INTERNAL COORDINATION OF SHIPPERS TO ACHIEVE HIGH LOAD FACTOR
Paper in proceedings, 2015
Purpose: Increasing transport efficiency is of interest to reduce emissions and cost, where high load factor is one aspect of transport efficiency. To improve load factor it has been suggested that shippers, who purchase freight transport services, can coordinate their internal functions better. However, it is unclear in what way this can be achieved, i.e. what functions should be coordinated and in what way. Taking the perspective of the logistics/transport function, the purpose of this paper is to explore how shippers can coordinate internally in order to achieve high load factor.
Research approach: A multiple case study of three shippers was carried out and interviews were conducted with the logistics or transport manager at each company. With coordination literature as a basis, the empirical data was analysed according to which functions that coordinated as well as the activities that were coordinated between them. These interactions were then categorised based on which coordination mechanisms that were adopted for each specific combination of function interaction and activity. Patterns with regard to which functions and which activities that were coordinated through the various mechanism were finally analysed.
Findings and Originality: The results indicate that logistics/transport can coordinate with several functions (in the studied cases sales/marketing, purchasing, product development, construction, warehouse and transport planning) in order to achieve high load factor. Further, many coordination mechanisms were used in the cases, thus the results suggest that a variety of coordination mechanisms can be adopted when shippers coordinate internally with the aim of high load factor. The mechanisms identified in this research include mutual adjustment, direct supervision and four types of standardisation. Finally, several of these coordination mechanisms were found to be adopted in more than one way.
Research impact: The findings are of interest to researchers interested in improving load factor and/or internal coordination of shippers. This paper has a shipper perspective on improving load factor including activities applicable when transport is outsourced. More specifically, it provides insights into how shippers can enable high load factor through coordination between their logistics/transport function and other company internal functions.
Practical impact: Managers at companies outsourcing freight transport services are provided suggestions regarding coordination between functions when aiming to improve load factor. This is in turn of interest for improving environmental performance as well as reducing costs.