Complexity in manual planning: Week in, week out, 10 of the company’s trucks make multi-day trips to the HAKAWERK unloading points. The family-run company operates many of these itself as they need to distribute washing and cleaning products as well as toiletries to the end customers at the agreed times.
The medium-sized company HAKAWERK W. Schlotz GmbH is headquartered in Waldenbuch in Baden-Württemberg, and the dispatch department plans the fleet trips from here. Until recently, this was done manually and had to be ready by Monday evening – right after the orders for the week had been received.
“Orders were recorded in relation to routes, and there were several individual orders to be taken into account for each unloading point,” recalls Gerhard Siegel, IT project manager at HAKAWERK. “Manual planning took a lot of time, and there was a lot of room for errors. This was because you couldn’t tell in advance whether a truck would be big enough for a scheduled trip, or whether its load would be too small,” says the IT project manager. On top of that, there was a shortage of drivers. It was a situation which could be optimised through system-assisted automation, with the objective of secure, time-saving and efficient vehicle dispatching.
Increasing transparency: week-long trips
Following a search for suitable route planning software, PTV Smartour was chosen. After conversations with the Karlsruhe-based company which specialises in planning, transport and traffic, visits to trade fairs and positive feedbacks from other PTV customers, Gerhard Siegel and his team were convinced: “Thanks to PTV Smartour, we save time on internal activities. Now, our sales force can accept orders until Tuesday evening and pass these to the control centre. There, the software summarises the individual orders for each unloading point into one groupage order each and schedules these across the available trucks, ensuring the best possible spread of capacity.”
Automatic route planning can still be modified manually if required. For instance, an unloading point can be assigned to a different truck from the one originally suggested if needed. If everything is ready, HAKAWERK transfers the finalised routes onto the TomTom navigation devices for the truck drivers. This saves them time as there is no need to input every unloading point as a new individual destination manually, and the entire week-long trip can be saved on the navigation device with a single click. Another benefit of PTV Smartour is that HAKAWERK’s internal employees can see where trucks are currently located and when they are likely to return to the Waldenbuch headquarters. The route planning software also enables evaluation of consumption, e.g., the kilometres that a truck has driven in a week, a number of stops per order, weight, capacity, start and end time, actual driving time and total trip duration. Thanks to the proper documentation and step-by-step instructions, all dispatch employees can use automatic route planning – from data transfer from the ERP system to PTV Smartour to integrating the finished routes into the ERP system. This is a significant advantage in case of annual leaves or time off for illnesses.
However, it isn’t just the agents and HAKAWERK drivers who benefit from continued technological development; it is also beneficial for the private drivers who take receipt of soaps, washing products, lotions, etc. at the unloading points and distribute these to the end customers. As one of the first PTV customers, HAKAWERK introduces manual notification, and therefore unloading points are aware of the precise delivery times. The receivers of goods are informed by SMS and email of the estimated time of arrival (ETA). The HAKAWERK agent then triggers the sending of the messages manually. The agent also has the option to insert an extended period to factor in any possible delays. PTV Smartour offers automatic notifications as well. This calculates the ETA based on current traffic data and the vehicle’s position notifications.
Thinking for the future: continued development
“Our route planning will continue to develop through PTV Group’s Release Management department, via our maintenance contract,” concludes Gerhard Siegel. This allows HAKAWERK to operate in a future-oriented manner and continuously improve internal processes, driver care and the satisfaction of its private distribution drivers. “We are very pleased with PTV Smartour and our collaboration with the PTV Group. The introduction phase only lasted three months, and the PTV service employees were accommodating throughout. Everything is now running like clockwork.”