The Mayhem of Plant Logistics- Shortcomings of Manual Operations

In-plant logistics

Most discussions about logistics efficiency focus on external factors – smooth transportation, efficient routes, and streamlined customs clearance. But a silent strangler lurks within many companies’ operations- Manual in-plant logistics.

Why is in-plant logistics so crucial? It’s the beating heart of the entire supply chain. It’s where raw materials are transformed into finished products, where efficiency directly translates into faster order fulfillment and happier customers. Yet, it is shocking to see many facilities still relying on paper-based systems and siloed communication for managing in-plant operations. This creates a tangled web of inefficiencies.

But, when in-plant operations are bogged down by manual processes, the ripple effects are far-reaching. Manual operations lead to congestion and longer turn-around times inside the plant. Shipment delays translate to missed deadlines and unhappy customers. Inaccurate inventory management leads to lost sales and increased costs. Miscommunication between departments results in wasted time and unoptimized workflows.

This is where the dire need for improvement becomes evident. In a world demanding agility and responsiveness, manual in-plant operations are a liability. But there’s a path to break free. Continue reading to know.

Global In-plant logistics market

Why In-Plant Logistics Matters More Than You Think

In the grand scheme of logistics, in-plant logistics optimization is crucial for the overall system to bear fruit. The ever-increasing focus on effective supply chain management and lean logistics is propelling businesses to optimize in-plant logistics. This can help them reap benefits like lower lead times, streamlined material flow, and seamless coordination between various operational components.

While questions still arise on whether to consider in-plant logistics as an individual entity or not, here are three reasons why it surely deserves special attention.

  1. Believe it or not, materials can spend just as much time moving within a plant (unloading, storage, etc.) mirroring the time it takes for transportation on external logistics journeys. Any delays occurring in this journey are a direct result of neglecting in-plant logistics.

  2. A holistic view is crucial as optimizing in-plant logistics goes beyond implementing isolated cost-cutting measures in different departments. Many companies might be unknowingly shifting costs from one area to another instead of achieving true cost reduction. Streamlining in-plant operations can lead to genuine cost savings throughout the entire supply chain.

  3. Integration between internal and external logistics is vital for a seamless flow of goods throughout the entire supply chain. Without proper in-plant planning and scheduling, efforts like Just-in-Time (JIT) delivery from suppliers can backfire, leading to wasted resources and inefficiencies.

By prioritizing in-plant logistics and optimizing these internal processes, you can eliminate hidden delays, reduce costs, and ensure a smooth flow of goods throughout your entire supply chain. In essence, a well-oiled in-plant operation is the engine that drives overall logistical success.

Human errors in operations

The Manual Maze: How Paper and Pen Cripple In-Plant Efficiency

While in-plant logistics processes hold immense power to propel your supply chain forward, relying on manual methods turns that power into a drag. Here’s how manual operations create a maze of inefficiencies:

  • Higher turn-around times

Manual registration and inspection, paperwork delays, and plant teams juggling paper-based documents create a bottleneck, extending turn-around times and hindering overall throughput.

  • Error-prone operations

Manual data entry for vehicle inspections, inventory levels, and weight measurements is prone to human error. These errors then ripple through the system, leading to inaccurate invoices, incorrect picking lists, and potential delays in order fulfillment.

  • Compromised visibility

Paper-based processes restrict real-time visibility into stage-wise TATs within the plant. This reactive approach leads to missed opportunities for proactive intervention and continuous improvement.

  • Inventory inaccuracy and stock-outs

Inaccurate inventory due to manual tracking can result in stock-outs, leading to lost sales opportunities and frustrated customers. Additionally, overstocking translates to increased carrying costs (warehousing, insurance).

  • Billing errors and delayed shipment processing

Manual weight recording is error-prone, leading to billing discrepancies with customers or suppliers.  Inaccurate weight data can also cause delays in processing shipments as discrepancies need to be resolved.

  • Dispatch inefficiencies and underutilized resources

Manual assignment of dock doors and scheduling of loading/unloading can lead to congestion at loading bays, delays in dispatch, and underutilization of resources like forklifts and labor.

  • Risk of non-compliance

Manual creation of invoices, e-waybills, packing slips (PGIs), and goods received notices (GRNs) is time-consuming and prone to errors. This can lead to mismanagement of shipments, attracting non-compliance penalties & fines.

  • Safety concerns

Manual processes often involve repetitive tasks and ignorance of safety compliance norms by persons in charge, increasing the risk of workplace injuries and potential damage to the shipments.

