How Digitalization Reduces Turnaround Time (TAT) in Plants

How Digitalization Reduces Turnaround Time(TAT) in Plants

The logistics industry is undergoing a fundamental shift in how organizations use digital technologies in reducing TAT in manufacturing plant operations.


According to statista, by 2026, global digital transformation spending is forecast to reach 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars. This stats shows how industries such as steel, cement, retail, and many more are shifting towards digitalization to reduce turnaround time TAT in shipping and their overall plant logistics operations across industries.


This blog post outlines how digital transformation for logistics can help businesses in the manufacturing sector gain a distinct advantage in reducing TAT in logistics and overall improving in-plant efficiency and in-plant productivity.

What is TAT (Turnaround Time)? – A Quick Overview

Starting from gate-in until gate-out, “turnaround” is the total time spent by a truck in the terminal area while picking and/or dropping a container.


Turnaround Time in logistics is defined as the time taken by the transport vehicles to complete the whole process of loading finished goods, starting from the point of entry to its exit from the factory premises. 


This total time consists of the following:

  1. The actual processing or cycle time of each operation,

  2. The waiting time while other items are processing, 

  3. Time spent on inspection or movement of the goods

Here is a quick process flow of the in-plant operations:



Note: This flowchart provides a general overview, and the actual flowchart can be further expanded and customized based on the specific processes, systems, and requirements of your plant and logistics operations.

Key Reasons for Delays in TAT in Plant Operations Workflow:

Here is a quick overview of the key reasons that lead to delay in manufacturing plant operations workflow.

  • Manual and paper-based processes

  • Lack of visibility and real-time information

  • Manual inventory management

  • Inefficient material handling

  • Equipment downtime and maintenance issues

  • Communication and coordination challenges

  • Inefficient traffic management

These factors contribute to delays and inefficiencies in turnaround time (TAT) within a plant. The next section will focus on the role of digitization in addressing these challenges and improving TAT by leveraging automation, real-time data, advanced analytics, and connectivity. 

How Digitalization Can Help in Reduce Turnaround Time(TAT) in Plants

Let’s have a look at how to reduce tat turnaround time in logistics by adopting digitalization to streamline operations workflow.

Digitize All Yard Operations

A YMS software solution enables you to access end-to-end visibility and controls over yard activities, including appointment scheduling, inventory management, and equipment tracking. 


With YMS implementation, organizations can automate and streamline various yard processes, allowing efficient allocation of yard space, optimizing resource utilization, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. 


The YMS can integrate with other software, such as transportation management systems (TMS) or warehouse management systems (WMS), to provide seamless coordination across the supply chain. Additionally, with YMS, one can achieve the following:

  • Real-time analytics and reporting capabilities.

  • Enabling data-driven decision-making.

  • Identifying bottlenecks.

  • Improving yard performance.

Automate Gate-in and Gate-Out

Automating the gate-in and gate-out processes involves implementing digital solutions to streamline the entry and exit of shipments in the yard. 

Achieve this by incorporating the ERP system with gate automation technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or barcode scanning systems. 


This integration lets the ERP system capture and store appropriate information about incoming and outgoing shipments, including item details, quantities, and associated parties. 


Automation eliminates manual data entry processes that eventually reduce human errors. It allows seamless data transfer between the gate and ERP systems, streamlining faster and more accurate shipment processing.


Manage All Shipment Related Documents

With digitization, one can seamlessly implement an electronic document management module within the ERP system. This module allows for the efficient handling and storing of various shipment-related documents, such as delivery orders, bills of lading, and customs declarations. 


The ERP system should provide document scanning, indexing, and retrieval capabilities. By digitizing and centralizing these documents, users can efficiently access and share them across departments or with external stakeholders, enhancing collaboration and decreasing the risk of document loss or duplication.

Scorecards and Reports to Review and Identify Inefficiencies 

Scorecards and reports help reduce Turn around Time TAT in plants. They provide actionable insights into operational inefficiencies. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are specified and monitored through data collection, integration, and analysis.

The scorecards and reports visually describe these KPIs, allowing plant managers and operators to detect bottlenecks and areas for improvement. 


Furthermore, it helps conduct root cause analysis and implement targeted corrective actions, such as optimizing equipment maintenance or streamlining processes. 


Overall, continuous monitoring and iterative analysis of the scorecards and reports provide ongoing improvements and sustained reductions in TAT.


Also read: Why freight cost is high in the cement industry

The Benefits of Digitalization in In-plant traffic optimization & TAT reduction

Let’s have a quick overview of the benefits of digitization in in-plant traffic optimization and TAT reduction.

360 Logistic Supply Visibility

360 logistic supply visibility is crucial in the entire supply chain management process. By integrating various systems and data sources, it is possible to view in-plant traffic and logistics operations comprehensively. 

By leveraging technologies such as RFID tags, barcodes, and GPS tracking, one can collect real-time data on the location, movement, and status of vehicles, equipment, and inventory within the plant. 


Furthermore, by consolidating and analyzing this data, plant managers can achieve visibility into the entire supply chain, making informed decisions and optimizing traffic flow to reduce tat turn around time in logistics.

Actual Time Information/Data

Digitalization provides the actual time information and data regarding in-plant traffic and operations. Plant managers can access valid and up-to-date information on elements that impact TAT, including vehicle movements, material availability, and production schedules, through real-time data collection and integration with multiple systems, including transportation management systems (TMS), and warehouse management systems (WMS). 


