Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By David A Kolman
Drivers arrive, pick up their paperwork, collect their hand trucks, and then find their trucks, perform mandatory pre-trip safety inspections, and head off. Upon their return, drivers return their hand trucks, drop off any returns, turn in their paperwork, park their trucks, and do their mandatory post-trip safety inspections. A crew then fuels and washes out each truck and trailer every day.
The company has diesel fuel tanks at both facilities.
For delivery routing, Cheney Brothers uses UPS Logistics Technologies' Roadnet Transportation Suite. “This tool allows our four routers to quickly plan and configure routes,” says King.
It also uses Cadec's RouteTracker fleet management software.
With the two systems, “we can collect real-time data on our fleet so we can measure and track a variety of pick-up and delivery variables. This helps us make more informed decisions to reduce our miles, makes better use of our equipment, and maximizes the budget by delivering more and driving less.”
Routes start around 3 am. One reason for this, explains King, is Florida's congested traffic, which gets exceptionally bad with the influx of the state's winter residents. “This starts around Thanksgiving and we really feel the crunch come mid-January.
“The traffic costs us more money to do business because instead of putting 18 or 19 stops on the truck, we put 14 or 15 to make sure we get all our deliveries made within each customer's specified time window.”
There are dedicated docks for receiving products. Starting at 5 am every day, Cheney Brothers receives products from all over the country by truck and rail car directly to its warehouse doors, including full containers of imported products shipped from abroad.
King holds driver meetings once a quarter at each location. The meetings keep drivers up-to-date on what is going on at the company, plus talk about any pressing issues, and promote safety.
To keep problems in check, Cheney Brothers holds an operational meeting every Wednesday with all department heads. They discuss as a team any issues and come up with solutions. “This works out real well,” says King, “plus it's a good way to keep all our managers up-to-date on what is going on company-wide.”
As for driver compensation, drivers who shuttle trailers are paid a flat rate. Delivery drivers receive an incentive-based pay instituted in 1994, and they are paid by the cases, stops, and miles. “The more productive they are, the more money they make,” he says.
“You'd be surprised at how often my drivers call their salespeople to let them know of opportunities at an existing customer, or to let them know of new prospective customers to call on.
“Because they're on an incentive plan, we constantly remind our drivers: safety first,” King goes on. “We don't want them rushing from stop to stop. We want them making their time up at each stop, say by keeping chit-chat to a minimum or moving along a little faster.”
King says he is able to keep a closer eye on drivers with the new Cadec system. “We can tell how fast a driver is going, how many times he brakes hard, and so forth. If we see a pattern develop, the driver can complete additional training."
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