“TruckStops is absolutely essential to our operation,” says proprietor Peter Rawlinson. “I simply couldn’t run the business without it.”
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PDQ buys plants from specialist growers in the UK and overseas. They are shipped to its base near Chelford in Cheshire, then PDQ consolidates them and delivers them onwards to customers around the UK. Turnround time at the depot is usually no more than a day or two at the most.
Right from the start, PDQ entrusted its transport activities to third-party companies. It uses a few regular contractors in its own area, and supplements their resources with vehicles from hauliers in distant locations, usually reloading them after they have made deliveries in the area.
TruckStops from MapMechanics is one of the UK’s best-established routing and scheduling optimisation systems. Businesses use it both for periodic revision of fixed routes, and for ad hoc scheduling of deliveries that change from day to day.
Most TruckStops users run a high proportion of their own vehicles, but PDQ has demonstrated that the system is equally appropriate for an operation that is entirely outsourced. “With the vehicles belonging to our regular local contractors, TruckStops actually schedules the routes on a stop-by-stop basis in the classic way,” Peter Rawlinson says. “It’s just like scheduling a fleet of our own.”
When it comes to vehicles belonging to distant hauliers, TruckStops is used in a different way. “You don’t have to dictate when and how these vehicles actually make the deliveries,”
He explains that vehicles from distant locations such as the south coast, East Anglia and Scotland generally take the plants directly back to their own base, where they are consolidated with other traffic for delivering within their area the next day. “Some trunk vehicles do make deliveries on their way home if it happens to be convenient, but that’s decided by the operators on an ad hoc basis.”
TruckStops is ideal for planning outsourced operations in this way, since it has an inherent ability to handle multi-depot scheduling and third-party transport movements, and to plan movements where a vehicle starts somewhere other than at its home base. Where a company uses both its own and outsourced vehicles, TruckStops can even compare the costs of handling each consignment in-house with contracting it out.
“We don’t compete with the big companies in our field,” Peter Rawlinson says. “We serve smaller customers, and we believe we appeal to them through our high service standards.” He adds that TruckStops plays an essential role, helping him to schedule deliveries efficiently. “It streamlines everything,”
PDQ operates on a relatively set weekly pattern. Garden centres tend to collate their orders at the start of the week, and PDQ imports them into TruckStops to produce the weekly schedule. Then the product is loaded on vehicles on Tuesday and Wednesday for delivery towards the end of the week. Locally-based vehicles often make two-day trips to cover their area. Currently PDQ needs around 20 delivery vehicles in all.
The company handles a wide variety of plant types – “more or less anything that will fit on a Danish trolley”, Peter Rawlinson says. Danish trolleys are the wheeled cage pallets that are in wide use in the plant business.
Remarkably, the company has no web site and has never advertised. “People hear about us by word of mouth, and like our service standards,” Peter says. “We take pride delivering on our promise. We must be doing something right.”
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MapMechanics provide innovative map based solutions. Based in the United Kingdom they have been providing software, data and consultancy for logistics and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for over twenty years.