Route planning software allows fleet managers to plan vehicles’ routes in advance, as well as re-routing them in real time where necessary. This helps to deliver significant improvements in productivity and reliability, by preventing unplanned stops, enhancing fuel efficiency and avoiding disruption to customer service.
There are three main types of route planning:
- Dynamic route planning, where available assets can be identified and re-routed quickly
- Multi-stop route planning and scheduling, for trips requiring multiple stops
- Plan versus actual route comparison, allowing managers to compare planned routes with actual telematics data
Q: Why do fleets need route planning software?
A: Running a fleet of commercial vehicles is a complex and expensive matter. Not only are the costs associated with it substantial, but scheduling can also be prone to serious disruption. This in turn can have serious implications for standards of customer service; fleets whose deliveries regularly fail to arrive when needed because of disruption will struggle to retain custom. Because route planning software allows managers to keep on top of such problems and to address them with minimal fuss, it has been widely adopted in the fleet sector and has become something of an industry standard in recent years.
Q: How does dynamic route planning work?
A: Dynamic route planning, as already noted, enables fleet managers to identify which vehicles are available and where they are at any given time. This means that these vehicles can then be redirected to where they are most needed, and reassigned to a particular job if it is considered more appropriate (if, for example, another vehicle is out of action or caught in traffic). This can take a range of relevant factors into consideration, including customers’ time windows and drivers’ working hours. Fleet management technology can also include solutions (such as Teletrac Navman’s DRIVE) which enable businesses to see the location and status of remote resources and change operations in the field quickly through the use of connected devices.
Q: What is multi-stop route planning?
A: Multi-stop route planning is an indispensable tool for businesses that schedule activity on a daily basis. It allows fleet managers to allocate multiple stops to a particular vehicle, and the route optimisation tool does the rest – calculating the most efficient route for that vehicle to follow based on the data uploaded into the system. These systems also often provide estimated times of arrival for each individual delivery, taking into account real-time road conditions and overall schedule progress. It should be noted just how complex this process is; the number of potential routes increases in tandem with the number of stops along the route. This is why route planning software is required, as devising routes this complicated would place a huge burden on human planners. MaxOptra, Paragon and Truck Stops are among the route optimisation providers that specialise in advanced route planning services such as these. These providers integrate with Teletrac Navman’s telematics solution, providing a real-time visualisation of route progress.
Q: What are the benefits of comparing planned routes and actual data?
A: Detailed planning and scheduling are essential, but businesses will only see the benefit of the optimisation if routes and schedules are accurate and achievable. Advanced route planning software can integrate with telematics solutions enabling managers to see planned vs. actual routes in real time, and work closely with their drivers to ensure that optimal routes are being set. Understanding reasons for changes to planned routes can provide valuable insight that enables fleet operators to build intelligence into their route planning and create schedules that are more accurate in the future. This can be particularly important with the challenges of the last mile, where obstacles such as parking and access can cause significant delays.