Browns Builders Merchants is implementing logistics planning, route optimisation and electronic proof of delivery software from Podfather. With end-to-end automation of its delivery operation, Browns expects increases in efficiency and improved communication, building on its longstanding commitment to customer service. The Podfather software is already helping the company make better informed decisions based on the real-time information captured by the system.
“When COVID hit it impacted our business in a number of ways,” commented Edward Parlato, Branch Manager at Browns and Podfather champion. “The number and nature of our deliveries changed, with more orders from members of the public, and the type of service that they wanted changed, with a more ‘Amazon’ experience expected as the norm. We also realised that the transport operation was heavily reliant on our transport co-ordinator; so, if they were absent things has the potential to fall apart. I had been on the receiving end of the Podfather solution, as suppliers such as Rexel, Tarmac and Breedon use it, and knew that it could be a great fit for the business.”
Browns is a family run business based in Derby that has been in existence for more than 100 years and its Nottingham Road depot is located on the site of the old Browns Foundry. In its current form Browns Builders Merchants has been supplying building materials to the trade and public since 1990. Browns delivers across the midlands, from Birmingham to Nottingham and Leicester to Stoke, making the most of the central motorway network. Its mixed fleet of trucks and vans makes around 50 drops a day ranging from single load bulk deliveries to multi-drop runs.
Prior to implementing Podfather, Browns was totally reliant on manual processes and paper documents. An experienced transport co-ordinator planned each day’s deliveries and drivers were issued with the relevant paperwork. As drivers returned to the depot, they were then issued the details and documents for the next run.
Part of a larger IT project, which will see Browns replace its ERP system at the start of next year, Podfather is already making a positive impact on the business. At the start of each shift drivers are guided through extensive vehicle checks identifying and recoding potential defects or issues that may impact on the safety and operation of the vehicle.
Routes are produced and optimised, based on locations, item volumes and weights, and customer requirements, and automated ETA notifications are issued. All paperwork is sent directly to the drivers’ mobile phone or tablet, and management has total visibility of the delivery operation as it unfolds with any issues instantly flagged for investigation or intervention. ePOD notifications, including mandatory photos, are captured by drivers as they make each delivery and this information is used to update the sales and finance teams.
“We are already seeing the positive impact of Podfather on the business,” Parlato continued. “Our fleet utilisation is much higher, with less downtime and fewer trips back to depot, and our customer interactions are more informed. We have fewer calls from customers with queries and those we do have can be answered at first point of contact. Ideally, we’d like to get to the point where every call we take is a sales call and complaints are a thing of the past.”