Glassolutions achieves significant savings with routing and scheduling solutionJuly 2nd, 2009
Glassolutions Saint-Gobain is one of the largest processors, distributors, installers and repairers of glass and glass systems in the UK. It delivers an extensive range of glass products throughout the country from a national network of 30-odd sites.
The product mix can vary widely, ranging from double-glazing units and jumbo glass sheets measuring 6 by 3.5 metres to items as small as 100 millimetres square. Further complexity is added because some products are packed on A-frame stillages whilst others are loaded loose.
Orders were being captured and processed at each branch using the company‘s central sales order processing IT system. Deliveries were also planned locally and were allocated to vehicles using the product and address information printed on the delivery notes.
That’s a saving of 1,000 km a week and 100 litres of fuel.
However, the results were variable and frequently not optimal. The company wanted to standardise and speed up the delivery and load planning process.
It therefore launched a wide-ranging change programme, aiming to reduce the UK organisation’s 125-strong glass distribution truck and van fleet, as well as introducing economies and enhancing customer service.
In pursuit of these aims, the company decided it needed a technology supplier that could combine expertise in automated routing and scheduling with the ability to understand and optimise the vehicle loading for its complex product mix, and could integrate the results with a real-time mobility management system.
The answer proved to be a package of solutions based around TRUCKSTOPS VRS, the vehicle routing and scheduling system from MAPMECHANICS, which is now being used for planning the movements of vehicles from day to day.
The new system also includes Mapmechanics Mobile, a suite of applications that deliver schedules automatically to each driver, as well as monitoring vehicle movements through the day and directing drivers to each call point, using Garmin satellite navigation software.
A further key component is a custom-built software application, Automated Loading System (ALS), which has been specially written by Mapmechanics. This optimises the way vehicle loading is planned for the wide variety of glass sizes, shapes and methods of packing and loading in use across Glassolutions’ operations.
One of the attractions of the Truckstops system is that there’s no emotion attached to it. It prevents people holding back delivery capacity in reserve, ‘just in case’. It will only schedule deliveries of products that we have in stock.
ALS breaks the different product types and packing methods into logical units of measure that can be interpreted and processed by Truckstops, allowing it to optimise vehicle movements in spite of the disparities in product size and shape.
Schedules from Truckstops are then passed back to ALS, which splits the orders into components to help staff load product on to the vehicles in the correct delivery sequence.
Delivery details are loaded automatically on to Intermec CN3 handheld computers supplied by Peak-Ryzex, the mobile integration specialist, which drivers take with them to guide them through their day’s deliveries. The system also produces drop reports and loading lists.
The Mapmechanics Mobile suite works in conjunction with the CN3 units, linking delivery drivers to their base. On arrival at each call point the unit relays details of the time, location and activity back to base via GPRS.
- Vehicle loading optimised whatever the mix of glass products and sizes
- Significant reduction in fleet size (from eleven vehicles to seven in trial operation)
- Reduction of 1,000 km a week distance travelled by delivery vehicles
- Saving of 100 litres a week in fuel at the initial branch
- Reduction in planning time from several hours a week to half an hour in total
- Ability to schedule vehicles using fewer vehicle planners
- Removal of emotion from the task of delivery planning
Mapmechanics worked very effectively as a collaborative partner. We have been very pleased with their proactive and supportive approach to the project.
Significant savings were soon identified with the new system. In a trial at the company’s West Midlands site in Dudley, the company found it could reduce the fleet size from eleven vehicles to seven. “That’s a saving of 1,000 km a week and 100 litres of fuel,” says transport manager Derek Crowley. The planning time was reduced from several hours to about half an hour in total. At a saving of £60,000 per vehicle, the total savings were extremely promising.
Dudley was seen as an ideal trial location, since it handles a wide product mix, including standard stock sheets, toughened glass and double glazing units. “We also found we also able to handle the vehicle planning task with one operator fewer,” Derek Crowley adds.
“One of the attractions of the Truckstops system is that there’s no emotion attached to it. It prevents people holding back delivery capacity in reserve, ‘just in case’. It will only schedule deliveries of products that we have in stock.”
IT manager Sarah Strang comments: “Mapmechanics worked very effectively as a collaborative partner. We have been very pleased with their proactive and supportive approach to the project.”
Following its successful initial implementation, the company moved on to roll out the system to more sites.