Scheduling for a moving world

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Following the outbreak in 2001 of foot and mouth disease in the UK, new legislation has been introduced which has created major problems and additional costs for farmers and companies working in the agricultural sector. However, it is well known that where there is a problem there is also an opportunity.

One UK company, Waste Per Se (WPS)  is an early adopter of the most advanced Internet-based vehicle scheduling and routing package, logixcentral  in its new business of helping farmers manage the regulations concerned with the disposal of dead animals.

A key piece of legislation is the Animal By-Products Regulations. These prohibit farmers from the traditional practice of burying dead livestock on the farm. It licences companies to dispose of carcasses correctly and ensures farmers only use licensed companies for this activity.

Waste Per Se specialises in the collection and treatment of agricultural wastes and animal by-products. Its subsidiaries, WRE Collection Services and WRE Disposal Services, are going through a period of unprecedented operational growth and approached DPS International, who developed logixcentral, based on 25 years of logistics and transport consulting and vehicle scheduling software development. The company had considered the options of either transport consultancy using scheduling tools and even of buying a licence for a scheduling system. These were too expensive and inflexible compared to the logixcentral pay-as-you-go service.

The problem faced by WRE Collection Services was that, although they had access to a network of animal by-product Incinerators, they had no experience of on-farm collection as they were previously only involved in bulk disposals of cattle over thirty months of age under a Government contract. For WRE, collecting individual animals on an ad-hoc basis became necessary as this Government work was phased out and they recognised that unless they were efficient and well-organised it could quickly become a risky and expensive operation. The company was also seeking to get a balanced flow of work to its incinerators in order to minimise operating costs.

WRE offer a service using a specialised plastic pallet called a Dolav, developed in Israel specifically to meet the specialist needs of the agricultural and fisheries industries. The Dolav can be left on the farm and can store dead animals. Following the use of logixcentral, WRE is now able to offer an efficient, managed weekly service to farms, collecting the full and part-full Dolavs and replacing them with empty ones.

For the service to be a success, efficient logistics were a key factor. They chose logixcentral to evaluate the logistics resources, costs and service alternatives for this potential new service. The questions to be evaluated included determining how many and what size vehicles were required and for a minimum cost operation, where should they be located? They also needed to determine what size of Dolavs should be used? They could use various sizes which could satisfy up to 2 weeks dead stock at a farm.

Other open issues included how would the costs compare with the ad-hoc collection service used currently and how would this affect the workflow to the incinerator?

The use of logixcentral proved a success and the company has now signed up to use the Internet service from two WRE sites. WRE Managing Director Ian Bryan commented: We are delighted to have secured access to this innovative product which combines proven performance and a high level of functionality with a low entry cost per site. Since acquiring DPS logixcentral we have already secured two multi-site accounts where the ability to confidently predict our base costs and service levels were key to securing agreement with new customers.

The logixcentral platform has allowed us to rapidly deploy a proven product. We are delighted with the expert training and after-sales support package and look forward to deploying the system into other areas of the business.

DPS Managing Director, Paul Palmer, told us This application of logixcentral in a highly innovative business, where logistics is a key factor, is confirmation that our decision to develop a competitively-priced solution to run as an ASP (application service provider) service was absolutely correct. We are delighted to have WRE as one of our early adopters and are pleased they were able to achieve business success so quickly.

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