Case Study

Palmer & Harvey PLC

Palmer and Harvey PLC have national distribution facilities operating in the independent and many conveniences, forecourt, and CTN retail area.

With their head office in Hove, East Sussex and an integrated national distribution network across 13 sites in the UK, Palmer and Harvey is the UK’s largest wholesaler working with a diverse range of 63,000 retailers.

As a wholesaler, customers can purchase everything in one place, including tobacco, confectionery, chilled & frozen, grocery and convenience goods, delivering to retailers both large and small.

The Challenge

Ever increasing numbers of deliveries demanded across the country meant that customers required more complicated orders; frozen, groceries, chilled and some needing two delivery slots per day, within tighter time slots.

Palmer & Harvey wanted to maintain service to customers whilst also endeavouring to improve the effectiveness of their route planning, the accuracy of deliveries and also try to cut down on mileage and fuel costs.

They found that they were often sending two vans to the same customer, one with chilled goods and one with ambient goods.

Route plans could also be hard to predict, meaning that drivers were not following the most sensible route, delaying deliveries and using more fuel.

Orders came in by phone, fax, email or online.

The process they were using meant that staff had to attribute orders to a particular pre-planned route manually.

They were using their past experience of customer locations and routes and how long journeys might take and a significant amount of time was spent trying to make the routes work better.

  • 32,000 drops on average per week
  • 550 routes each day
  • 550 vehicles in fleet
  • Over 69,000 product lines

The Solution

Palmer & Harvey have now been using Roadnet route planning software for thirteen years.

It has revolutionised the way they plan their routes and meant they could reduce their overall fleet size and also invest in new vehicles that transport grocery and chilled and frozen goods at the same time; rationalising the number of routes and delivering the whole order in one go.

Orders come in and are received directly into an electronic order file.

After a cut-off time of 12.30pm each day Roadnet will then create suggested routes and allocate customers to each vehicle.

Once the route is approved the orders go through to the voice picking system and pickers can then produce each customer’s order ready for loading into the relevant vehicle.

The previous system relied on staff to attribute customers to a route manually; Roadnet does all that automatically by precise map location making the whole process more streamlined, much faster and highly accurate and reliable.

Shorter, tighter delivery times, less mileage and lower fuel and wage bills

The reduction in delivery times, miles travelled and fuel savings gained by merging the two networks (frozen and ambient temperature goods) meant that Palmer & Harvey reduced mileage by 3.8 million kilometres in 2009 alone. Significant savings were made on fuel used and the annual wage bill was sizeably reduced, as drivers didn’t need to spend as long behind the wheel.

Helping win new business

Palmer & Harvey are also using Roadnet to help them win new business. They can now model dummy routes for customers who are considering using their services, demonstrating the superior routing, strategic planning and functionality of the system.

Improved customer service Customers are seeing an improvement in the speed of delivery and can also specify shorter, tighter delivery slots of within a two-hour window, which was previously not achievable. Roadnet is able to factor in speed limits and road-works data and adjust delivery times accordingly.

The new system has also made the central handling service much more efficient and helpful to customers. They can now phone to chase a delivery and staff are able to tell them exactly where a driver is, making estimating the actual time of arrival much more accurate.

Approximately 550 vehicles of varying sizes are now able to deliver to 32,000 different drops each week.

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