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Matthew Clark increases customer service levels and cuts transport costs with Optrak’s vehicle routing software
Matthew Clark is an award winning drinks supplier to the on-trade. It is a long term user of Optrak’s vehicle routing software and has achieved a significant increase in customer service levels at its York depot, reduced transport costs whilst cutting the time spent planning by 66%.
Replacing a manual planning process
Matthew Clark delivers over 4,000 drink products to their nationwide customers of pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and bars. It is a competitive market where 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% of deliveries made within the SLA there was clear room for improvement.
Alan Williams, Operations Manager for Matthew Clark at York said, “As a company we pride ourselves on providing outstanding service to our customers. By introducing Optrak’s vehicle routing software we have achieved a significant increase in customer service levels with 95-97% 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 whilst cutting the time we spend planning by two thirds.”
Dynamic daily routing with Optrak
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 their local knowledge to fine tune the routes. For example this 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.”
As soon as Optrak was implemented at York the service level performance began to improve, Williams commented, “The biggest benefit we have seen from using Optrak is boosting customer service levels which is invaluable to Matthew Clark. 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.”
Matthew Clark has benefited from improved utilisation of its existing resources as Williams notes, “By planning more efficiently and accurately we can get more orders onto each vehicle and make better use of our driver’s time. We can do the same deliveries with fewer trips which leads to significant transport savings. By providing a more consistent service we have increased customer loyalty and retention rates. The Optrak project has proved itself to be totally worthwhile and I would recommend Optrak to other companies - it is a brilliant system that has reduced our planning time and made a lasting impact on our business.”
Introducing voice picking
Optrak has recently been introduced at Matthew Clark’s 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 warehouse management system (WMS) from RedPrairie 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 Runcorn at Matthew Clark explains, “A combination of Optrak and RedPrairie ensures that we are optimising our warehouse and delivery resources by picking accurately and delivering to our customers on time. Since we went live on Optrak we have increased the number of time windows that we hit to 84% and I am confident that this will rise to 95+%. 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.”
Looking at the work required to implement a new WMS Hitchmough added, “The Optrak team are quick to respond whenever we modify the way in which we operate. The introduction of Red Prairie meant that we needed to change how Optrak plans the routes. This was work which was completed professionally and on time.”
Strong customer service is a point that Williams endorses, “The service we have received from the Optrak team has been of a very high standard. The support team in particular are both patient and knowledgeable about our operational environment and ensure that any queries are resolved rapidly.”
Tim Pigden, Managing Director of Optrak commented, “The drinks sector is a market where providing consistently good service can mean the difference between retaining a customer and losing it to a competitor. Using Optrak to plan vehicle routes ensures that demanding SLA commitments can be met without sacrificing efficiency or increased costs.”