STERNFENSTER WINDOW SYSTEMS DRIVE NEW DELIVERY EFFICIENCES WITH THE HELP OF PODFather.
Lincoln-based Sternfenster Window Systems is one of the UK’s largest trade fabricators of uPVC and Aluminium Windows and Doors Recently, it undertook an extensive overhaul of the planning and scheduling of its customer deliveries which cover a wide geographical footprint.
This was done by migrating to a cloud-enabled platform which provides the company with ‘live’ scheduling and delivery through a system called PODFather, a software platform and back office solution designed for the field service and delivery sector.
Sternfenster is a family run business established in 1974 run by Mike and Simon Parczuk, the sons of the original owner. It provides a comprehensive range of home improvement products to both trade and retail industries. The company was the first in the UK to acquire a seamless welder from Graf Synergy which has revolutionised the way uPVC windows and doors are produced.
With a bulging order book and the management of delivery schedules to track and monitor the flow of product from the production warehouse to the construction site, Sternfenster had been looking to streamline the complexity of its delivery scheduling.
Moreover, this allowed its driver fleet to provide updates of any unplanned or unforeseen delivery process issues, thereby further enhancing its continual customer excellence strategy. The company had identified a need to upgrade its existing delivery scheduling technology and opted for PODFather, a Cloud-based platform which now allows Sternfenster to plan, schedule and manage ‘field’ operations in real-time by helping to reduce any paper-based transactional processes.
Mike Parczuk, Managing Director of Sternfenster Window Systems takes up the story;
“With PODFather, we are switching to handheld devices that are more reliable and provide our back-office support team with updates every 5 minutes. Therefore, if any items are missing or damaged we can respond immediately.
“We have all drivers across our fleet using the PODFather system. This means we can provide customers with a two-hour delivery window timeframe and enables us to continually monitor/log the delivery times across the fleet to check progress.
Moreover, we added a vehicle check before drivers leave our depot which also significantly reduces the amount of paperwork they need to handle. Therefore, delivery times/windows are re-calculated when the driver is ready to leave thus ensuring the ‘window’ to the customers is as accurate as possible.”
Before the switch to PODFather, Sternfenster used its own ‘in house’ system where every item was scanned onto the vehicles which in turn, allowed drivers to scan items off their load. However, the system for in-cab driver use was built on a Windows platform several years ago and although it has been meticulously maintained and updated, it was beginning to show signs of unreliability.
Another issue from the legacy system was that Sternfenster only got delivery updates when the vehicle returned to the depot. Given the geographical spread of some of the deliveries, this could be 2-3 days after departure, therefore Sternfenster was very much reliant on drivers phoning in and reporting any logistic or delivery issues.
Sternfenster now has completely streamlined its delivery methodology by adopting real-time Job booking, tariffs and invoice processing, driver GPS tracking, route planning and optimisation, KPI reporting and asset tracking. Today, Sternfenster’s back-office support is the heartbeat of its operation, enabling the deployment of its delivery vehicles to construction sites across the country to team to be efficiently managed by a Cloud-based technology which has transformed its business report scheduling.
Colin McCreadie, managing director of PODFather comments;
“Given the complexities of Sternfenster’s delivery scheduling across the UK, a prerequisite is to get product to customers safely and securely within a pre-agreed time window. Nothing can be left to chance in achieving this. PODFather’s real-time reporting will create a raft of efficiencies throughout the company and maintain high-level logistical and transactional administrative support at all times.”
PODFather can be used on either rugged or consumer devices supported by Windows Mobile or Android, drivers can plan and allocate for an entire week if required. Jobs are completed electronically, capturing scanned barcodes and RFID tags, customer name and signature, photos, GPS and auto-date/time stamps.
Proof of Delivery receipts (PODs) are received as soon as the delivery is made, with options to auto-email them to customers and an online customer portal which improves customer service for online job booking and POD retrieval. Moreover, an Application Programming Interface is available to seamlessly integrate PODFather with the back office and KPI reports are available, together with financial information by customer, driver or job type.
Mike Marczak again “PODFather allows us to give real-time view of job progress, whilst driving efficiencies throughout any organization involved in logistical and delivery scheduling. This significantly helps revenues, cash flow and customer service levels, whilst helping reduce the burden of administrative costs and inefficient paper-based systems.”
Sternfenster operates from an 100,000 square metre state of the art factory in Lincoln. It manufactures over 3500 sealed units per week using its own toughening plant and two fully automated glass lines.