Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

Creating Supply Chain Solutions
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – MapMechanics tunes up TruckStops for the road ahead

MapMechanics is the UK’s leading specialist in logistics software, scheduling optimisation and location-based planning and analysis, helping clients to gain efficiencies within their existing processes, find new business opportunities and reduce the cost of new business.


MapMechanics recognises that every logistics operation is different, but with over 25 years’ experience, they have exceptional knowledge and understanding of routing and territory optimisation and are able to configure solutions to meet each organisation’s specific needs.

MapMechanics’ optimisation solutions are widely used in industries as diverse as home delivery, carpet manufacture, distribution of unaddressed mail, meter-reading, and milk collection and delivery.

After distributing MicroAnalytics products for many years, in 2010 MapMechanics acquired the TruckStops routing and scheduling solutions and the OptiSite territory management software from its American originator. Today under MapMechanics’ ownership there are many satisfied TruckStops customers here in the UK and around the world. Since taking on TruckStops, MapMechanics have developed the product range in-house and have delivered a number of enhancements to the user base, the latest of which, a rewrite of its TruckStops routing and scheduling solution, was introduced at the end of April 2013.

Mary Short, founder and Sales Director at MapMechanics, spoke to Warehouse Logistics News.

Warehouse Logistics News – First of all, Mary, what does your role as Sales Director involve?

I head up our logistics sales team. I’m personally responsible for international territories, and have recently been spearheading our US campaign.

WLN – You mention you head up the logistics sales. Do you have a different sales team for other sectors?

We have three interlinked areas: Logistics, GIS (geographic information systems) and Data. Our sales teams reflect this and our customers benefit from the synergy as all the teams work closely together.

WLN – Are you personally involved in the development of tailored solutions for individual clients?

Yes, I am. All of our sales personnel take the time to understand our clients’ individual priorities in order to satisfy their business requirements. For example I personally coordinated our GLASSOLUTIONS Saint-Gobain solution, which involved the development of custom software to optimise vehicle loading for different sizes and shapes of glass. This then worked in tandem with SAP and TruckStops VRS to create a single, joined-up planning and scheduling operation.

WLN – Who are the other key people in the business besides you?

The other senior management people are Chris Greenwood – Managing Director, Theresa Barlow – General Manager and David Cockrell – Head of GIS and Data sales.


WLN – Where are you based? Where do you develop your solutions?

Our head offices are located in Brentford, London, where our team of multi-disciplinary developers produce our solutions.

WLN – Do you have any offices in other countries?

Recently we have opened offices in Florida. We also have a history of forging strong distributor, partner and reseller relationships with companies across the world to ensure that we offer our customers the most appropriate solutions for each application, together with the consultancy, bespoke development, training and technical support as required.

WLN – Presumably thanks to global telecoms and the Internet, it’s quite straightforward for your tech team in the UK to develop tailored solutions for overseas customers. Is that right?

Yes, that’s true. We have many, happy UK and international customers who have found that the use of internet-based technology such as WebEx provides unique advantages over traditional training days. These include convenient session times, no need for travelling and time to digest information between sessions. Goodman Fielder, an Australian based customer conducted all communication and initial set-up with us remotely. Similarly, some of our UK customers mix and match traditional face-to-face and remote access training, making the most of both methods.

WLN – What proportion of your revenue comes from outside the UK? Which are your most important markets?

MapMechanics has a strong international presence, and our revenue streams reflect this. The UK remains our primary market, but we are increasingly working internationally, with some companies implementing TruckStops in more than one continent. Recently we have been very active in North America and Australasia, and we are looking to develop further in Latin America and South-East Asia.

WLN – Do you need to buy separate digital map data to use your solutions, or do you supply the data as well?

All the map, postcode and road speed data you need to optimise routes is included in TruckStops in the UK. Additionally, the latest version links to “HERE” – the new cloud-based Nokia Location Platform, giving you access to worldwide, backdrop mapping. For those who require additional data, our e-commerce website has a huge selection of maps, boundaries and geocoding data for use in TruckStops and other systems. Our experienced data experts help each client select the right data for their specific scenario.

WLN – You have a very broad customer base, as shown in your case studies (see other page). What are the common factors linking your solutions for individual clients?

Most organisations using TruckStops need to optimise multi-drop routing and scheduling or collect and deliver operations. The common factors for all these customers are that they need the cost reduction, improved service levels, increased efficiency and ability to better plan for the future, that TruckStops delivers. TruckStops also helps get the best balance of own fleet and third party carriers. TruckStops has a proven track record delivering these benefits and as a result we have deployments in many diverse industries, which include bottled gas delivery, field service engineers, home delivery operations, retailers, supermarkets, utilities and many more.


WLN – How different are your solutions from other logistics software providers?

We believe strongly in taking knowledge gained in different areas and industries and applying that experience throughout the business. This gives us a unique approach to problem solving and developing solutions compared with companies that focus on only one area. TruckStops is a prime example of this, comfortably integrating with depot network management, territory management and GIS solutions and other software, such as ERP/WMS/order management systems in order to provide a single, unified solution.

