Logistics and route planning software for beverage companies
A Q&A with our managing director Alban Barroccu
Q. Can you tell us about ExpertLogic as a company, and what is the CoolLogic platform?
Expertlogic have for in excess of 25 years applied it’s expertise in the deep waters of bespoke development at the business end of the software development spectrum. You might say that during this period Expertlogic were ”jack of all trades and master of none” in respect of vertical markets.
This period introduced such diverse skill sets and application expertise in the areas of; CRM, financials, service control, distribution, manufacture control, credit control, payroll and personnel etc. to bespoke jewellery manufacture and full housing association software suites not to mention extensive experience integrating to other third party systems. Whether desktop based, web based or mobile system based, Expertlogic have always developed their own systems internally retaining the expertise in house for effective support and maintenance.
The application building blocks and application expertise gained during this period has formed the ideal foundation for the extensive redevelopment of the company’s now two flagship products marketed as CoolLogic and ServiceLogic; CoolLogic is distribution based and ServiceLogic is equipment service based however the different product’s functionality may be shared in a single product where clients have a need for both distribution and service functions, very often the case in the water, coffee and vending marketplaces.
These products now form the sole target of ExpertLogic’s development activity offering perpetual enhancement as technologies inevitably change.
Q. What is the most critical task to identify if, as a distributor, you are looking to optimise your operations and in particular your distribution/logistic network?
From experience we have deduced that there is not always a happy medium between customer service, over zealous sales staff and logistics control, introducing obscure constraints like first drops and time constraints for customer satisfaction is a nightmare for logistics personnel that have costs and efficiency as key factors. One factor in providing a happy medium between customer service and logistics control is a fully integrated solution whereby there is automatic real-time communication between the two functions. However, as the old cliché goes ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and with this in mind forward planning and advance modelling with efficient tools has to be at the forefront. The introduction of standing orders, automatically maintained suggested orders and an efficient order pre-call service helps considerably to minimise last minute route changes etc. Loading summaries available in advance will also allow forward planning based upon route capacity and allow the introduction of more suitable or additional vehicles on the routes or indeed the case for permanently splitting or merging route to make them as efficient as possible. Inevitably there will be cases for last minute changes to planned routes and delivery cycles it is essential that this is relayed to customer service staff in real-time to advise customers.
Q. In today’s market how essential is route management, stock monitoring and technical monitoring software for distributors in the Water Coolers, Vending and Coffee industry?
Visibility is a key factor in assessing route efficiency, the ability to map routes and delivery schedules alongside each other highlights overlapping routes and delivery schedules, add to this drag and drop functionality for the reassignment of drops on a route with real-time distance and travel time calculations and hours of staff planning time can be saved. This is just one of the many features offered by CoolLogic alongside the automated route optimisation functions where there are no constraints, similar to the TSP algorithm. However, having said that if there are inevitable time constraints then this functionality may be mixed to allow manual adjustments to optimised routes.
Another key factor in analysing operatives work time is not only travel time but the time spent on site that might include delivery drops and servicing. Standard times can be assigned to tasks allowing resource limits and warnings to come in to play. They may show on route loads where capacity is reached or staff time on Gantt charts where working hours are exceeded.
In today’s very competitive marketplace efficiency and optimisation of resources; both material and human are key factors notwithstanding the need for efficient customer service and stock management. The inclusion of van stocks and real-time communication from the field to the office for in route, ad hoc delivery assignments are also offered by the CoolLogic software suite to cater for the ‘milk round’ scenario or urgent off route supplies.
Q. With new technologies emerging all the time, what are the biggest challenges you as a software provider face at the moment?
Consumers will nowadays be aware of the Uber, Amazon and other ecommerce phenomenon and expect a similar service adding pressure to compete and live up to consumer expectation, route planning software like CoolLogic will allow distributors to meet customer requirements and also to keep an eye on costs.
Integration services between customer service and route management is also maintained for new customers with the ability to auto assign customers to a route based upon post code areas or proximity to other customers already routed.
One of the benefits of route planning systems is that it produces mathematically logical results, which takes human emotion out of the process.
Q. Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important concern for many consumers. Can effective route planning aided by software help to significantly reduce carbon emissions?
One major aim of the CoolLogic suite is the reduction of paper with the automated mobile system and service extensions for; operative deliveries & servicing, in field sales and customer self-help. We want to relieve the back-office staff of the mundane tasks so that they may concentrate on the important tasks. Coollogic achieves this with real-time automated paperless invoice and proof of delivery document transfer, pre-call email web services for client order confirmation and an extensive customer self-help portal and mobile app that not only allows customers to maintain their own basic data but also to view and download invoices, statements or POD documentation as well as maintain their standing orders.
As with any database solution a phenomenal amount of data is capable of being captured but the absence of efficient data retrieval and business Intelligence tools very often means that this data remains hidden or very time consuming to analyse. In keeping with the CoolLogic theme of using visual tools the suite has it’s own built in set of business intelligence and analytical tools that range from the simple query designers generating raw data extracts for export to a variety of formats to using this query source to a feature rich report generation tool finally to the efficient production of graphical and analytical dashboards giving business essential information virtually instantly. All these tools are designed for the user to develop their own reports and analyses to complement those already prepared in the software.
Delivery route optimisation and scheduling software allows logistic managers to stay on top ever changing consumer expectations without losing control of the costs; it also adds importance of the logistics department and allows logistics managers to impact company success.
The constant emergence of new technologies provides the developer with their greatest challenge in ensuring their products are in line with current technologies. Expertlogic offer perpetual enhancement to their software and this is why our choice of development tools was so important. What was once a new and emerging technology not that long ago, Internet of things (IOT) is now common place and taken for granted, who would ever have imagined the power of voice recognition in the home with Google Home and Alexa. The next major release of CoolLogic will, with the use of Microsoft Cognitive services and Alexa web services, offer similar voice recognition at an application level, image the ease of “CoolLogic, print next Tuesday’s 12B route on printer 1”
A key emerging technology that will have an impact on logistics in the future will be the autonomous/driver-less delivery service already being practiced in some areas of America with Nuro. How dependable and helpful these delivery robots really are will of course have to be proven in practice. Unlike a driver focused service, they can’t simply run up to the third floor or even open a door. And some fear that they may cause chaos on our streets. The argument to this is that their vehicles would reduce individual traffic and compensate for this.
If you would like to find out more about ExpertLogic’s services, please use the contact form positioned top right of this screen. Or request a demo by clicking below.