DX Freight – Two-man home delivery optimization

The challenge

  • Enhancing customer service by predicting narrower home delivery time windows
  • Improving efficiency by scheduling two-man deliveries on a national basis
  • Building schedules in advance, with provision to add next-day deliveries the day before
  • Taking account of known delivery restrictions in specific locations
  • Varying planned stop times according to the type of product being delivered

Our recently introduced three-hour delivery time window is really working well, and the accuracy is down to Truckstops.

DX Freight (formerly Nightfreight), the national express delivery and supply-chain specialist in the DX group, is one of the UK market leaders in two-man home delivery, working for major retailers such as John Lewis. Through its specialist Deliver2Home service, it handles anything from soft furnishings to white and brown goods, television sets, kitchens and bathrooms, sheds and garden furniture. Deliveries are made with its own fleet of vehicles – mostly 7.5-tonne MAN rigid trucks with tail-lifts – from 25 depots of its 50 around the country.DX Freight - Two-man home delivery optimisation

The company was one of the first in its field to offer consumers a choice of am or pm deliveries, supported by text alerting; but the management team wanted to improve customer service further by predicting delivery times more precisely. This would make it possible to offer tighter delivery time windows to customers, reducing the length of time recipients had to wait in for deliveries.

At the same time, DX Freight wanted to improve operational efficiency by scheduling home deliveries on a national basis, optimizing the use of resources.

The team was also keen to establish more precise delivery times for different types of product and environment, so that the planning system could reflect these in schedules to enhance efficiency.

The solution

  • The TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling optimization system from Mapmechanics
  • Integration with DX Freight’s existing order management system
  • Fully configurable stops times reflecting data gathered from DX Freight’s POD system

Since introducing Truckstops routing and scheduling we’ve become increasingly confident about predicting delivery times.

The TruckStops routing and scheduling optimization system from Mapmechanics provided the solution.

Under the DX Freight system, consumer orders are placed either in stores or online, and are then aggregated into delivery rounds. As orders are entered into the DX Freight’s system, “virtual” delivery rounds are built up progressively for future dates, using the consumer’s postcode as the basis for each route.

Data from the Truckstops routing and scheduling optimization system now indicates initial fleet availability. Then on the afternoon before each set of deliveries, the data is fed into the system to do the actual scheduling. Deliveries are then allocated to individual vehicles, spreading the load across the fleet for maximum efficiency.

DX Freight’s planners fine-tune the proposed routes manually – a capability specially built into the Truckstops system. This is necessary to ensure there is enough capacity for next-day deliveries, which are still an unknown quantity when the virtual rounds are being created.

Finally the data is passed back to the DX Freight system, and consumers are automatically sent a text or email to inform them of the expected delivery time window.

Truckstops respects delivery restrictions captured from DX Freight’s own software – for instance, taking account of areas with known delivery problems or other factors affecting the delivery process.

Truckstops can also take account of the time it takes to deliver different products. Nightfreight drivers are now using their handheld proof-of-delivery data terminals to measure dwell times on site for various consignment types, and this information is being used by Truckstops.

The benefits

  • Confidence to predict delivery times within three hours at the most
  • Ability to schedule deliveries nationally, optimizing the use of resources
  • Provision to build schedules that take account of known delivery issues
  • Opportunity to vary delivery times according to real-world data gathered by drivers

We no longer have to rely on average delivery time estimates – we can plan true delivery times. We might for instance allocate 14 minutes for delivering a sofa, and so on.

“Since introducing Truckstops routing and scheduling we’ve become increasingly confident about predicting delivery times,” says Deliver2Home director Paul Tyson. “Our recently-introduced three-hour delivery time window is really working well, and the accuracy is down to Truckstops.

“In the past we offered deliveries between 7am and 1pm, or between 12.30pm and 6pm. Since introducing Truckstops, we have become confident enough to tell consumers to expect us between 9.30 and 12.30.”

Not only can more precise delivery time windows now be offered to customers, he says; the planning and interaction can also be handled on a national basis, optimizing the use of vehicles and personnel. The company has also improved efficiency by maximizing the number of deliveries each vehicle can make per trip.

Moreover, he says Truckstops is producing increasingly accurate delivery schedules over time by taking account of the delivery times gathered by the drivers. “We no longer have to rely on average delivery time estimates – we can plan true delivery times. We might for instance allocate 14 minutes for delivering a sofa, and so on.”

It might eventually be possible to offer even narrower time windows, he says, once sufficient experience has been built up.