Transport Management

Transport Management and Technology, Distribution Management, Freight, Vehicle Routing & Scheduling Software and Load Planning.

Smith & Brock Optimises Fresh Produce Deliveries with Podfather

Podfather fleet logistics software is helping one of the UK’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable wholesalers provide a five-star delivery service to restaurants, hotels and caterers nationwide. Making up to 7,000 deliveries a week, Smith & Brock is using Podfather’s logistics planning, route optimisation and ePOD solution to improve visibility across its mobile operation, boosting customer service and supporting its green objectives.

Prior to implementing Podfather, Smith & Brock relied heavily on paper-based workflows to manage the delivery of its fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, dried and fine foods. This caused problems when reports of non-delivered items were received as they had to wait for the paper manifest to be returned to the depot so they could see what had been signed for and by whom. For a highly reactive and environmentally conscious operation, that relies heavily on reputation, this created a number of challenges including a growing need for second deliveries, an increasing number of credit notes being raised and potentially unhappy customers.

“The primary driver for change was financial reasons,” commented Nick Fowler, co-founder at Smith & Brock. “With early morning or even overnight deliveries to sites where there are potentially multiple kitchens or preparation rooms, we had no way of categorically proving exactly what was delivered, when it was delivered or where it was left. At best we had a scratchy signature on a paper manifest. This meant that we either had to rectify the shortfall which meant another delivery or a credit note. Neither of which was great for a growing business.”

Since implementing the Podfather solution, Smith & Brock now has complete visibility of its mobile operation. Vehicle tracking gives back-office staff total visibility of the delivery fleet and also allows management to pre-empt problems if customer instructions or delivery windows are being missed. Advanced electronic Proof of Delivery features including date, time and location stamped photos record when and where a delivery was made, even down to which fridge it was left in, and who signed for it. This information is available in real-time and can be shared with a customer in case of a query reducing the number of credit notes being raised and the need for additional deliveries.

Podfather is also supporting Smith & Brocks sustainability objectives. Using handheld devices, live linked to the back-office system, means paper tickets can be eliminated and the company now offers a totally paperless delivery service. The use of Podfather to plan and optimise routes has also allowed Smith & Brock maximise vehicle capacities, whilst minimising mileage, and use its delivery fleet to backhaul goods from suppliers where achievable and appropriate.

“Being a company that primarily specialises in fresh fruit and veg we know how vital it is to protect the ecosystem and Podfather helps us play our part with paperless deliveries, improved vehicle utilisation and reduced emissions. Podfather will also allow us to maximise our investment in other green solutions including electric cargo bikes.”

Smith & Brock was founded in 2006 by brothers Nick and Joe Fowler. Coined after their wives’ maiden names, the company has rapidly grown into one of the country’s largest wholesalers of fresh produce and fine foods, supplying establishments such as The Waterside Inn, Raymond Blanc Le Manoir, Tom Sellers Restaurant Story, Clare Smyth Core by Clare, Tom Aikens Muse, and the Wolseley Group. With a £30 million turnover and named as second in The Grocer’s Fast 50 companies in 2021, Smith & brock employs around 180 team members and operates a fleet of 36 temperature-controlled vans and trucks.

“Our founding purpose and philosophy was, and still is, to have the best people, supplying the best product, with the best service, at the right price, to customers who value these attributes in a supplier. In fact, you could say this is our ‘five a day’ mantra and Podfather plays an essential role in delivering it,” he concluded.