They worked their way around three strokes, the planners at DB Schenker. But despite all efforts, they were unable to cope with the staff shortage together. And so things had to change. Pipple was brought on board for this.
“Often something has to happen before something happens,” Cruyff once claimed. Pierre van Diesen, vice-president Land Transport at DB Schenker Benelux, can talk about this. When he saw how high the workload was, he knew: now is the time to optimize our processes.
For that you have to have Pipple, he was told from different angles. Van Diesen explained his problem to Jeroen de Haas: “We are logisticians, so I was curious what is possible if someone starts throwing algorithms.”
Pipple then dove into the company. Van Diesen: “They sat down next to our planners. Even during evening and night shifts.” The planners received all kinds of questions. Especially if they overruled the system. “Often that had to do with the limitations of the system. For example, you could not record the closing times in a certain village. Information that was in the planner’s head.”
With that curiosity, Pipple garnered the respect of the planners. Their understandable language also helped. To van Diesen’s relief: “A computer started doing the thinking of our people, faster and better than we could ourselves. But that didn’t change the fact that they did an excellent job before that.”
Fortunately, the planners are very enthusiastic about the entire process. Van Diesen: “A lot of their work was boring and repetitive, maybe eighty percent. The computer does that part now. Schedules that used to take us five hours, nowadays we do in fifteen minutes. As a result, the planners are only concerned with complex choices. That not only makes a huge difference in workload, but also in job satisfaction.”
Moreover, due to the sharper planning, fewer kilometres and fewer driver hours are required for the same freight. “The transport costs of the 7500 shipments we carry out daily in the Netherlands and Belgium have decreased substantially.”
Without a new planning system
“The great thing is that it didn’t even require a new planning system,” says van Diesen. “Something that many other parties tried to sell us. But we don’t do local systems. Jeroen understood that. He just made what we had smarter.”
In the meantime, DB Schenker has completely changed tack, says van Diesen: “We have set up its own innovation department of 120 people. We now make much more use of our data than we used to. But if we ever have to wait too long for our turn, I know where to find Pipple.”