GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- S. Abraham & Sons here began installing an automated load-building/route-planning system earlier this month at its distribution center, also here. The software will allow the wholesaler to more easily modify fixed delivery routes in response to weekly volume fluctuations.
The wholesaler also plans to use the software at its Milwaukee and Louisville, Ky., distribution centers, though it has not set a date for its implementation at these facilities. In Grand Rapids, S. Abraham & Sons will use the system for categories including dry grocery, frozens, dairy, candy and tobacco.
"This system will produce more efficient routes, resulting in a reduction in delivery miles," said Larry Derdaele, vice president of distribution at S. Abraham & Sons. "This leads to a reduction of operating expenses, delivery hours and conceivably a reduction in the number of daily delivery routes."
S. Abraham & Sons currently uses a fixed routing system, with 60 daily routes for deliveries to 4,000 customers. Each customer is assigned a permanent route and stop number, which is maintained on a master file. When S. Abraham & Sons creates customer invoices, the system prints the invoices in the sequence of the route and the stop.
This system does not easily handle variables such as special deliveries, however. "Dynamic routing makes it much easier to handle weekly fluctuations in volumes," Derdaele said.