Optimization system for vehicle transfer processes on the basis of a location-based software framework at Austria’s largest vehicle logistics company, Hödlmayr International.


Motivation 

Hödlmayr International has given us the chance to extend our research results in the area of mobile engineering to a process optimization system in the logistics domain, where innovative concepts were required to accelerate existing suboptimal processes and to reduce unproductive standard tasks by automated routines. Hödlmayr International is a vehicle transportation company with 15 sites in 13 European countries. Its business is to store and transfer vehicles from the manufacturers to the retailers. Hereby, the speed of the transfer process is crucial for the company’s revenue. Hödlmayr’s site in Austria stores approx. 10.000 vehicles and has about 1.000 daily vehicle movements.

The initial vehicle transfer process was inefficient: Triggered by production- and planning data of both arriving vehicles and orders from retailers, the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system calculated a daily schedule of transfer tasks per person in advance for a whole day (and was therefore inflexible to dynamic changes). Several small busses each carried 3 to 4 crew members to different storage places on the compound where vehicles had to be released from storage and then waited for the crew to finish their tasks. The process was analog for placing vehicles in storage (strictly organized by brands). It needed explicit busses and bus drivers (i.e., additional personal and technical resources), encountering waiting times and empty mileage for the crew when carried to the vehicles or back.

Goals

The concept for improving the process envisioned a chaos-oriented storage, where any vehicle could be stored at any free parking space disregarding its brand. As a consequence, the use of busses could be reduced to a minimum, as the crew moves a car to be placed in storage nearby a car to be released from storage and only uses busses when this duplicity is unavailable. In addition, the permanent awareness of the exact locations of the moving crew enables the system to compute time-optimal duplicity tasks for storage and removal of storage operations and to contemporary react on deviations to the plan and to recalculate the assignment of available resources. Delays, arriving freight or new orders are handled instantaneously. Also the (virtually modeled) parking spaces (i.e., more than 10.000) automatically detect the arrival of vehicles and check whether the correct staff member has delivered the correct vehicle to or from the correct space and announce errors to the operating staff, which is forced to correct mistakes.

Results

Since the introduction of the system in 2011 (and also in the year before), we have been conducting a perennial case study in parallel to the operative working process in order to measure the quality of process improvements. Although, it would have been interesting in the course of a case study to evaluate the usability of our system in terms of user acceptance and intuitive handling, the focus has been set on economic and financial issues, thus resulting in a simple question to be answered during the case study: Is the new system able to accelerate the vehicle transfer process? In detail: What are the round trip times for the transfer process per vehicle and person? How many vehicles can be moved on a day? And how many (personal) resources are necessary in order to manage the daily workload?

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We have a complete recording of production figures over nearly 4½ years starting from January 2010 to May 2014. The graph shows the round trip times per person before and after the introduction of the new system evincing a clear declining trend line over the years.

Partners: 

Contact: Wolfgang Narzt

 

Publications

W. Narzt, G. Pomberger, O. Weichselbaum, R. Draxler, M. Welser: "From Research to Industry: Interactive Mobile Services for Accelerating Logistics Processes", Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp), Osaka, Japan, September 7-11, 2015, ACM New York, NY, USA, pp. 611-615, doi:10.1145/2750858.2805841.
Conference Article