Better integrated and more efficient deliveries are in prospect at Robert Lee Distribution, the UK’s largest independent distributor of bathroom, kitchen and plumbing products, following the introduction of a comprehensive centralised scheduling and delivery management solution from Mapmechanics and TranSend.
Robert Lee distributes around 40,000 line items to retailers and merchants from a network of four national depots, using a fleet of more than 50 vehicles. Historically customers were allocated to specific depots, but the company was keen to balance deliveries more efficiently across the entire fleet, and to automate delivery planning and execution from day to day.
Robert Lee Distribution also wanted to manage deliveries in real time, replacing paper records with a more flexible, centralised ePOD system, and to be able to check route compliance and compare actual delivery performance against the plan.
With the new system in place, Truckstops will schedule deliveries across all Robert Lee depots automatically each day, taking account of delivery priorities, constraints and time windows as necessary. Using an “Output to TranSend” button within Truckstops, the company will then pass the schedules directly to the TranSend system.
TranSend is designed to manage all aspects of the delivery process, from driver log-on to customer delivery and collection and return to the depot, and has been configured precisely to Robert Lee requirements for data capture and exception reporting.
Drivers have been equipped with Zebra TC55 handheld terminals, and the Truckstops schedule is sent to these terminals each day. Drivers then use them to navigate to delivery points, capture signatures and note exceptions. The data is sent back to base wirelessly in real time for analysis, invoicing and archiving.
Deliveries are GPS-tracked via the handheld devices, and pre-delivery text alerts are sent to each customer automatically when the vehicle is a pre-set distance away. Delays or other issues are captured back at base as they occur, allowing staff to alert customers or take other appropriate action.
The record of actual routes, timings and drivers’ hours can be compared after the event with the Truckstops schedule, and parameters can be amended over time to improve the efficiency of the operation further.
Mapmechanics and TranSend have come up with an integrated package that promises to optimise use of our existing delivery fleet and provide customers with a more efficient and proactive service.
says Robert Lee Distribution operations director, Colin O’Reilly