PD Ports is one of the UK’s major port operators which owns and operates Teesport, a key driver in the North East economy and one of the region’s largest employers. Other UK operations include the short seaports of Groveport, Howden, and Keadby, as well as operations at Medina Wharf, Isle of Wight. The port operator also owns the largest single warehousing facility at the Port of Felixstowe.
Every month, millions of tons of cargo pass through the ports owned and operated by PD Ports. Ranging from chemicals and steel to food items and furniture, these goods need to be stored securely in warehouses and conveyed to their final destinations in a timely and traceable manner.
PD Ports was already a leading provider of port-centric logistics and warehousing solutions, but wanted to strengthen its position in the market by improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its internal processes. The company also had a strong commitment to delivering a high quality of customer service and wanted to explore new ways to raise the bar for customer satisfaction.
PD Ports started using the K2 business process automation platform more than eight years ago and saw immediate success. It streamlined the invoicing process at one of its large warehousing facilities, eliminated the need to employ a new member of staff, and achieved an annual cost saving of £25,000 with its very first K2 solution.
Since then, PD Ports has developed over 20 different K2 workflows and apps, all of which are helping to save employee time and significantly improve the efficiency of the business. For example, one K2-based solution reduces the time required to process and approve new supplier requests from several weeks to just a couple of days.
Another key K2 workflow integrates with the company’s warehouse management system (WMS) and automates the order entry process, making it easier for staff to check stock, select batches, and allocate products to customers all within one app. “It saves a substantial amount of time and effort,” says Nathan Clarke, Business Analyst at PD Ports. “At peak times, K2 plays a critical role in enabling us to process all orders without having to employ temporary staff to handle the extra workload – and ultimately, this is a cost saving for the business.”
As new K2 processes can be created very quickly and easily, PD Ports has been able to create a number of short-term solutions to improve efficiency in fixed-term contracts. On one occasion, the company created a K2 workflow to help it process up to 300 orders a day, over a nine-month period. “This K2 workflow was so simple to deploy, but the impact on the business was significant,” recalls Clarke. “We didn’t need to employ someone to satisfy the requirements of this one contract, saving us around £20,000.”
One of the newest apps at PD Ports harnesses K2’s mobile functionality to help the company improve safety. Employees now use a K2 SmartForm on mobile devices to carry out vehicle safety checks, and any issues requiring maintenance are automatically sent directly to the maintenance team by email. “PD Ports number one core value is Safety First,” Clarke says. “This K2 workflow captures relevant information and ensures actions are taken promptly to ensure the safety and reliability of our vehicle fleet.”
Importantly, the use of K2 is helping PD Ports to improve its customer service. One particular K2 process captures information from customer queries and automatically collates all the relevant information that managers might need to investigate and resolve that query, including order details, records from stock picks and any discrepancies in the warehouse. “Employees save around three hours per week using this K2 app, but the main benefit is the improvement in customer service,” Clarke says. “It enables us to reply to customers and rectify situations more quickly."
PD Ports has recently upgraded from its prior K2 platform to K2 FIVE and plans to use the capabilities of this enhanced solution to make further improvements to its customer service. Specifically, the company plans to use K2 FIVE to help it create online services for customers, allowing them to access information about stock levels and order details themselves, via a self-service portal.
Summing up, Clarke says: “Given that K2 paid for itself with the very first app we developed, eight years ago, the return on investment that we have gained from K2 is very significant. Time after time, K2 enables PD Ports to introduce new IT functionality to improve the efficiency of our business and make us more competitive in our market.”