Truck Route Planning Software is Connected to (Almost) Everything
October 08, 2020
Many businesses have experienced astonishing realizations during the pandemic lockdown. Retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers alike have discovered how thoroughly interconnected everything is when it comes to the international supply chain. This was evident in how quickly things became expensive, complicated or downright impossible during the early stages of the pandemic.
These connections impact efficiencies within your own organization, where practically every department is reliant on the others. This includes truck route planning.
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone
Like a human body with multiple interdependent systems working together to form an overall state of health, the robustness of your business can be undermined by an underperforming part. This is no surprise when it comes to, say, interruptions on the production line or a software crash in the accounting department. Yet there’s a tendency to regard transportation and delivery operations purely as a cost center and a necessary evil of doing business, rather than a critical organ.
The shipping department has long been considered a boiler-room function, not even within shouting distance of the boardroom.
But that’s changing.
Truck route planning has become more strategic in a post-pandemic world. Well-chosen truck routing software can transform the shipping department into a center of excellence that benefits a huge range of other functions.
Here are just a few examples:
- Warehouse management. A well-designed, reliable truck route plan effectively acts as a forecast for your warehouse managers, helping them to manage their biggest warehouse expense: labor. When you examine route plan data over time, it paints a clear picture of future labor requirements, which you can then use to plan labor efficiently. This avoids costly overstaffing or, worse, understaffing that leads to late deliveries and disgruntled customers.
You’ll know exactly what’s going out in which vehicle far sooner than before because truck route planning software generates extremely efficient, achievable routes in the blink of an eye. That means you can pick, stage and load orders earlier, opening up the potential to push back order cut-off time and still deliver the next day at the usual time. That, of course, is advantageous to sales. Or is it even better for customer service? See? It’s all entangled into one ball of improved outcomes.
- Dispatch. Many fleet operators experience a disconnect between the route planning and dispatch function when the two should be working hand-in-hand. Dispatchers use their direct knowledge of factors such as individual driver shift preferences, vacation schedules and driver skills to make sure drivers are properly assigned to the right routes. Dispatchers will also monitor output from electronic logging devices to ensure all drivers can legally meet the duty and drive-time requirements of the schedule.
When driver availability data is communicated upstream to transportation planners, they can be sure they’re assigning a driver who is most appropriate for the route. This avoids situations where dispatchers either assign or re-assign drivers, meaning they will stick to the routes that were carefully planned to be the most efficient.
For a complete look at how companies can use routing software to connect all functional teams, read our eBook: Modern Delivery Route Management
- Sales. Sales and transportation teams are driven by different motivations and metrics. When over-zealous salespeople make expensive promises in order to close a deal — like twice-a-week deliveries to a remote location — they most likely won’t have the tools to accurately assess the operational cost to serve any given customer. As a result, many unprofitable or marginally profitable new sales move forward, cutting into profits, as these new deliveries are integrated into the broader routing plan.
When deploying advanced truck route planning software, any sales team member can easily and quickly construct a detailed model of the cost and service impacts of adding new customer stops to an existing route plan. The sales team can use this data to ensure the deal is priced to enhance both the top and the bottom line. And, bonus! They’ll actually be able to fulfill the promises they made to the customer.
- Customer service. Most companies are paying a team of customer service representatives (CSRs) to handle incoming delivery status inquiries all day long because they either fail to track delivery trucks once they leave the distribution center or don’t proactively share ETA information with customers. It’s possible to eliminate 50% of these calls, and the labor costs to field them, with the live tracking feature of truck routing software. The money saved this way is enough to justify the cost of a fully automated route optimization system two or three times over.
Giving your customer service team access to live tracking data empowers them to deliver a great customer experience. It’s even better when you give your customers direct access to the same information. Efficiently planned delivery routes tend to hit on-time delivery goals. Let’s face it: that’s the main thing customers want. In this era of fast deliveries and real-time information, integrating your customer service and delivery functions is a chance to make your brand truly stand out in a competitive world.
Consider the interconnectedness of it all
Advanced truck route planning software improves areas like accounting because real-time proof of delivery (POD) data can immediately trigger an invoice. It helps with attracting and retaining drivers by ensuring their schedules are achievable and keeping them within hours of service restrictions. It also offers a chance to improve overall business strategy by providing business-critical data that can guide choices about distribution center locations, production schedules and more.
Then, if you decide it’s time to realize the benefits of advanced truck route planning software, contact a Paragon from Aptean team member. We can save you 10-30% in transportation costs while improving multiple operational aspects, including on-time delivery and customer service.