IoT & Azure Solution

UK’s leading FoodServiceCo gains real-time visibility over its Food supply chain using a robust Azure-based IoT Solution

In 1988, Mustafa Kiamil (founder of FoodserviceCo), a restaurateur, spotted a gap in the food industry. This motivated him to establish a more efficient food and drink supply for eateries in North London. He went on to smoothen the daily operations of several cafes, quick service restaurants, pubs, hotels, schools, local authorities and more. A noble concept had soon metamorphosed into a successful business.

In 2009, Mustafa and his team launched an online-ordering service. FoodServiceCo’s customers could now visit the website and order products. The sales figures escalated. In 2013, 33% sales poured in from online orders (its 63% at present and growing).

In 25 years, FoodserviceCo spread across geographies to become UK’s leading food delivery specialist. The orders, employees, products, customers and distribution centres grew. However, the way the business was done remained the same. It started the tale of trouble.

Restrictions of Manual Reporting System

FoodServiceCo depended on a manual reporting system. The truck drivers would deliver food products and return to the warehouses after a 12-hour shift. The fleet managers and drivers together went through a manual procedure of data entry lasting 2-3 hours. Sometimes it stretched to 4 hours! This happened every day across 11 distribution centres.

It began with drivers being assigned to vehicles, product & delivery information coupled with printed invoices. The drivers would take the vehicles and delivery information and leave the warehouse at 6 am. Whether every task had run smoothly- vehicle & driver condition, journey, product delivery, routes, cash collection, credit notes, customer review etc. remained a mystery until the drivers returned. A lack of a tracking system meant that the fleet manager could not salvage a mishap with a driver/truck in transit. This could have created avenues for miscommunication and an inefficient damage control.

FoodServiceCo had several opportunities in the market. But this manual reporting system used up a lot of time and restricted organizational improvement. It had the possibility of affecting the trust and happiness quotient between employees.

Possibility of Lawsuits & Threat to Customer Satisfaction

FoodServiceCo’s fleet managers and truck drivers could not monitor or control the temperature of trucks whilst in transit. This could end up in compromised quality of food products, increased product returns, non-regulatory compliances and lawsuits.

FoodServiceCo’s trucks were equipped with freezers and chillers. But they were not temperature controlled. Whilst in the warehouse, the food products were loaded into the trucks, set at -25° Celsius. However, the drivers or fleet managers had no way of controlling or knowing the temperature once the trucks were in transit. Thus, they had no clue about the quality of the food products delivered; whether they were delivered in the desired temperature. In case of any downfall or shortcoming, the food product quality would be compromised. If such products were consumed, they could result into product returns, refunds, loss of inventory, non-regulatory compliances and lawsuits. It could have led to loss of customer, loss of customer confidence and negative online reviews.

Loss of Revenue

FoodServiceCo faced chances of product returns, refunds, customer dissatisfaction, non-regulatory compliances and lawsuits. Every product returned and refunded affected the inventory. Being in the food delivery service meant high volumes and low margins. It meant that if every product wasn’t making profits, it was making losses. It was a threat for the company as it delivered products worth £1 million every day.

The Next Step: Requirements, Challenges, Technologies

Teams FoodServiceCo and Saviant met at FoodServiceCo’s Head Office in London. Our consultants walked and talked with the truck drivers. It appeared that ensuring an effective and transparent communication system would solve all the problems. It meant the product condition also had to be communicated between the drivers and fleet managers. Thus, temperature sensors were installed in the delivery trucks which the drivers and managers could monitor and control. These would keep a check on product quality.

Windows mobile application development

Using IoT and Azure, a mobile phone application was developed. It was accessible to fleet managers and drivers and ensured transparency throughout the supply chain. Whilst the trucks were in transit, this application would collect, store and monitor product quality data using IoT enabled devices. The order time, location, quantity and invoices of orders was provided to drivers, helpers and Fleet Managers through this app.

Impact of the Solution

The mobile phone application simplified operations at FoodServiceCo. It ensured effective communication between the drivers and fleet managers. The fleet managers achieved real time visibility over the entire supply chain. The inventory reconciliation, which earlier took 2-3 hours from 300 drivers daily, has simplified. Overall, this new solution saved 600 hours daily and 18,000 hours in a month.

Today, the COO of FoodserviceCo quips, “I'm excited with the possibilities that we've been able to create to delight our customers by this transformational solution.”

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