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Efficiency: Dead Ahead

Trimble technology provides keys to driving down idle time and deadhead miles for a grocery chain’s private fleet

For nearly every industry, waste contributes to higher costs. But in the freight industry, the stakes are even higher. In freight, waste means that more fuel is consumed, more carbon is emitted, and drivers spend more hours sitting idle. 

One of the most common examples of waste in the freight industry occurs when truckers drive empty.The National Private Truck Council estimated that the frequency of “deadhead” miles for private fleets was 26 percent in 2021. And those empty miles are challenging for operators, vehicles, the economy and the environment.

Recognizing the drag that load and transit inefficiencies can have on their fleet operations, many companies have turned to technology to disrupt their efficiency bottlenecks. For example, when Giant Eagle, Inc., one of the largest grocery retailers and distributors in the U.S., identified that it was carrying waste alongside its crates of fresh food, it implemented Trimble technology to help. 

With approximately $8.9 billion USD in annual sales, Giant Eagle operates more than 400 retail locations, ranging in size from 120,000 square-foot supermarkets to small neighborhood markets and fuel and convenience locations. Managing both corporate and independently- owned and operated stores across a four-state region, Giant Eagle employs more than 32,000 employees throughout stores, retail support centers and offices. 

As the company has steadily expanded, however, not all of its business methods grew alongside it, creating productivity roadblocks in its supply chain operations. Giant Eagle’s leadership knew it needed to implement a technology solution to improve the efficiency and productivity of its extensive private fleet. 

Envisioning a paperless system that delivered real-time information across business units, the company began the process of researching available software products. One fact was clear: the solution had to include the ability to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to help drive smarter decisions.

Giant Eagle found its solution in TMW.Suite, an enterprise-level, fully integrated transportation management system (TMS) designed to handle the entire order-to-cash process, enabling companies to increase operational efficiency at every level. 

The company began its implementation of the software by defining and establishing benchmarks for what it deemed a perfect delivery, thereby setting a baseline from which to compare all performance metrics.

The company also implemented a Trimble web-based performance-monitoring application that automates metrics measurements. This application was especially appealing considering the immense size of the fleet—232 power units and approximately 350 dry vans and 350 refrigerated vehicles.

Following implementation, Giant Eagle was able to track KPIs crucial to improving productivity and lowering expenses including idle time, dock waiting and delivery times, on time percentage, accidents and speeding incidents, and cases shipped.

By providing heightened awareness company-wide, Trimble’s technology has enabled Giant Eagle to realize a 25 percent reduction in idle time, which has translated into significant savings in fuel costs, along with an 8 percent decrease in the number of deadhead miles.

With the integration of TMW.Suite, Giant Eagle has not only been able to break through significant productivity roadblocks, it is utilizing technology to develop a more sustainable and efficient fleet. That's a positive destination worth driving towards.