DPD UK CEO Dwain McDonald with MT editor Steve Hobson

By 2018 DPD’s 65-strong depot network was stretched to its limits following rapid growth over seven years. With volumes up around 10% a year, it was taking longer and longer to tip around 750,000 parcels every morning and sort them into 1.7m postcodes. The result was increasingly delayed deliveries.

The problem lay within DPD’s automated system for allocating parcels to routes, which only allowed drivers to leave their depots once all inbound trailers had been tipped to ensure all parcels were loaded on designated routes.

This was producing severe bottlenecks, with up to 80 3.5-tonne vans attempted to leave depots during rush hour traffic, delaying deliveries and limiting the daily earnings of 7,000 drivers paid on a ‘per stop’ basis, as well as leaving DPD increasingly reliant on expensive agency drivers, particularly in the Christmas peak.

Rather than just building more depots, CEO Dwain McDonald challenged the company to develop a scaleable technological solution that would sweat DPD’s existing assets, increase driver productivity, pay and retention, and return service quality to a 98.5% rating.

The solution also had to reduce costs and carbon emissions and protect the company’s profit margins.

Project Quantum was launched in early 2018 with a team of 40, including DPD’s most experienced delivery drivers. The team developed new route optimisation software to speed up parcel loading and a more efficient and accurate routeing system, running on new handheld devices.

Drivers on the team played a key role in refining the postcode system, which was failing to give precise delivery points in some locations, with a different algorithm that gets the driver to the exact delivery point via the most efficient route and stores each delivery’s precise latitude-longitude data.

DPD’s 7,000 drivers are now out on the road 45 minutes earlier than before with a 56% rise in the number of parcels loaded per day.

They are also routed more efficiently, resulting in a 10.4% rise in driver productivity. In addition, CO2 emissions per parcel have fallen by 3.4%, while right-first-time deliveries have risen by 4 million per year and external courier costs have fallen by £12m.

"DPD is driven by technology which allows us to have solutions for the huge volumes that we have. It also gives us the ability to introduce customer facing innovations like our app, notifications, one-hour time slots and many others. It all stands or falls on technology so to get the recognition from MT is fantastic."

Dwain McDonald