Better service with lower costs

Matthew Clark increases customer service levels and cuts transport costs with Optrak’s vehicle routing software

Wine bottles cooling on the bar

The Problem

Matthew Clark is an award winning drinks supplier to the on-trade. The company works constantly to increase its customer service levels and cut transport costs. They deliver 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.

The OR Solution

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 that 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 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.

Alan Williams, Operations Manager for Matthew Clark at York 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.’

The Value

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 so 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 drivers' 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 - it is a brilliant system that has reduced our planning time and made a lasting impact on our business.’

Introducing voice picking

Optrak has also 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 and 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.’