Fresh Logistics, a specialist temperature-controlled courier operating a 24/7 service from depots in Derby, Wembley and Manchester has, over the last 12 years, continually invested in the latest technology – and has been rewarded with numerous awards in that time as multiple winner of the ‘Refrigerated Courier of the Year’ plus others for innovation.
Working with a wide range of clients, from international manufacturers through to smaller, artisan producers for the food, drink, pharmaceutical, healthcare, carbon fibre and related industries.
Despite being an integral part of the UK’s supply chain, the small and medium-sized courier industry as a whole has been slow to embrace advances in logistics technology – and as a result have struggled with its image compared to other sectors.
Oli Saffell, Business Development Director at Fresh Logistics said:
“Within the industry there has traditionally been a heavy reliance on paperwork and old-fashioned routing, planning and communication. We still see many of our customers and partners physically writing job sheets for drivers and relying on regular calls to find out updates.”
With such a wide variety of work and client requirements, Fresh Logistics needs to plan, manage, and communicate complex information and data across the business and out to both suppliers and customers.
Meeting the specific needs for temperature-controlled logistics
Although Fresh Logistics had a transport planning system in place, it was becoming dated and inflexible to both their and the industry’s changing needs.
Their system was limited to just driver management and route planning, so Fresh Logistics needed to employ various other systems to manage other parts of the operation in parallel.
In fact, they ran five different products to service their clients and remain compliant, which was completely inefficient from a time, cost, and training perspective.
After identifying the need for a new transport management system to meet the requirements of their current customers and add other services to their operation, Fresh Logistics put together a list of requirements and went out to tender.
‘Stream was selected as our preferred solution as it met the majority of our requirements. The team at Stream were also prepared to work with us to develop additional features to their platform to meet our operational needs. Stream provides us with an in-depth driver management and route optimisation function, whereby all the information we have stored for each driver can be added. It can then apply the appropriate restrictions so that, for example, a van driver can’t be allocated to a 7.5t vehicle during the route planning process. The same goes for someone who has holiday booked. We are required to specifically train our drivers with both Food Hygiene Level 2 and GDP (Good Distribution Practice) for the pharmaceutical logistics side. Stream has the signed forms uploaded and sets a reminder when they expire to have the next set of updated training ready.’
Fresh Logistics also takes advantage of Stream’s fleet management features. In a similar way to preventing the allocation of drivers to vehicles they don’t have the required licence for, Stream prevents the overloading of vehicles during the route planning stage and ensures vehicles are unable to be allocated if it is scheduled for maintenance.
‘Across our entire fleet, each vehicle’s maintenance schedule is listed along with when it expires, so both the compliance and transport teams can quickly identify when bookings are required weeks in advance. Not only ensuring that the maintenance schedule is adhered to but that the operational side of the business can see ahead to plan vehicle utilisation in conjunction with the maintenance schedule. Historical data is equally important and the system fully complies with DVSA guidelines. Our pre-work vehicle checks are performed by the drivers through their app at the start of every shift. This then relays straight back to Stream and, should there be any major issues, will not allow the driver to depart until the fault is examined and, if rectified, signed off by a manager as usable, if not the planning team need to make alternate arrangements.’
Managing complex logistics requirements
As Fresh Logistics price every job on an individual basis and don’t provide customers with a ‘drop rate’, they needed a pricing engine that covered all their different job scenarios and calculations. Stream has replaced the long winded process of quoting jobs using Google Maps or on estimated hours.
‘We now have customers call for complicated quotes and have been wowed by how we can now provide these over the phone at the time of asking.’
Each order captures information that is specific to the needs of Fresh Logistics. Orders can’t be confirmed and saved until critical information is contained, including:
- Temperature settings
- Reference numbers
- Specific collection or delivery details
- Which of our depot(s) it’s priced from
- Number of pallet
- Required dates and times.
Fresh Logistics start putting their delivery and collection routes together weeks in advance, allocating specific drivers or vehicles for particular jobs.
Stream enables them to plan and execute large scale multi-drop routes, planning at the touch of a button. Any deliveries or collections which fall outside required times are flagged for the transport planning team to manipulate. Routes can be amended and re-optimised any number of times right up to the point of departure – and during the driver’s route.
Each driver’s progress is tracked and monitored by the transport team. Stream’s Progress Monitor tool has also proved to be a valuable proactive customer service feature:
‘If a vehicle is going to arrive 15 minutes late at either a collection or delivery then the job will flash in red and give everyone on shift notice that they need to inform the client.’
Delivering exceptional customer service
Stream has helped Fresh Logistics to enhance their already exceptional customer service.
Each customer is provided with access to a secure portal, where they can view historic job details and current job progress.
‘We aim to provide the most transparent and proactive service possible, this has completely revolutionised our ability to provide real-time data to our clients, but we still monitor each vehicle closely to ensure we can react to any unforeseen circumstance. We are regularly lauded by our customers when we have five or six vehicles out on multi-drop routes and they call us to check on their progress. The instant feedback on progress, along with ETA’s to their next deliveries, or rescheduling of routes on the fly and within a single call has proven to be extremely beneficial. Some of our competitors, and even customers, still need to phone each driver individually to then relay the information 10-15 minutes later. There are even still companies out there relying on the “no news is good news method”, so Stream truly gives us the edge on both a customer service perspective but also through saving time to make each call.’
Stream combines all the information captured during the order to delivery process into a ‘job screen visual for customers’. This shows each arrival time, departure time, signature, and name, plus any further information or pictures at each drop.
Weekly cost reports are also produced by Stream for each customer, to allow Fresh Logistics to request a purchase order with each customer’s deliveries listed, the delivery time and signature noted for their information, so once accepted and added the system produces invoices at the touch of a button and is fully integrated with Sage.
Delivering during adverse business conditions
Extreme flooding in late 2019 brought Stream’s cloud-based capabilities into sharp focus. Not only did 75% of their fleet receive flood damage, Fresh Logistics’ main depot site was inaccessible for three days.
Not only was Stream available to everyone through its web-based interface, Fresh Logistics were able to operate remotely with a minimum of disruption under the circumstances.
As well as the ‘normal’ ePODs captured through Stream’s mobile app, Fresh Logistics asked their drivers to take pictures of any additional physical paperwork for each customer to access through Stream’s portal.
Drivers, where possible, kept their vehicles at home or a nearby location, so Fresh Logistics were able to future allocate to ensure the vehicles were not assigned elsewhere. Advanced route planning was needed, with adjusted timing schedules sent to each customer in an attempt to accommodate as much work as possible on their own vehicles.
Although extremely difficult at the time, it did prove to be a rehearsal for coping with COVID-19:
‘If there was any positive to come from the flooding, it was the fact that it acted as a trial run for COVID-19. The team was fully rehearsed in managing our transport operation from home and our drivers knew exactly how to adapt to prevent spreading potentially contaminated items using ePOD photos. Of course, there have been many other changes we have needed to put in place, but we know we can react to unforeseen, major circumstances that require the agility to adapt fast’.
During the pandemic, Fresh Logistics were able to shift the emphasis of their service to support home deliveries. Following government guidelines, they were unable to get a physical signature on the drivers’ app. They were able to adapt and take a picture of the item they delivered outside of each location instead, then knock, wait for the door to be answered and verbally take the name of the person receiving the parcel.