London, UK, 02 April 2007: In December 2006, Rentokil Initial announced the acquisition of premium parcel carrier Target Express with the objective of creating a market-leading business focused on customer care. Since this time, both companies have been working to integrate the City Link and Target Express branch network. The GeoConcept mapping and geographical information system from MapMechanics will play an essential role in the integration process.
“GeoConcept will be used extensively for optimising the network and allocating our work logically between bases,” says Tim Burge, City Link’s general manager, network development. “It will be an important support tool in the process of change management.”
“There are significant areas of overlap between the two networks,” he says, “but GeoConcept will help us come up with a logical plan to address this issue, and will also help us identify areas where we may still need to extend our presence by taking on new property.”
City Link has already been using GeoConcept in a separate programme to manage its existing network. Over the past two years the company has been moving from its previous system of franchising its branch network to a corporately-owned branch business model. It plans to complete the buyback programme by the third quarter of 2007.
The programme has brought new opportunities to allocate work more appropriately between branches. Burge says: “Instead of being driven by a ‘postcode auction’, where we had to allocate a defined postcode area to each franchisee, we’ve been able to divide the territory between branches on the basis of operational efficiency.”
GeoConcept can help in this kind of analysis by applying features such as “redistricting”, which enables users to see the effect of transferring business between branch areas to reflect the geography, road conditions, traffic density and other local factors.
In order to perform this kind of analysis, City Link has opted for a combination of software products from MapMechanics, which work together to provide an integrated solution. They include Andes raster street-level mapping and AA 1:200,000 vector and raster mapping, as well as ITIS road-speed data for Great Britain, which is derived from millions of real-life records of traffic speeds taken from vehicles travelling at different times of day.
Armed with these resources, City Link has applied GeoConcept in two ways. One is straightforward territory planning and analysis: seeing which branches should serve which postcode areas, and optimising those areas – for instance, to avoid unnecessarily long journeys by collection and delivery vehicles to locations that could be served better by an adjacent branch.
The company’s other use of GeoConcept has been to investigate journey times to and from branches, using isochrones to see how far it is possible to travel from each location in a given time. “On one hand, this kind of analysis helps us to ensure that the right postcode districts are allocated to the right branches,” Burge says, “while on the other hand it also enables us to offer the latest possible collection times to customers, in the knowledge that the vehicle will be able to make the collection, return to the branch and offload the parcels in time.”
Meanwhile, Burge says GeoConcept has also proved effective at what he terms the “micro-level” by helping drivers to find delivery locations more easily. “Previously we just gave them instructions, but GeoConcept allows us to print out detailed maps to back them up.”
Burge concludes: “This is a really exciting time for us at City Link, and MapMechanics has provided invaluable tools to help us plan for the future.”