Route optimization helps CPL streamline solid fuel deliveries

The Challenge

  • Coping with major scheduling peaks at busy times of year
  • Planning deliveries more flexibly to meet varying service-level requirements efficiently
  • Spreading delivery demands more evenly between neighbouring depots
  • Integrating delivery schedules with the Microlise telematics system used by drivers

Using Truckstops has made our deliveries much more efficient and has also provided a solid basis for testing new ways to streamline our operations.

CPL Distribution, a division of CPL Industries, is a leading UK-based supplier of solid fuel to retailers and consumers. Its products include smokeless fuels, house coal, logs and charcoal for barbecues.

The company delivers from depots at strategic locations throughout England and Wales, using a fleet of delivery trucks of various sizes, which is augmented during the peak winter season.

Historically, vehicles were scheduled manually at depot level, but as operations director Graham Hughes points out, “This was just about sustainable with 120 or more orders a day, but presented a major challenge during peaks, when the order volume could increase dramatically.” Consequently, he says, lead times were suffering.CPL Distribution benefit from truck routing and scheduling

The company was also keen to establish a more flexible way of planning deliveries – one that would take account of the service-level agreements and delivery promise applying to different products and customer groups.

Members of the CPL team were aware of the benefits of routing and scheduling from experience in the oil industry, and decided to apply the same concept to their business.

The solution

  • The TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling optimization solution from Mapmechanics
  • Use of Truckstops “eco-mode” operation to prioritize schedules according to SLAs
  • Integration of Truckstops’ scheduling data with the Microlise telematics system

We couldn’t have looked at these new ideas without first introducing Truckstops to make sure that our existing delivery operation was as efficient as we could make it.

CPL chose the Truckstops routing and scheduling optimization system from Mapmechanics, and initially they introduced it at two depots – Chessington and Widford, in different parts of the South East – where it is now used daily on a dynamic basis to schedule deliveries for the following day.

The system is the first from Mapmechanics to work in conjunction with the Microlise telematics system. Orders are pulled from CPL’s main Perito Enterprise Resource Planning suite from Equinity ICS, and are scheduled by Truckstops and then transfered wirelessly to Intermec CM50 rugged handheld computers carried by the drivers.

The Microlise software on these devices presents details of each delivery to the driver in turn, and also guides them to each destination, using integrated CoPilot satellite navigation software from ALK Technologies.

A special database-driven module was developed to extract the data from Perito and feed it to Truckstops in a suitable form. When deliveries have been made, data captured by the Microlise system is passed back to Perito for invoicing or other processing.

The application marks the development of a special way of using Truckstops that has been nicknamed “eco mode”. This allows the operator to apply different prioritization to deliveries – for instance, efficiency, lead time and cost – according to service-level agreements and delivery promise.

The benefits

  • Reduced delivery cost and increased efficiency
  • Opportunity to centralize deliveries involving more than one depot
  • Prioritization of deliveries by efficiency, lead time or cost
  • Ability to trial new concepts in pursuit of further delivery efficiencies

Even in the initial trial, we soon realised that deliveries handled by one of the depots could be made more efficiently by another one.

Truckstops is now helping CPL to centralize delivery planning, reduce delivery cost, and trial new concepts.

One of the key gains from the system has been the opportunity to schedule deliveries from several depots together. “Even in the initial trial,” says Graham Hughes, “we soon realised that deliveries handled by one of the depots could be made more efficiently by another one.”

“Using Truckstops has made our deliveries much more efficient,” he says, “and has also provided a solid basis for testing new ways to streamline our operations.”

Looking ahead, he says Truckstops has also paved the way for experimenting with further efficiency measures.

“We couldn’t have looked at these new ideas without first introducing Truckstops to make sure that our existing delivery operation was as efficient as we could make it.”