You are here:
Menzies Distribution improves operational efficiency with Optrak’s vehicle routing software
Menzies Distribution is a leading provider of added value distribution services to the newspaper and magazine supply chain. It delivers to 25,000 retailers daily with a highly time sensitive product and uses Optrak’s vehicle routing software and consultancy services as part of an on-going initiative to streamline delivery routes. Benefits include greater operational efficiency and flexibility, a reduction in costs, carbon emissions and improved service levels.
Time sensitive challenges
Menzies has 2,000 vehicle routes operating out of 30 depots. Fixed routes are used to deliver to customers primarily between 4.30am and 7.30am. However, over time, these routes can become less efficient as the customer base changes.
Optrak’s routing software enables us to review how we manage our deliveries thus ensuring we minimise transport costs whilst improving service levels. Given the current economic climate, Optrak has proved invaluable in helping us to streamline our business, find new ways of taking costs out of the supply chain and build sustainable operational improvements, and we have made a significant return on our investment in Optrak.”David Morton, Strategic Development Director
Using Optrak for strategic modelling
Commercial Services Manager, Colin Matthews manages an in-house team that visit Menzies’ depots to review daily route efficiency.
Optrak met our demanding requirements for a routing system that could optimise high volumes of customers in a dense geographic area with tight time windows. We use the software to help analyse the best way of delivering to our customers and also to assess strategic issues such as looking at the impact of the closure, opening or consolidation of depots.”Colin Matthews, Commercial Services Manager
In 2009 Menzies embarked on a major program to improve transport efficiency, reduce costs and carbon emissions. It has a well established process which begins with a review of the Required Delivery Time (RDT) for each outlet. Menzies also analyses historical delivery data as the weight and volume can vary considerably across different days of the week or month.
Meeting RDT commitments
When re-planning routes for a depot, Menzies takes a ‘clean sheet’ approach and uses Optrak to find the most efficient delivery routes to meet the RDT commitments. This ensures that the new routes are based on the optimum allocation of outlets to each trip. Optrak created data conversion tools and automated a number of common planning processes which helps cut the effort involved. Matthews reviews new routes with the local Operations and Night Distribution Managers to fine tune the results for maximum efficiency. Getting this buy-in at an early stage is vital in ensuring a smooth roll out.
The planning and analysis takes around 3 weeks and it would be essentially impossible to achieve the same quality of results in a similar timeframe without Optrak. We generally achieve a reduction in our fleet, fuel and mileage KPIs which in turn contributes to carbon reduction targets”.Colin Matthews, Commercial Services Manager
Coping with business growth
During Menzies growth and expansion over the last few years Optrak has proved invaluable.
Last year we had to react quickly to a market opportunity that required Menzies to accommodate rapid business expansion in new and existing areas. We increased our scope and reach by 20% which gives you an indication of the scale of our challenge. The Optrak vehicle routing software played a key role in helping us to support our new operations and to plan efficient additional delivery routes. Thanks to Optrak we have the operational flexibility and agility to react effectively to any changes to our business.”David Morton, Strategic Development Director
Menzies has also found Optrak to be useful in tendering for new business, to scope, cost, analyse and design the required delivery routes. It gives Menzies confidence in the robustness of proposed solutions. Optrak’s mapping features are useful in clearly illustrating the results of any analysis and this helps demonstrate to prospective customers the thoroughness of Menzies analytical approach.
In a dynamic market, there are constant changes to evaluate and Menzies has turned to Optrak to provide consultancy services. Optrak works on various projects to supplement Menzies’ in-house resources working independently or alongside Matthews and his team.
We have a flexible arrangement with Optrak and can call upon their expert consultancy resources whenever the need arises. This has proved to be an excellent method of evaluating different transport options. We trust the consultants and their recommendations carry a lot of weight. We know that we’ll always get an honest, open opinion and this can extend to using them as a sounding board on broader logistics issues.”David Morton, Strategic Development Director
Examples of the projects that Optrak has worked on include:
Investigating depot boundaries, fleet sizing and fleet mix
Exploring the impact of changing RDTs with retailers
Analysing how to deal with peaks and troughs of demand across the week or month
Determining how to increase Menzies commitment to trunking services for publishers
Working jointly with partners to investigate the impact of different supply chain planning approaches
One particular project that Optrak consultants assisted with was to analyse the impact of pre-running certain products. The results were very promising and recommendations are being taken forward by Menzies.
Any change that we decide to implement has to be practically achievable. We have a continual cycle of streamlining our distribution to constantly look for ways of increasing efficiency and minimising our environmental impact. By using a sophisticated tool such as Optrak, we can evaluate any number of scenarios to objectively investigate the commercial viability. For example it helped confirm the business justification behind the introduction of our hub and spoke delivery system.”Colin Matthews, Commercial Services Director
Delivering real and sustainable business benefits
Morton is enthusiastic about the relationship with Optrak, commenting,
We have received a high level of service and the technical support is fantastic. Optrak’s consultants are highly experienced, knowledgeable about the software and truly understand the operational issues that we face in the newspaper and magazine trade. I would have no hesitation in calling upon their consultants for advice on operational or strategic issues. In fact, Optrak is so good I really don’t want our competitors using their software!”
Transport is one of Menzies’ biggest sources of CO2 emissions and the environmental benefits are important:
Optrak has helped Menzies introduce greater transport efficiencies that have contributed to a drop in our carbon footprint despite taking on substantial amounts of new business. In relative terms, our per copy, per tonne or per drop KPIs have improved and our relative carbon footprint has decreased by over 20% in the past 5 years. This achievement was reflected in Menzies being one of the first 100 UK companies, and one of the few logistics sector companies, to be accredited to the Carbon Trust Standard.”Colin Matthews, Commercial Services Director
A first class routing and scheduling service that generates real savings
I would definitely recommend Optrak’s routing software and consultancy services. The quality of the results that we get and especially the team behind Optrak is first class. We continue to work on projects that deliver added value for Menzies and its customers and which generate real savings. The long term relationship that we have developed with Optrak has served us very well and helped deliver real and sustainable business and environmental benefits.”David Morton, Strategic Development Director
Tim Pigden, Managing Director of Optrak added, “Newspaper delivery has a unique and complex set of strategic and operational constraints. In working with Menzies we have been able to hone our software and work on consultancy projects in ways that are both challenging and have delivered significant benefits on several fronts to the customer as well as reducing its carbon footprint. We have both learnt and benefited a lot from this partnership.”
Optrak and Menzies were awarded the 'Fleet Management Systems 2002 Partnership Award'