Turning Around a Logistics, Distribution & Storage Business

The MD of a mid-sized logistics, distribution & storage business realised that in order to stay in business, his operations needed a step change improvement. He tasked our consultants to help with the design and implementation of an Operational Excellence project. The aim was to decrease operational cost and improve staff attitudes towards the business.

Leaving No Stone Unturned

Our expert team started by reviewing the existing processes and practices within the business, with the aim of getting a clearer understanding of the challenges & attitudes in the organisation. Their review resulted in a collection of issues that needed to be resolved before any long term improvement could take place, these were:


Redesigning Operations

The issues discovered in the analysis were prioritised and resulted in an implementation roadmap focusing on areas generating quickest results: Improved call centre function, improved interdepartmental communication and most importantly, a new operational planning and control system. As the development of the new operational model started, the external team was strengthened by the addition of managers, supervisors and staff from different departments. Their involvement was twofold: 1) their input was needed to help with the design of the new model and 2) they would also become the advocates of change in the organisation.


Implementing New Operating Model

Unlike a typical operational change project where the implementation normally follows the design, here the changes were implemented as they were created. The positive side to this was that results were delivered considerably faster. The downside was that it created confusion amongst the staff. For example some of the meetings went through a number of iterations before a final version was in place. Similarly, the planning process evolved over a few weeks from a simple prioritisation job into a complex process.
Not all staff members were able to adjust to the more complex processes. Some were unable to work in a structured way, whilst others were uncomfortable with the controls now being put in place. It resulted in some rotation within the organisation. Similarly, introducing operational KPIs generated some resentment in the areas responsible for the majority of the costly errors. Needless to say, almost by default a natural reduction in headcount occurred. The implementation phase finished with written procedures for all aspects of the new operational model in place.

Results

The first phase ended with the company returning to profit.


A Step Closer To Operational Excellence - Changing Attitudes

As the immediate improvement finished, the next phase of the project was to introduce a new culture, one based on the principles of striving towards excellence & continuous improvement. In order to realise this goal, all levels of the company needed to become engaged and to understand that their contribution mattered. This was difficult as the current culture was allowed to develop over a period of 13 years. The team started by identifying the informal leaders throughout the business and all levels. Some of these were the same people that were involved in the previous phase and some were new. All of these were then taken through a training and development program with the aim to raise business awareness and to train them in improvement techniques. A set of reoccurring improvement meetings was then put in place. These were to take place across the business every month, focusing everyone on problem identification and solution creation. For the managerial levels, new active management training was delivered. It was then followed with a coaching program where the managers were helped to change their attitudes within a period of 18 months. Complementing all these activities, a social focus program was also developed engaging all members of staff and their families - making it a family oriented business. The whole program was targeted to take 30 months and is still on going with positive outcomes being regularly reported. The results started having a positive impact after the first few months and after 18 months they included:


How Can Excelr8 Help

Our logistics, distribution, warehousing & transportation specialist team have been working on and delivering improvement projects to the logistics & supply chain industry for years. Our team includes individuals who have held senior management roles within the industry and members of recognised trade bodies & associations including an FTA council member. Our approach is simple: define areas that require adjusting and create a holistic approach to operations improvement. Please contact us to find out how we can help your business realise it's potential & achieve it's goals.


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