Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Bespoke business dashboard gives Culina an edge

Culina Logistics is the UK’s leading chilled and ambient food and drink warehousing, distribution and transport specialist.

It offers warehousing, transport, contract packing and bonded services plus a series of value-added supply chain innovations through a unique shared user strategy which delivers the most efficient and cost-effective logistics solutions to clients.

It has been trusted to handle the supply chain requirements of some of the world’s biggest, best and most recognisable food and drink companies, including Alpro, Cott, Gü, Innocent, Unilever and Vimto.

Culina initially approached Quiet Storm in 2003 for help in streamlining the back-end IT, administrative and reporting processes that were essential to its operations at the time.

Because many of the products it handled (such as yoghurts, milkshakes, smoothies, butter, fruit juices etc) all had a short shelf life, the logistics behind getting them in-store ran to a very tight timescale.

Any late deliveries from manufacturers would miss their scheduled slot departing the Culina Logistics hub for the day, meaning their shelf life once in store would be significantly reduced. This would cause huge problems for both the retailer and the manufacturer.

Each new day would often bring frustrated clients calling the customer services team to say the manufacturers’ goods hadn’t arrived.

To try and combat this, Culina’s seven-strong IT team had the job of processing data and crunching numbers for up to six hours every day in order to provide its clients with a report detailing their goods-in times and deliveries to the relevant supermarket distribution centres across the UK.

However, this was a time and resource-heavy reporting process, meaning the problem of late deliveries was hard to evidence until it was too late. This was a major frustration for Culina and its clients, as in the confusion and information delay, transport providers would often be able to avoid accountability for not delivering on time.  

We were asked to develop a software application which would provide an automated solution to the problem.

A bespoke business dashboard to keep Culina cool under pressure   

We developed culina.biz, our first dedicated online software application, which provided Culina’s customer base with end-to-end visibility, in real time, of the arrival and upload time of all goods in, plus the departure time of deliveries out of its logistics hub.

It completely changed the dynamics of Culina’s relationship with its manufacturers, transport providers and customers overnight, because everyone in the chain had clear visibility of when, where and how any delays to deliveries occurred and, crucially, where the fault lay.

It meant Culina’s customer services team could confidently report to retailers and manufacturers when a transport provider had let them down by late delivery of their goods into the logistics hub. 

And because, at the time, nobody else in the industry was using a bespoke business dashboard like the one we created, it quickly became a unique selling point for the business and a way to acquire new clients.

An evolving solution

In 2004 Quiet Storm was approached by Culina to upscale this solution in two ways.

Firstly, the business had grown extensively and had strategically acquired several other logistics companies. The disparate estate of warehouse management systems which came with these acquisitions all needed harmonising into our single, proven system.

Secondly, it needed a bespoke CRM system to standardise and improve business and customer communications.

Combined, the project involved integrating five warehouse management systems from the Group’s sites across the UK and Ireland, along with two separate ‘mirror’ data centres where its software was hosted with auto failover.

The software costs alone of migrating to a single platform were estimated at £4m+, with training and implementation costs on top.

Quiet Storm was provided with a brief, and outline budget of £250k and a timeline of 12 months to deliver a solution.

The bespoke business dashboard we created was delivered on-time, on-budget and in a format which could be handed over to the client’s IT team after a long ‘dual support’ period, to ensure the software was robust and bug-free.

Steve Megson, our Managing Director, said:

“This is the biggest web application Quiet Storm has ever worked on, but it set us on a different path and enabled us to develop web applications which enable businesses to function more efficiently while providing an edge in winning new business.

“It’s a perfect example of the type of solution we are able to engineer, which hits that sweet spot between performance, people and processes to help a business clarify responsibility and accountability and provide full, real-time visibility of the data that matters most to them.”


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