Micronclean Achieves Considerable Savings With Truckstops Vehicle Routing and Scheduling System.

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By re-optimising its delivery and collection operations with the latest version of the TRUCKSTOPS VRS (vehicle routing and scheduling system) from MAPMECHANICS, cleanroom laundry specialist Micronclean has been able to achieve savings of around £50,000 a year in its delivery network.

Despite reviewing the delivery day or time for up to 1,000 clients, Truckstops has been able to re-optimise the vast majority of visits without changing the delivery day. “There were just twenty-five instances where Truckstops suggested a different day,” says group transport and logistics manager James Bell, “and in all cases, when we explained the situation to our customers, they were happy to accept the day change.”

Truckstops is one of the world’s most widely-used vehicle routing and scheduling system. It can be used either for periodic fixed-route optimisation, which is how Micronclean applies it, or for dynamic day-to-day scheduling. It can be set up to take account of requirements to observe specific time windows or delivery days, but can also show where improvements could be achieved if these parameters were overridden.

“Our customers require visits on a regular basis – for instance, once a day, every few days or once a week – and they get accustomed to a fixed pattern of calls,” James Bell explains, “so we prefer not to change our schedules too often. But we aim to re-optimise the whole operation periodically to ensure we remain efficient.”

Micronclean specialises in cleaning garments to extremely high standards for use in food processing, catering and cleanroom manufacturing environments (for instance, in the computer industry). It also supplies a range of consumables such as cleaning fluids and sprays, wipes, sterile gloves, caps and facemasks.

The company serves a large part of the country from modern factory premises in three Lincolnshire locations – Skegness, Grantham and Louth. Its 35-strong truck and van fleet delivers direct from Lincolnshire, and also trunks product to outbases in Manchester and Letchworth (Hertfordshire) for onward delivery from there. Large rigid trucks and drawbar trailers are used for trunking, while local deliveries are mostly made with Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans.

“Four years ago, when we carried out a major revision of our delivery patterns, Truckstops played an essential role,” says James Bell. “By modelling alternative delivery scenarios, we were able to reduce our fleet significantly, and we also determined that we needed a depot in southern England.” Following that exercise, the Letchworth base was set up.

The availability of the latest version 20 of TruckStops has proved the catalyst for the latest re-optimisation. “It’s streets ahead of the previous version,” says James. “The interface is more modern, and there are huge benefits in usability and functionality.”

He singles out a feature that was created with Micronclean’s needs specifically in mind. “The ‘Rebuild Schedule’ capability in Truckstops 20 enables us to upload existing route patterns in spreadsheet form, which is much easier than having to define them from scratch.”

Although the handful of customers whose delivery day was changed following the latest optimisation were happy to accept this, James Bell says a small number of other customers initially had reservations about changes to the timing of their deliveries. “Although we’re not contracted to meet specific time windows, we like to respect customer preferences if we can.”

Truckstops was therefore used again to re-optimise and fine-tune some of the proposed new routes, taking account of time window preferences where possible. “Happily we were able to come up with a solution that satisfied our customers without involving further significant changes to the new route patterns, so we were able to preserve the efficiency gains we had achieved.”

James Bell says Truckstops 20 is particularly well equipped to interact with Micronclean’s Masternaut vehicle tracking system. “We’ve been developing a system that allows us to compare real-world delivery performance against the Truckstops plan, and refine our operations over time according to the findings.” Now he says the company is working on a “live dashboard” system for the customer care office, showing staff the progress of vehicles on their journeys in real time, and enabling them to give an accurate estimate of delivery times further along the route.

“Truckstops 20 is a whole leap forward from our previous version,” he says. “Its added features and customisability are invaluable. I can’t rate it highly enough.”

About TRUCKSTOPS from MAPMECHANICS    

  • TRUCKSTOPS is a division of MAPMECHANICS, the experts in map based technologies and geographic data. The company has over 25 years’ experience in helping companies use a wide range of routing, territory management and map based analysis, to efficiently grow their businesses, while saving money, reducing costs and improving customer service.
  • The TRUCKSTOPS division of MAPMECHANICS specialises in using powerful logistics solutions to make complex optimisation simple for the user, whatever the scenario. Customer operations may, for instance, be multi-drop, full loads, part loads, daily scheduling, fixed routes, collect and deliver, require specialist driver skills for specific calls, specific vehicle features such as tail lifts or multi-temperature compartments, single day or multiday, single depot or multi-depot.
  • MAPMECHANICS writes, distributes and fully support TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling solutions and OPTISITE site location and territory management software.

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Zoe Fowke
@TruckStopsMM
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