TouchStar Technologies, provider of mobile computing solutions for the fuel sector, has been working with Certas Energy, one of the largest distributors of fuels and lubricants in Britain to optimise its fuel delivery process. The ongoing project is expected to result in impressive cost efficiencies by automating job allocation and delivery verification.
Certas Energy supplies domestic, commercial, agricultural and industrial customers throughout Britain. Over the last 10 years, the company has grown organically and rapidly through acquisition, including that of Total Butler in 2012. As such, its network of depots has also grown and the company found that it had multiple sites serving each region, and that it was time for it to review its whole supply chain strategy.
With around 100 depots and half a million customers to serve, its delivery trucks range from very small ('baby') tankers to artics. The company ships 10 different product fuel types, with some products only available at certain depots resulting in a variety of delivery and transaction scenarios.
The decision to implement in-vehicle technology was part of a wider strategic review of its entire operation. Certas Energy wanted to ensure its operation remained cost-effective, providing product on time and to its agreed service levels. The key aims for delivery optimisation were;
- Reduction in paperwork by eradicating the need for delivery tickets
- Reduction in vehicle mileage
- Elimination of errors in delivery data via automation of updates
- Elimination of delays in delivery data via real-time transmission
- Increase in service levels through a more reactive service
- Optimisation of the scheduling process
TouchStar's software application has been designed specifically around the requirements of a heating oil delivery process, handling the interfaces to the tachograph, various meter types , printer and navigation data. The system provides vehicle checks, loading instructions, delivery details and end of shift reports to HMRC approved standards. In the vehicle TouchStar have supplied ATEX-approved, Hawk mobile computers. The Hawk devices have a robust ATEX- approved large screen interface for the driver that clearly presents his delivery instructions and navigation guidance, as well as facilitating a signature capture option for customers. The live link between the driver and the back office facilitates the optimisation of the scheduling process by enabling a central view to be achieved leading to optimised fleet utilisation
David Hauff, head of logistics services at Certas Energy, commented: "Through our strategic review process we have made considerable improvements in the optimisation of the overall supply chain process. It was important that we sought a similar level of tangible operational improvement in the area of delivery and general fleet management. TouchStar and Certas Energy worked closely to define and implement a robust system capable of handling the transaction and delivery scenarios necessary for a service-driven heating oil distribution environment.
"I'm delighted to report that, 6 months after implementation, the system has met all of the key aims that we strived for at the commencement of the project. We anticipate a relatively short ROI based upon the genuine reduction in vehicle mileage and the administration associated with delivery errors. Of equal importance are the 'softer' benefits we have derived such as a delighted customer base."