Wincanton optimises schedules and saves on bulk milk distribution

The challenge

Logistics group Wincanton operates a fleet of around 50 vehicles and 120 trailers on contract to Dairy Crest, collecting milk from 600 farms throughout the southern half of England and delivering it to dairies or manufacturing plants over a wide area of the country.

Raw milk is collected from farms by a number of different-sized tankers carrying between 14,500 and 26,000 litres each, then much of it is consolidated into larger consignments at “reload points” (local depots or other strategic locations), where it is loaded into bigger articulated tanker semi-trailers carrying up to 29,000 litres. These are trunked direct to their final destination point, usually as full loads.

Truckstops Loads has fully lived up to expectations and is now saving one or two runs a day.

Multiple route permutations

Steve Prestidge, Wincanton’s national contracts manager, explains: “We had always planned these movements manually at local level, but we run 75 to 100 direct movements a day, so it was almost impossible for our planners to consider all the possible routing permutations, or to work out which vehicles could be used economically to pick up loads on their return journeys.”Wincanton saves thousands per year with bulk delivery system

Central planning

The company also wanted to move from local to central transport planning, and needed a system that would be able to plan movements at a group-wide level.

Specialised system for full-load movements

Wincanton was already using Truckstops VRS (vehicle routing and scheduling system) as a strategic planning tool, and was keen to use something similar in an operational role to achieve efficiencies in its full-load movements. But it was aware that scheduling this work would require a specialised system suited to full-load operations.

The solution

Wincanton explained its requirements to CACI, which as it turned out was already developing a system for full-load planning. Wincanton was therefore able to contribute its extensive experience to help shape the final product.

The outcome, Truckstops LOADS, is designed specifically for scheduling full-load A to B movements of tankers, full pallet-loads or products such as aggregates, and is therefore ideal for use in trunking, tramping and other bulk movements such as Wincanton’s.

Truckstops Loads is particularly clever at working out which vehicles can be used for back loads. It can take account of whether the vehicle would have to deviate too far from its route, whether it could respect the collection time window, and ultimately whether collecting the consignment in this way would be more or less expensive than treating it as a standard outgoing load.

Truckstops Loads can schedule centrally across multiple depots, taking account of the availability of individual vehicles for successive tasks. It will respect delivery time windows and other constraints. It has the inherent ability to schedule pickups and deliveries that are interspersed on the same route. It can schedule journeys that extend over more than one day.

It can be programmed to distinguish between short visits required for a straightforward trailer swap, and longer visits involving more lengthy queuing and unloading. It can even take account of loading bay restrictions at specific delivery locations.

Once Truckstops Loads was ready, Wincanton was able to conduct field trials and feed its experience back to CACI, who then fine-tuned the system accordingly.

The benefits

  • Efficient automated A to B scheduling of full-load deliveries of bulk milk
  • Up to two runs per shift saved, reducing costs by thousands of pounds a year
  • A move from local to central transport planning of long-distance movements
  • Ability to schedule more movements as backloads, maximising use of resources
  • Opportunity to change planed journeys without rescheduling the whole fleet

It’s very easy to get new data into the system if a dairy changes its requirements at the last minute. It allows us to change part of the plan when that happens, without throwing out the whole schedule.

“Truckstops Loads has fully lived up to expectations,” Steve Prestidge says, “and is now saving one or two runs a day.” On the company’s intensive double-shifted 24-hour operation, this adds up to a saving of many thousands of pounds over a year.

Moreover, it has enabled the company to move from local to central planning, improving the efficiency of the whole process significantly.

“Truckstops Loads is particularly clever at working out which vehicles can be used for back loads,” Steve says. “It can take account of whether the vehicle would have to deviate too far from its route, whether it could respect the collection time window, and ultimately whether collecting the consignment in this way would be more or less expensive than treating it as a standard outgoing load.”

He adds. “It’s very easy to get new data into the system if a dairy changes its requirements at the last minute. It allows us to change part of the plan when that happens, without throwing out the whole schedule.”

Since implementing Truckstops Loads, Wincanton has continued to provide feedback to CACI, benefiting from further enhancements and upgrades.