SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Price Chopper Supermarkets here plans to go live after the first of the year with a computerized dispatch program that takes into account its multistop delivery pattern and its activity-based pay plan for drivers.
The retailer will use the program to dispatch trucks carrying all types of products, including dry grocery, frozens, general merchandise and perishables, from its central distribution center here to 93 stores, said Bill Shutt, senior project manager at Price Chopper.
Price Chopper's fleet of approximately 55 trucks and 300 trailers runs about 900 stops a week. The retailer's more than 120 drivers are compensated not on an hourly basis but on the miles they drive and other measurable activities they perform.
Price Chopper will add the specifics of its own pay package into the system, from Xata Corp., Minneapolis.
The system is also being tailored to address the issue of delivering to multiple locations. Price Chopper wanted the system to take into account the intermittent stops necessary in delivering to many different stores.
"Since we're a multiple-stop retailer, we pick up and return to the exact same location, which is our central distribution center," Shutt said. "Without knowing what the intermittent stops are, it would be harder for us to identify those runs. We would have to rely more on trip numbers, bills of lading or however else someone might designate that run."
To address this issue, Price Chopper is supplying the software provider with printed information so it can tailor the program.
"When we actually get to the implementation, it will not be a situation where the program is installed and we'll see if it works," Shutt said. "Using our printed information in the program and getting all the bugs out ahead of time will allow us to hit the ground running."
Other functions of the program include tracking of equipment, such as tractors and trailers, as well as drivers. Easy access to critical information will be a key benefit when the program goes into use.
In the past, "If we wanted to see which driver took a specific trailer number, we would have to go through dispatch sheets, which might take hours, especially if we were trying to go back a couple of days. With this program, all we need to do is run a system report and we'll have that information in seconds," he noted.
The software also features numerous ways to record driver and equipment activity. "The program has fields for pay per hour or cost per mile, and there's even a module for check calls, so you can not only update where the driver is throughout his work day but you can also add any extra charges he is incurring," he added. These extra charges could be tolls or breakdowns on the road.
In addition, the system offers a driver profile for information on compliance with Department of Transportation physicals, expiration dates of licenses and permit expiration dates.