Wednesday 26th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Matthew Clark cuts transport planning time by 66pc

On-trade drinks supplier Matthew Clark has reduced its transport costs and cut the time it spends planning at its York depot by 66 per cent after deploying Optrak’s vehicle routeing software.

Matthew Clark delivers more than 4,000 drinks products to its nationwide customers of pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and bars.

As it is a competitive market its delivery performance and service levels are central to maintaining customer loyalty. 

Order volumes and delivery locations change daily and each customer has a time slot within which deliveries have to be made according to Service Level Agreements (SLA).

The York depot runs 17 delivery vehicles and trunks overnight to an outbase at Sunderland which operates a further five vehicles. 

The depot previously relied on time consuming manual planning to create the daily routes and loading schedules. With 64 per cent of deliveries made within the SLA Matthew Clark saw room for improvement.

Alan Williams, operations manager for Matthew Clark at York said: “By introducing Optrak’s vehicle routeing software we have achieved a significant increase in customer service levels with 95-97 per cent of our deliveries occurring within the SLA. 

We have also increased the efficiency of the individual routes that each vehicle follows on a daily basis while cutting the time we spend planning by two thirds.”

Each afternoon orders for the next day are downloaded from the JD Edwards back-office system into Optrak. 

The planner runs several automated data validation checks to ensure any discrepancies such as incorrect postcodes are corrected at an early stage, and then uses Optrak to optimise the transport schedule for the next day.

Orders for the Sunderland outbase are optimised first, followed by orders to be delivered from the main depot. 

Optrak automatically creates the most efficient routes possible taking into account customer locations, the different products that have been ordered, the time window for delivery, weight and volume capacity of each vehicle and the availability of drivers.

The planner uses his or her local knowledge to fine tune the routes, which might involve changing an order so that it is delivered from York rather than the Sunderland outbase to cope better with short term increases in demand. 

The finalised routes are uploaded to JD Edwards which produces the relevant paperwork such as pick lists for the warehouse.

Williams said: “Optrak looks at each of the factors that we used to spend all day managing manually and takes care of the difficult calculations in minutes. 

“Editing the trips is really easy and only needs a few mouse clicks to move an order from one trip to another. 

“Optrak recalculates the trips to make sure that we haven’t broken any rules in making that change, and warns us if we are going to miss a time window for example.  The speed of the system is impressive and we can usually finalise building an efficient set of routes within a fairly short period of time.”

Service levels improved quickly after Optrak was implemented, plus, Williams said: “By running more efficient delivery routes we have also been able to minimise our transport costs. If we had not moved away from manual planning I estimate that we would need at least two more vehicles on the road to meet our delivery commitments and this represents a very large saving for the company.”

By planning more efficiently and accurately the company is also able to get more orders onto each vehicle and make better use of drivers’ time. It can do the same deliveries with fewer trips which has created transport savings. 

Matthew Clark has now introduced the Optrak software to its Runcorn depot to replace manual route planning for 26 vehicles. 

It was required as part of a company-wide initiative to migrate to a new RedPrairie warehouse management system which gives Matthew Clark live stock availability, improved pick accuracy thanks to barcode verification and access to the latest voice picking technology. 

With the implementation of RedPrairie, pallet information for each order is now available allowing Optrak to optimise on the basis of weight and pallets. 

This information is sent to JD Edwards where orders are validated, and then passed to RedPrairie for inventory allocation.

John Hitchmough, depot manager for Matthew Clark at Runcorn said: “Since we went live on Optrak we have increased the number of time windows that we hit to 84 per cent and I am confident that this will rise to 95 per cent plus. 

“We are making better use of the resources in the transport department as route planning now takes as little as 45 minutes. This gives us greater operational flexibility and enables us to cope better with seasonal fluctuations in demand.”