Many of the conversations we have with prospective customers start off with very similar questions: “Can I use your route planning software to plan my deliveries”, “Can you help my business reduce delivery costs and planning time?” or “Will your software help me improve the delivery service I provide to my customers?”

The emphasis in these questions is on the word “my”. Many of us struggling to solve a challenge within our own business wonder if our requirements can be solved by buying software or services used successfully by companies in other sectors. Surely our needs are different and the same size won’t fit all?

In actual fact, most of our customers are faced with very similar business challenges when they start trying to decide on the best route optimisation software for their business. They are trying to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and improve customer service whether they are in Gdansk, Glasgow or Georgia. What is different is the set of parameters that any particular business has to factor in every time they plan.

Here are a few examples of the types of challenges that our customers are managing every day across the 61 countries where Paragon’s route optimisation software is currently used:

  • Managing product compatibility and compartments
    Products that need to be moved at different temperatures, or kept separate to avoid contamination during transit, can be managed using functionality available in route optimisation software that ensures non-compatible products travel in separate vehicles, or in separate compartments. Whether you want to manage the order that compartments are unloaded, or manage frozen and ambient goods in the same delivery, you can set the parameters in advance and then be confident that the requisite product compatibility rules are being met.
  • Changing trailer capacity
    In addition to managing the requirements of individual products or product types, you might also need to think about capacity changes, for example moving bulkheads so that you can accommodate larger volumes or items from your product catalogue. Using an advanced route planning tool like Paragon’s software allows you to simplify the planning process so even something like this can be automated based on the constraints and parameters provided.
  • Non-physical constraints
    While most of our customers want to maximise the number of drops they make each day, some customers are limited by non-physical constraints such as the financial value of the goods that they carry at any one time due to limits placed on them by their insurance companies. Our customers can use Paragon to record the value of each of the products that they are shipping and then be safe in the knowledge that they are meeting the conditions imposed upon them.
  • Calculating a load with more than one measure
    If you’re moving goods that are stored in different types of container, e.g. cages and boxes then it’s useful to be able to calculate how many of each container can be transported together, or the combinations of different containers that can be fitted in each vehicle, to maximise utilisation of a vehicle.
    Making sure you have the dimensions of your container types and your vehicles up front and other critical data like this before you start selecting the best route optimisation software for your business is really important to getting up and running as quickly as possible.
  • Managing driver shifts
    Whether you need to factor in the Working Time Directive, varying shift patterns across your workforce, or preference for finishing early on a Friday for better work/life balance, you can use your route optimisation software to factor in all of these driver-specific variables to ensure you can meet your customers’ needs and those of your drivers. This is especially important when if, like most transport operators, you are fighting to attract and retain drivers.
  • Consolidating returns and collections
    If you’re trying to reduce costs by avoiding empty running then the ability to consolidate returns and collections together in one transport plan is essential. Planning routes that include multi-tripping or even trailer swapping can also make sure that you make the most of every mile your fleet travels. Customers like Forfarmers and Sainsbury’s are doing exactly this every day with our route optimisation software.
  • Plan around local authority road restrictions in residential areas
    Many of our customers need to factor in local authority road restrictions such as limited truck zones in London and Paris to ensure that they don’t face penalties but they can still make their deliveries on time. Transport planners can use Paragon Route Control to create routes that comply with time and day-related local, state and national regulations, and road closures resulting from major public events.

Here at Paragon we offer the same functionally-rich software to all of our customers instead of building different versions of our software for different sectors. This means that you can access all of the
functionality that you need on day one. You can also take advantage of different functionality as your requirements grow.

Still worried that we might not have your challenge covered?

Our software is available in three different options that reflect the varying complexity of a transport operation: Single Depot, Multi Depot and Integrated Fleets. Single Depot is our original route optimisation tool and the basis for all of our routing and scheduling modules. Multi Depot and Integrated Fleets retain all of the functionality of Single Depot but include a wider range of features to manage more complex planning tasks.

While you’ll need to start off with one of these route optimisation modules, you can move from Single Depot to Multi Depot or from Multi Depot to Integrated Fleets without impacting your daily transport operation so there’s room for growth.

In addition to the standard data fields that most of our customers use, Paragon has a large number of additional text and numeric fields which customers can use for data specific to their own transport operations. Not only does this allow a transport office to tailor the planning process using their unique business data, it also allows users to export that data along with more standard transport office data, and share KPIs with non-Paragon users in the business.

Data can be exported and shared as Crystal Reports or exported to HTML web pages to provide access to real-time information. For example Paragon has designed an Arrivals Boards for a number of our customers so that stores can see real-time ETAs for their next delivery.

Sound confusing?

You don’t need to understand how all of this functionality works on day one; that’s what our experienced team of implementation and support consultants are trained to do.

Across the hundreds of man years of implementing route planning software, the team has been faced with many seemingly impossible tasks but based on their experience of implementing solutions for other customers, they are usually able to identify the way that existing functionality can be used to address what at first looks like a seemingly impossible task. If pushed, I suspect most of them would admit to secretly relishing the opportunity to crack a seemingly impossible route optimisation challenge!

Are all of your challenges necessary?

When you talk to the team here at Paragon, we may well challenge your assumptions about what you need to do. That doesn’t mean we think your business should be modelled to fit our software. Quite the reverse. But we do like to challenge our customers to understand if they really need to be constrained by the limits they are currently planning for.

For example, one of our customers was trying to comply with a 5 minute delivery window but as a result of the planning process we went through with them they consulted with their customers and decided to offer a guaranteed 20 minute time window instead. They saved money but also improved the customer experience they were offering because the wider window is more frequently achievable making them appear more reliable in their customers’ eyes.

As a leading provider of route planning software, Paragon is used to plan a large variety of the goods that travel across our road network by lorry. Customers looking to transport chickens, liquor, baked goods and fine wines as well as bottled gas, portaloos, gas, fork lift trucks and sludge all use Paragon to improve the service they provide, and to identify and implement operational efficiencies.

We understand that everybody has distinct differences with their businesses. Why not find out if we can help you save miles, improve driver and vehicle usage and increase customer satisfaction?

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