This leads to quick decision-making in altering changes, making data-driven decisions, and optimizing resources for improved traffic management and TAT in transportation.

Intelligent Traffic Management Systems

With digitalization, one can integrate intelligent traffic management systems within the plant. These systems employ advanced technologies such as AI/ML and video analytics to monitor and manage in-plant traffic. 


By studying real-time data from sensors, cameras, and other sources, these systems can optimize traffic flow, determine congestion points, and offer alternative routes or adjustments to maximize efficiency and minimize turnaround time in logistics operations.

IoT and Sensor Integration

Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors throughout the plant enable you to capture and transfer data in real-time. These devices can integrate into vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure to monitor their status, utilization, and performance. 

Plant managers can achieve valuable insights for improving traffic, reducing idle time, and enhancing overall TAT by incorporating this data with other systems, such as traffic management or inventory management systems.

Intelligent Algorithms

Digitalization uses intelligent algorithms to analyze and process the extensive data collected from various sources. These algorithms can recognize patterns, predict traffic congestion, and suggest optimal routes or traffic management strategies. 


By leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, plant managers can make data-driven decisions and continuously enhance traffic optimization, leading to significant TAT reduction.

Bonus Section

A Scenario in Nine Steps Flow Process (using RFID, IoT, and GPS)

A comprehensive scenario in nine simple steps of material & information flow where RFID, IoT, and GPS are playing an important role to decrease time with non-value-adding activities in plant operations.

Incoming Material Arrival

When a material shipment reaches the plant, each pallet or container contains RFID tags having unique identifiers. The RFID tags facilitate automated identification and tracking of the materials throughout the process.

RFID-Based Material Registration

Upon arrival, RFID readers positioned at specified checkpoints in the plant scan the RFID tags on the incoming materials. This data is immediately captured and incorporated with the plant’s ERP or inventory management system, providing real-time updates on inventory levels.

Real-Time Inventory Monitoring

The plant constantly monitors inventory levels using IoT sensors implanted in storage locations. The sensors detect differences in stock levels, activating automatic reorder notifications when thresholds are reached. This ensures timely replenishment, minimizing stockouts and delays.

Automated Material Routing

When a production order is received, the system automatically determines the needed materials and their locations using RFID data. Intelligent algorithms optimize the routing of materials, leading operators, or AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) fitted with RFID readers to collect the essential items from storage.

Real-Time Tracking with GPS

AGVs transporting materials are equipped with GPS devices, allowing real-time tracking of their locations. The plant management system uses this data to monitor the progress of the material movement and assesses arrival times at the production line.

Automated Production Line Integration

RFID readers incorporated into the production line automatically detect and validate the arrival of materials at each workstation. This mitigates manual scanning or data entry, reducing human errors and eliminating paperwork or redundant data collection.

IoT-Enabled Equipment Monitoring

Sensors incorporated with production equipment gather real-time data on machine performance, operational conditions, and maintenance requirements. 


The IoT devices send this data to the plant management system, which employs predictive analytics to recognize potential equipment failures or maintenance needs, proactively scheduling maintenance activities to evade unplanned downtime.

Real-Time Production Updates

As each production stage is finished, the RFID tags on the goods are scanned, and the updated status is recorded in real-time. 

These details are immediately shared with the plant management system and provided to relevant stakeholders, allowing for accurate tracking of work progress and direct visibility into any production delays or bottlenecks.

Continuous Improvement and Analytics

The gathered data from RFID, IoT, and GPS systems are examined using advanced analytics tools. Plant managers can determine inefficiencies, such as lengthy material handling times or workflow bottlenecks, and execute targeted improvements. 

By constantly analyzing the data and improving operations workflows, the plant can decrease non-value-adding activities, streamline processes, and reduce production time.

What’s Next?

Digitization is a game changer in reducing TAT in supply chain and logistics operations. Therefore, integrating in-plant workflow automation will help businesses achieve operational efficiency and new heights in performance.


To learn more about how digitalization can help you streamline your plant logistics and plant turnaround time optimization, get in touch with experts at Fretron.


Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What is turnaround time in supply chain management?

Turnaround Time (TAT) in the supply chain is the time the transport vehicles take to complete the entire process of loading finished goods, starting from the entry point to its exit from the factory premises. Turnaround time is a crucial key performance indicator of any logistics operation.

What do you mean by turnaround time?

Turnaround time (TAT) represents the duration needed to finish a task or meet a request, similar to lead time but different from cycle time, which measures the time for one complete cycle of a process.

What do you mean by turnaround time in a manufacturing plant?

Turnaround time at an industrial plant is the time needed to close down a specific asset or an entire operation to perform maintenance or some other process. This period is usually called downtime, a planned outage, or a plant turnaround.

Why is in-plant turnaround time optimization essential?

Optimizing the Turnaround time helps mitigate the risk of having contractors in the plant longer than needed and will help reduce plant downtime. 

What role does real-time data and analytics play in reducing TAT in plant processes?

Real-time data and analytics enable plant supervisors to identify bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and make informed decisions promptly, leading to streamlined processes and reduced turnaround time (TAT).

What are the examples of digital technologies used to streamline TAT in plants?

Digital technologies examples used to streamline turnaround time in plant logistics contain IoT sensors for real-time monitoring, predictive analytics software for maintenance optimization, and automation systems for streamlined workflows, all of which enhance efficiency and reduce turnaround time.

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