‘The team at A.F. Blakemore set us a challenge to improve their operation! They were convinced that they could save time and money and, with the help of Piroto, set about solving the glitches in their tracking systems.’
Our customer, A.F. Blakemore and Son, is a leading retailer, wholesaler and distributor of food and drink. They operate a diverse business, split into nine divisions based on the key activity. This case study focuses on the distribution arm and, specifically on the task of delivering ambient, chilled, frozen, alcohol and bonded products to Spar and Euro Garages stores.
The Customer’s Challenge
Like many distributors A.F. Blakemore transport goods in re-usable trays loaded into cages. Both trays and cages are identified using a thermal transfer, self-adhesive label with a barcode and customer information printed on them. They were experiencing a number of issues with this system:
- difficulty removing sticky, adhesive residue from the trays and cages after use. Scraping off used labels was wasting time and effort. Plus, eventually, trays and cages had to be replaced as they became damaged by the process of removing the labels
- backing paper on the warehouse floor, along with used labels, stuck fast and could only be removed by specialist cleaners who burned off the waste
- printer ribbons sometimes creased making the printed barcode unreadable so that the label would need to be reprinted.
A.F. Blakemore were aware that these issues were costing them valuable time and money; they approached Piroto to explore a solution.
We discussed the issues with the Operations and Transport Managers and they issued us a challenge! They wanted a solution that would meet all of the following criteria:
- reduce the amount of backing paper waste
- improve the appearance of the trays and cages
- extend the life of the trays and cages
- reduce the barcode errors
- reduce costs.
What we delivered
To meet the challenge, and being particularly mindful of the direct cost, our technical team designed a label with a tear off portion, meaning that the whole of the backing paper is not removed. This has two benefits; first there is not so much waste and second there is less adhesive to stick to the trays and cages.
We also changed the label material to a direct thermal thus eliminating the need for a print ribbon.
The impact on the customer’s business
The Operations Manager has already reported an improvement in productivity and efficiency using the new labels. In summary, the customer has benefited in a number of areas:
- a direct cost saving of over £1 per 1,000 labels
- improved productivity due to less downtime to reprint barcodes
- trays and cages look better as the amount of residue left had been reduced
- less waste on the warehouse floor to clear up.
Importantly the Transport Manager is now in a position to put together a fully costed business case for moving away from adhesive labels in favour of non-adhesive tags at the suggestion of Piroto. Whilst the direct cost of the tags is higher, there is still likely to be an overall saving when the life of expensive cages and trays are considered.