With a whole host of planning pressures and wider industry challenges, transport planners are having to adapt to survive. Technology is playing a big part in helping planners to evolve, in particular route planning software is helping transport planners balance customer demand for better services with the need to operate a cost-efficient transport operation. This blog takes a look at the results of our latest annual UK customer survey to understand the pressures transport operators are currently facing and how they are overcoming them.
The Paragon survey – completed by more than 100 industry professionals – pinpointed a number of issues currently effecting the transport and logistics sector:
The combined impact of these challenges means planning teams are having to get even more from the transport resources available to them, at the same time as factoring in complex delivery parameters and sharing greater levels of information. Below we have listed the biggest planning pressures according to the survey:
Customers are increasingly expecting tighter and more precise delivery windows so the ability to create accurate and achievable plans becomes more important than ever. Route planning software is having to evolve to keep up, with street level mapping, truck attribute data and average road speed data helping to create feasible transport plans with precise and realistic arrival times that can be shared with the customer.
Once vehicles are out on the road it can be difficult to know what is happening, with little or no visibility of whether drivers are following the planned route and how they are performing. This is why many transport operations are now turning to vehicle tracking, integrated with routing and scheduling software, to keep up to date with progress in real-time and use real world data to continually improve plans.
With the continuing driver shortage planners have to create transport schedules that achieve more with less. Plans need to be as efficient as possible to maximise the productivity of your transport operation, but this is only part of the solution. To achieve optimum utilisation of drivers, plans must factor in their exact availability and information such as holidays, shift patterns and hours worked.
Whether it is the operations, logistics, finance or customer service department, there is an ever growing need to share transport data with internal audiences (and in many cases externally with customers as well). This increasing requirement has transport offices turning to systems and processes that can automatically monitor and analyse performance to dramatically reduce the time spent on reporting.
The need to reduce inventories, guarantee stock availability or support just-in-time operations is driving demand for higher frequency of smaller shipments. This added complexity is rarely accompanied with an increase in rates, so to operate profitably it has become critical to adopt transport planning processes and systems that can maximise available resources.
Only by having complete visibility of all assets, including drivers, is it possible to gain peace of mind that maximum efficiency is being achieved. Advanced and integrated planning solutions are providing the real-time and historical insight needed. This is generating a better understanding of resources to ensure the right levels are available for a robust and efficient transport operations.
The skills shortage is impacting all areas of the logistics industry and transport planning is no exception. Taking a localised approach can often exacerbate the situation as individuals with the ability to plan – while wearing a number of other hats – are required at each depot or regional centre. Route planning software can streamline processes, and if required centralise the planning team, to help dramatically cut the time needed to create plans and make better use of resources. This can also help avoid being overly reliant on planners’ personal knowledge, which can result in disaster if they choose to leave or are ever absent.
There is evidence within the Paragon survey to suggest that planning resources are changing (49% of respondents stated that there had been changes in their planning teams in the last 12 months), with a substantial number of transport operations growing (16%) or centralising (22%) their teams. At the same time, they are looking towards automated and/or integrated processes to help mitigate the impact of some of the challenges they face. A large proportion (78%) believed they would significantly or slightly benefit from having greater automation in the transport office, while almost half (45%) of those using some type of telematics are now interfacing this technology with their planning solution.
These findings suggest there is a recognition that planning pressures are increasing and need to be addressed. Selecting the right route planning software is more crucial than ever. This will ensure that the correct tools are in place to deliver real benefits in terms of better resource utilisation, improved customer communications and real-time visibility of fleet performance.
Whatever the planning pressures and operational challenges faced by your business, talk to Paragon to learn how our route planning can help you.
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