Deliver the goods and save money: our three top tips

There’s little room for error in food distribution. But if you can streamline effectively, the rewards can be significant. Here’s how two national brands achieved it – and three things you can learn.

Author: Paul Dawsey

If you could streamline your transport, how much do you think you’d save? £10,000? £20,000? Maybe even £100,000? You need to aim higher.

Reynolds, the national foodservice logistics company, anticipated it would save up to half a million pounds, simply by streamlining its distribution operations. In a single year. And it’s not the only success story: e-retailer HelloFresh quadrupled home deliveries of its fresh food recipe boxes, but only used 50% more vans.

But when I look around the distribution firms I deal with, I see operational pressures and costs are growing. How on earth did they achieve it?

I looked into their case studies, and came up with three clear lessons:

1. Consider all your options

In distribution, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution (otherwise it would be simple, right?). And often, getting the right balance between availability and cost is difficult to measure until you actually implement your solution. By that point, it could turn out to be a costly experiment.

But if you could visualise how real-world scenarios could work without having to shoulder the implementation cost, wouldn’t you? You’d save a lot, certainly. And being able to see the potential return on investment would be invaluable for future resource planning.

Reynolds did just this. The team modelled scenarios – like the potential effects of setting up satellite depots, changing delivery sequences, and increasing vehicle size. In the end, the company could count the potential real-world savings before the solutions had even been implemented.

Indeed, by following these steps, you can easily identify significant delivery route reductions, while increasing overall capacity. The result: a significant saving on fuel costs – while also reducing emissions.

2. Maintain and increase flexibility

In my experience, the reality of operating a fleet of vehicles on public roads to tight schedules is that things don’t always go to plan. Even something as common as adverse weather can cause havoc if the flexibility and extra capacity isn’t there to cope effectively. If you’re consistently working at 100 percent, even a seemingly minor issue can have untold knock-on effects on your organisation.

Careful planning is important, of course. But if your system retains some flexibility, your planners are more confident in their ability to react to unplanned situations, and the pressure is taken off your drivers who may be tempted to make up for lost time by cutting corners.

Not only does it increase efficiency, but the impact of unforeseen circumstances is vastly reduced.

3. Connect planning to driver aides

Winning new customers is great. But when schedules are tight, the last thing a driver wants to be doing is searching for new addresses – when they should be focusing on the job at hand.

But also, when you’re taking on extra deliveries, you need a way to cope with the extra work without spending too much on excess vehicles and routes.

So when I suggest customers link their route-planning software directly to their tracking and ePOD devices, it’s a bit of a lightbulb moment. It makes your drivers more efficient, and helps them to carry out their drops with greater confidence. What’s more, you can modify delivery routes on-the-fly while vehicles are out on the road – ideal for those last-minute route changes.

I’ve come across a number of organisations over the years who’ve manged to significantly reduce their fuel costs, while increasing the number of deliveries they’re able to do. And it’s helped them to keep their costs low – which is great for the end consumer too.

Like HelloFresh, the results were immediate.

Truckstops for your next drop

Streamlining a delivery network is no small feat, partly because everything’s connected. But I rarely come across route planning and driver aides that provide a truly end-to-end solution.

Truckstops is different. It does the hard work for you, and modelling each scenario means the pain and unpredictability are taken away.

Not only does it enable you to reduce routes while improving overall capacity, it can reduce costs and boost efficiency. That’s a positive all-round result.

To find out more and to book a demonstration of how Truckstops can help optimise your operations, get in touch with us today.