Whether you’re planning every day, or producing a set of fixed routes that will be operated for a short period of time, the key goal is transport efficiency and thus cost savings. In the current economic climate it will be the operators who make the most of their route optimisation systems that will stay on top. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Switch to automated planning – If you currently manage your routing and scheduling manually, consider implementing automated planning. A route optimisation system will quickly produce accurate and reliable routes based on your business-specific criteria. Although this can look like an expensive option in the short term, many businesses see a return on investment in just a few months, giving the business freedom to grow and your transport planners the opportunity to look for further efficiency savings.
2. Repeat fixed route optimisation – As your customer list changes week by week, and seasonality kicks in, your fixed routes will become less optimal. Consider reviewing your fixed routes more frequently, factoring in changes such as customer delivery times, in order to keep costs down. Using an automated route optimisation system means this is no longer the massive headache of a manual re-routing exercise.
3. Conduct strategic assessments – Step back from your daily route planning and ascertain the cost savings that could be achieved by changing the way that you operate. For example, using different vehicle sizes, drivers’ hours, delivery frequencies or delivery locations. You should be able to use your routing and scheduling software to help you model what-if scenarios and get realistic comparisons of resources and costs in each case.
4. Experiment with your route optimisation parameters – Your transport plans may change over time with new customers, changes to delivery windows and increasing levels of congestion. Your route optimisation settings should work with these changes not against them. Check your vehicle routing system set-up remains finely tuned to optimise your operation as it evolves, so that you achieve the maximum reduction in fuel and fleet costs.
5. Review fuel usage – If you handle relatively heavy items and know the weight of your deliveries or collections then consider implementing a fuel reduction improvement strategy. This approach will look to change the drop sequences to reduce fuel usage, by reducing heavily laden mileage. You will also be reducing your CO2 reductions at the same time.
6. Link to live vehicle tracking – Linking the transport plan to your preferred telematics technology will enable you to detect “off route” increases in distance and act accordingly. It will also help you to identify areas of slack in your planning set-up which, when tightened, will result in improvements in productivity.
7. Experiment with time windows – If possible, relax the time window constraints at your delivery points. Your route optimisation software will then be able to suggest more cost effective routes that save you money overall.
8. Benchmark and review your progress – Ensure that your planners are generating KPI information for you each day; you will be able to use this information to benchmark the planning process and to detect trends.
Reducing costs and C02 is a continuous process for all transport operations. Here at Paragon, our experienced support team work with customers from many different sectors to help them realise savings from the outset. Why not get in touch to find out how we can help you streamline your transport office operation.
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