Blakemore double deck

Grocery distributor AF Blakemore Logistics has slashed one million road km and reduced its fleet size by 10% by installing a dynamic routing and scheduling system from Paragon.

The logistics business is part of the AF Blakemore & Sons group, which owns the SPAR convenience store brand, and delivers food products to 978 SPAR stores across England and Wales.

Logistics manger Mark Deakin told that the move away from fixed route planning had led to better load utilisation and fewer journeys to stores from its DCs.

Deakin said:  “What we had originally was fixed routes. In essence, the same stores, delivered to at the same time every day, on the same vehicle.

"We were running with a degree of inefficiency in there, because we didn’t know what the stores’ order sizes were going to be. For example, a vehicle might go out only 80% full, so that we knew that if the volume increased, we could still fit everything on.”

In a like-for-like comparison of 12 months using fixed-route schedules versus 12 months using dynamic scheduling, the company said road miles had been significantly reduced, enabling it to cut its fleet size by 10% to 140 vehicles.

“Each store has a delivery window, and as long as we meet that, it’s fine. The system decides which vehicle will service each store on a particular day,” said Deakin.

AF Blakemore has also adopted Paragon Fleet Controller across the business, allowing it to integrate its fleet management system with route planning. This allows the company to alert customers of delivery ETAs using text messages too.

Deakin added: “This is definitely the modern way to manage wholesale distribution because staying with a fixed routing approach means you will always have an element of waste due to overcapacity in the plan and in resourcing.”