HGV Truck Route Planner: Beyond Google Maps

Updated on November 27, 2023 by Yulia Miashkova

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Route planning comes in all shapes and sizes. It's trip planning for your upcoming vacation. It's also a multi-drop delivery route.

Trucking involves planning routes, too. Do you see where I'm going with this?

You wouldn't expect routing to happen by the same scenario in all these cases, would you? This blog post is all about planning commercial truck routes. Read on to learn about truck-specific routing that minimizes mileage and cuts fuel costs.

What is truck routing?

Truck routing refers to building the best truck routes, i.e. the ones that are fast and cost-efficient. To achieve this, truck routing extends to optimization - using route optimization software and apps that consider factors such as vehicle and road constraints, drivers' working hours, customers' preferred time slots, and anything that affects deliveries.

While routing can be done manually, route optimization is impossible without software. Imagine optimizing routes for multiple commercial vehicles with so many risks to consider.

If your commercial fleet is more than one vehicle, you're better off using route optimization software or an app.

Can I use Google Maps and Waze to plan truck routes?

First things first: you can use Google Maps or Waze to plan truck routes. Both are free tools, and you might already be using them for personal trip planning, which means you're familiar with the interfaces.

However, when it comes to commercial truck routing, dedicated software will save time, money, and win you many brownie points in customers' eyes. But don't take this at face value - see for yourself.

Use Google Maps and Waze if

  • You have 1-3 trucks that deliver locally.
  • Your trucker staff is small and works one schedule.
  • You don't need to optimize based on truck size, mileage, number of pallets, etc.
  • You know the area well and can apply local knowledge to double-check routes.
  • Your truck routes are under 9 stops.
  • You don't need to send shipping notifications with ETAs automatically.
  • You don't need 1-click GPS tracking of trucks in real-time.

As you can see, Google Maps and Waze are fine for truck routing. However, you need to know your risks and be sure your business can still deliver with limited to no routing automation.

Use a truck route planner tool if

  • You have 2+ commercial trucks in your fleet.
  • Your truck drivers work different schedules and have breaks during the day.
  • You want to optimize routes based on vehicle and time constraints, cargo, etc.
  • You don't have first-hand knowledge about all locations you deliver to.
  • Your plan multi-stop truck routes with 10+ drop locations each.
  • You want to send notifications to customers automatically.
  • You want to offer customers 1-click live tracking.

The best part about using a truck route planner tool is that you still get to use Google Maps, Waze, and many more GPS apps because they're built-in in the tool.

Track-POD route planning software, for example, offers a selection of navigation systems inside: Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, TomTom, HERE WeGo, Sygic, and Hammer.

With Track-POD, you can choose any navigation system you like and use it for navigation with no additional fees.

As much as it's a personal preference to adopt a route planner for truck drivers or not, using one puts you ahead of the companies that don't, not to mention enhanced efficiency and business benefits.

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HGV route planner benefits

Let's look at what you gain from using a route planning and optimization tool for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

1. Deliver more

Trucking is about getting cargo from A to B most cheaply and efficiently. A route planner has optimization features that let you use your trucks to their maximum service capacity, allowing you to deliver more without growing your fleet.

When you deliver more in one route, your cost per delivery drops. HGV routing software helps with fuel management, which, because of lower mileage, helps you keep your transportation prices low or even provide free delivery.

For example, using Track-POD, you can specify maximum values for each truck. Weight, pallets, volume, maximum sites/orders, worktime, distance, speed, cost, etc. – the software uses all that to help you load each truck to the max to deliver more.

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Not to mention the software's ability to assign suitable vehicles depending on the cargo parameters. E.g. pharmacy delivery might require refrigerated trucks with special equipment in them.

2. Deliver on time

The best truck route helps your drivers avoid traffic and low bridges, get the correct directions, and save time finding parking.

Meeting time slots or docking schedules is crucial for HGV route planning if you want to avoid idling and extra costs.

