Ensuring uninterrupted food and beer production with wire-free telemetry

Ensuring its fleet of vehicles are co-ordinated, efficient and able to meet ever-changing demands has led James & Son (GM) Ltd, leading animal feed merchants and holders of the Royal Warrant, to combine its know-how gained over the last 150 years of business with investing in the industrys first ever silo and vehicle management system.

Conceived in conjunction with Coleshill based wire-free telemetry specialist BOX telematics, who was recommended to James & Son by Oranges Technical Sales Department, the new system is designed to co-ordinate the companys fleet of heavy goods vehicles that are used to transport co-products from the countrys top brewers and food producers to farmers across the UK. In addition to supplying dairy herds with traditional feeds such as brewers grains, the company markets a wide range of co-product feeds and has operations in Australia and Argentina.

Explaining why they opted to invest in wire-free telemetry, Roger Gaunt, Finance Director for James & Son commented: As a company we have two clear goals that must be achieved. These are to collect co-products from silos used by our brewing and food preparation customers and deliver them to our farmer customers across the country. Although this may sound simple, if this operation breaks down for any reason our customers could end up having to shut down production as full silos prevent the safe storage of co-products. This is obviously a costly scenario for any customer, similarly livestock farmers can not be left without feed, so it is vital we operate this process as efficiently as possible.

From a business perspective, achieving full use of our vehicle fleet at any one time is our ultimate goal as this results in greater efficiency and cost savings. By analysing the operations side of our business we were able to identify a greater need for silo management, as in some cases, our vehicles were having to wait at customers premises until enough co-product was available to achieve a full load, which was vastly inefficient.

Having identified the operational problems within its business, James & Son contacted their network operator Orange for help in finding a workable solution. In turn, Orange recommended BOX telematics, who has been awarded its Orange seal of approval by being given the status of Approved Technology by The Orange Developers Forum. BOX was also appointed in 1999 as the country's first wholesale service provider of data for Orange and last year was named as `UKs Rising Technology Star for 2004 at the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards.

Mike Langley, sales and marketing director for BOX telematics explained: For James & Son we have been able to tailor a unique package to solve their business needs. By using a combination of our spotonBOX GPS vehicle tracking system linked to silo level management, at any one time Roger and his team are able to locate the exact position of every vehicle on their fleet, while monitoring silo levels. The system therefore allows them to direct vehicles to different destinations, ensuring silos do not meet critical levels. As a management tool, the system can also be used to plan routes, identify trends, recover stolen vehicles and automatically trigger alarms when pre-programmed silo threshold levels are exceeded, alerting staff to re-direct vehicles.

Working together with large brewers and food producers such as McCain Foods and Carlsberg-Tetley, the new equipment has been installed in over 16 silo sites across the country and to the entire fleet of ten specialist vehicles. As a round-the-clock business, operating seven days a week, there have also been a number of additional benefits achieved by adopting the new system. Management time has been reduced and the installation of a PCMCIA card in one of the companys laptop computers has enabled staff to be able to communicate with the system remotely, downloading vital information over breakfast instead of rushing to the office at the weekend.

Roger concluded: As a business, investing in this new system and technology has enabled us to maintain a competitive edge, whilst continuing to offer our customers exceptional service and support. As a respected and historic player in the market, we are committed to ensuring our continued growth in this and other fields and we are confident that the use of telemetry will enable us to achieve our ambitious goals for the future. Using the BOX equipment has made us proactive in identifying problems before they arrive rather than having to deal with them reactively.

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