They were running of their feet, the planners at DB Schenker. Despite all efforts they were not able to jointly compensate for the staff shortage. Thus, they had to change course. For this, Pipple was brought on board.
“Often, something has to happen before anything happens”, Cruijff once argued. Pierre van Diesen, vice-president Landtransport at DB Schenker Benelux, can relate to this. When he noticed the rapidly increasing workload, he recognized: this is thé time to optimize our processes.
For that, you need Pipple, he heard from different parties. Van Diesen explained his problem to Jeroen de Haas: “We are logistics people, so I was quite interested to learn what would be possible when using algorithms for the optimization task.”
As a response, Pipple dived into the project. Van Diesen: “They sat down with all of our planners. Even during evening- and nightshifts.” The planners were asked all kinds of questions. Especially at times when they overruled the planning system. “Often, such an overruling involved system limitations. For example when it was not possible to record the closing times in a specific village. Information which was actually present in the mind of the planner.”
With this curiosity, Pipple earned the respect of the planners. Their understandable use of language contributed to this. To the relief of van Diesen: “A computer was going to do the thinking of our people, faster and better than we could do ourselves. However, that did not change the fact that our people also delivered outstanding work before this.”
Fortunately, the planners are very enthusiastic about the whole journey. Van Diesen: “Much of their job involved boring and repetitive work, maybe even up to eighty percent. Now, the computer takes account for that part. A planning, which used to take up five hours to produce, is nowadays generated within fifteen minutes. As a consequence, our planners now only exclusively occupy themselves with complex decisions. This does not only save considerably on workload, but also increases job satisfaction.”
Moreover, due to the tighter planning, less kilometers and driving hours are required to handle the same freight. “The transportation costs of the 7500 daily shipments in The Netherlands and Belgium, have decreased substantially.”
Without a new planning system
“The great thing is that we did not even need a new planning system to achieve this.”, according to van Diesen. “Which is something that many other parties tried to sell us. We, however, do not operate local system. Jeroen understood this. He simply managed to smarten up what we already had.”
We did not even need a new planning system to achieve this. Jeroen managed to smarten up what we already had.
Meanwhile, DB Schenker has completely tacked, van Diesen tells. “An intern innovation department constituting 120 employees has been established. Nowadays, we make much more use of our data than we used to do. However, if at some point in time we have to wait too long to take our turn, I know where to find Pipple again.”