Overview of the successful deployment of Descartes’ route planning solution for one of the largest food and confectionery manufacturers in the world.

The company is a family-owned company which was founded in 1911, generating annual revenues of over $30 billion. The company and its associated operations employ over 70,000 people. These people are located at more than 300 sites, which include 130 factories, in 75 countries worldwide. Established in the Middle East in 1993, our regional client invested further in 1998 through the construction of their Dubai factory, which continues to expand and complete their range of world-renowned chocolates for the region in a state-of-the-art chocolate molding plant.


High levels of sustained growth over the last decades in the region have resulted in declining service levels in many industries. Under these circumstances, high service levels become a key differentiator in achieving competitive advantage and are directly related to a company’s sustainability in the long term.

The company identified the need to optimize the service levels and efficiencies of field sales in general, and chose to start with two of their distributors, one located in Dubai and the other in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two operations utilized a combined total of 56 vehicles.

The objectives were threefold;

  • to improve service to retailers
  • to control costs
  • to improve productivity


The company’ sought to implement an intelligent analysis and planning of their route logistics as the means to promote visibility, flexibility and responsiveness. With the right software solution, the company believed this would lead to a reduction in costs, improvement in service levels and productivity, and thereby to improvements in profitability.

The company contracted Hala Supply Chain Services, a Descartes authorized reseller, to implement Descartes routing solutions in their trial area, Dubai. The Descartes route planning solution is a unique service that bases its processes on multi-level GPS maps of GCC cities. These high quality digital maps of main Middle Eastern cities include road type, direction, distance, speed and street address.

To ensure maximum and continuous fuel reducing and time saving capabilities, Hala Supply Chain Services designed the road maps to be operational. This means that the company’s distributors are able to remain cognizant of traffic congestion, new roads and the construction associated with the rapid development, and the changing patterns of customer demand. These factors are vital in ensuring the company’s distributors achieve outstanding service, maximize cost benefits, and increase management control.


Over the last 9 months, the software has been implemented in 16 different channels (fleet management optimization exercises) across 3 major cities on a total of 68 vehicles. The implementation of this system by the company has led to several major gains for the company in a very short space of time.

The figures below are the results achieved in just one city only one and a half months after implementation:

  • Total kilometer savings of 47%
  •  Reduction in the average total distance travelled per route of almost 50%
  • An increase in customers of 13%
  • A 19% increase in time spent at customers
  • A 9% increase in volumes delivered
  • An 11% increase in the number of times customers were visited

While savings in fuel and maintenance costs contribute directly to improving the bottom line, scheduling more time to spend with customers is fundamental to improving service and display levels - a major determinant of sales growth. It also implies an opportunity to spend more time growing the customer base.