Logistics and transport group Eddie Stobart has greatly reduced the time and cost involved in preparing contract tenders by introducing the GEOXPLOIT software package from MAPMECHANICS.
GEOXPLOIT combines the powerful Geoconcept geographic information system, which is pre-configured to perform a variety of frequently-occurring tasks such as site location, market penetration and network planning, with a wide range of popular digital map data, business data and demographic data from some of the world’s leading suppliers.
Eddie Stobart’s commercial manager Scott Roberston explains: “As part of the tender process we need to cost each individual transport movement required by the customer, and that could involve anything up to hundreds of different ‘lanes’ between given points.
“In the past we would enter coordinates for each lane into a basic route-finding software application, but on a major contract this job could take up to two weeks. We had a staff member working on this kind of thing more or less full-time.”
The company looked for an off-the-shelf solution that would enable it to avoid this time-consuming process, but found that existing products were too literal in the routes they suggested.
“For instance, if we were sending a truck from Sheffield to Manchester, most systems would send it via the shortest route, which is through the Peak District, even though we knew this that would take much longer than going north up the M1 motorway, then west along the M62.”
MAPMECHANICS came up with the solution based on its GEOXPLOIT package. Using Geoconcept’s Smart Routing technology, the company enabled Eddie Stobart to designate given areas as “do not pass through” areas. Along with the Peak District, these include large conurbations such as central London, and other areas with high or relatively slow and inaccessible roads.
The system automatically recognises journeys that start or end within or close to the excluded areas, and allows vehicles to enter them on these occasions.
As part of the project, MAPMECHANICS set up templates through which the Eddie Stobart team could enter its own speeds for different roads, which are based on the operator’s own long experience.
Once the Stobart team have uploaded sample customer data files listing all the transport movements required by a given tender, the system quickly outputs its proposed solution in the form of a spreadsheet (.CSV) file, which can be imported straight into Eddie Stobart’s own costing model for use in the tender.
“A task that used to take up to two weeks now just takes twenty or thirty minutes,” Scott Robertson says. Having acquired the full GEOXPLOIT package, the Stobart team now also makes use of some of its many other capabilities. “For instance, when we’re working on a tender, we can model movements in and out of a given postcode area, and generate heat maps showing key areas of activity. It helps to illustrate how our proposed solution will be able to handle the work.”
Eddie Stobart has also taken advantage of MAPMECHANICS’ consultancy capability for projects such as modelling warehouse locations to establish the optimum network for given logistics operations.
Mary Short, founder and director of MAPMECHANICS, comments: “The solutions we have provided to Eddie Stobart represent a prime example of the growing demand for maps and mapping products to be customised to reflect users’ specific requirements.”