Cormar Carpets – Delivery planning and optimization

The challenge

  • Optimizing deliveries to achieve more drops per vehicle
  • Switching from fixed-route to dynamic scheduling to reflect daily demand
  • Using multi-depot scheduling to avoid the need to allocate customers to depots
  • Respecting delivery time windows applied by smaller retailers
  • Providing the bedrock for Cormar’s wide-ranging Perfect Order project

It worked out of the box, yet was powerful and easy to integrate with our existing back-office computer system.

Cormar Carpets is unusual in its field, producing its range at its own factory in the UK. It sells through a large network of retailers, who include both big highstreet names and small and medium-sized retailers.

The company delivers from its factory outside Bury in Lancashire via a network of regional bases, using a fleet of demountable-body drawbar-trailer vehicles. Logistics contractor Wincanton manages the company’s fleet and provides the depot infrastructure.

In the past, Cormar allocated each customer to the nearest logical depot and scheduled deliveries manually, but logistics manager Craig Marshall describes this process as “slow and inexact”. Meanwhile, delivery volumes were rising steadily.Cormar adds drops, saves cost with TRUCKSTOPS the dynamic scheduling system

The company wanted to automate the route-planning process, and to switch from its old fixed-route arrangement to one that reflected its changing delivery requirements from day to day.

Cormar was not just seeking economies in its fleet operations; the company was also developing a much more wideranging customer service enhancement programme that it named the Perfect Order project. It became evident that streamlining the distribution system would provide the bedrock on which these further improvements could be achieved.

The solution

  • TRUCKSTOPS multi-depot vehicle routing and scheduling system
  • Integration with an existing ERP system and a real-time POD system
  • GEOXPLOIT geographic information suite for market penetration and service level analysis
  • OPTISITE network modelling system for territory planning

We are now achieving at least 98 per cent on-time delivery performance.

After reviewing several vehicle routing and scheduling optimisation products, Cormar chose Truckstops. “It worked out of the box, yet was powerful and easy to integrate with our existing back-office computer system,” Craig Marshall says. “Also it was sensibly priced.”

Initially Truckstops was used to create fixed routes that could be fine-tuned as orders built up day by day; then the company switched to using it on a fully dynamic basis, generating drop-specific journeys generated automatically for each day’s deliveries.

Truckstops’ multi-depot scheduling capability proved a key here. It meant Cormar no longer had to associate customers with a specific depot; instead, they could schedule the entire network’s deliveries at the same time, allocating drops to whichever depot and delivery route could handle them most efficiently on any given day.

A further attraction of Truckstops was its ability to respect delivery time windows. Many of Cormar’s smaller retailers can only accept deliveries at specific times. The software offered the opportunity for the company to generate optimised delivery journeys that take these into account.

The benefits

  • Drops per vehicle increased from eight or nine to thirteen
  • On-time delivery performance raised to 98 per cent
  • Order turnround times reduced from 3–5 days to 1–2 days
  • Contribution to “Perfect Order” cost savings of up to £250,000

Following these changes, Cormar was able to increase the average number of drops per load from eight or nine up to thirteen, yet improve service levels at the same time. “We are now achieving at least 98 per cent on-time delivery performance,” Craig Marshall says.

The new measures have also reduced typical order turnround times. Formerly Cormar offered delivery in three to five days, but now it can deliver within 48 hours, and often next day.

Crucially, Truckstops has been able to support other measures that make up Cormar’s Perfect Order programme. For instance, it integrates with Cormar’s backoffice ERP system, which now links wirelessly with Intermec wireless handheld terminals carried by Wincanton drivers for scanning and sign-on-screen proof of delivery gathering. The underlying Delivery Management System (DMS) from Amethyst Systems usually makes an online POD available within nine minutes.

In total, the scheme is expected to yield cost savings of around a quarter of a million pounds, as well as making it much easier and more convenient for retailers to place orders with the company.

Now Cormar is now also using other Mapmechanics products, including the Geoxploit geographic information suite and Optisite network modelling tool for functions such as market penetration analysis, territory planning and service level analysis.