Everbloom Growers – Tropical plant delivery optimisationJune 28th, 2013
- Delivering multi-drop loads of premium quality tropical and exotic plants throughout North America
- Scheduling deliveries by third party motor carriers efficiently
- Using a scheduling system that supports ALK’s PC*MILER® digital mapping system
Truckstops® has become an integral element of our business.
Everbloom Growers Inc., an independent Florida-based wholesale plant nursery, has more than 100 acres of land under intensive cultivation on four farms at Homestead, just south of Miami. It has many specialties including blooming tropical plants, ferns, grasses, and fruiting vines.
The company was founded in 1993, and quickly expanded beyond its home state. It now delivers its products to thousands of retail outlets every week across a wide area of the United States and Canada, concentrating particularly on the Midwest and Northeast of the US.
Much of the product is delivered direct to retail outlets, which include garden centers, large discount depots, home improvement centers, supermarkets, and multiple retailers. The company also supplies wholesalers. The key requirement is that all delivery vehicles must be refrigerated.
Everbloom uses external trucking companies to distribute its products, often taking advantage of carriers looking for backhauls for the return journey to their home area. Dozens of different motor carriers are used in the course of a year. During peak periods the company may dispatch up to 20 loads daily.
However, scheduling the large number of deliveries posed a challenge. Manager Peter Hew explains: “If we have large loads with only a few delivery points, wecan schedule them manually, but if there are more than about five call points on a route, it would be far too complicated.”
- The TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling optimisation system from MAPMECHANICS
- Support for PC*MILER digital mapping (supplied by ALK Technologies)
We were intrigued by the latest features, and wanted to ensure we would be eligible for future support.
Usually, scheduling software tends to be used for in-house vehicle fleets, but Everbloom decided it should be possible to find a system that would also work with external fleets.
TRUCKSTOPS provided the solution. Now developed and supported worldwide by MapMechanics, TRUCKSTOPS is one of the longest-established vehicle routing and scheduling optimisation systems of its kind, and by the early 1990s had already attracted many users throughout North America.
TRUCKSTOPS proved to have the right range of features to schedule movements by external carriers. Everbloom simply schedules each journey with TRUCKSTOPS, and then passes the resultant schedule to the trucking company that is handling the load.
When MAPMECHANICS took over responsibility for the TRUCKSTOPS product in North America, Everbloom started investigating the current version. “We were intrigued by the latest features,” says Peter Hew, “and wanted to ensure we would be eligible for future support.”
He was also keen to continue using TRUCKSTOPS in combination with ALK Technologies’ PC*MILER, the industry standard for truck-specific routing and mileage software. MAPMECHANICS has retained support for PC*MILER.
- Meeting the customer promise to provide a fast, responsive service
- Ability to allocate consignments to the most appropriate motor carrier for each call point
- Fast, effective scheduling of multiple consignments
“Truckstops has become an integral element of our business,” Peter Hew says. It is used daily, and he still involves himself in making sure that it produces appropriate schedules.
The current US version of TRUCKSTOPS has been specifically developed to serve market segments such as direct store delivery (DSD), less-than-truckload (LTL) operations, and over-the-road (OTR) freight. Many of its features are directly relevant to the backhaul style of operation adopted by Everbloom.
Because MAPMECHANICS has maintained its support for PC*MILER, Everbloom has been able to continue using TRUCKSTOPS in combination with this system. ALK’s proprietary digital map of North America enables TRUCKSTOPS to calculate routes that reflect realistic travel times between call points.
PC*MILER can also geocode call points (apply longitude and latitude co-ordinates to addresses or other location data), allowing the information to be used in scheduling applications.