders together). The route driver will then pick the required product from the mixed SKU pallet at the point of delivery. I hope this helps you understand the concept of aggregate picking, but should you require further clarification please let me know.

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