Stewart Foodservice is a foodservice distribution company with 75 employees and over 450 customers. Its impressive roster of customers range from family owned restaurants and chains to institutional cafeterias. While Stewart Foodservice had a predominantly fixed clientele and did not experience variation in its routes, the company had no way of tracking deliveries once trucks had departed from its central distribution center in Barrie.

Challenge

Stewart Foodservice had little visibility into delivery status or changes that occurred throughout the day, including those caused by unpredictable weather conditions, customer no shows, dock waiting time, changing traffic patterns or customer delays. As a result, route planning dispatchers could not update delivery schedules or notify customers of new estimated times of arrival (ETA).

As a foodservice company that prides itself on exceptional customer service, Stewart Foodservice’s main concern was to keep its customers informed of revised ETAs. Stewart Foodservice ultimately required real-time visibility into its supply chain operations.

Solution

According to Dennis Hrytzak, Director of Finance at Stewart Foodservice, “We knew there was technology out there that could help us achieve visibility into our delivery process, but prohibitive costs kept it out of reach.” Descartes offered an affordable and practical fleet management solution. With Descartes’ subscription model, the rich functionality offered in the Descartes visibility solution would be available to Stewart Foodservice at a fraction of the price. And since the solution was available on a pay-as-you-go-basis, the financial and operational risk would be minimal, and the impact would be immediate.

Web-enabled cell phones connected mobile resources to the Descartes software and were used to capture data such as mileage and exceptions in real-time. Stewart Foodservice executives were pleased with the results. They made the decision to sign up for the Descartes solution and have not looked back since.

Results

While exceptions were previously reported at the end of the day, dispatchers now have real-time visibility to the drivers and know their exact route plan status upon arrival at each stop. This means customer service levels are high since more specific and direct answers can be given regarding ETAs or issues that might have occurred. “We can now tell our clients that the driver is two deliveries away and we can give an accurate ETA,” said Hrytzak. Another byproduct of the Descartes solution is the control aspect. “We can see, at a glance, how drivers are doing, who is delayed and who is ahead. We now know where our trucks are and for how long.”

Stewart Foodservice now has the ability to go back and check historical delivery logs. For example, if a customer has concerns that its deliveries repeatedly arrive at an incorrect time, management can go back to delivery logs, verify the information, and respond with facts. Stewart Foodservice recently added two sales reps, which will ultimately translate into more vehicles. Fortunately, the Descartes solution enables route planning dispatchers to manage increasingly more deliveries, enabling the business to grow without the need for additional resources. Looking ahead, Hrytzak believes that as the fleet grows, the Descartes visibility and route planning solution will provide a perfect upgrade path. “Descartes meets our needs and makes us look a lot more professional.” In just five months:

  • over 10% increase in driver productivity
  • average stops per vehicle increased
  • 8% increase in overall fleet capacity
  • actual service time is now within 3% of planned times