Quick wins in logistics


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.

  1. Automation: What types of auto­mated equipment and systems are used and what is the con­dition and process con­sis­tency of the equipment?
  2. Logistics IT: Which ware­house man­agement system is used and is it still com­patible with future increasing requirements?
  3. 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: