Amid the challenges of cost transparency and inefficient vehicle use, food and beverages producer and distributor Pioneer Foods has implemented solutions provider Resolve Solution Partners’ in-house transport management system, PLATO, at its plant.
The PLATO system helps generate an optimised distribution plan, where transportation is assigned to certain routes that include a certain number of customers, usually ranging between eight and ten, and products for various offloading points are included in one shipment.
Pioneer Foods had been using the FLO system before PLATO was implemented. The PLATO system includes a daily planning and scheduling system to plan the transport operations of its grain, beverage and food products, with such operations comprising external transporters for primary distribution and owner-drivers for secondary distribution.
The aim of using PLATO is to centralise the planning and tariff information by upgrading the planning of the business in terms of load and route selection.
Pioneer Foods primary transport logistics manager Hennie Longland comments that the system can create transportation-related improvement opportunities, which result in optimal vehicle use through load consolidation, as well as transparency of expenditure.
He emphasises that, with the PLATO system, costs in terms of delivery, routes and load can be more easily identified, as they are more transparent, which results in better distribution planning.
The company’s operations include the consolidation of various product supply chains, which historically operated in silos, with very little visibility of planning and operational and cost information. As with any system implementation, there were challenges such as integrating the systems and multiple parties being affected by the go-live timeline.
Another challenge Resolve faced was changing people’s mindsets to accept the new systems, which standardised businesses across multiple sites that operate independently. In addition, a new planning team needed to be established and the correct skills transferred.
To ensure the necessary skills transfer to manage the system effectively, Resolve TMS distribution planner Rudi Bezuidenhout spent seven months assisting the Pioneer Foods Logistics Services planning team in Malmesbury, in the Western Cape, with training and managing the PLATO system. He says that having a centralised team allows for knowledge sharing, a quicker response to queries and issues, and better overall visibility of operations.
The implementation of the PLATO TMS system had positive outcomes, including a data warehouse for business intelligence to perform operational and trend analysis reporting as a consolidated view across all sites. The PLATO TMS system implementation provided the platform for further improvement that included the standardisation of operating procedures, a logistics network analysis or fleet-mix exercises, and customer service investigations.
Resolve improves Pioneer Foods’ business because the solutions provide a structured central approach that allows for standardisation across the company and its multiple depots.