all the bases
for Cheney Brothers
Nov 9, 2009 2:00 PM
Founded in 1925, Cheney Brothers has grown from a distributor of milk and eggs into one of the largest foodservice distributors in the South. Today, Cheney Brothers carries more than 15,000 national brand products, and its annual revenues exceed $700 million.
Cheney Brothers is fully committed to providing stellar customer service, and known for its innovative use of technology. According to Joe Haber, chief information officer for Cheney Brothers, a key initiative for the company is to extend its supply chain management effort all the way to the point of customer delivery.
Cheney Brothers was one of the first foodservice distributors to implement fleet management software, originally using simple GPS and routing applications on two-way phones. While the applications helped drivers navigate their routes more easily, they did not incorporate any sort of delivery tracking capability, and drivers could easily disable the applications (making their vehicles untrackable) by turning off their phones.
“Aside from the obvious problem that drivers could disable the applications, we really wanted to go paperless, and the solution we had in place at the time did not have us on that path,” said Haber. “Our vision was to be able to scan products off the trucks using handheld devices, print a receipt on the spot, and hand it to the customer. The data would be downloaded in real-time from the handhelds to our inventory system, and an invoice would be automatically generated. The end result would be more accurate records and faster payment from customers.”
Haber and his team—Mark Epstein, operating systems manager; and Phil Tippett, fleet management systems manager—began to evaluate vendors. Criteria included:
- The ability to automatically track vehicle location and vital statistics such as speed and convey those details back to the yards in real time.
- The ability to collect delivery details via handheld at customer sites.
- The ability to continuously monitor temperature in trailers to ensure integrity of the cold chain.
The team ultimately selected Cadec Global’s Mobius TTS, an advanced fleet management system that enables companies to reduce costs, enhance customer service, enforce compliance and safety regulations, and improve driver productivity.
“We felt Cadec offered the most complete solution,” said Haber. “They were the only vendor that could cover all of our requirements, and their delivery tracking capabilities were far more advanced than anything else we saw. In addition, drivers can’t turn it off, because most of the data collection is automatically performed by the Cadec on-board computer, which is a fixed system installed in the truck cabs.”
In 2007, Cheney Brothers installed Cadec’s hardware and software across its entire fleet of 300 trucks at 15 distribution locations in three states. Cadec is now used to track every aspect of transportation and delivery. Drivers even clock in and out using fixed Cadec kiosks in the yards.
The company is now able to automatically track key efficiency and safety metrics such as hard decelerations, speeding, miles per gallon (mpg), unknown stops, and idle time, and post reports in its transportation office for everyone to see.
“When a driver sees he’s doing badly—and everyone else knows it, too—we’ve seen behavior change,” said Haber. “We also tie the Cadec data into drivers’ bonus structure, so there is a financial incentive for them to improve.”
One example of where Cadec has made a big impact on Cheney Brothers’ bottom line is excessive idle time. According to Haber, when Cheney Brothers installed the Cadec system in its first 30 trucks, the team performed baseline measurements of fleet performance. One was idle time, which it discovered was high. As a result, Cheney Brothers put a new rule in place that tractors cannot idle for more than five minutes, and instructed drivers to turn off their tractors during deliveries. Compliance is monitored by the Cadec OBC.
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