One of the challenges for transport planning teams tasked with making the most of routing software is making sure the plans they produce don’t unravel out in the “real” world.
The plans transport planners create need to consider hundreds of parameters, including each customer’s required delivery time window, average road speed and vehicle restrictions at each delivery location. Data is fed into the routing software via a system such as an Order Management System (OMS) feeding all the up-to-date order data into the routing engine, whether routes are fixed or dynamic. All the while, planners are seeking to produce plans that deliver the most efficient use of the resources to hand.
But many route planning processes (and most route optimisation software programs) fail to consider what is arguably the most critical component of all – actual driver availability – at the planning phase. The best way to avoid this is using a tool with the ability to feed in the availability of each driver at the planning stage, based on Working Time Directive restrictions, annual leave data and shift patterns.
It’s all too common for the transport office to change route plans before drivers leave the depot, because the plans they receive are not based on accurate driver availability. If routing software includes resource management capabilities, actual driver availability can be considered from the get-go. It means planners can have greater confidence that the plans they produce are feasible, diminishing the risk that route plans will unravel when they are handed to the transport team.
With resource management functionality deployed, planners share an accurate, efficient and achievable plan with the transport team that already takes into account driver availability on an individual level. That not only makes operations more efficient, as plans don’t have to be changed, and the transport team can focus on getting drivers out the door on time. It also enhances the relationship between the two teams, because transport trusts the plans they are given, and planners are no longer frustrated at seeing their carefully-crafted plans altered.
More advanced routing software, such as Paragon’s, includes resource management functionality in its core route optimisation software, which allows fleet operators to receive up-to-date information about each driver’s holidays, medical appointments, shift patterns and hours worked, automatically factoring all of this in to route plans. The software can also take account of individual driver preferences such as shift times, break times and avoiding overnight assignments so the driver can get home at night, all the while aiming for maximum efficiency across the transport operation.
Add in route execution, which allows you to track drivers’ actual routes as well as hours worked and driven, and you can combine detailed driver availability, shifts and estimated hours with “real” driver-hour data to improve the efficiency of route planning going forward.
Additionally, resource management functionality builds on the required skills functionality already available in Paragon’s routing and scheduling software. For example, transport planners responsible for creating plans for service engineers are now able to create their own list of driver skills, such as qualified gas fitter or carpenter. The routing software will then ensure that calls are allocated exclusively to drivers with the right skills, maximising use of those drivers.
Using resource management functionality in routing software allows transport operators to:
Now the planning team can automatically produce a fully-resourced schedule, based on realistic allocation of drivers, which can then be handed over to the dispatch staff to operate and execute.
Since software with resource-level planning produces more reliably executable plans by taking careful account of driver preferences and availability, it reduces last-minute scrambles in the transport office. It essentially removes the need for human intervention, which can cause stress and friction. Drivers leave on time, knowing they have a route plan they can follow, thereby enhancing driver satisfaction, too. A good result all around.
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