17 August 2021
The Bread Factory select ‘PODStar’ from Touchstar
Technologies to transform their distribution operation
1993, The Bread Factory founder Gail Stephens decided to turn back the clock on
industrialised baking practices and bake bread as it used to be baked: by hand,
using quality ingredients and time-worn artisanal methods.
NW9-based company has come a long way since those days of Gail bringing
together a handful of London’s best bakers. Yet the stuff that matters – their
ethos, suppliers, skill and their decades-old sourdough starter cultures –
hasn’t changed. They’re still baking many of the original breads they baked at
the beginning, but also baking plenty of new breads now—as well as
The company is still delivering to some of the best chefs and
retailers in London, but they’ve also expanded further afield geographically too.
Indeed these days The Bread Factory delivers approximately 8000 baked items to
over 800 customers …. every day!
The Business Objectives
The Bread Factory’s declared mission is "giving more
people better access to the best-quality baked goods”. This
strategic aim means the constant examination of business practices and fine-tuning
efficiency throughout the distribution process. Despite the sophistication of
the baking operation, many elements of the distribution process remained
paper-based and the company took the decision to invest substantially in
upgrading core IT systems.
As an integral part of this
process, The Bread Factory sought a system that would optimise its delivery
operations. After an extensive and thorough examination of available systems
the management team selected the ‘PODStar’ Electronic Proof of Delivery system
from Manchester-based Touchstar Technologies.
The Cloud-based PODStar system offers a planning
tool that automates existing manual processes. The Bread Factory will import
up-to-date routing and scheduling data from their existing Paragon system which
will allow PODStar to create job runs and to allocate drivers and vehicles. Once a manifest has
been created it is then automatically sent out to the drivers. Once
downloaded the driver can receive their jobs and, ultimately, provide
electronic proof of delivery in real time. The delivery drivers are equipped
with smart phones with the handheld device used for bar code scanning, proof of
delivery and signature capture and tracking of the driver location.
Back at the
NW9 office, management can view a real-time update on a ‘jobs table’
and the driver’s location, as well as additional data on the job status
and driver performance. The system will also be invaluable for ‘asset tracking’
the valuable pallets, cages and baskets utilised for baked goods transportation,
via PODStar’s integrated bar code scanning facilities.
The Project Goals
Danny Levitzky, Operations
Manager for The Bread Factory will be heading
up the implementation team, working closely with the business development and
project management teams from Touchstar. He anticipates many tangible benefits
from the introduction of the system:
“The PODStar system will actually be
receiving data from a number of separate Bread Factory IT packages. Touchstar
have an impressive integration tool, called Evolink, which will handle this
Once we go ‘live’ with the new system we believe it will transform
our operation in a multitude of ways. It’s going to be an asset for customers
chasing POD’s or wanting ETA’s on their deliveries and for locating the drivers
The proof of delivery system will immediately
reduce our paper usage by at least 80 per cent.
The PODStar mobile app is very easy to
use with very minimal driver training on the handhelds required. I’m
anticipating rapid roll out of the system out to all of my 35 drivers with very
minimal disruption to our operation.”