TruckStops is also exceptionally easy to configure to specific uses, and so is often used by organisations that want to ensure the software adapts to the way they operate, rather than the organisation having to alter its methods to fit with the software. For example, one of our customers already had a competitor product in place, but just wasn’t able to configure it to meet their need to collect and deliver. TruckStops was able to successfully optimise that operation.

WLN – What different products are in the current TruckStops range?

Our current routing and scheduling solutions include TruckStops VRS, TruckStops Intro, TruckStops Loads and TruckStops USA. TruckStops VRS is a money-saving vehicle routing and scheduling solution focusing on multi-drop and multi-route planning at an affordable price; TruckStops Intro works on the same basis but is designed for smaller scale operations; TruckStops Loads handles trunking, tramping and other types of bulk movement; and TruckStops USA is a new version adapted to include up-to-date links to other USA software products.

WLN – Who is TruckStops Intro aimed at?

TruckStops Intro was specifically designed at half the price of TruckStops VRS for use with smaller fleets, enabling even organisations with just one depot to save time and money. It has all the functionality of TruckStops VRS, but works with fewer vehicles, time windows and quantity fields.

WLN – Is it quite straightforward to graduate from TruckStops Intro to TruckStops VRS?

TruckStops Intro and TruckStops VRS both come from the same mould, making it incredibly straightforward to move from TruckStops Intro to TruckStops VRS. The look, feel and functionality in both versions are identical – moving is a painless experience for the user.

WLN – You’ve updated TruckStops VRS. Can you tell us about that?

We have rewritten TruckStops from the ground up, creating a strong basis for further development work and enhancements and reinforcing our commitment to the brand in the future. The latest version brings major changes to the user interface, providing a sleek and intuitive user experience, making it even easier to find the features you need. Modifying and editing data is now even more straightforward; you can sort, filter and rearrange data quickly and easily link to other systems. TruckStops has dual-monitor support, making it possible to ‘unpin’ the map and send it to your second monitor, while performing analysis work on the primary (or vice versa). The reporting system has also received a major overhaul, now featuring even more tools that enable you to analyse results and customise reporting. We’re also supporting TruckStops with a new online help system, which contains comprehensive answers to standard questions about TruckStops, as well as how-to guides and videos. Multi-language functionality is also much improved, with support for Unicode characters in both the user interface and data structure, making it a strong contender for use in a country’s local languages.


WLN – Do people buy your products outright, or do you offer rental versions of any TruckStops products?

Most of our products are offered on licences which can be renewed annually and include support and maintenance. Responding to current trends where value for money and cash-flow considerations are the driving force behind every investment, we are now offering rental options for both TruckStops VRS and TruckStops Intro, meaning it now costs hundreds, not thousands, of pounds to benefit from powerful routing and scheduling.

WLN – Are there any restrictions to renting your software as opposed to buying it?

There are no restrictions, you have access to the same powerful routing and scheduling features and benefits.

WLN – What are the steps in having a MapMechanics solution? How long does it take from initial conversation to going live?

The first step is to talk to the client about what they need, their timescales and the KPIs they want to achieve. We then look at some of their data and agree milestones and deliverables, before starting implementation. Implementation obviously depends on project complexity and the customer’s own preferred roll out plans, so it can range from a few days to several months or more when dealing with large-scale projects.

WLN – How much can your solutions be tailored to meet different organisations’ needs? What kind of increases in efficiency can your solutions achieve?

TruckStops is incredibly customisable by default. It supports multi-drop, multi-depot solutions and takes into account many variables such as type, quantity and size of goods, vehicle capacity and special features such as multi-temperature compartments and vehicle access restrictions. It also accommodates fixed routes, daily scheduling, collect and deliver operations and more, all while offering typical cost reductions of 10-30% and planning time savings of 40-50% in an average logistics operation.

We offer consultancy services as part of our solutions, helping prepare the data or software so it is ready for use in a way that meshes with your business procedures and goals. This could be in the form of integration with existing systems or development of additional functionality for example.


WLN – How do your solutions help people find new business opportunities and reduce the cost of new business?

One of the major benefits of our solutions is the ability to perform ‘what if’ scenarios. This could be potentially opening a new site, or assessing the impact of taking on a new account. Our solutions also look at such questions as, what costs would be involved? Would new depots or vehicles be required? They allow you to continuously revise and improve your strategies without going in blind.

WLN – What did you do to celebrate your company’s 25th anniversary last year?

We hosted a ‘Technology Forum’ at the British Library, which was well attended by a wide range of companies from different industries. We showcased our development within the company, products and the exciting projects that we have going forwards.

WLN – How many of the original team are still in the business?

The core team of three are still working with us, and over the years the newer recruits have strengthened our offering, particularly adding greater software development skills. The whole team continues to work together to provide innovative solutions to help our customers meet their business goals.

Logo_MapMechanicsWLN – Finally, where do you see MapMechanics going from here?

MapMechanics will continue to focus on its core strengths and expand into new markets. And as we grow, we want to ensure we continue to offer the same caring, friendly service and attention to detail, that our customers have grown to expect from us.


Tel: 020 8568 7000

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