Factors Affecting Transportation in Logistics

Whether the movement of material and equipment is by rail, sea, air or road, adequate facilities for their free flow to and from the factory must be ensured. The factors which affect progress at the construction stage, and production and dispatches after commission, have been discussed below:

1. Terminal Facilities

Terminal facilities are usually grudgingly provided. One reason for this is that any delay or any in convenience caused to truck operators is not a loss to the project. It is treated as a loss to the carrier. In some cases, this may be true. However, this usual incidence of stoppage or regulation of the production process can be minimized, if not eliminated.

Often extreme stinginess is expressed in planning for these facilities, which include storage space, and loading and unloading arrangements in a suitable area. If the storage space is not adequate or if the traffic is exceptionally heavy, production suffers inevitably. Since transport requirements of each project are different and depend on its location, physical availability of infrastructure, etc, it is not advisable to prescribe one uniform scale of terminal facilities. They must be worked out for an individual project on the basis of its own specific requirements.

Storage, loading and unloading facilities, good quality roads, which are usable throughout the whole year, and suitably, designed yard for railway wagons have to be planned as a part of terminal facilities. It is also essential to pay special attention to the maintenance of loading and unloading equipment, the design, location, length, height and other features of loading and unloading platforms, etc., and the maintenance of circulating area and roads where heavy vehicles ply.

The overall savings in transport rates would more than justify the expenditure incurred on the provision of additional facilities. This costs not been recognized by the planners of individual projects.

For rail movement, not only sufficient number of loading lines, but also sufficient number of marshalling, examination and holding lines must be planned for. These lines must be suitably connected with one another to ensure smooth shunting operations. The configuration of lines (yard designs) is more important than the number of lines in the yard, for the requirements of prime mover (shunting engines) can also be cut down by a suitable design of yard.

2. Vehicles

An important feature of movement of finished products of major projects is the type of vehicle used for movement. The vehicle dimensions, capacity. Type and its special characteristics, if any, have to be examined with the reference to the quality and quantity of goods to b moved. In case of sea transport—- the size, speed and the type of ship, in case of road movement—- capacity, moving dimensions and speed of the trucks and in case of rail movement—- the capacity, type and general availability of wagons must be closely examined.

Planned movement on any section must be taken into account utilisation of the existing sectional capacity, the expected general growth in traffic on the section, and the possible future identifiable streams of new traffic. If movement on a saturated section is inevitable, line capacity of the section must be increased.

3. Prime Movers

The motive power utilized for the internal handling of vehicles and transportation to destinations is another important component of the total movement system. In the case of rail movement, locomotives required for the shunting and marshalling of wagons within the plant must be of such weight, horsepower and performance characteristics as will match the specific tasks of shunting and reception and dispatch of wagons. In case of road movement, suitable design and layout of conveyors and mechanical loaders can reduce the drudgery of manual labour and make pre-despatch and post-receipt handling operations more efficient.

4. Routes And Sectional Capacity

Another important aspect of transport planning is the routes for streams of traffic, viz., roadways, railways, waterways and airways. The routes or pathways must have adequate capacities. Generally speaking, because of lack of understanding of the transportation subject, executives take it for granted that capacity of routes is unlimited.

A very important but invisible component of movement activity is sectional capacity, which is dependant on permissible sectional speed and other characteristics of a section. In turn, sectional speed depends on the geometrics of the road (track, sea route, road surface, carriage way, gradients and curves, etc.).

Over a section of railways or roadways between two stations A and B, only a limited number of wagons, trucks or vehicles can be pushed through, depending on the availability of terminal facilities to handle these vehicles, the facilities to enable vehicles to move on the section, and availability of sufficient number of vehicles. Unless sufficient capacity is developed on each of the different routes to move the vehicles, the additional number of vehicles provided would not necessarily lead to higher levels of transport availability. On the contrary, movement may become more sluggish.

5. Transit Time

The relative locations of a plant and the customers or suppliers determine largely the transit time for raw materials, spare parts and finished products. Transit time generally never receives adequate attention in the panning of major projects. There is a general impression that, if need be, transit time can be drastically cut at any time by air-lifting a consignment. Apart from the fact that the neglect of transportation planning leads to an overall higher cost of transportation, in practice, reduction in transit time actually achieved may not justify the heavy cost of air transport. Rough estimates of transit time from unreliable sources are generally utilized for planning movements of goods. Although more detailed information sources may be readily available. It is essential therefore, that executives understand clearly the difference between:

  1. Normal transit time under normal conditions;
  2. Normal transit time under abnormal conditions;
  3. Optimal transit time;
  4. Most optimistic transit time
  5. Most pessimistic transit time; and
  6. Desirable transit time.

Because the importance of transit time is not adequately recognized, it is not realistically provided for. Major projects suffer from the heavy delays even before the commencement of construction because of the non-availability of construction equipment and machinery in time. The existing bottlenecks in the fields of transportation are almost always ignored. Construction schedules, inventories, warehousing facilities, order processing or production schedules, etc., are generally planned without the recognition of the inevitable delays that flow from these bottlenecks.

6. Weigh Bridge

Another usually neglected aspect of industrial transportation activity is the factory weigh bridge. Weigh bridges ion factories are generally inaccurate, if not actually out of order. It is seldom appreciated that the losses continuously occurring on this single piece of factory equipment and general inefficiency, which results from its ineffective and inefficient management, can be easily avoided by proper advance planning. Executives ignore the usual traffic jams at factory gates slow down receipts and dispatches, which, in turn, indirectly affect output. The relative advantages of various types of weigh bridges must be properly appreciated by executives, and a weigh bridge which will handle the anticipated volume of traffic expeditiously must be selected.

7. Distribution Pattern

The pattern of movement of the finished produced by road or rail must be planned properly. For example, when the requirements of the number of rail wagons are to be worked out, it is not sufficient to take the average lead or distance for the whole country for calculating fleet requirements. it is also not sufficient to use the figure of the existing average lead of general goods ,or even that pertaining to a specific commodity.

However, when it comes to actually transport, because of imprecise pre-planning, the manufacturer wants the commodity carrier to transport goods to anywhere and everywhere n the country. This presents a problem. The manufacturer provides information to the common carrier about the quantity of goods to be marketed. But detailed information must be supplied to the carrier so that the carrier can plan the movement in entirety.

8. Nature of Product

Another aspect, which is often disregarded by project managements as well as common carrier, is the variability arising out of the specialized nature of products to be moved. The generally low level of sophistication in transport planning in the country had made it difficult for the planners to appreciate the fact that transport capacity is influenced by the nature of goods, their packing and other specialized requirements, such as special handling equipment, etc.

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