Smart tech firm Sauce has launched an innovative solution to enhance operational efficiency for one of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies.

The technology developed by Sauce is aimed at solving complex yard management challenges for confectionery and beverage manufacturer Nestlé.

The unique system is being used to track and manage all trailer movements at the firm’s York factory, where products such as KitKat and Yorkie are manufactured; and at its Regional Distribution Centre, where products such Nescafé and Smarties are dispatched.

After being successfully introduced at the York site, the solution will now be applied to a revolutionary new distribution centre in the East Midlands, known as the Digital Distribution Operation of the Future. The multilingual system could then be rolled out to other Nestlé operations internationally – the business operates more than 400 factories in over 80 countries.

Sauce, which is based at the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub, in Hull, was approached by Nestlé to develop a bespoke yard management system to monitor and manage trailer movements. The system is used to improve the visibility and tracking of movements of drivers, vehicles and trailers.

Previously, lorry drivers coming to the York site would drop their trailer off at the warehouse to be unloaded, then remain in a waiting area until it was ready, or collect a previously loaded trailer. Communication was via two-way radio or walkie talkies and the recording system was largely paper-based.

Under the new system, all delivery drivers now input their details digitally upon arrival at security, including their name, vehicle and trailer numbers. They then wait in a designated area where they can view a “flight board” – similar to an airport or train station information screen – enabling them to monitor the status of their load. When it has been loaded or unloaded, they can return to their vehicle and leave the site.

Shunter drivers, who manoeuvre delivery trailers on and off-loading bays at the warehouse and factories, also access the live information via a tablet in their cab, meaning they are fully aware of all movements on site.

Sauce Chief Executive Matt Weldon said: “To have a company the size of Nestlé put their trust in us to deliver this system is huge for us and we are incredibly proud to work with them.

“They have an amazing logistics operation and we’re delighted that we have been able to provide a further digital dimension to it. We have been able to provide Nestlé with the enhanced level of visibility they wanted as part of scalable solution that can be applied to any of their sites.

“Nestlé had looked at various off-the-shelf shelf yard management systems, but none suited their requirements. That’s where we came in. We worked closely with Nestlé to understand exactly what they needed and to create a completely bespoke solution.”

Sauce has created five programs to meet Nestlé’s requirements – a booking system; a traffic management system; a warehouse tracking system; a shunter tablet app; and a live flight board – which work seamlessly together.

The system can be accessed currently in 16 different languages, with contract drivers of many different nationalities visiting the York site daily, and more can be added as required.

“We have effectively created a suite of applications which can be turned on or off as necessary, based on the particular needs of a given factory or warehouse,” said Sauce Lead Developer Joe Axon. “This scalability means it can be used at any of Nestlé’s sites.

“The system has evolved over time as we have developed the software, using our agile methodology. A key point is that, throughout the process, we have worked really closely with Nestlé, and will continue to do so, to ensure the technology we create meets their needs exactly.”

Founded by three friends just four years ago, Sauce has grown rapidly to become an award-winning team of 30, who are currently working seamlessly from home as they continue to support clients through the coronavirus crisis.

The Sauce team specialises in working with large, traditional companies as their digital partners, creating solutions to key business challenges and enabling corporates to keep ahead of the technology curve. Other major Sauce clients include home heating provider Ideal Boilers and wind power global leader Siemens Gamesa.

York is the home of Nestlé’s UK confectionery business, incorporating factory and warehouse operations, as well as a leading research and development centre for confectionery. Around 500 trailers leave the site every week, transporting goods to major supermarket chains.

Following its launch in York, the system developed by Sauce will now be implemented by Nestlé and its strategic logistics partner, XPO Logistics, at the pioneering Digital Distribution Operation of the Future.

The futuristic distribution centre, at the East Midlands Gateway development, near Castle Donington, in Leicestershire, is billed as one of the most advanced buildings of its kind in the world, with its digital ecosystem integrating predictive data and robotics. The digital yard management system created by Sauce will now be a key element of operations at the flagship centre, which is due to open next month.

Chris Pickles, Own Fleet and Delivery Operations Manager at Nestlé’s York centre, which operates 24/7 for 364 days of the year, said: “This site is one of the most complex of Nestlé’s operations because we have both factory and warehouse functions on the same site – usually it is one or the other.

“This will solve key issues for the York site, which means it will also work for other operations. If any other Nestlé factory or warehouse wants an advanced, digital yard management system, we now have it and can configure it to their requirements within days.”

David Walker, Nestlé’s Logistics Transformation Projects Manager at York, said: “The Sauce team’s approach has been fantastic and they have been really easy to work with.

“They have built a bespoke solution from scratch to tackle the challenges we faced and it is in operation within 12 months of our first discussion, which we think is incredible.”

For further information on Sauce go to www.sauce.dev