Magazine Article | December 1, 2005


Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, December 2005

Schnuck Markets, Inc. (Schnucks) is one of the largest privately owned companies in the nation, with 103 supermarkets and pharmacies. The grocery retailer uses a fleet of more than 100 trucks to supply its stores and uses GPS (global positioning system) in its trucks to collect tracking data.

One of the drawbacks of the GPS solution, however, was dispatchers had to manually record deliveries and plan route changes using large sheets of paper, which included a grid comprising all drivers and stores. Dispatchers filled in the grid with information relevant to each driver.

Additionally, even common questions or updates such as notifying a driver about a route change and/or urgent pickup often required multiple phone calls to drivers. The lack of an integrated, automated system made it difficult to ensure timely and efficient deliveries on a consistent basis. Also, Schnucks faced cost pressure due to increasing fuel prices and other expenses.

After shopping around for a fleet management solution, Schnucks selected a solution from Agilis Systems, Inc. Using the Sprint Business Mobility Framework (SBMF), the fleet management solution features Web-based dispatching, work order management, routing, and automated call-ahead services in a single platform.

Drivers are now able to download their daily schedules and route information to their Sanyo 7200 phones. (The solution works with any phone that can be tracked using Sprint's SBMF platform.)

Dispatchers can follow drivers' progress using a Web map, which provides functions such as a real-time simultaneous view of all drivers, zoom/pan to any area, and map overlay with Sprint coverage areas. Also, it provides drivers with delivery updates in real time. If bad weather, traffic problems, or urgent customer requests require route changes, dispatchers can alert drivers via the Web-based solution. Also, after each stop, the driver confirms the delivery on the Sanyo phone, and the next Schnucks store on the driver's list is automatically notified to prepare for delivery.

Since deploying the fleet management solution, Schnucks has decreased driver idle time nearly 16% by reducing fuel usage and allowing each driver to make an additional delivery each day. Real-time route management has also decreased time previously lost to traffic and weather delays. Plus, dispatchers can prioritize and respond to customer needs immediately via the nearest available driver. The new solution is also paper-free, which Schnucks estimates will save $6 million per year.