In Transit: Paragon's transportation solutions
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Specialist truck and trailer users such as agri-businesses are turning to high-tech routing and scheduling solutions from Paragon Software Systems to improve their transportation planning. The software produces optimized transport plans that boost the general efficiency of the fleet operation while improving the service to the customer. The software also reduces fleet running costs by reducing road miles travelled and ensures that loads are maximized, avoiding empty running.
For example, Cheshire feed manufacturer HST Feeds has invested in an innovative delivery fleet optimization solution that includes ITIS road speed data for improving the accuracy of the daily transport plans and a special function for managing vehicle compartment space when scheduling loads. The software will reduce daily planning time, boost customer service and lower haulage costs by maximizing the use of its mixed fleet of six, eight-wheel and articulated compartmented trucks.
"With ever increasing fuel costs we have to be able to run our vehicles to their optimum - we cannot and will not expect our customers to pay for hauling fresh air,” Steve Rogers, Associate Director Operations at HST Feeds, said. “We have a duty to ensure that our business costs are under control and haulage is a big part of this. With Paragon, we can automatically optimize the use of our vehicles every day. Importantly, irrespective of who uses the software, we will get a quick and reliable optimized answer every time.”
HST Feeds makes 1500 deliveries a month within a 100-mile radius of its Crewe-based mill. The company's transport manager plans deliveries manually. This can take more than two hours each day - and longer if the transport manager is called away to attend to other business.
"Manual planning is very time-consuming and is dependent on the knowledge of our transport manager who has over 20 years service with the company,” Rogers said. “If he is needed elsewhere, the planning can take longer and the results are variable because other staff does not have his knowledge. The new software will remove this burdensome task.”
Paragon's routing and scheduling software now includes an option for reliable average speed data following an agreement with ITIS, the leading supplier of traffic and travel information. The intelligent data is collected from over 200,000 vehicles travelling around the UK. Over 2 billion GPS positions are recorded every year to provide the speed data from actual moving vehicles.
The speed data provides a much truer reflection of the real travel times. Previously it was only possible to apply average speeds based on a road classification, such as urban motorway or rural B-road, along with regional adjustments.
The Paragon enhancement incorporates road data including a calculated average speed, for each direction, at road link level. This is based on a history of observations of vehicles travelling on that road link. It means route plans will be more realistic and hence both more accurate for transport managers and more acceptable to drivers. This improvement will be useful both for companies using Paragon to plan their daily delivery operations and the many third party logistics companies using it to quote for new business.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.