Automated delivery route map production cuts planning time and streamlines service
December 10, 2009 — By introducing a mapping system from MapMechanics, directory and catalogue distribution specialist Deya has been able to reduce the amount of time spent on planning house-to-house delivery routes significantly, and at the same time provide staff with consistent, easily-understood maps of each delivery area. Around 40,000 custom maps are now being generated annually.
“We’d been looking for something like this for years,” says Deya’s chief information officer, Andy Fisher. “Our existing database system was already able to generate lists of delivery addresses, but the missing part was the map. The system from MapMechanics has supplied it.”
He explains that in the past, local Deya organisers would sometimes produce maps for deliverers themselves. “But this was time-consuming, and there was no standardisation about it. Also sometimes they would say they could not find maps.”
Deya distributes millions of directories to businesses and consumers for major clients such as Yellow Pages and BT, as well as other catalogues and samples. The company covers the entire country every year, using a network of around 1,500 temporary field stations based on schools, sports facilities and similar public locations. Giving clear instructions to delivery staff, who may vary from year to year, is therefore vital to the efficiency of the operation.
For creating the new maps, MapMechanics has supplied Deya with GeoConcept Enterprise, the powerful digital mapping and geographic information system. Deya’s database system outputs delivery routes based on historic coverage patterns, and this information is now imported to MapMechanics’ Territories Module within GeoConcept, which uses its redistricting function to create maps encompassing all the postcodes on each route.
GeoConcept’s batch print facility is then used to output the maps to PDF document format, and these are printed out and despatched to the local organisers. Typically, between 200 and 300 maps are required for each distribution.
“GeoConcept neatly scales the map automatically to fit on an A4 or A3 page,” Andy Fisher says, “and also orientates the map to either portrait or landscape format.” A further advantage of GeoConcept over other mapping systems, he adds, is its SmartLabel function. This ensures that street names and other detail are printed clearly on the maps, avoiding overlap with other annotation.
“It really is smart. If the street name won’t fit in the logical place, the system will either reduce the point size or place it in the nearest available space and use a ledger line to link it to the location it refers to.”
The system from MapMechanics has brought a clear business gain, he says, because local organisers no longer have to worry about finding or creating maps themselves. “
They can concentrate on their primary task of recruiting and managing the deliverers.” Andy Fisher says delivery staff have also been pleased with the maps. “It’s another step in the process of making the whole delivery operation as smooth and efficient as possible.”
MapMechanics is a major supplier of software solutions. It is the UK distributor of the GeoConcept geographic information system, which is used extensively in a diverse range of fields such as retail planning, marketing, healthcare, environmental planning and management, transport and logistics, site selection, network planning and territory allocation, telematics and command and control applications, policing and broadcasting, and central and local government.
MapMechanics has over 20 years’ experience in using map-based solutions to help organisations to identify new opportunities and improve efficiency while still offering excellent customer service. Examples include decisions such as where to install ATMs, how to collect and deliver milk, how allocate leads to franchisees, and how to operate a school book service efficiently or deliver prisoners to court – and much more.
MapMechanics helps improve any business process that has a geographic component. Established as Kingswood Ltd in 1987, the company soon gained an enviable reputation for expertise in map related technologies. Increasingly customers referred to the company as “the MapMechanics”, and now the company name reflects this acknowledged area of competence.
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