Eddie Stobart cuts key tender preparation process from days to minutes

The challenge

As part of the process of preparing tenders for logistics and transport contracts, the Eddie Stobart group frequently has to calculate the cost of each individual transport movement required by the customer. On a large-scale operation, this could mean working out costs for hundreds of different ‘lanes’ (point-to-point journeys) between given locations.Eddie-Stobart-truck

Extremely time-consuming manual entry

Historically, the task was tackled manually by a member Stobart’s staff, who entered coordinates for each lane into a basic route-finding software application. However, this proved extremely time-consuming. Eddie Stobart’s commercial manager Scott Robertson explains: “On a major contract the job could take up to two weeks. We had someone working on this kind of thing more or less full-time.”

Existing products too literal

The company looked for an off-the-shelf solution that would enable it to avoid this lengthy process, but found that existing products were too literal in the routes they suggested.

A task that used to take up to two weeks now just takes twenty or thirty minutes.

“For instance, if we were sending a truck from Sheffield to Manchester, most systems would send it via the shortest route, which is through the Peak District, even though we knew this that would take much longer than going north up the M1 motorway, then west along the M62.”

The company wanted something with the intelligence to make logical real-world decisions about such things.

The solution

Mapmechanics came up with the solution based on its GEOXPLOIT package. This combines the powerful GEOCONCEPT geographic information system, which is pre-configured to perform a variety of frequently-occurring tasks such as site location, market penetration and network planning, with a wide range of popular digital map data, business data and demographic data from some of the world’s leading suppliers.

Using Geoconcept’s Smart Routing technology, Mapmechanics enabled Eddie Stobart to designate given areas as “do not pass through” areas. Along with the Peak District, these include large conurbations such as central London, and other areas with high or relatively slow and inaccessible roads.

We can model movements in and out of a given postcode area, and generate heat maps showing key areas of activity. It helps to illustrate how our proposed solution will be able to handle the work.

The system automatically recognises journeys that start or end within or close to the excluded areas, and allows vehicles to enter them on these occasions.

As part of the project, Mapmechanics set up templates through which the Eddie Stobart team could enter its own speeds for different roads, basing them on the operator’s long experience.

The benefits

  • Much quicker calculation of “lane” costs for logistics contract tendering (a two-week job reduced to minutes)
  • Intelligent route selection that avoids slow or inappropriate roads
  • Easy integration of lane cost data with Eddie Stobart’s in-house costing model
  • Ability to model other logistics tasks and generate “heat maps” showing intensity of activity
  • Use of Mapmechanics’ consultancy service for network modelling

 

Since starting to use Geoxploit, Eddie Stobart has reduced the lane-costing elements of its tendering process dramatically. “A task that used to take up to two weeks now just takes twenty or thirty minutes,” says Scott Robertson.

The company has also gained the confidence that its routing model will always propose logical least-cost routes, even if they do not always appear at a glance to represent the shortest journeys.

It has also become easier to integrate the lane cost data into the tender proposal. Once the Stobart team have uploaded sample customer data files listing all the transport movements required by a given tender, the system quickly outputs its proposed solution in the form of a spreadsheet (.CSV) file, which can be imported straight into Eddie Stobart’s own costing model.

Having acquired the full Geoxploit package, the Stobart team now also makes use of some of its many other capabilities – for instance, to model movements in and out of a given postcode area, and generate heat maps showing key areas of activity.

The company has also used Mapmechanics’ consultancy capability for projects such as modelling warehouse locations to establish the optimum network for given logistics operations

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