Managing a Foodservice Fleet

Temperature and food safety concerns up the ante for fleet managers in the foodservice sector.


It’s a challenge to keep and maintain excellent drivers, concedes Hartman. “So we do our best to accommodate their personal needs while maintaining our business needs.” Compensation packages are important, but there’s more than just a paycheck in the mix. “We offer standard pay plus incentive pay and reward positive behavior, consistent attendance, a clean driving record, accuracy, and customer interaction, which all provide ways for our drivers to make more money. It lends itself to greater stability in our organization and helps with recruiting drivers.”

On the equipment side, Papa John’s fleet includes customized 48-food trailers designed with a sidegate. Although rental equipment is used on occasion, Papa John’s keeps backup equipment at the distribution centers and maintains its tractors and trailers to assure its network is running smoothly. “If a liftgate on a truck breaks down in Salt Lake City, for instance, we have limited options. We may have to ask the driver to hand unload the contents of the truck to the ground then into the store, which increases the stop time at each location significantly.”

Over the past five years, Papa John’s has introduced a variety of software and technology tools into its operation, which ultimately results in every customer getting a perfect pizza pie.

In 2007, Papa John’s began deploying Manhattan Associates’ transportation management system (TMS). “We started with inbound, managing the carriers, load tenderings, electronic RFPs,” recounts Hartman. “About the same time, we moved into centralized inventory and demand planning. Then in 2009, we deployed outbound TMS and dynamic routing. Today, we’re rolling out Manhattan’s Supply Chain Intelligence solution. The reason we took this approach is that Papa John’s is a very disciplined organization. We adhere to a philosophy of ‘crawl, walk, run.’ And the final part—Supply Chain Intelligence—is allowing us to run.”

Hartman describes Manhattan’s fleet solutions as the “brains” of his operation, while the “eyes” are credited to Isotrak’s telematics solutions. “Isotrack enhances our ability to see where our tractors are and make sure we’re following routes sequentially and not making stops we shouldn’t be making. Manhattan’s fleet solutions are sort of behind the scenes allowing us to track all of this and ultimately put it into various reports. Providing visibility into both areas of our operation helps us to be a lot more proactive when issues arise at the distribution centers. It could be something as simple as a truck getting in late because of ice on the road, which means it may get out late the next morning. We can now call the customers and alert them to a delay, and also plan our labor better at the distribution center. These tools allow us to continue to drive efficiency and improvement throughout our operations in a number of areas.”

He adds that, “A lot of folks talk about Big Data today. What we have now allows us to cull the Big Data quite easily and put it into a simple to understand format that becomes actionable data, which we can turn around and deliver to our distribution centers as well as to our corporate teams. It’s a phenomenal place to be in and it’s been really great.”

Support from the IT side

The delays in getting federal rules rolled out impacts multiple parties in the supply chain, including the software and technology providers who are trying to manufacture equipment and code software that meets the yet to be determined requirements.

“The biggest issue is the uncertainty that this has created in the marketplace,” says Owen Smith, senior vice president, product strategy, at Cadec. “It makes it hard for the fleet managers to prepare for something that may or may not happen, and it makes it hard on the software side too. For us, the question is, ‘Do we code to a spec that may be implemented, or may be changed?’ That same uncertainty affects us.”

Like Papa John’s Hartman, Smith believes the HOS rule will negatively impact the existing driver shortage problem. Furthermore, it could be felt more severely in certain parts of the country, he cautions. Cadec’s solutions are designed to help fleet managers deal with the latest changes to the HOS rule, such as the restart provision, “by determining for them when the restarts are supposed to happen, and when a driver becomes ‘legally’ available,” says Smith.

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