  • Poor communication and collaboration

Manual processes often create information silos, hindering communication and collaboration between departments.

  • Limited scalability

When in-plant logistics rely on manual processes, scaling operations to meet increasing demand becomes a challenge.

Impact of poor inplant logistics

Best Practices for In-Plant Logistics Success

In-plant logistics, the often-overlooked engine room of your supply chain, holds immense power to propel your business forward. All it will take is a careful implementation of best practices and strategic approaches.

  • Invest in the right infrastructure

Consider conducting a space utilization audit to identify opportunities for optimizing storage and layout. Prioritize planning the layout of your plant around the flow of materials to ensure smooth material flow throughout the plant.

  • Decentralize organization

Consider a decentralized approach with focused factories – essentially smaller, specialized plants within the main facility. This allows for better communication, shorter lead times, and greater responsiveness to changing needs.

  • Standardize workflows

Develop clear procedures for material handling, picking, and packing activities. This ensures consistency, reduces errors, and facilitates smooth handoffs between different stages of the production process.

  • Embrace automation

Repetitive tasks like vehicle registration, weight capture, and document generation are prime candidates for automation. By implementing automated systems, you can streamline processes, improve data accuracy, and free up valuable employee time for more strategic tasks.

  • Focus on standardization and availability over utilization

While automation can be beneficial, prioritize standardization of equipment for easier maintenance and spare parts management. Focus on equipment selection that suits the specific task and prioritize equipment availability over excessive utilization. 

  • Invest in technology

Consider solutions like automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), guided vehicles (AGVs), or pick-to-light systems. These technologies can significantly improve storage space utilization, enable real-time visibility into inventory levels, optimize picking and storage practices, and ensure efficient order fulfillment.

  • Accurate data for informed decisions

Invest in robust information systems, including affordable hardware, software, and barcoding technology. Accurate and real-time data on inventory levels, orders, and manpower is crucial for informed decision-making and improved efficiency.

  • Leverage data analytics

Real-time data from stage-wise TAT monitoring unveils hidden bottlenecks within your facility. Analyze this data to identify areas for improvement and optimize internal transportation routes. Additionally, track key metrics like loading and unloading times to identify areas for streamlining dispatch processes.

Predictive maintenance tools market

  • Collaboration is key

Effective in-plant logistics require seamless collaboration between departments. Establish clear communication channels between purchasing, production planning, and warehouse teams to ensure smooth material flow and avoid stock-outs.

  • Empower the workforce

Invest in training programs to equip your workforce with the skills needed to operate new technologies and implement best practices.

  • Embrace continuous improvement

The quest for efficiency is a never-ending journey.  Regularly analyze data, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes to optimize workflows. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement within your team.

Plant logistics benefits Fretron

How a TMS Can Supercharge Your In-Plant Logistics

The journey to a well-coordinated plant with fully streamlined operations can be long. But, a TMS can get you there faster and hassle-free. Here’s how:

  • Frictionless entry and exit

Automate vehicle and driver compliance management, and streamline registration and inspections through digital workflows. This eliminates paperwork, reduces waiting times, and keeps the flow of goods moving.

  • Real-time TAT monitoring

Get a live dashboard view of stage-wise turnaround times to pinpoint inefficiencies the moment they occur and take immediate action.

  • Accuracy at your fingertips

Leverage systems like automated weighbridges, RFID, and GPS technology to capture tare and gross weight data instantly and accurately. This eliminates human error and reduces the risk of fraud.

  • Smarter dispatch decisions

With a centralized dispatch management system, make informed decisions about resource allocation, optimize loading operations, and ensure timely dispatch, minimizing vehicle waiting times and keeping deliveries on track.

  • Effortless documentation, and enhanced efficiency

Automate the creation of crucial documents like invoices, waybills, packing lists (PGIs), and goods received notices (GRNs).  This saves valuable time, eliminates errors, ensures compliance, and improves customer satisfaction.

  • Data-driven decision-making

Real-time analytics and reporting dashboards provide valuable insights into logistics operations, performance metrics, and trends.

By leveraging these capabilities, a TMS can transform your in-plant logistics, driving efficiency, cost reduction, and ultimately, a significant boost to your overall supply chain success.

Connect with us to know the best strategies and how you can leverage powerful Fretron TMS’ capabilities to revolutionize the way your plant operates. You can alternatively email us at or call us at +91 9711799111.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best