Ensuring on-time delivery is one of the top priorities of managers around the world. One of the most common reasons why teams fail to deliver shipments on time is ineffective route planning. When planning delivery routes, managers need to consider all the factors at play. They need to account for factors that are beyond their control (such as accidents, traffic jams, vehicle breakdowns, and inclement weather). Businesses realize that manual route planning is a waste of time and to improve their on-time delivery performance, many are replacing conventional systems with route optimization software.
What is a route planning system?
Route planning involves finding the most cost-effective route that minimizes the distance between the pickup point and the delivery point with the least number of stopovers along the way. Fleet managers use route planning software for route optimization.
Equipped with a range of features, a route planning software allows fleet managers to plan vehicle routes in advance. When on the road, drivers can use the system to provide regular updates. The office team can use the information provided by the system to reroute vehicles in real-time, when necessary. If, for instance, the system detects a heavy traffic jam on a delivery route, the team can reroute vehicles on the route in real-time.
Different types of route planning
Three types of route planning include:
Dynamic route planning
In this method, the team planning the routes can easily identify and re-route assets. Dynamic route planning enables managers to determine the location of available vehicles at any given time. When a vehicle breaks down, or the driver gets stuck in traffic, the fleet manager can redirect one of their available vehicles to the customer’s location.
When deciding whether to reroute vehicles, fleet managers need to consider various factors, such as the delivery (time) window provided by the customer, and drivers’ working hours.
Plan versus actual route comparison
This method allows the route planning team to draw comparisons between the planned route and telematics data. Comparing planned routes with actual routes can help managers develop a deep understanding of reasons for the change to planned routes. Managers can use the insights to build intelligence into their route planning software, ensuring that it creates more accurate schedules in the future.
Multi-stop route planning
The method is used for trips with multiple stops. Once the fleet manager allocates stops to a vehicle, the route planning software draws data uploaded to the system to determine the best route. The route planning system predicts the estimated arrival time of deliveries.
Benefits of route planning software
Route planning software can help:
- Save time and money by identifying the shortest possible route.
- Reduce vehicle maintenance costs (as vehicles are on the road for the shortest possible times).
- Increase the number of deliveries/day.
- Improve customer satisfaction.
- Improve driver morale and productivity.
- Reduce mileage, traffic violations, and accidents.
Choosing a route planning system
When looking for a route planning software, you will come across a plethora of options. Not all software are created equal. Some may feature a cluttered interface or may not have features that your business needs the most. To ensure you get value for money, look for a route planning software that has the following capabilities.
Analytics and report management
Look for a software that is designed to help you track and manage different operations in real-time on a single platform. Your software must enable comparisons (between actual routes and planned routes) and help you track and compare the performance of your business hubs. Look for a system that offers a unified dashboard.
Historical data evaluation
Your root optimization software should analyze data at three different levels: riders, customers, and time of the day. Historical data related to a rider must include rider information, such as their preferred delivery time, skills, and preferred region of operation. A customer’s historical data must include critical information related to the customer, such as their preferred time slot for delivery, special instructions (if any), and availability. Historical time of day data provides information regarding the traffic conditions of a particular region and the open/close timings of buildings in the region during the time of the day.
Most route optimization software are equipped with a geocoder; however, not all of them are accurate. Your route optimization software must be capable of accurately converting addresses into latitude and longitude coordinates. Look for a system that can store data related to local addresses and use this information for geocoding.
Real-time traffic consideration
Your software must be capable of analyzing real-time traffic data and route and reroute vehicles accordingly. A tool that uses dynamic traffic data for route planning can help you ensure on-time delivery and adherence to service level agreements.
When your operations grow, you may feel the need to add new functionalities to your software. Look for a flexible solution that can scale according to your business needs. Your software must be capable of taking account of new DCs, more customers and vehicles, and new markets. Make sure the software developer takes customer feedback regularly and uses the data that they collect to enhance the solution.
Dynamic route planning
Your route optimization software must be capable of handling scheduled as well as on-demand orders. If customer preferences change when the driver is out for delivery, the solution must be able to create a new route.
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