2020 was supposed to be the year that consumers got more than a glimpse of where their foods originated from. With emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) being readily implemented into supply chains, visibility was about the be at the forefront.
The pandemic dramatically impacted all industries – grocery and trucking included. State lockdowns brought a decrease in foot traffic for restaurants, while grocery stores hit margins never seen before.
As the pandemic continued into the fall, McLane Co. and Trimble MAPS partnered to implement Appian, a fleet routing and scheduling solution, that allows customers to better optimize flexibility among its fleet.
“During the start of the pandemic, McLane realized a significant reduction in demand at our foodservice division and conversely a rather significant increase in demand at McLane Grocery. As the pandemic continued into the summer and fall, McLane Foodservice had significant increases in volume, and our grocery business dropped off and then began a steady increase in volume,” says Daniel James, director of logistics and transportation, McLane Foodservice. “We were able to leverage Appian routing and scheduling software from Trimble MAPS to adjust our route structures, capacities and fleet assets to the changing demands. We re-routed 44 DCs in less than 30 days and subsequently re-routed them several more times since May as demand levels have increased.”
James explains that McLane works with its customers to enhance systems that support food safety and traceability requirements. Meanwhile, warehouse selectors utilize wearable scanners, and drivers scan selection labels at delivery to confirm receipt.
“McLane’s grocery and foodservice divisions were ready to meet the challenge; the company had upgraded its routing tools with Appian software, integrated through their TMS. Managing demand changes for 46 foodservice and 24 grocery distribution centers, McLane’s analyst teams used Appian to constrict routes when volume declined and use its vehicle routing and scheduling tools to create more efficient routes and respond with greater flexibility when order volume surged. McLane was able to shift gears seamlessly to serve customers during the pandemic,” says Brian Larwig, strategy team, Trimble MAPS.
When grocers were threatened by stock-outs when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, McLane was able to work with its vendors and customers early to identify risks early on. By doing this, the company was able to take the appropriate steps to ensure the flow of products to its customers, preventing any potential disruptions. In addition, Appian helped McLane re-route more than 60 distribution centers, all while adjusting delivery days/times while removing and adding capacity.
“By reworking and building new master schedules for the distribution centers, McLane analysts were able to reduce miles and balance fleet usage to perform the same tasks with fewer assets. The McLane team gained significant savings from parking fleets, but as capacity was reduced in response to volume changes, they were also able to optimize routes, reducing the miles required to make all deliveries with fewer dispatches,” says Larwig.
“By leveraging Trimble MAPS, McLane was able to make decisions within days or sometimes hours that would have typically taken weeks to finalize. In these challenging last seven months, we’re pleased to have the opportunity to work with McLane to help them take excess capacity and apply it to areas that needed help like the grocery chains, to keep their teammates and equipment utilized,” Larwig continues.