Digitalization in wood logistics: Time slot management for greater efficiency

Logistics is the economy’s lifeline: without it, neither producers nor consumers can be supplied. At the same time, every truck represents an environmental burden. With the LoOp 2023 digitalization project, Mercer Holz has therefore increased the efficiency of its logistics – and thus reduced its environmental impact.

500 trucks and up to 15 freight trains are loaded and unloaded daily with wood chips, logs and sawn timber. A considerable task for the logistics department at Mercer Holz GmbH. Therefore, the “LoOp – Logistic Optimization” project was launched in 2019 to streamline processes, avoid inefficiencies and prevent residents from being unnecessarily affected by truck traffic. 

The project aims to digitalize business processes “from the forest to the production plants,” explains Max Gewecke, Head of Purchasing Sawmill By-products and LoOp Project Manager at Mercer Holz GmbH: “We first analysed the current situation, determined the potential for improvement and then defined where we wanted to go and who our partner could be. The project has continued to grow, as numerous interfaces ultimately involve more than 100 colleagues in the information flow.”

The challenges at the start of the project included long waiting times for trucks, idling, a lack of information about truck delays and no consistent data flow. A lack of material led to unplanned downtime in the plants, while waiting trucks also resulted in unnecessary CO2 emissions. Against the backdrop of rising production volumes, the increasing demands on logistics and Mercer’s environmental goals, new approaches had to be found. 

More transparency thanks to digitalization

With the implementation of the first LoOp tool, the process has improved: drivers can use an app and a logistics portal to book a time slot for loading and unloading their trucks and transmit information about the truck, the load and the shipper. By entering the licence plate number, driver name, contact number and other details in the app or portal, processes are made more efficient and potential sources of error are minimized. Each driver receives an electronic bill once the delivery or collection has been completed. No paper can be lost, and all data is immediately available in the ERP system for further processing. 

Digitization creates the greatest possible transparency and efficiency. In future, it will be possible to see virtually in real time which trucks are in transit to the plants and when they will arrive. This allows efficient control of processes in the plants. Breaks can be better planned, and work peaks and idle times can be avoided. 

Benefits for the environment, residents, and companies It is already apparent that more trucks can be loaded and unloaded more efficiently each day due to eliminating waiting times. Employees and machines can be deployed in a more planned and efficient manner, thus saving resources. This increases the efficiency of the plant and helps to reduce CO2 emissions.

This also has a positive impact on drivers, employees and residents. After all, efficient processes, less noise and exhaust fumes and an orderly traffic flow ensure less stress and annoyance. 

The interdisciplinary project team with internal and external employees from various departments is satisfied: “It is already clear that the three-year project duration and the six-figure investment in LoOp are paying off and bringing us closer to our environmental goals,” says Max Gewecke.

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