High-quality butcher cuts into costs with CACI’s Truckstops

Aubrey Allen reports customer service improvements and reduced outsourcing costs with routing optimisation

Aubrey Allen, the high-quality wholesale butcher and cheese supplier to the catering trade, says that since introducing the Truckstops routing and scheduling optimisation solution from CACI, it has achieved wide-ranging improvements customer service and delivery efficiency, and is on track to save at least £50,000 in outsourced transport costs.

Aubrey Allen logo on burgundyThe company is also taking advantage of various advanced Truckstops features, including the Truckstops Web online display capability; the ability of Truckstops to take account of predefined geographical barriers; and its ability to apply differential vehicle speeds according to location.

The Truckstops system, which is developed and marketed worldwide by CACI’s logistics optimisation solutions team, is widely used both for day-to-day planning and scheduling of the movements of vehicles and people, and for strategic planning and fixed-route optimisation.

Coventry-based Aubrey Allen specialises in serving upmarket hotels and restaurants, which often feature Michelin-starred chefs, and sources much of its produce within the UK. It delivers over a large part of southern Britain with its own Coventry-based refrigerated van fleet and uses a third-party pallet delivery network to serve more distant locations, or those where it would be uneconomic to use its own vehicles.

Aubrey Allen’s delivery operations evolved gradually over time, and until the introduction of Truckstops, there were no set routes. Deliveries were planned daily on a manual basis, relying on maps and the scheduler’s own knowledge of customer requirements; and drivers had to hand-write their manifests each morning.

“We needed to bring the transport operation into the twenty-first century,” says logistics manager Leon Holllngworth. “Truckstops provided the solution.”

A notable revelation from using Truckstops was that some deliveries previously contracted out to the pallet network could in fact be handled more efficiently by Aubrey Allen’s in-house van fleet. “We started shifting some of these deliveries to our own vans, and immediately saw the savings mount up,” Leon says. Within just three months, he reports, the savings had reached £30,000, “and the figure is continuing to grow. We’re confident of hitting a figure of £50,000 very quickly.”

He says there have also been significant improvements in efficiency. For instance, manifests are now created automatically, and Truckstops allows the company to append special notes to each delivery – for instance, an instruction to the driver to place the meat in a fridge, or a note to pick up a key to the premises before leaving the depot. These advances are all helping drivers to get away more quickly each morning – making it easier for them to achieve the target of completing deliveries by 11am.

Customer service has also benefited. “We are more confident about delivery times,” Leon says. “Chefs like certainty, and Truckstops is helping us to provide it.”

The company has adopted an unusual “hybrid” approach to running Truckstops. Since it serves a known and relatively settled community of customers, it has made use of Truckstops’ ability to create an optimised group of fixed routes that can be repeated from day to day and week to week.

However, not all customers require deliveries every day, so the company’s planners usually take advantage of the way Truckstops allows users to fine-tune its proposed schedules manually – for instance, shifting calls between routes where this might produce a more efficient or better-balanced result for that day. Moving drops between routes is as simple as dragging them interactively on a screen map, “and Truckstops will immediately tell us if we’re exceeding weight or time limits for any given vehicle,” Leon points out.

Aubrey Allen’s in-house deliveries are handled by a highly standardised fleet of 17 Mercedes-Benz 3.5-tonne Sprinter vans with refrigerated bodies. However, road speeds can vary according to the environment. While some upmarket restaurants are in rural areas, many are in central London, where dense traffic and truck restrictions can slow vehicles down.

To take account of this, CACI has supplied the company with detailed street-level HERE mapping, complete with traffic restrictions, and the company is taking advantage of Truckstops’ ability to apply different speeds according to location. “That means the schedules it produces are a good reflection of real-world driving conditions, even in central London,” Leon says.

The company has also made use of Truckstops’ customised road maps to prevent vans using the Severn crossing multiple times in the same shift. “At £9 a time, the tolls can mount up quickly, cancelling out the apparent efficiency gains of making several crossings in a day.”

Further benefits from using Truckstops are already on the horizon. The company plans to use Truckstops Web online display system to give its sales team online access to delivery information. “So, if a customer phones to enquire about the timing of a delivery, the sales team will be able to look it up without having to ask someone in the transport department.”

In a further refinement of this system, the company will be taking advantage of Truckstops’ bespoke ability to interact with the Masternaut Connect vehicle tracking system used by Aubrey Allen, capturing details of estimated times of arrival and displaying them in near-real time.

“Truckstops has delivered a whole range of benefits in just a few months,” says Leon Hollingworth, “and the Truckstops support team have always resolved any issues straight way. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

Paul Dawsey, CACI logistics optimisation solutions director, comments: “Not all delivery operations require either a fixed-route solution or dynamic daily scheduling. Whilst Truckstops is ideally suited to both, real-world requirements can be more complex. Aubrey Allen’s ‘hybrid’ implementation illustrates Truckstops’ additional ability to provide something in between the two.

“It also demonstrates how Truckstops can do more than just schedule deliveries automatically – it can also reveal opportunities for customer service improvements and efficiency gains, and ways of managing logistics activities more cost-effectively.”