How can you increase your process efficiency with hidden quick wins?
Interview with Eric Gastel, CEO of the logistics consultancy InterLog Management.
Logistics offers numerous optimisation potentials like hardly any other area, since the internal flow of materials and information logistics can be constantly optimised by means of innovative technologies and modern concepts. Often, even minor process or system adjustments are enough to achieve a major effect quickly and with little effort. But with which quick wins can the greatest success be achieved? Eric Gastel, CEO of the logistics consultancy InterLog Management GmbH, knows the potentials.
Mr Gastel, future-proof and sustainable logistics solutions, which can be achieved in the form of process optimisation, plant automation, the implementation of suitable warehouse management software or even the digitalisation of the supply chain, are currently the focus of many companies. The “extensive” changes suggest high effort and investment costs. What is the relationship between effort and return?
Eric Gastel: Logistics solutions of any kind should always be considered strategically and economically. Strategically in the sense of how the product has to adapt or how the service portfolio has to expand due to rapid market changes. From a business perspective, a cost/benefit analysis is essential and determines whether the use of the financial resources earmarked for this purpose is worthwhile (return on investment (ROI). In principle, careful and forward-looking planning is part of every implementation. Our experience shows that often, due to a lack of planning and know-how, either too small or oversized solutions, especially in the area of warehouse automation, are defined, procured and implemented. In the worst case, this limits the agility and flexibility of logistics processing, which ultimately leads to high costs.
That means not every logistics solution, especially in the area of warehouse automation, is profitable?
Eric Gastel: Exactly, a careful examination and automation evaluation must be carried out before procurement. Used sensibly, however, automation offers the possibility of reducing weak points within manual processes and increasing productivity. For example, when we talk about existing and ageing logistics systems, it is not always necessary to evaluate and procure a new system straight away. Often a retrofit, i.e. a plant modernisation, is sufficient to integrate new technologies and establish modified processes. In addition, the service life of the plant can be secured for another 15 to 20 years.
The logistics are wide-ranging. Especially if we focus on the area of intralogistics. What steps are relevant for companies to optimise logistics?
Eric Gastel: It’s not so easy to give a general answer. It always depends on which facilities, systems or even processes have weak points. These must be identified first and foremost. Based on this, concrete implementation measures can be developed. Basically, however, all logistics optimisations must be aligned with the corporate strategy and at least with the medium-term corporate development.
How can so-called weak points be identified?
Eric Gastel: In a logistics analysis, we focus on three areas that have the greatest potential for optimisation. These can be analysed separately, but it is always advisable to take a holistic view because the process chains are interlinked and interactions take place.
- Automation: What types of automated equipment and systems are used and what is the condition and process consistency of the equipment?
- Logistics IT: Which warehouse management system is used and is it still compatible with future increasing requirements?
- Logistics processes: What is the consistency of the logistics processes, from goods receipt to goods issue? For example, can processes be streamlined through the appropriate use of automation techniques or the use of software to support manual processes?
A full-scale analysis of weaknesses and identification of potential certainly involve an enormous amount of time. Are there faster methods that companies can use quickly but effectively?
Eric Gastel: Yes there are, we are talking about the so-called logistics quick wins. Quick wins are characterised by fast, pragmatic and efficient implementation and usually require only a small investment of financial resources, which nevertheless have a great effect. A Quick Win analysis is a first step towards optimisation and can also be used as a basis for all further optimisation steps.
How does InterLog Management identify quick wins?
Eric Gastel: Some time ago we included the so-called logistics quick check in our service portfolio — with a focus on automation, logistics processes and logistics IT. Each check, which can be commissioned separately, includes a standardised analysis and evaluation procedure with clearly defined service contents that is nevertheless geared to the commissioning company. Our initial analysis is followed by a potential assessment in which we cluster potentials according to time, effort and effect. This sometimes results in quick wins. In addition, the potentials are supplemented with a concluding recommendation for action. This means that the customer receives a service package that helps him to uncover his weak points and to sustainably optimise his processes.
How does a logistics check work?
Eric Gastel: To examine the current situation, we conduct an on-site appointment including a warehouse inspection. Under certain conditions, this appointment can also take place virtually. Afterwards, there is an open discussion about the logistical problems and goals, and initial ideas and rough proposals for solutions are worked out together. The preparation of the optimisation catalogue and the recommendation for action is done internally. Finally, the presentation of the results, including the handover of the documentation, takes place online. The entire project takes about 5–7 days on average.
Are the costs of a logistics check billed according to time and effort, and what are the approximate costs?
Eric Gastel: The advantage for the customer is that we offer each logistics check for a manageable and flat-rate price. The offer should be uniformly attractive and affordable for all company sizes. Furthermore, the customer benefits from the objective/neutral view and the practical know-how of our management. This means that the logistics check is carried out by our management. We have lived and loved logistics for many years and are happy to contribute our logistics knowledge within our Quick Checks in a sustainable manner.
What happens after the Logistics Check? Is the customer responsible for the implementation himself?
Eric Gastel: Of course we also provide support with implementation planning and realisation — but ultimately the customer decides on the further course of action.
You can find the logistics check offer at: