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Hedges Chilled Distribution is a rapidly expanding UK-based, independent logistics and warehousing company. The company offers chilled, frozen and ambient (full load and groupage) distribution services throughout UK, and Europe, via its own fleet and network of European Haulage partners. Click to read about their search for a suitable EPOD system and their subsequent selection of ‘PODStar’ from Touchstar Technologies.

The company’s origins began with its formation in 1997 and Hedges grew slowly but steadily for several decades. Hedges was an existing a haulage supplier for Fardel Shipping for a number of years before in 2015 John Hedges offered the company up for sale to Paul Jackson and Ciaron Reynolds , which proved to be a significant turning point in the company’s history.

Paul and Ciaron determined that to further advance the company’s fortunes required a strategy of continuous improvement regarding delivery performance and the constant refining of, and investing in, new systems and processes. They inherited systems that were inefficient, poorly integrated and excessively paper-based. They began a search for a ‘best of breed’ planning and delivery system that led the management team to examine the PODStar system from Manchester-based TouchStar Technologies. Hedges rapidly reached the conclusion that the Touchstar solution offered the full required functionality when compared to alternative systems.

The in-house Hedges fleet comprises Mercedes tractor units, Scania tractor units and DAF 18 Tonne rigid vehicles. Drivers are equipped with Android smart phones. The Cloud-based PODStar system offers a 'Planning and Optimisation' tool that automates existing manual processes. A single screen view pulls together core data on planned jobs, run list summaries and run details. Changes to runs and run specifics can be made using easy ‘drag and drop’ methodology. All screens display pallet, weight and revenue information which allows for optimised run creation based on factors such as revenue potential and weight constraints. PODStar also provides a ‘toggle’ button that allows established and changed routes to be viewed from a map perspective, again simplifying the planning process.

Once a job manifest has been created it is then automatically sent out to the drivers remotely in the field. To further enhance the efficiency, jobs and route are displayed on a map saving Hedges fuel and time on the road. Once downloaded the drivers can receive their jobs and complete in real time. The driver’s smart phones are used for both proof of delivery / signature capture and tracking of the driver and vehicle location. Back at the Hedges headquarters, management can view a real-time update on a map showing the fleet position as well as additional data on the job status and driver performance.

With regard to their vehicle fleet, Hedges take their responsibilities in the area of employee and public safety very seriously. Drivers use their smartphones to carry out their daily vehicle checks. In the event of a discrepancy being recorded the driver is forced by PODstar to take a photo of the defect and record notes. All defected items are immediately emailed to the Fleet Manager ensuring that remedial work is scheduled without delay.

Ciaron Reynolds (Managing Director) comments: "Our rapid growth saw an exponential growth in paperwork which was a nightmare until the new system enabled us to effectively go paperless. TouchStar Technologies have been fantastic in how they’ve tailored the software to meet our exact requirement. The pace at which they adapted the system to meet our need has been instrumental in optimising our delivery operation. The trial implementation went exceedingly well and the PODStar system will shortly be rolled out fully so that our entire organisation can accrue the benefits.”

We’re delighted that Touchstar’s professionalism extends beyond the product itself, right through to the installation and support aspects of the project. Overall we're very pleased with the system and, as we continue to expand, we look forward to continuing our relationship with TouchStar."

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