PDQ Transport – UK Nationwide plant delivery

The challenge

  • Providing a consistently reliable plant delivery service without an in-house fleet
  • Scheduling outsourced vehicles to deliver according to promise
  • Planning local and distant deliveries according to different operating requirements
  • Coping with fluctuating work loads in the course of each week

Truckstops is absolutely essential to our operation. I simply couldn’t run the business without it.

Cheshire-based PDQ Transport specializes in supplying plants to garden centres. It buys them from growers in the UK and overseas, consolidates them at its depot at Chelford, then delivers them to customers around the UK. Turnround time at the depot is usually no more than a day or two.

The company has built its reputation on its high standard of service. “We don’t compete with the big companies in our field,” says managing director Peter Rawlinson. “We appeal to smaller customers, and take pride delivering on our promise.”Transport operator schedules third-party vehicles with 'essential' system

However, fulfilling that promise poses a special challenge for PDQ, since unlike others in its market, the company handles deliveries without running any vehicles of its own. Instead, it uses regular transport contractors in its own area, and supplements their resources with vehicles from hauliers in distant locations, usually reloading them after they have made deliveries in the area.

This meant the company needed a planning system that could schedule deliveries by third-party carriers as effectively as if they were being operated in-house – whether the loads  were being delivered locally or at the other end of the country.

The solution

  • The multi-depot, ad hoc scheduling ability of the TRUCKSTOPS VRS routing and scheduling system
  • Scheduling local deliveries in detail, while simply allocating long-distance journeys to appropriate carriers

The system has paid for itself time and time again. If anything, it’s even more important to us now than it was when we started up.

The Truckstops vehicle routing and scheduling optimization system from Mapmechanics provided the perfect solution. Businesses use it both for periodic revision of fixed routes, and for ad hoc scheduling of deliveries that change from day to day. While most TruckstopsS users run a high proportion of their own vehicles, PDQ has discovered that the system is equally appropriate for an operation that is entirely outsourced.

This is because Truckstops has an inherent ability to handle multi-depot scheduling and third-party transport movements, and to plan movements where a vehicle starts somewhere other than at its home base.

For operators using some in-house vehicles and some contracted vehicles, Truckstops can even compare the costs of handling each consignment in-house with contracting it out.

PDQ was particularly attracted to Truckstops’ ability to vary its approach to scheduling according to whether vehicles are delivering locally or much further afield. This meant the system could produce detailed schedules for locally-based vehicles, but for distant destinations it could just indicate which loads to allocate to which vehicles, leaving their operators to determine how to arrange the deliveries.

The benefits

  • Ability to run a specialist transport business without any company operated vehicles
  • Flexibility to match delivery resources to work load and demand
  • Tight control of delivery operations
  • Rapid and complete return on investment

It streamlines everything, quite honestly, I’d be lost without it.

Truckstops now plays an essential role in PDQ’s operations, helping the company to schedule deliveries efficiently. “It streamlines everything,” Peter Rawlinson says. “Quite honestly, I’d be lost without it.”

With the vehicles belonging to regular local contractors, Truckstops actually schedules the routes on a stop-by-stop basis in the classic way, Peter Rawlinson says. “It’s just like scheduling a fleet of our own.”

Vehicles from distant locations such as the south coast, East Anglia and Scotland generally take the plants directly back to their own base, where they are consolidated with other traffic for delivering within their area the next day. “Some trunk vehicles do make deliveries on their way home if it happens to be convenient, but that’s decided by the operators on an ad hoc basis.”

Peter Rawlinson concludes: “Truckstops is absolutely essential to our operation. I simply couldn’t run the business without it. The system has paid for itself time and time again. If anything, it’s even more important to us now than it was when we started up.”