US Foods is one of America’s leading foodservice distributors for restaurants, healthcare and hospitality
facilities, government operations and educational institutions. Based in Rosemont, Ill., it offers more than 350,000 national brand products and high-quality private label items ranging from meats to produce to frozen foods.
As US Foods continued to grow its customer base—expanding to more than 60 distribution centers and 25,000 associates nationwide—it needed to improve upon the ways its operations were run.
Historically, all orders were delivered through a time-consuming, manual, paper-based method.
With a rapidly expanding footprint and thousands more daily orders, paper-based invoicing was simply taking too much time. This traditional logistics method also made it difficult for drivers and managers to recognize and correct shorts and other errors in a timely manner.
US Foods needed to improve efficiency to keep up with growing demand.
In the foodservice industry, if you’re unable to deliver a product when planned, customers will likely look to a local resource for a replacement. This means that, even if a missing shipment of lettuce is found back at the distribution center, it’s often already too late, as your customer will have purchased lettuce from the corner market to replace what wasn’t delivered.
Not only would this decrease customer satisfaction, but it would also mean that the food distributor would have to absorb the cost of the product that wasn’t delivered on time. While “shorts on truck” are a common occurrence in the foodservice industry, US Foods wanted to find a way to eliminate as many shorts as possible.
In the search for an easier, more efficient method for managing increasing order volumes, US Foods turned to Descartes Perform solutions, produced by Descartes Systems Group, Canada, to help improve food distribution operations. Descartes Perform for Food is a cloud-based solution that enables customers to reduce paper and paper processes across every step of the food distribution process, which limits overages, shortages and damages while lowering customer service costs.
Descartes Perform for Food enabled US Foods to make the distribution portion of its business highly accurate and significantly more efficient, while cutting costs by eliminating paper and manual processing. Drivers now receive routes, orders and manifests electronically, enabling US Foods to quickly confirm they are pulling the correct load. Lengthy paper printouts are no longer needed to ensure drivers leave with an accurate order.
This technology also enables their distribution centers to instantly receive real-time delivery status as needed, and send new or updated assignments to drivers, wherever they are, within seconds. Drivers can now manage any overages, shortages and damages issues directly through their mobile devices, and update delivery records and invoices in real-time rather than having to mark them up with handwritten notes and hope they are interpreted correctly by depot staff at the end of the day.
Drivers can now quickly create a clean invoice for every delivery, in real-time, via electronic manifests, barcode scanning and by printing on-demand receipts in the field.
Regardless of whether they are delivering a small order to an independent company or multiple pallet loads to a major facility, drivers can now handle all scenarios accurately and efficiently—and ensure the customer gets a clean invoice and exceptional service at the point of delivery.
“Descartes Perform for Food has enabled us to better manage our resources, and most importantly, our people’s time. Efficiency and accuracy are two of the qualities our customers expect from US Foods, every delivery, every day. This technology has enabled us to uphold these qualities more strongly than ever before,” says Federico Masias, director of supply chain systems, US Foods.
While the solution provides the tools to correct any overages, shortages and damages issues directly from drivers’ mobile devices in the field, US Foods has also been able to improve upon its overages, shortages and damages through better management at the distribution center.
With the Descartes Perform solution, US Foods can use integrated barcode scanning—scanning at load, upon delivery and at customer return—to identify and track the location of all products and assets at all times, which assists with pre- and post-trip reconciliation. The correct products get on the correct pallets and into the correct trucks and are delivered to the correct locations. Limiting overages, shortages and damages issues from the start means fewer errors and fewer costly and time-consuming corrections.
Improving the customer experience
One of the major benefits of working with Descartes Perform for Food has been the trust factor that the product has engendered between US Foods and its customers.
“Our customers understand that with this solution, their orders are accurate, on time and accounted for,” adds Masias. “Gone are the days when customers and drivers needed to waste valuable time reviewing each line item and pallet content to ensure accuracy. Now, Descartes Perform for Food does it for us.”
By consistently receiving accurate orders, customers associate US Foods with efficiency and accuracy. US Foods has also seen its customer service improve, as there are fewer calls about missing items. With real-time updating of delivery reports and invoices by drivers, disputes are significantly minimized as the distribution center, customers and drivers all have the same information at the same time.