Case Study

Maximizing freight container utilization for a discrete manufacturer

4flow TORO optimizes utilization during material planning to achieve 9% cost savings on selected sea freight lanes

At a glance

Discrete manufacturing business with plants in Europe

Inbound transportation network with low utilization of containers in shipments from China and Mexico

Implementation of software to four plants feasible in four months

Manual optimization process replaced with integration of transportation optimization into MRP

9% transportation cost savings achieved

Number of containers required reduced by 10%

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The challenge

This global leader in discrete manufacturing has a complex inbound network to its European plants. It relies heavily on sea freight for materials coming from suppliers in APAC and Mexico. But due to fluctuations in demand, production volume and production schedules, these container shipments were often only partly utilized.

The manufacturer implemented a manual process to increase container utilization, but it did not deliver the expected results. The manual optimization became costly, as it required significant time investments and left space for human error.

4flow worked together with the manufacturer to replace this manual process. Together, they developed a concept to optimize the MRP results by integrating transportation factors using 4flow TORO.

The solution

In this concept, the plug-in software 4flow TORO was used to optimize transportation on FCL lanes from China and Mexico to four manufacturing sites in Europe. The software can be implemented for this scope quickly, in approximately 4 months, creating significant savings for the manufacturer in a short amount of time.

The concept reduced transportation costs by 9% on the affected lanes, increased the utilization of FCL lanes and reduced the overall number of containers shipped by 10%.

To achieve these results, demand volume was preponed to an earlier date to consolidate demands in fewer containers and maximize the overall utilization.

4flow TORO is a cloud-based solution, enabling high quality result calculation and visualization. Standard interfaces to the manufacturer’s SAP system let users transfer data and results in a smooth, automated way. The interfaces receive call-off data and related packaging information, and they return optimization results from 4flow TORO to update call-off information. Additionally, transportation related information is received from the existing TMS solution to consider the latest transportation constraints in the optimization.

The results

Significant cost savings and improved planning quality, as 4flow TORO ensures feasibility of call-off data

Automation of optimization and planning processes while maintaining flexibility for last-minute changes

Quick optimization in minutes

Expansion to FTL and LTL shipments planned


4flow TORO enables significant cost savings and improves the overall planning quality by ensuring the feasibility of call-off data. The software reduces manual workload by automating optimization and planning processes, respecting fluctuations in demand as well as the latest transportation and delivery plan restrictions. The optimization is executed in minutes and does not delay the overall MRP and call-off submission process.

Overall, the tool allows planners to work more efficiently, replacing high-effort manual optimization processes.

Thanks to the significant costs savings and other planning benefits, the manufacturer plans to extend the scope to additional transportation modes like FTL and LTL shipments. This can be done quickly by adding the respective lanes to the optimization scope and establishing data flow to and from 4flow TORO.

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