Sapa speeds delivery planning, enhances service with Truckstops-Truckcom integration

The challenge

Sapa Building Systems, a leading developer and supplier of aluminium products and accessories for windows, doors and facades, distributes its products throughout south and central Britain (as for north as Manchester) from its Tewkesbury factory and warehouse, using a fleet of 18-tonne rigid trucks and demountable-body wagon-and-drawbar outfits.

Truckstops routing and scheduling reduces fleet size but operates as a standalone system

The company started using the TRUCKSTOPS VRS (vehicle routing and scheduling) system some years ago to optimise its daily delivery operations, and was subsequently able to reduce its UK delivery fleet from 15 vehicles to 11 through much more efficient country-wide daily scheduling. Since then Sapa has periodically re-optimised its network operations with TRUCKSTOPS, and has succeeded in further reducing its fleet – even though the company now delivers more product than in those early days.

Truckstops routing and Truckcom tracking not integrated

For the past four years Sapa has also been a keen user of Truckcom, one of the longest-established systems for tracking and managing activities such as deliveries and drivers’ vehicle safety checks via Android- or iPhone-based smartphones or handsets. This is developed and supplied by Truckcom Systems.

However, TRUCKSTOPS and Truckcom were run by Sapa as separate systems, and it took the company up to a day a week to transfer data between them. Sapa wanted to integrate them more closely, while at the same time taking advantage of other advances in the latest version of TRUCKSTOPS. It also wanted to make better use of the data captured by Truckcom in its customer services department.

The solution

Following a meeting between Mapmechanics and Truckcom, the two companies developed a solution that met Sapa’s requirements in full. It takes advantage of the advanced integration features in the latest version 20 of TRUCKSTOPS, and is now available to any user of the two systems.

Truckcom Integration now option available to all Truckstops/Truckcom users

A key feature of the new system is a dedicated “Export to Truckcom” button within TRUCKSTOPS that outputs planned routes directly to Truckcom. This capability is provided by web services – an arrangement that works well with Truckcom, which itself is now web-based.

Real-time view of delivery progress during the day

Truckcom has also added the ability to recalculate the likely time of arrival of each vehicle at its next stop repeatedly through the day, using the real-time data about its current location. This not only helps Sapa planners, but has also made it possible to install a 40in monitor on the wall of Sapa’s customer services department, providing a real-time view of delivery progress through the day.

Closer integration with ERP

TRUCKSTOPS now also has closer links with Sapa’s Movex enterprise resource planning system. Orders are imported directly from Movex to TRUCKSTOPS, and then completed schedules are output back to Movex.

The updated system has streamlined and speeded up Sapa’s UK delivery planning process, enhanced customer service and improved the flexibility of its operational planning….

The benefits

  • Most efficient daily delivery scheduling so far with the latest version of TRUCKSTOPS
  • Fast, easy output of scheduling data to Truckcom mobile driver management system
  • Generation of picking lists in correct loading order through TRUCKSTOPS -Movex integration
  • ‘ETA’ feature with real-time progress display helps planning and customer service
  • Provision for further periodic strategic delivery network reviews with TRUCKSTOPS

“It proved a good idea from day one. For instance, we can refresh our schedule on our phone at any time so that it takes account of any changes made at the office in the course of the day.”

The updated system has streamlined and speeded up Sapa’s UK delivery planning process, enhanced customer service and improved the flexibility of its operational planning, as well as reducing the fleet to its lowest level yet – just six vehicles. Sapa’s transport planner, Marek Domagalski, reports: “As a result of this change, the job of sending TRUCKSTOPS routes to Truckcom has been cut from an hour to just a few minutes.”

The availability of real-time delivery information has proved invaluable in the delivery planning office. “If we can see that there are delays, we can take appropriate action,” he says.

The new system also helps drivers. One driver, Mike Wigfield, comments: “It proved a good idea from day one. For instance, we can refresh our schedule on our phone at any time so that it takes account of any changes made at the office in the course of the day.”

The customer services department has benefited through having constantly-updated details on the estimated time of its arrival of each vehicle at its next destination. “Knowing the likely time of arrival allows agents to inform customers of any issues, and reassure them that the delivery is on the way,” Marek says.

The tighter integration of TRUCKSTOPS with Sapa’s Movex ERP system has also brought benefits, since Movex can now generate warehouse picking lists in which product is automatically selected for loading on vehicles in reverse order of deliveries.