Coffee Talk

Voice technology is brewing at Dunkin Donuts' Mid-Atlantic Distribution Center.


A new attitude is brewing at the Dunkin' Donuts Mid Atlantic Distribution Center in southern New Jersey. While Dunkin' Brands Inc. works to perk up its sleepy coffee and donut brands, the MADC has been quietly transforming itself into a customer service powerhouse, committed to providing its customers-Dunkin' Donuts franchisee owners-with whatever they need to succeed in business.

"Our distribution center is evolving into a total service facility for our franchisees, or 'members,' as we like to call them," says Craig Setter, the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "I'm not talking about distribution--that's just a small part of it. It's a very competitive environment out there. Take Starbucks, for example. Those are company-owned stores, so everything is taken care of for them. But our members are entrepreneurs and they're basically on their own."

That's about to change. Setter and his team are planning to offer their members a complete array of services-everything from medical and liability insurance, to paving store parking lots and snow removal assistance, to phone systems-in the near future. "We can negotiate better deals for them based on volume for almost anything they need," says Setter. "We've spent the past five years building a distribution infrastructure and now we're focusing on providing our members the tools and services they need to be successful."

What's fueling these lofty ambitions? A new facility, technological investment and a company-wide commitment to becoming a member-focused organization.

The MADC is one of four cooperative non-profit Dunkin' Donuts distribution centers owned collectively by the franchisees they serve. It distributes product to more than 1,700 Dunkin' Donuts locations in eight states. With the business booming-sales grew 10 percent last year--the company traded up to a bigger, cross-dock facility in Westampton, NJ. The company expects business to increase later this year when it takes over distribution for Baskin Robbins and TOGO's, two other franchise chains owned by Dunkin' Donuts parent company, Allied Domecq PLC, the British wine and spirits marketer.

The new facility, almost triple the size of the company's previous warehouse, will support the growing business. Setter and Warren Engard, director of operations, were involved in the planning of the 305,000-square-foot building. Long and narrow, with 134 dock doors, it's designed to move product in and out fast.

A one-stop shop for the members, the facility carries more than 1,200 SKUs. It stocks all of the ingredients to make the donuts--flour, yeast and glaze--and muffin mix and coffee beans, plus dry goods, paper goods, cleaning supplies, uniforms and foodservice equipment. If a member needs it, the MADC has it.

Thanks to the new layout, inventory turns much more quickly here than it did at the old facility. "We have less than one week of inventory on hand now, as opposed to 1.3 to 1.6 weeks, which represents millions of dollars in annual savings for us," says Setter.

Voice Recogniton: Boosting Productivity, Accuracy

Inventory is also turning faster because, inside the warehouse, voice technology is now the word. Like many foodservice distributors, the MADC was technologically behind the times, relying on manual systems. Before moving into its new location, however, the company began training its order selectors on a voice solution from Voxware Inc., Princeton, NJ.

This content continues onto the next page...

Already have an account? Click here to Log in.

Enhance Your Experience.

When you register for FoodLogistics.com you stay connected to the pulse of the industry by signing up for topic-based e-newsletters and information. Registering also allows you to quickly comment on content and request more infomation.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required