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The Bread Factory select ‘PODStar’ from Touchstar Technologies to transform their distribution operation


In 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. The 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 viennoiserie.

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 requirement.

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 and assets. 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.”

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