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Mobilizer 05.16.07

Customer Story: Prairie Farms Improves Delivery Accuracy and Speed

Who: Prairie Farms, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the Midwest , produces milk, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter and other products sold in stores, schools and retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart. The Carlinville, Ill.–based company is owned by 773 independent dairy farms and reported $2.2 billion in total revenue for the 2006 fiscal year.

Challenge: Delivery drivers at the 75-year-old dairy have long been doing things the old-fashioned way—with pen and paper. Drivers would write delivery quantities on paper printouts by hand, multiply it by the prices and calculate it. This led to mathematical errors, and sometimes office staff couldn't read the drivers' writing. And since drivers were out on deliveries all day, the office staff was unable to resolve handwriting issues in a timely manner. As a result, Prairie Farms was plagued with delivery errors.

Solution: After analyzing the company's paper-based process, Apacheta outfitted Prairie Farms with its RouteACE distribution software. The RouteACE software allows delivery personnel to enter data about invoices, routes and customers into an electronic format, eliminating the need for back office data entry workers.

Prairie Farm drivers are now equipped with RouteACE handhelds containing the day's deliveries. When a driver brings an order to a store, he keys all delivered items into his handheld. Once the delivery has been made, the driver goes to the truck, connects his handheld to a printer and produces a receipt of the transaction. When the driver is finished with all deliveries for the day, he connects his handheld to docking stations within the depot and the day's delivery information is uploaded into the Prairie Farms database. The RouteACE software also downloads the following day's route for the driver.

Results: “In the areas that had previously used an accounting system based on handwritten paper invoices, we have seen a drastic reduction in delivery and ordering errors,” said Mark Harris, CIO of Prairie Farms. “Overall consistency of operations has improved, and we have realized a 10 percent improvement in cash receipts using the cash collection module within the RouteACE application.”