A Phased Approach To Dynamic Routing

Kuna FoodService eliminates 15 percent of its routes with Appian solution.


Some companies use fleet routing software in progressive stages and expand their operational capabilities over time. This is the case for Kuna FoodService, a food distributor to schools, churches, restaurants, fund raisers and many other organizations.

Kuna operates a fleet of 22 trucks delivering to customers in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma. Prior to purchasing a routing solution in 2000, trucks were routed by memorizing customer delivery windows, arranging order tickets by area and using primarily-static routes. While this process was daunting, it became even more challenging as new customers were added, order volumes fluctuated and routes needed to be updated prior to loading and dispatch.

Route schedules had to be coordinated to ensure that trucks arrived during acceptable delivery windows to both meet customer expectations and minimize the stop time at each location. Kuna evaluated the situation and believed it could improve fleet utilization, streamline deliveries and implement driver pay-for-performance with the proper tools in place. It knew that accurate delivery schedules and route costing were needed to transition to the performance-based program and to optimize fleet routing.

“We had always coordinated routes manually but there came a point when the daily routing became too large to effectively manage and we knew we could be more efficient with our fleet,” says John Schuler, general manager at Kuna FoodService, which is based in Dupo, IL.

The company decided to investigate automated fleet routing. Kuna chose Direct Route, from Appian Logistics Software Inc., Oklahoma City. Schuler says it chose Direct Route based on the ease of running the software as well as the cost vs. other packages.

Not wanting to take a chance on disrupting the business with too much change at once, the company decided to import existing routes into Direct Route to calculate accurate delivery schedules for the drivers. The system was also used to manage daily route updates based on the actual customer orders received.

“Before using Direct Route we would manually adjust routes in our back office system. However, we found there were significant advantages to using the system’s route mapping tools and viewing the updated times, remaining capacity, etc., as changes were made,” says Schuler.

The company used the delivery schedules from Direct Route in conjunction with an on-board system to track the actual time at each stop vs. the planned schedule. This allowed Kuna to review planned vs. actual unloading times and establish performance pay for drivers who exceeded the standard.

“Direct Route lets us incorporate the setup time and unload rate for each customer and generate accurate delivery schedules. We are able to compare the planned delivery times with actual times and provide bonuses based on performance,” says Schuler.

Once the pay-for-performance program was established, Kuna began to compare its static routes with dynamic routes generated by Direct Route and review cost-savings opportunities. The company realized that many customers had delivery appointments at the beginning of each day.

Appian’s system allowed Kuna to run what-if scenarios and see what savings were possible with different dispatch and delivery window parameters. During the first six months, the company continued to review opportunities and decided to incrementally transition to a more dynamic routing environment. To accomplish this, the company needed to establish acceptable and accurate delivery windows with its customers.

The sales and route management team met and laid out a plan for determining these time windows. Once the accurate windows were established, dynamic routes were phased in over a period of time by transitioning each geographic area individually. This approach allowed Kuna to control the change and take any lessons learned into the next region rather than changing all the areas at once.

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