A digital logistics planning tool developed by information technology logistics solutions company MacMobile provides a range of planning and optimisation capabilities for secondary distribution portions of supply chains, says MacMobile commercial director Andrew Dawson.
Logistics and distribution efficiency from manufacturers to the first point of distribution is well managed and controlled. The MacMobile solution provides similar planning capabilities, visibility and levels of control for the secondary leg of distribution, involving the transport of goods to retail and wholesale outlets, he explains.
The solution leverages information from mobile devices to manage vehicle fleets, routes and the delivery of goods. The devices provide location capabilities, which, with the addition of a smart back-end, helps clients to plan vehicle routes.
“Distribution logistics typically rely on the skills and knowledge of the drivers, and the solution boosts their capabilities by providing additional real-time information and resources, such as traffic updates on the conventional routes, suggested alternative routes, dispatch control, confirmation of reception of goods and automatic billing, besides others.
“A lack of consistency can be a problem in this portion of supply chains for logistics companies and manufacturers to manage. Our solution addresses this portion, which is crucial to ensure that the goods reach outlets and customers in good time and in good order,” says Dawson.
The fast-moving-consumer-goods solution can be customised to be as simple or detailed as the client requires. One of MacMobile’s large bakery clients has a 17-point vehicle-inspection checklist before a truck can be cleared to exit the dispatch yard, while drinks multinational Coca-Cola Bottling South Africa uses the solution to monitor and manage owner-driver service providers, as well as automatically generate invoices and consolidated bills for these service providers.
The location capabilities also allow for tracking, geofencing and confirmation of arrival and reception of delivery by the client.
“Geofencing would typically be done around the retailer to where the delivery must be made and, if the global positioning system coordinates of the driver’s device do not match the master data of the outlet’s location, then the client can preclude a transaction from being done. Additionally, a geofence can be as accurate as 3 m × 5m resolution, enabling clients to specify to which gate or small retail shop a driver must proceed.”
The core-cycle module enables the administrator to plan the route a driver would take, which can also include a timeframe for delivery. If the delivery does not arrive within a specified timeframe, with assumptions of some delays, then a deviation message can be sent to the administrator.
Conversely, the solution also enables planners to identify when a delivery will not arrive in time, and a record of the causes of the delay, such as traffic congestion, mechanical breakdowns or road closures, is made at the time to ensure that disputes can be handled efficiently and/or mitigation measures instituted.
“Once the information, such as a new route or a new delivery location, is in the system, our solution can measure and manage it according to enterprise-grade standards,” says Dawson.
The solution integrates seamlessly with preorder and sales systems, and the information from these systems is sent to the back-end to allow for route planning and optimisation.
The system also allows for the packing order of a selected truck to be managed. An order administrator can select a truck size for the delivery and the route. This control cascades down to the picking and packing, including the format in which a consignment of goods – such as six-packs or a crates of cooldrinks – should be packed. The driver is then notified on the mobile device when he or she has to go to a specific loading bay.
“The solution allows for meticulous planning to ensure high productivity and efficiency of retail delivery,” he concludes.