Truckstops transforms fleet planning operations for Jolly Farmer

Canadian grower improves accuracy and flexibility of fleet scheduling
with Truckstops routing and scheduling optimisation

Jolly Farmer, a Canadian grower of high-quality plants, has achieved much more accurate and dependable schedules than it produced with a rival system, and can plan journeys more flexibly to take account of its distinctive operating patterns, since switching back to Truckstops vehicle routing and scheduling optimisation solution.

Truckstops is developed and marketed worldwide by a division of CACI’s Location Planning Group. It is widely used for both day-to-day planning and scheduling of the movements of vehicles and people, and for strategic planning and fixed-route optimisation.

Based at Northampton in the south-eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick, Jolly Farmer produces a wide range of young plants for the greenhouse industry and the retail trade. Its products are sold throughout Canada and the United States, and are distributed on its own vehicles to locations in the eastern parts of both countries.

Having been a long-standing user of Truckstops in the past, Jolly Farmer switched to a different system when Truckstops was sold on by its original developer, and support for it in the North American market became harder to obtain.

“The replacement system that we chose was adequate,” says traffic manager Michael Jacob, “but when we were approached by the Truckstops team and learned that the software was fully supported again in North America, we decided to make the switch back.”

He adds: “I’m very glad we did. Truckstops is way better than the system we were using before. To give an example, the old system might tell us a journey would take three hours when actually it took five, or seven hours when it actually took four. Truckstops is much more accurate.”

He says the latest version of Truckstops is also far more sophisticated and user-friendly than the old version the company used in the past. “The system has advanced by miles.”

Jolly Farmer accepts very small minimum orders of just five boxes. This means it has an unusually wide range of customers, from small retailers to large supermarket chains and garden centers. The scheduling task is correspondingly complex.

Many of the journeys run by the company’s trucks stretch over three or four days – especially those down to the south-eastern US states. For instance, the company makes regular runs to the FedEx hub in Memphis, Tennessee, and also has major customers in Oklahoma and Texas.

In the quiet season the company schedules runs for its trucks on a weekly basis, but in the busy spring season it produces schedules daily. “At that time of year, some of our trucks can make two to three trips in a week,” Michael says. “This is where Truckstops’ flexibility is particularly useful. For example, we can flag some trucks with codes that ensure they take full loads to given destinations, and are brought back in time to make subsequent trips in the same week.”

“There’s a hands-on element to this kind of scheduling, but the benefit is that we get the overall best result, rather than just scheduling the current work load in the way that might look most efficient in isolation,” he added.

All plants are distributed in refrigerated and heated trailers. Because of varying transit requirements, the company must allocate some products to specific trucks. “Truckstops is also flexible in this regard,” says Michael. “We can designate a given truck for use in a selected area.”

The number of drops on a trailer can vary widely from around 10 to as many as 30. Since all products are perishable, the key given is that no journey should take more than four days. Truckstops can be set up to ensure that this rule is observed. All vehicles in the Kenworth truck fleet have sleeper cabs, so drivers have maximum flexibility to spend the nights in the most convenient location.

Wherever possible, the company seeks backhauls to improve the economics of the operation. “We have an excellent trucking team who search digital load boards for suitable cargoes.”

Whilst the company’s 30-strong trailer fleet serves destinations on the eastern side of North America, other destinations are covered by carrier. Much of the company’s business is in the United States.

In recent years Truckstops has been establishing a strong presence in the growing industry, and now has several major North American users in this market sector. However, Michael Jacob says his company did not simply return to Truckstops through recommendation. “We examined the product, and decided independently that it was the best solution for our requirements. Its performance has already confirmed that we made the right decision.”

Paul Dawsey, logistics solutions director at CACI Limited, adds: “Our experience of working with the North American growing industry means we have an intimate knowledge of the challenges it faces. Like most of the growers we work with, Jolly Farmer has a distinctive operating pattern that needs flexibility to meet seasonal demands. Truckstops has been developed to simplify these complex and variable planning issues, improving efficiency and reducing operational costs.”

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Jolly Farmer Producst logoLocated in the beautiful Saint John River Valley of New Brunswick, Jolly Farmer operates a 10.3 acre greenhouse offering a vast selection of more than 3000 varieties of young plants, supplied and delivered to customers in both the US and Canada. As of 2013, Jolly Farmer was considered in the Top 20 Young Plant Growers of North America, ranking #14 for volume produced. Jolly Farmer operates a fleet of trucks specializing in Less than Truck Load (LTL) and Trailer Load (TL) freight into and out of the Eastern US and Eastern Maritime Provinces of Canada moving freight from as little as a few boxes to a full load.