In 2016, BC Sands was struggling to meet tight delivery windows and high demand for same-day deliveries. And these weren't ordinary deliveries—such as parcels, groceries, or appliances. The Sydney, Australia-based company supplies building and landscaping products, like mulch and, as its name indicates, sand. With more than 10,000 products, two sites, and a fleet of more than 30 trucks of varied dimensions, scheduling alone was a headache and a half (the company makes deliveries to more than 1,100 customers per week). Further complicating matters were Sydney's intricate road network and traffic congestion.
In a bid to boost operating efficiency and customer service, the company began looking at route planning and delivery solutions. After checking out the available offerings, BC Sands concluded that Waterloo, Ontario-based software developer Descartes Systems Group was the only vendor that offered all the functions it was looking for, including fleet optimization, sign-on glass capabilities, photos, the ability to send real-time delivery notifications, and visibility of the executed routes, says Mark Parsons, the company's managing director.
The solution BC Sands chose was Descartes' Route Planner solution, including the Descartes Reservations and Descartes Mobile modules. The software combines planning, execution, and comprehensive reporting to provide route optimization with fully integrated route tracking and execution via mobile devices.
Today, BC Sands uses the software's same-day optimization capabilities to book its online and phone orders directly into a dispatch schedule. Real-time status updates from GPS-tracked vehicles help ensure accurate information on availability while providing visibility into deliveries en route as well as the ability to notify customers of delivery progress. According to Parsons, BC Sands is the only landscaping and building supply company in Sydney using route planning and execution visibility software.
As for how it's all working out, BC Sands says it has seen a number of benefits. To begin with, there's accuracy. The solution ensures the right product is loaded onto the right truck, while scanning and POD (proof of delivery) ensure accurate delivery. Then there are the cost savings. By optimizing route planning and delivery with a GPS-based mobile solution, Descartes helped BC Sands enhance its fleet capacity utilization, reduce the frequency of returned loads, and minimize distance traveled and fuel usage, thereby reducing operating expenses. And finally, there are the customer benefits. BC Sands is now able to offer customers short leadtimes, flexible time-window choices, and in-full/on-time deliveries on a more consistent basis than it could in the past.
But the new solution didn't just help the company improve service and reduce logistics costs; it also opened the door to an unexpected revenue stream. Once it had the new system in place, BC Sands discovered it could leverage its newfound capabilities to earn something more substantial than customers' gratitude. To be precise, it learned that in many cases, customers placed such a high value on expedited, time-definite delivery service that they were willing to pay premium prices for the products.