Track-POD comes with a driver app that gives your truck drivers directions and helps them stick to the optimized routes. In addition, the driver app is used for Proof of Delivery, i.e., collecting e-signatures and taking photo proof for paperless & contactless deliveries, which also saves time and helps minimize misunderstandings and disputes.

Route planning software for trucks also considers service time and plans routes based on how long it takes to serve each delivery stop. When it comes to multi-stop routes, delivering on time is impossible without sticking to the plan.

3. Deliver safely

Every delivery route must be safe for everyone involved. Truck drivers primarily, but also customers, warehouse staff, suppliers, or anyone your truckers come in contact with.

While you can't predict everything on the road, you can create safe conditions for your truck drivers to work in. Using truck routing software, you can account for your drivers' working hours, breaks, number of stops in each route, etc.

Ensuring safety is also about operating safe equipment and having the right tools on board. 

HGV routing software such as Track-POD comes with a trucker safety checklist that helps run proactive vehicle maintenance to keep trucks in top condition, which reduces the risk of accidents and delays.

4. Deliver in full

Delivering on time is half of the job; the other is to deliver in full. Ensuring all items and packages are loaded onto the trucks in the correct order and arrive undamaged is an essential part of commercial truck routing.

There are two steps to safeguarding delivery in full.

  1. Load check with unique, scannable shipping labels.
  2. Delivery confirmation that allows partial and overdelivery.

On the one hand, you minimize mistakes in loading, avoiding situations where a customer receives the wrong or damaged package. On the other, you have the tools to document partial delivery or overdelivery.

How to plan a truck route

To plan an efficient truck route, you need suitable tools. Using the Track-POD solution as an example, let's see how you can plan truck routes that save fuel, reduce mileage, delight customers, and bring your cost per delivery to a minimum.

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1. Add trucks and truckers

First, you need to add all of the vehicles in your fleet, as well as all of your truckers, to the system. The more vehicle data you can specify, the better. Same for truck drivers: the more driver data you have in the system, the better it can run route planning and optimization.

2. Set up order import

To make sure your deliveries and routes are planned quickly, you need to set up quick order import so that you don't have to add all orders manually. Depending on the nature of your business and the systems you have for order placement, there are different types of integrations.

  • Built-in integrations with Shopify or WooCommerce.
  • Built-in integration via Zapier.
  • API integration with ERP, CRM, or any other system.

3. Plan & optimize routes in 1 click

Now that you have your vehicles and drivers in the system, and orders imported automatically, you can start planning and optimizing your routes. Track-POD will consider all stops in the route, including priority locations, if any.

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Voilà! You're all set for dispatch and delivery. All details and directions will appear on your drivers' mobile phones instantly, allowing no delays in order fulfillment.

Wrapping up

Trucking is an expensive business, with fuel and fleet maintenance costs constantly on the rise.

Planning routes as a truck driver is not the same as planning a personal trip - that much is clear. You need more than Google Maps, and your efficiency grows with the right software.

Weigh your options and gear up with reliable routing software for truck routes with unlimited stops. If you need help choosing among features and want to see how a route planner would work for your trucking business, book a demo, and let's talk.

In case your way to choose software is by reading customer reviews, you're welcome to dive into Track-POD reviews on freeappsforme.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Planning a route for heavy goods vehicles requires route optimization that considers vehicle capacity, cargo specifications, customers' preferred time slots, etc. Track-POD route optimization software will plan multi-stop routes for commercial trucks in seconds.

While you can use Waze for planning a single truck route, HGVs require more advanced solutions for route optimization. Features like load checks, scannable shipping labels, and safety checklists are crucial for cost-efficient trucking.

Yes, you can use Google Maps for HGV when planning a personal trip. However, routing commercial trucks requires advanced solutions like capacity optimization and safety management. Use route optimization software to plan routes for HGVs.

While there any many free route planners, they all come with limitations. Using a free route planner is enough to plan personal trips. If you driver commercial vehicles and deliver orders to customers, you need to use truck routing software with optimization features.