Route Scheduling: 5 Advanced Tips to Automate Routing
July 04, 2022
If you're here, you probably know all about the benefits of automated delivery route scheduling.
Using route optimization software is a must for any logistics manager that makes the most of their resources. No one wants to spend hours on route scheduling which still leaves room for human error.
Even with fully automated routing and optimization, there's room for further improvement with advanced tips and strategies.
In this blog post, we look at 5 advanced tips to elevate your automated scheduling.
1. Route by vehicle type
Not all commercial vehicles are created equal. Trucks, cars, motorcycles, cargo bikes - you name it. Because of different capacities and restrictions, you can't route them in the same way.
Even when it comes to electric vehicles that are not different from gas trucks in terms of capacity - EV routing can not and should not be done the same way you route gas trucks. You need to account for charging stations, plan multiple routes per driver per day, etc.
The good news is, route scheduling by vehicle type doesn't have to be done manually.
You can automate the entire process by telling your delivery software what kind of vehicle to create routes for.
In Track-POD, for example, you can choose between 3 vehicle types.
Your routes will vary depending on which maps the software will be using, e.g. a bike can go where a truck can't and vice versa. The algorithm will consider the type of commercial vehicle you chose so you don't have to.
2. Test optimization strategies
Route optimization algorithms can be very different. And even within one algorithm, you can find different optimization strategies and options.
Taking the time to explore different strategies is worth it because it pays off in the long term.
Once you've settled on the strategy that works the best, you can upgrade routing or learn to apply different tactics in different scenarios for months to come.
Track-POD offers the following route optimization strategies.
- Time - for when you want to optimize driver time and get the shortest routes in terms of total payable hours.
- Distance - for when you need to route EVs or want to cut mileage.
- Expense - for when you want to cut costs in the long term.
Depending on whether you're routing gas trucks, electric vehicles, or bikes, you can test out the strategies one by one and see which one does the most for you.
Naturally, different optimization strategies come with their own restrictions, e.g. when you want the software to optimize by distance, you won't be able to use time slots because that's a time-specific condition.
But since you know your delivery operation and customer requirements best, you can choose which features you want to maximize and which can be omitted for the sake of efficiency.
3. Automate rescheduling
If you've used Track-POD for a while, you know about the recurring routes feature and about the option to duplicate runs quickly from your routing dashboard.
These are the features essential for scheduling milk runs - repeating (usually weekly or monthly) deliveries or collections from your regular customers.
Another way to save time on route scheduling covers the cases when you want to consider customer time slots and some orders for the day simply do not fit in their respective time windows.
Please note that this applies to multi-day routes where the driver knows in advance that they'll be completing a route over more than one day, e.g. doing interstate deliveries or traveling across country borders.
Track-POD has a feature that allows you to tell the system to reschedule deliveries or collections to the next day if your goal is to respect customers' preferred time slots and there's no time to fulfill all orders within a day.
Using this feature is yet another way to save time on scheduling deliveries as the system knows to reschedule some sites to the next day.
4. Consider all restrictions
When it comes to advanced, automated routing for a fleet of commercial vehicles, you need to know your restrictions. Otherwise, the system will build ambitious but unrealistic routes.
Speaking of restrictions, you might be thinking about your vehicle's capacity like the volume and distance.
In reality, you need to consider a lot of human factors like work shifts, breaks, travel time, and service time, especially if your drivers deliver a field service.
For example, Track-POD lets you specify the maximum number of sites/orders that can be planned in one route in the number of hours your drivers can work per day.
On top of that, the system will consider drivers' breaks and load/unload time, which both impact how many orders your staff can fulfill in one day.
The more restrictions you can specify, the better off you are in the long term. When the software knows your limitations, it can help you in the best and most realistic way regarding your resources.
5. Tap into predictive analytics
Predictive analytics in route planning is what allows you to go beyond routing & optimization settings.
Instead of simply adjusting the settings based on your experience, you can look at the actual performance insights and use the numbers to make data-informed decisions.
Building a routing strategy takes time. Even more so, building a fully automated advanced route scheduling strategy takes time and continuous performance monitoring with historical insights.
Track-POD offers a range of analytics tools, both real-time and historical. With things like shipping reports, you can measure your efficiency by comparing planned vs actual performance.
This is how businesses grow and make cost-effective decisions along their last mile. Planning routes is more than an algorithm and your software solution needs to be able to deliver usable analytics.
There are many route planners that do an excellent job planning and scheduling deliveries. However, if you want to achieve maximum efficiency and top-notch customer service, you need scheduling software that offers full automation with advanced features.
Track-POD routing software covers all of your last mile delivery challenges and helps fleet managers save time and optimize costs.
If you're curious about Track-POD's advanced route planning software features described in this article, start your free trial now and reduce your planning time right away.