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Two years after purchasing its liquid petroleum gas (LPG) business, New Zealand energy company Genesis decided to review its LPG delivery operations.
At the time, in 2019, LPG bottle deliveries were typically managed using a clunky paper-based system, says Genesis general manager, LPG operations, Cameron Jardine.
“Paper dominated our depot processes; over one million pieces were used each year. Every morning, paper orders would be handed out to drivers. If a driver had too many, the orders would be deferred or passed to another driver. It also meant we had no easy way of letting our customers or call centre know when a delivery had been made.”
This situation was less than ideal, both from a customer and business operations perspective.
Genesis engaged existing partner Datacom to help it complete a technology and process review. It quickly identified that Genesis’ LPG business needed to embrace a digital world – reimagining its customers’ experience, simplifying processes for drivers and delivering business efficiencies.
“Genesis has a long history of working together with Datacom. We kicked this collaboration off with an intense three-week review, beginning with asking drivers, dispatchers, call centre and customers what they thought of our processes and system, and gaining a robust understanding of the challenges they were facing. This was an integral part of the project,” says Cameron.
The review identified that current processes were arduous and fragile, delivery routes were often duplicated, and a general lack of clarity existed.
It was clear that the processes, and the systems that supported them, would need to be entirely overhauled if Genesis was going to meet its customers changing needs and ensure the LPG operations thrived.
“Winter was coming and that’s our busy period. We knew we were going to have to go digital, so set ourselves a 60-day challenge to use the existing systems to remove all paper before we got swamped with customer demand.”
This allowed Genesis to update its drivers and team, implement a change curve model, and to write a recommendation and business case to the Genesis Executive Team to secure investment to replace the technology.
“Fortunately, the executive team agreed with the investment but stipulated real-world benefits would need to be realised.”
Datacom introduced Genesis to their Australian optimisation partner Biarri, leading to the first implementation of the company’s Run+Route application in the New Zealand market. A proof of concept was quickly completed and, by using LPG delivery data from Genesis’ largest depot, the team were able to prove that Genesis could achieve 10 per cent efficiency savings through Biarri’s optimisation technology.
“Moving to digital made sense as it would improve the customer experience and processes, and drive cost savings. The bonus from the proof of concept was we were able to use our data to categorically prove that optimisation would realise operational savings, which in turn made the business case an easy sell,” says Cameron.
The decision to go with Datacom’s event tracking system, Tempo, and Biarri’s optimisation technology was confirmed. Genesis and Datacom worked seamlessly together, using agile principles to ensure the solution was launched ahead of winter, 2020. The priorities were getting Genesis’ drivers up to speed using the change curve model and to improve customers’ initial experience, with the backend platform change to come in October.
Cameron Jardine, general manager, LPG operations, Genesis
The new system launched in March, the same time as the COVID-19 New Zealand lockdown began. That’s when Cameron realised Tempo gave Genesis other unexpected benefits.
“We knew that if we had to temporarily close a depot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have to move our team to another site, which would likely mean customer delays. If that occurred, we knew we’d want to prioritise deliveries to our vulnerable customers. Our challenge was to ring-fence which orders were vulnerable so Tempo could prioritise them.”
During lockdown, Genesis was able to develop an end-to-end system that allowed its customers to make Genesis aware if they were vulnerable when placing their LPG order. This was then automatically prioritised by Tempo in the back end so these customers would receive their deliveries first, something Cameron says would not have been possible through the previous system.
“This was of huge benefit to Genesis as our duty of care to our customers is something that is always paramount to us; especially so during the lockdown in response to COVID-19. We needed to make sure that our customers were kept warm during these uncertain times.”
For Genesis and Datacom, the next phase will see the technology fully integrated into Genesis’ core systems and extended to include the supply of gas to depots. It will also include driver and customer innovations identified through feedback from the first phase.
“When we set out our plan of work, it was to bring Genesis up to date in terms of efficiency around delivering LPG bottles. Thanks to Datacom, Tempo and Biarri, it’s become so much more than that. We can stay in touch with our customers through text messages, have real-time oversight of our business, and the ability to plan for growth and expansion in ways we simply couldn’t have dreamed of only a year ago,” says Cameron.