Philadelphia-based convenience store chain Wawa, Inc. has a history that spans more than two centuries. Originally a textile supplier in the 1800’s, by the turn of the century it began operations as a provider of home delivery services for milk products. In 1964 the launch of the first Wawa Food Markets store marked the beginning of the Wawa chain, a provider of fresh produce, ready-to-go salads and deli products to customers in five states in the US.
Today the Wawa family includes more than 1,500 convenience stores and 13,000 associates and wholesale customers (schools, hospitals and nursing homes) across five states. Wawa offers a large selection of food items that includes its award-winning freshly brewed coffee, and Wawa branded dairy products, juices and iced tea beverages.
Wawa uses a private fleet to manage deliveries for its direct distribution operations (all other delivery functions are managed by third-party providers). Its fleet includes 40 twenty-foot trucks, 65 tractors and 80 trailers. Store deliveries range from two to four times a week on a fixed schedule depending on location, with a two-hour time window allowance.
As a high-end convenience store chain, Wawa has unique fleet management challenges. For example, deliveries cannot be made between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and drivers must also reach their destinations within two-hour time windows.
As its delivery network grew however, it became a constant challenge for Wawa to ensure that deliveries were reaching their destinations within designated time windows. Wawa knew that it needed to find more efficient ways to track its drivers, allocate resources and optimize capacity utilization to maintain margins and reduce fuel costs without compromising quality of service.
“As a high-end convenience store and producer with a distribution network that spans five states, having up-to-the minute information on driver and fleet management activities is critical to maintaining high levels of customer service,” said Don Kane, Distribution Manager at Wawa.
Wawa realized that not all of its drivers were following the planned routes and in some cases were by-passing stops. “Since drivers were paid hourly, we wanted to have a better sense of where they were and what they were doing,” adds Kane. To truly understand whether drivers were following planned routes and making the scheduled stops on time, Wawa needed real-time visibility into the delivery activities throughout the day. This would enable them to save supply chain costs relating to added miles and overtime hours, as well as maximize existing resources while minimizing the impact of delays and exceptions on route.
Wawa decided to leverage its long-established relationship with Descartes by implementing Descartes Automated Vehicle Locator™ (AVL) service into its direct distribution operations. “We’ve had so many years of success with Descartes route planning and route execution solutions, that when we wanted to integrate AVL functions into our supply chain operations, Descartes was the natural choice,” Kane explains.
The Descartes AVL solution, which is part of the Descartes Routing, Mobile & Telematics suite, provides a web-based view of real-time information on delivery arrivals at distribution centers or hubs, enabling dispatchers to adapt routes quickly and efficiently according to exceptions. The AVL software also features a wireless application that uses GPS tracking capabilities to provide real-time data on driver progress against established route plans and enable on-the-spot decision making to meet customer commitments.
By integrating Descartes Automated Vehicle Locator with the existing Descartes route planning solution, Wawa has improved security; is better able to manage driver salaries and overtime by building highly effective, balanced routes and tracking them; and has introduced the ability to compare planned versus actual truck locations. It has also been able to increase capacity utilization to 90% (the 10% spare capacity is required to accommodate last minute deliveries).
In addition, customer service representatives can now access the system and inform customers on the status of their deliveries in real time. “Before, customer support was calling the dispatcher at least 10 times a day, on average, to find out the status of a delivery – and that was on a good day,” said Kane. “You can imagine how many more customer calls would come in if there was a truck breakdown or a major accident delay. With the new system, customer support can be proactive and answer the questions to any inbound calls on the spot.”
The Descartes solution can also be scaled as Wawa continues to expand its delivery operations. “We can easily put new drivers on the road or on new routes,” explains Kane. He adds that the stores can also benefit from the implementation. “The beauty of this system is, because we charge the stores for delivery costs, they get to enjoy the savings too.”
Wawa now has greater visibility into whether hourly-paid drivers are following planned routes and making the scheduled stops. Having this level of visibility empowers them to save significant costs relating to added miles and overtime hours, among other areas.