• In the middle of the site on Verhuellweg 5 street in Doesburg, there is a well-equipped server room. An emergency generator ensures that the hardware will remain operational even in the event of a power cut. Should an unexpected short-circuit occur, three red canisters of extinguishing gas are also at hand to ensure that no small sparks have any chance of developing into a serious blaze. „This is where our private cloud runs,“ explains Harm Roelofsen, Operational Director of Rotra.

  • If one of the server rooms is disconnected for any reason, the other can immediately take over its work. „Availability of IT systems is crucial in our sector. Imagine if a customer sent us a transport assignment while the IT system was out of action. The customer would be counting on us to handle the assignment, but we wouldn‘t even see it”, explains Roelofsen.

  • Gross margin
    • The great importance placed on IT by Rotra is the reason why the logistics service provider decided to develop its own transport management system (TMS) four years ago. This was because Roelofsen was unable to find a suitable system on the market to manage the 450 vehicles – including 180 of its own lorries – that Rotra puts on the road every day. „The systems I saw weren‘t good enough to go the extra mile with Rotra.

      That‘s why we went and built our own system.“ While planning transports, the planners can immediately see the impact on gross margin. „The system calculates the cost based on volume, weight or the number of loading metres. We use the highest cost as a basis, which offers more opportunity to optimise gross margins than with the majority of TMSs.“

  • Map Material
    • One special feature is the module for cross-docking, an important activity that keeps over sixty people busy every evening. The module supports them in their task, helping prevent any packages of hazardous goods from ending up next to children‘s clothes by accident.

      The geographical screens are a key aid to users of the TMS. For these, Rotra uses PTV xMap Server – a set of map material from PTV that is plugged into the TMS. Every trip can be displayed on the screen at the push of a button. „The level of detail is incredible. When a driver has trouble finding their destination, we can make adjustments and tell them that they need to head left rather than right,“ explains Roelofsen from experience.

      On the geographical screen, planners can click on routes to get more information, such as the expected arrival time or the load volume. „If we need to pick up something extra on the way, we can immediately see which lorry has enough space,“ says Roelofsen.

  • Taking restrictions into account during planning
    • For its route planning, Rotra uses PTV Route Optimiser. The system runs at full pelt every evening between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. Every assignment for the following day is planned during this time, including both the collection and delivery of shipments. „The planning needs to be finished by half past nine in the evening, as that‘s when our cross-docking staff start work. They need to know what shipments they have to load onto which lorries,“ says Pim Koenders, Logistics Engineer at Rotra.

      On average, one thousand shipments need to be planned every day. PTV Route Optimiser generates a proposal that takes into account as many different aspects as possible. As an example, Koenders points to the hazardous goods that make up 15% of all shipments. „These shipments can only be transported in a vehicle with ADR approval that is driven by a driver with an ADR certificate. Route Optimiser automatically takes this into account.

      At a certain number of the 130,000 different loading and unloading addresses, there is no forklift truck available to unload the trailer from the side or the rear. „At these addresses, we can only get by with vehicles that have tail lifts. Here too, PTV Route Optimiser takes the opening times at each address into account, as well as the time we need to spend there. Sometimes the number of lorries visiting a particular end customer can increase in line with their revenues, which means that our waiting times get longer. We can make adjustments in Route Optimiser to reflect this,“ explains Roelofsen.

      The 10 LNG lorries that Rotra has in operation form a separate vehicle class in PTV Route Optimiser. „These lorries allow us to travel through the environmental zones in Utrecht and Amsterdam.

  • Half a million
    • The planners check all of the planning generated by Route Optimiser and adjusted where necessary. „The planners know exactly what we can and cannot collect. They know when a driver is injured and can‘t move as quickly. They also know how customers will react if a shipment arrives a little late,“ says Koenders, with agreement from Roelofsen. „The best planning is still always a product of the interplay between clever algorithms and experienced planners.“

      „The planner is increasingly becoming an operator who monitors the process, rather than a planner who personally arranges shipments. This is an inevitable development, as with 132,000 different loading and unloading addresses it‘s impossible to maintain an overview. No planner can keep all the relevant information about all these addresses in their head.“

      The introduction of PTV Route Optimiser has now paid for itself. „Thanks to Route Optimiser, we can generate an advance plan at around 4:00 p.m., once around 80% of our transport assignments have come in. We use this to purchase transport capacity from our subcontractors. When we started out, we calculated that we could save around half a million per year on purchasing alone.“

  • About Rotra Forwarding B.V.
    • Every day, Rotra plans around two hundred lorries carrying thousands of shipments – covering both deliveries and collections of goods. The large number of restrictions involved makes this a complex
      planning process for the Doesburg-based logistics service provider, which now uses PTV Route Optimiser. Harm Roelofsen, Operational Director of Rotra, says, „The best trip planning is still
      always a product of clever algorithms and experienced planners.“

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