Time to streamline your meals on wheels

Time to streamline your meals on wheels

Companies in the food and beverage industry that have outdated transport systems (think manual logbooks and hastily scribbled addresses) are at risk of falling behind. ASTRID DE LA REY points out that optimising transport logistics isn’t just about getting things done faster – it can have a significant impact on brand value

The efficient transport of goods is one of the cornerstones of the food and beverage industry. Companies that can’t deliver quality goods on time will quickly lose out to competitors.

One way for companies to get ahead of the game is to invest in the technology required to optimise their fleet. This comes mainly in the form of telematics units that provide all the required data. Fleet-specific software helps operators to make sense of the data. Alternatively, an experienced fleet management company can work wonders for a business.

These are the four main reasons why transport optimisation should be on the “can’t-wait” list:

Brand Value

Brand value has never been as important, or as difficult to maintain, as it is in this age of social media. Food and beverage companies that think that social media is solely the domain of the Kardashians, and has nothing to do with transporting goods, are in danger of falling behind.

One photograph or video of a company’s truck being driven dangerously, or in an accident, is all it takes to cause damage. Large companies may be able to weather the storm, but smaller food and beverage companies could lose everything as a result of a single incident.

Transport optimisation helps prevent such incidents, while collecting and storing all data so companies have instant access to the facts.

A sure way for food and beverage companies to raise their brand value is by lowering their carbon footprint. Consumers are much more aware of each industry’s effect on the environment, and in the food and beverage industry they’re starting to demand efficiency. People want to know where and how their food is produced and how it got to their local shop or restaurant.

In general, South African consumers don’t demand as much detail as those in the United States or Europe, but they will in future. Food and beverage companies that build a solid reputation for efficient transport will reap the rewards.

Route Optimisation

Route optimisation is crucial to ensure food and beverages get to their destination on time and in perfect condition. It is important to bear in mind that the shortest route isn’t always the fastest – heavy traffic, poor road conditions, or roadworks can cause massive delays. The only way to avoid these is by having access to up-to-date information on all potential routes.

Routes can also be planned to suit the type of cargo. Perishable goods may require the fastest route, but trucks carrying an extremely heavy load may need to avoid roads where they are at risk of getting stuck or damaged.

A proper fleet management system provides access to all the latest information. It can update routes when road conditions change. This will save a lot of time and drastically reduce the rate of late deliveries.

Safety and Quick Response Times

It goes without saying that transport companies never want a shipment of fresh produce standing next to the road in the sun. Even if the transport unit is refrigerated, it will stand idling next to the road for extended periods in the event of a tyre blowout, accident or breakdown.

Time to streamline your meals on wheelsFood and beverage clients are demanding (with good reason) and one too many unfortunate incidents will see them moving elsewhere. Those companies that outsource their transport logistics need to make sure they’re working with a reputable and reliable supplier.

Driver and cargo safety is always a big concern, and by installing the latest fleet-monitoring technology companies can get reliable up-to-date information. Tracking units allow companies to track all their cargo in real time so they can react immediately if an incident occurs.

These systems also supply data that will highlight speeding, erratic driving and the duration of stopovers. This way companies can keep track of driver performance and there’s no need to rely on people filling in logbooks – it’s all automated and instantaneous.

Food and beverage cargo is a very popular hijacking target. Alcohol, tinned or packaged food, sweets, bread and even pastries are all frequently hijacked. Transport optimisation allows food and beverage companies to avoid high-risk areas by constantly updating information on hijacking activity around the country. Real-time monitoring and panic buttons mean help can be sent immediately if there’s a problem and drivers know that their safety is always top-of-mind.

Cost Saving

Transport optimisation can provide big cost savings for savvy food and beverage business owners. The initial cost of optimising transport logistics – whether it’s in-house or by appointing a fleet management company – will quickly be offset by reduction in unnecessary costs.

An optimised fleet means lower fuel cost and a higher and more accurate delivery rate. Companies with all the right data-tracking and safety systems in place will also save on insurance. Optimised routes mean fewer accidents and reduced vehicle damage expenses and will greatly reduce the risk of hijackings or spoiled cargo.

In addition to the more obvious savings, an optimised transport system will expose and reduce many “hidden” costs such as speeding fines, fuel-card fraud and extended or unauthorised stopovers.

All cargo in the food and beverage industry is time sensitive. A delay on a shipment of shoes might still be acceptable, but it’s a big concern when it’s a shipment of “just picked” fruit or farm-fresh eggs. In this highly competitive industry there’s little room for error and transport optimisation is one way to stay in the game.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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