Choosing a Route Planning System
Time is money, and a route planning system can drastically reduce the time it takes to plan your transportation schedule. Not only do route planning systems lower mileage, they also help cut fuel usage, decrease carbon emissions, improve asset utilization, and increase customer service. William Salter, CEO and president of Paragon Software Systems, recommends choosing a route planning software system that offers the following capabilities.
1. Schedules and routes trucks daily. If order quantities vary daily or weekly, choose a system that automatically calculates efficient truck routes and multi-stop schedules every day. This will reduce overall miles, fleet costs, and daily planning efforts.
2. Enhances fixed routes and schedules. To manage a transportation operation with regular order dates and quantities, select a system that calculates optimized routes and schedules while meeting required customer delivery windows, truck capacities, driver hours, and other transportation restrictions.
3. Optimizes deliveries continually. As new orders are added, a system that continually re-optimizes schedules will maximize efficiency by taking into account delivery areas, available resources, and existing deliveries already confirmed.
4. Supports clients. Advanced support services are key to the success of any route planning project. An allocated support consultant, who helps ensure successful software implementation and quick delivery of benefits, can be instrumental in the route optimization project. An off-hours hotline service can also help.
5. Links with live vehicle tracking. Live vehicle tracking allows managers to detect anomalies in route times and distances so they can act immediately to control costs. Comparing planned to actual routes ensures drivers are following the plan. If any deviation occurs, customers can be alerted to delays.
6. Considers "what-if" scenarios. Using historic data to prepare for vehicle size changes, shifting driver hours, and alternative delivery locations for distribution networks will improve transport efficiency.
7. Uses multi-period planning. Multi-period planning decides the best delivery patterns for each customer, ensuring multiple deliveries to the same customer are sufficiently spread out across the planning period, while also combining deliveries geographically and balancing workload across the period. Allocating delivery profiles in this way ensures you meet customer delivery requirements, while also minimizing transportation costs.
8. Creates software development plans. Clear software development plans for the future are important. A strong supplier should be evolving its product regularly, taking advantage of new technologies and creating solutions that meet the needs of today's transportation operators.
9. Combines central scheduling. Combining central scheduling of all fleet movements gives transportation planners the ability to plan nationally or regionally. Inter-depot trucking movements, supplier collections, and packaging disposal can be incorporated to drastically reduce costs and create significant efficiencies.
10. Pays attention to reporting. Key performance indicators and business intelligence reporting allows companies to detect operational trends, predict cost implications, and identify possible preventive measures.