Bibby Distribution had been using Optrak vehicle routeing and scheduling software for a number of years. However, it wanted to examine whether it was still the right strategic modelling tool for its ongoing requirements. Following a review of the available options, Bibby decided to standardise on the latest version of Optrak.
Project manager David Sidwell says: “Once we had seen what the current version of Optrak could do, we realised that it met our requirements closely. There was also a desire within the team to continue with Optrak. It had proved itself to be a robust package that enables Bibby to analyse distribution operations, evaluate different scenarios and calculate relevant transport costs. Optrak plays a fundamental role in the business development toolkit.
“We often have to develop project solutions quickly. However, I am confident we can work to these tight deadline pressures and still deliver a high quality response using Optrak.”
Bibby works with customers to understand their requirements. When presented with new customer data, an analyst must first recreate the distribution set up, including modelling volume and location of customers, depots, vehicles and drivers within Optrak.
Managers take a consultative approach and use their supply chain expertise to look at how to optimise what the customer wants to do. Optrak maintains high visibility of cost and service implications. Various planning scenarios determine issues such as, what is the most cost effective method of locating depots, what is the optimum vehicle fleet mix and where should they be based taking into account factors such as vehicle access restrictions. The aim is to reduce transport costs and improve the efficiency of the vehicle routes.
Optrak is also used as a tool to look at how to improve what the customer is doing. For example, if the customer currently has a next day delivery service, what is the cost and resource impact if it is changed to a three or five day delivery basis, or what is the impact on the cost base if delivery time windows are relaxed from two to four hours.
Bibby uses Optrak to drive the decision making and challenge the customer to think differently about what they are doing. Seeing the different scenario results in cost terms is often an eye opener for the customer – it is an effective way of showing what financial impact can be made on overall transport costs.
Once Bibby has completed its analysis, the results are then presented to the customer, who may then in turn drive further modelling situations. Bibby currently uses digital road maps from the Ordnance Survey.
One of the standard outputs that Bibby shows the customer is a map of the UK with customer locations highlighted on the map. This can illustrate distance from depot, density, size and cost of service of customers far more effectively than lists of postcodes.
The Trip Timeline can be used to show clearly what vehicles are used, when they are working and how much time is spent on different activities. When modelling data across a week it is easy to view the implications of uneven demand, in terms of resource requirements, and highlight the savings potential from influencing customer ordering patterns.
Sidwell says: “Optrak offers us the ability to route very effectively and helps us develop a very good solution for the customer. However, the presentation of results is also important. Using the Ordnance Survey digital mapping is visually impressive and means that the customer can clearly understand their data.”
The pallet market designed to carry standard products is highly competitive and margins tend to be low. Bibby is increasingly encountering more customers with non-standard products and this is an area where they believe significant added value can be delivered.
Non-standard products pose a problem because they can reduce the utilisation of vehicle space out of proportion to their size. For example a single pipe can take several pallets worth of space. Therefore Bibby has to look at how they model things differently. Optrak provides a number of mechanisms for stacking and packing products and for filling compartments beyond the simplistic “add weight, add volume” approach of most packages.