Case Study: Gateshead Council

A local authority has halved delivery times for its school holiday meals scheme, thanks to new planning software.

Gateshead Council ran the Cook n’ Eat initiative as part of its DfE-funded holiday and activities programme over the Easter holidays. It provided more than 1,750 families eligible for free school meals with a food box to make a week’s worth of meals. The box contained fresh meat, vegetables, and dry goods, as well as recipe cards on how to prepare and create healthy, tasty meals using those ingredients.

Gateshead Council launched Cook n’ Eat last year; but found that manually planning the delivery routes and schedules was both time-consuming and inefficient. However, this year it is being supported by Newcastle-based company The Algorithm People, which is providing the council with its My Transport Planner route optimisation platform.

Michael Walker, Poverty Lead at Gateshead Council said: “My Transport Planner has made a massive difference. It has halved the time it takes for each driver to complete their route, from eight hours to just four. This has led to a corresponding saving on fuel, which reduces costs and of course emissions, which supports the Council’s long-term plans on climate change.

“One of the challenges we faced running the scheme last year was planning the routes. It was a painstaking task that had to be done by postcode, but it was taking a full day to complete the work. Now it takes minutes instead – and the routes are clearly much more efficient.”

My Transport Planner is the UK’s first fully pay-as-you-go route optimisation platform. Users simply upload the required jobs to the system and a powerful algorithm calculates the most efficient way to complete all tasks with the resources available. Designed for logistics, couriers and home delivery operations, typical benefits include up to 20 per cent lower total mileage and up to 30 per cent reduction in operational costs. This ensures that users benefit from a rapid return on investment.

Gateshead Council’s Cook n’ Eat scheme draws on resource from across the council, utilising the logistics fleet already serving as part of the council and its partners’ emergency response to the pandemic, to create a delivery fleet of eight vans with drivers. The food boxes arrive at Gateshead International Stadium by truck, are loaded onto the vans, and each driver receives their route from My Transport Planner.

“Being able to deliver all the food boxes in half the time means that we can return the drivers and vehicles to their community support roles much quicker,” added Michael. “Furthermore, it has enabled us to react much faster to vulnerable residents who require emergency food parcels outside of Cook n’ Eat. In short, My Transport Planner has improved every aspect of our delivery operation.”