In 1989 Eastern Data Group Limited (EDG) and Dairy Crest Limited began working together to produce a hand held computer solution which would revolutionise the dairy delivery service.
Dairy Crest began life as the milk processing operation of the Milk Marketing Board, the public body set up in 1933 to control the production and distribution of milk in the UK. Today, they are the UK’s leading chilled dairy foods company, and one of the ten largest food companies in Britain. As one of the UK’s premier chilled dairy foods companies, Dairy Crest focus on building leadership positions in branded and added value markets across the dairy sector and investing in industry leading facilities to create a competitive advantage.
Dairy Crest operates in two divisions. The Foods division consists of spreads, cheese and fresh dairy products, while the Dairies division incorporates liquid products, household and ingredients. Dairy Crest has over 8,500 employees across 21 sites throughout the UK and Ireland.
The Dairy Crest brands are family favorites, found in fridges the length and breadth of the country. These include Cathedral City, Country Life Cheese, Clover, Utterly Butterly, St. Ivel Gold, Frijj and Country Life Organic Milk.
Over an eighteen month period Unisys computers were deployed to assist with stock control, locally based invoicing, franchise control and delivery to both doorstep customers and shop accounts.
Amongst the many features and benefits of software are true multi-user software; allowing several users to perform the same task. True multi-tasking is a standard element allowing one user to continue data entry whilst printing. Utilizing the software’s in-built recovery, operational flexibility and mainframe design techniques means that Opal provides the users with a feature rich, predictable on-line solution.
In 1995, EDG and Dairy Crest deployed almost 400 hand held computer solutions into their Food Service division. The FieldMaster software integrates directly with Opal and produces delivery notes, priced delivery notes, invoices, payment collection, cash reconciliation, vehicle check-list for reporting defects, stock control and reconciliation for the individual route. Training was tailored to match the requirements of each individual sales person and this helped produce a company-wide standard method of operation. A considerable reduction in paper afforded
the driver more opportunity to spend longer with each customer or interact with more customers. With a more efficient customer service, a significant increase in sales and improved cash-flow per route was recorded.
With information captured at the point of sale, Dairy Crest was able to move clerical staff from data entry tasks to more productive account management. A daily audit report highlights the stock position at each stage of the working day. Any stock discrepancies are identified immediately and rectified whilst the sales person is on-site.
As part of this £1m project, Dairy Crest insisted that senior staff at EDG “rode the route” to obtain a full understanding of the Dairy Crest business.
Andy French, EDG Managing Director commented “having seen the problems at first hand it was essential that we provided a solution that addressed the problem. Too often we have seen a company forced to change its’ business processes to suit a software package”. A road- show was established, titled “The way forward is in our hands”, and this demonstrated the system to each depot prior to installation.
Bob Malcolm, Dairy Crest Household Systems’ Manager explains “we felt the need to walk our teams through the solution and explain the benefits to us, the sales team and our customers. Too often systems are thrust onto people and you lose the ownership. Our staff saw the hand held solution as an investment in them and enthusiastically embraced the new technology”.
In 1999 Dairy Crest, having measured the benefits of a hand held computer solution, began the deployment of a new solution to over 2,000 Doorstep Delivery Milkmen. Starting with a trial in Swindon, and then moving nationwide, Dairy Crest deployed the hand held solution, RoundMaster, at a rate of 150 routes per month. The final 1,000 routes were deployed in a 3 month period. The RoundMaster system integrates with the Dairy Crest depot solution, a fully bespoke call centre, and the company Direct Debit system. All 1.6m doorstep customers have the option to pay their invoice by Direct Debit whilst retaining a weekly, or monthly, itemised invoice. In 2006 Dairy Crest acquired Express Dairies, another EDG customer, and the number of RoundMaster solutions increased to 3,500.
The system records all sales and payments made by the doorstep customers, as well as any holiday dates. Buying opportunities have increased with the introduction of “Incremental Billing”. This allows Dairy Crest to lower the price of milk purchased once the consumer exceeds a predetermined threshold.
Today, Dairy Crest and EDG approach the 25th anniversary of their relationship. As technology has marched on, both are embarking upon new business processes which will make each element stronger and the combined solution a world leader.
3,500 RoundMaster 500 FieldMaster.