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Use Delivery Route Planning Software to Cut Planning Time

Use Delivery Route Planning Software to Cut Planning Time


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Use Delivery Route Planning Software to Cut Planning Time

Aug 27, 2020

Aptean Staff Writer
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Delivery route planning software is the quickest way to reduce the time it takes you to plan your fleet’s delivery routes, and there are compelling reasons to do so, even for small and medium-sized fleet operations.

But many businesses think their delivery operations are not sufficiently complex to warrant the time and trouble of implementing an advanced route planning system. So they resign themselves to a largely manual route planning process that takes hours to complete.

Why such a drain on time?

There are dozens of factors that need to be considered to create the most efficient route and schedule for each truck — including driver and vehicle availability, delivery time-windows, road restrictions, average road speeds, legislative compliance — the list goes on.

An analysis of all these factors creates millions of possible permutations. Human brains, as amazing as they are, simply can’t match the number-crunching ability of clever software and a powerful computer.

With delivery route planning software, orders are loaded into the software, then sophisticated algorithms create routes that meet agreed customer requirements, using the least amount of time and miles.

Result: you reduce planning time from hours to minutes.

The most immediate benefit is labor savings since the software is now doing the work of the route planners. But by far the most powerful impacts of faster route planning are seen downstream of the process. Those saved hours act as a magical doorway to a host of other cost-saving and revenue driving strategies.

What are the Added Benefits of Faster Route Planning?

Increase Warehouse Efficiency

When the warehouse gets tomorrow’s orders hours earlier, managers can more precisely plan the labor required to pick these orders and load the trucks. This is no small advantage, since labor is by far the biggest warehouse expense. You could see significant productivity improvements, and a reduction in costly overtime.

Increase Dispatch Efficiency

Delivery route planning software creates a more integrated working relationship between the route planning function and the dispatchers who work directly with drivers to get trucks out the door. By getting more accurate route plans to dispatchers sooner, you avoid the need for last-minute plan changes by dispatch, such as when a driver would have run out of service hours if he had been assigned to the planned route. Dispatchers leverage the added time and plan accuracy to eliminate early morning routing chaos and avoid delivery problems.

Reduce Delivery Times

Delivery route planning software has a singular goal: reduce the time it takes to complete an entire day’s delivery cycle. When you do this:

  • Customers are happier because they receive products earlier and within the designated time window. Happier customers remain loyal and come back to you for repeat business.

  • Drivers are happier because they know they are being assigned realistic routes that get them home in time for dinner or at the ballfield to watch their son’s baseball game. Happier drivers are less easily poached by competitors.

Extend Order Cut-off Times

Most businesses take orders one day and in many cases have the ability to deliver the next. The order cut-off time is dictated by two things — the time taken to complete route planning and the time needed for picking and loading. If your trucks need to start rolling at 6 a.m. and you know it takes 16 hours to complete both the delivery route planning and then the picking and loading, you need to cut off orders at 2 p.m. the day before to be able to offer next-day delivery. But if you reduce planning time by three hours, you could extend order cut-off times to 5 p.m. — a huge sales advantage. You’re now leveraging your delivery fleet to gain market share. That’s powerful.

Redeploy Resources to Tackle More Strategic Tasks

The hours you save from automating route planning can be reinvested. Planners whose talents had, by necessity, been used just to get orders delivered can now tackle far more strategic — and potentially lucrative — strategies.

They’re the big picture questions that companies just don’t have time to explore, like “What if we changed the location of the distribution center or added a new one?” or “What if we changed the size or type of trucks used for deliveries?” What analysis tool can be used to answer such questions? You guessed it: the same delivery route planning software used to plan your routes. Using your actual delivery data, the software tells you the exact cost and service implications of strategic changes. For larger delivery operations, these changes can have a six- and seven-figure impact on costs or revenues. 

Time Is Money, And More

Every moment you can shave from your delivery route planning process produces benefits elsewhere in your operations — saving money on wages, overtime, fuel and delays, improving operational efficiency and customer service. It may not sound like a game-changer at first but, in a commercial environment where time to market is increasingly measured in hours — not days or weeks — shortening time to plan can take you to a whole new level of operational mastery, opening the door to a host of transformative benefits.

Contact us today to find out more about how you can save time and money with delivery route planning software.

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