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  • Writer's picture28East

Arena Holdings - Route Optimisation Solution

Arena Holdings is a market-leading media, broadcast and retail marketing company. The group has strong exposure to the rapidly growing digital, broadcast and mobile markets, with a leading position in South Africa and a broad footprint across Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

The company is South Africa's largest national English publishing group, the second largest digital publisher, owns the largest music and independent film catalogues on the African continent and operates unique TV channels. They are also the proud custodians of iconic brands that include the Sunday Times, Business Day, Sowetan, Financial Mail, The Herald, Gallo Music and Uniprint.

The distribution department within Arena Holdings is responsible for the physical delivery of almost 5 million deliveries per month, making use of a combination of its own logistics infrastructure and outsourcing to third parties in some areas and for some publications. The major challenge facing distribution is that the readership market for physical has been contracting for a number of years. The Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa reports in Quarter 1 2019 total newspaper circulation declined by 1.4% the previous quarter, and by 5% on the prior year. The end result is that there is more and more pressure on distribution to find better and more effective means of working with a fixed infrastructure in a declining market.

Arena Holdings approached 28East to essentially answer two questions, i.e:

  • what is the minimum number of delivery vehicles required;

  • to travel the minimum distance (route optimisation)

While still ensuring successful distribution within the typical constraints like delivery windows.

One of the first solutions to the problem was to gain an up to date and comprehensive understanding of the delivery footprint, consisting of mainly subscribers and agents (retail outlets). The existing addresses were mapped through a bulk geocoding (find the XY coordinates) exercise and the applications where new addresses were captured were amended to ensure that the correct and accurate addresses were added.

Next 28East developed the optimisation engine for solving the main questions. The solution allows for various parameters for the stops (deliveries) such as XY coordinate, weight of delivery, delivery window, waiting time and parameters for the fleet such as XY coordinates of start and end points, capacity of vehicle, working times, etc. The result from the optimisation engine is an optimised number of vehicles to complete the deliveries and delivery schedule per vehicle, including order of delivery, distance and time to each stop, within the constraints of the stops and fleet.

The key benefit for Arena Holidngs is the ability to model various distribution scenarios, that led to better planning and efficiency of current and future resources. Coupled with the optimisation engine is a financial model where the benefits of reduced distance and optimised fleet were quantified.

We make use of various Google Maps APIs in the application, e.g. JS Maps, Geocoding, Autocomplete, Directions and Distance Matrix. The project is run entirely in Google Cloud Platform, including billing.

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