Magazine Article | December 21, 2006

GIS Improves Office Supply Company's Driver Routing

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, January 2007

Apex Office Supply is a small office supply company based in Vinton, IA. Apex delivers products, including copiers, fax machines, and general office supplies, to 1,500 customers. To accomplish this, Apex has a delivery radius of approximately 45 miles, running five routes and performing approximately 200 deliveries a day.

When Apex first started, processing orders by hand was easy. The driver manifest was printed after orders were entered into the system, and it was then up to the drivers and delivery manager to decide how to organize the deliveries. As the company grew, this process took more time and sometimes meant the orders were not delivered in the most efficient manner. Drivers had to find their way to each address, taking time out of their delivery day and wasting fuel when lost. Apex realized it needed a more effective way to deliver its products if it was going to be cost-efficient.

Apex contacted Pathfinder Logistics Solutions, Inc., an ESRI Business Partner and logistics company based in Springfield, PA, to install and integrate ESRI's GIS (geographic information system)-based routing and logistics solution — ArcLogistics Route. Apex uses the same standard office procedures to process delivery orders each day. The difference is that now, instead of placing delivery orders by hand, Apex has created a macro to run ArcLogistics Route that creates routes and manifests after the staff leaves for the day. Each night, orders are transmitted to ArcLogistics Route after they are input into the computer. Routes are created by most optimum delivery, which is the routing of multiple vehicles within a fleet, with many stops, following logical business rules for the vehicles and delivery locations. These business rules include such items as operating times, capacities, driver breaks, and operating costs. ArcLogistics Route also supports additional business rules for stops, such as order volume, time windows, service time, priority, and pre-allocation of stops to drivers. Invoices are then printed in order, along with the driving instructions for each driver's stops.

Now Apex manages the number of vehicles, overtime pay, mileage, and time spent routing, while increasing productivity. The visualization capabilities of GIS also make vital information easily accessible. Visibility of vehicle locations, activities, and costs allows the company to analyze operations quickly and accurately.

Apex has reported significant improvements and savings by using a computerized logistics software application for its delivery routing. Compared with the same time period of the previous year before using the software, the company has reduced fuel usage by 4.3%, and saved 18% in labor hours. The real power of ArcLogistics Route is shown when deliveries cannot be made on a day due to inclement weather or other unforeseen problems. Instead of laboriously rerouting all deliveries by hand, the system can easily reroute and include these deliveries in the next day's shipment.