Where supply chain management and data science meet, interesting questions arise. In our Data2Move Research Stories, you will find out how students have answered these. This time: Dalí Ploegmakers’ master thesis on using carrier event log data to improve the last mile at Hilti.

As a manufacturer of high-quality tools and materials for the construction world, Hilti aims to provide customers with the highest service level. In reaching that ambition, reliable last-mile delivery is vital. Ploegmakers’ thesis revolves around using state-of-the-art Process Mining techniques to improve the last mile and help Hilti live up to their customer expectations.

Where it started

An increasing number of international shipping companies, Hilti included, outsources their last-mile delivery process to independent carriers. In doing so, shippers lose a degree of control over this vital process. On the other hand, new technological developments such as track-and-trace produce granular data on each event in the delivery process, providing more transparency. As such, Dalí Ploegmakers was set with the task to find out how HILTI could use this data to improve their last mile.

Findings

To find opportunities for improving the delivery process, Ploegmakers draws from the Data Science literature and applied Process Mining techniques. He transformed data into an interactive and easily interpretable process model. This process model can verify whether parcels arrive at the customer on time, and determine high-risk areas for delayed parcel delivery.

In addition to providing better customer service, the increased transparency also improves the relationship between Hilti and the carriers, as testified by Ploegmakers:

Creating transparency within the carrier network allows us to have a factual and constructive discussion with the carrier on improving the last-mile delivery process.”

The research thus highlights the importance of transparency between Hilti and its carriers – increased transparency leads to both better customer service ánd better shipper-carrier relations.

Conclusion and next steps

Ploegmakers concludes that creating transparency in the carriers’ process and creating a notification system are two key improvements that could enhance the external last-mile delivery process. Moreover, he states that by applying Process Mining more opportunities are yet to be found, once again confirming the importance of having accurate and complete datasets available.

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