Magazine Article | May 10, 2006

Route Delivery Solution Improves Accuracy, Speed

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, May 2006

Prairie Farms Dairy is one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the Midwest. It produces a number of different fresh, cultured, and frozen dairy products that are sold in stores, schools, and other institutions throughout the Midwest region. Distribution personnel deliver the cooperative’s products directly to clients, either by order or as necessary, and monitor the stock levels of shelves at various locations.

But many of the delivery personnel employed by Prairie Farms were using outdated invoice systems to record stock levels and complete orders. The company was plagued with delivery errors and inefficiencies, resulting primarily from its continued use of either handwritten delivery invoices or aging handheld devices.

Prairie Farms integrated Apacheta’s RouteACE distribution software, which not only replaced the paper system used by a bulk of the company’s delivery personnel, but also the outdated handheld technology used on select routes. RouteACE handhelds were distributed among the deliverymen, and Prairie Farms’ personnel were trained on how to enter and quickly upload data through the RouteACE docking system.

The RouteACE software allows distribution personnel to immediately enter data regarding invoices, routes, and customers into an electronic format, eliminating the need for back office data entry personnel. During the in-store process, an accurate invoice is printed wirelessly and left behind with the customer. When deliveries are completed at the end of the day, distribution personnel return their handhelds to their docking stations within the depot, and information is immediately uploaded into the Prairie Farms host system database over wireless connections. At night, the handheld software retrieves the download for the next day’s route before the driver shows up in the morning. Prairie Farms corporate personnel can monitor deliveries, check invoices, and address any potential problems using a standard Web browser via the Apacheta ServerACE portal middleware and integration server.

“In the areas that had previously used an accounting system based on handwritten paper invoices, we have seen a drastic reduction in delivery and ordering errors,” says Mark Harris, CIO of Prairie Farms. “Overall consistency of operations has improved, and we have realized a 10% improvement in cash receipts using the cash collection module within the RouteACE application.”