Your success as a carrier lies in your ability to deliver your products efficiently. For businesses to succeed, they need to optimise their delivery routes, and we will discuss some tips.
Route Optimization Benefits
Route optimisation is a route planning technique that uses artificial intelligence to choose the most efficient route that fleet operations can use. This includes incorporating all the waypoints into the mix, optimising both time and fuel, and giving drivers a route optimisation plan which ensures delivery efficiency. There are various benefits of route optimisation, and these include:
1. Fuel costs
Using a route optimiser assists in lowering fuel costs which occur through decreasing fuel consumption. When routes are optimised, drivers can use the most efficient routes by using an algorithm instead of guessing.
2. Office-based savings
Businesses that use route optimisation can also create efficiencies in office settings. When using route planning software instead of manual route planning, the manager can focus on other management issues, customer service and cost savings instead of spending time on reworking schedules.
3. Safer driving
You can easily configure route planning software to use fewer left turns or u-turns as these turns tend to be more dangerous than making right turns or driving straight. The driver can focus on the road whenever you plan in advance and not spend time deciding the next step or which route to use for the destination.
4. Route monitoring
Fleet managers can monitor the delivery business in real time using route optimisation software, manage operations and drivers, and answer customer expectations. Dispatchers can be assured that drivers will not exceed speed limits or take inappropriate breaks by following real-time GPS and maps that display the routes.
5. Reducing human error
By using route optimisation software, you will reduce the chances of errors occurring compared to when using manual route management, especially if the routes are complex or there are a lot of factors to consider. Fleet management can then troubleshoot other issues or enhance the customers’ experience differently.
Tips to Optimise Your Routes
1. Look at your data
When planning for routes, you may want to make sure that it is tight as possible and reduce the travel time; however, that goal may not be feasible in practice. When that is the case, likely, you have not had a hard look at your data. Though drivers are allowed to drive at 80 at some point, it does not necessarily mean that they can do this all the time, especially if they have to make more deliveries along the way. Therefore, you need to take a look at your data and ask yourself if your travel times are realistic. A lot of the software available on the market calculates travel times based on traffic flow. You should also ask yourself if the software takes traffic slowdowns during rush hour into account.
2. Account for stops when conducting travel time calculations
When planning for routes, we tend to always look at travel time. However, stops and the time they take tend to be frequently ignored. Some factors may influence the delivery, including the driver’s experience, time, and size. It will significantly affect your plans when a delivery person has to deliver their package on the third floor of a building that does not have an elevator. Luckily, there is data that will provide you with greater certainty and security, which includes information about the type of building, the distance from the road to the front door, and the number of floors the building has. You may already have this data available to you, so you must use it.
3. Consider the heart of your route
Transhipment points or hubs are the heart of your route, so you should think hard about where you want them located. You should also consider when you will use them the most. Being stuck in a traffic jam every night due to the transhipment point you use when there is rush hour next to the motorway is impractical. Spreading delivery areas is also essential as it will save you lots of time in delays and mileage.
4. Be smart about delivery options
Same-day delivery or specific delivery dates, deliveries made in the morning, afternoon or evening, are some delivery options that customers can choose from. These delivery options may be convenient, but it does not assist in making delivery routes more efficient. It could help to reduce the number of delivery options. When customers know what to expect, having many delivery options will not be necessary. Another smart option is nudging customers toward picking specific options. Suppose you have to make another order out for delivery in the same area at a particular time. In that case, you can be flexible with your delivery options and offer that time slot to customers at a reduced price.
5. Focus on customer relationships
When implementing route optimisation, take the time to understand your customers’ historical needs and preferences. Focus on these routes to ensure you know which route optimisation will affect customers’ pick-up times, service levels, and drop-off times. This will assist in reducing complaints from customers about your route optimisation.
6. Collect data
When optimising routes, the most crucial part is collecting as much data from the routes you drive. It is nearly impossible to make routes reliable and efficient in one go. You could learn a lot from the data you generate as you could understand where the route delays start and what circumstances they occur. The insights gained will enable you to improve your planning.