Sometimes, transport operators wonder why the savings they expect from implementing advanced route planning systems haven’t shown up. Often, it’s because the route plans generated by the software didn’t actually get followed completely. Integrating your vehicle tracking system and route optimization software solves the problem, giving you real-time visibility of how your plan is working out in the real world.

With the adoption of vehicle tracking systems accelerating, it makes sense to work out how you can really maximize use of all the “Big Data” you are gathering. The GPS data you are collecting from each vehicle or driver gives you great insight into critical information such as driver behavior and stop and start times at each delivery location. If you feed this data into a system that can give you a single view of what’s happening out on the road in real time alongside what you expected to happen, then you can really start to drive up operational performance and customer service levels. The benefits of automating this are numerous: fleet operators can enhance the customer experience, proactively deal with problems, and increase the accuracy of future plans.

Real-time fleet visibility helps you enhance the customer experience

When your route optimization software is linked seamlessly to your in-cab telematics, it gives customers the thing they want the most – accurate arrival times.

Customers hate surprises. The ability to compare planned vs actual in real time provides you with visibility of your fleet throughout the day, and produces exception alerts that allow you to proactively communicate with customers before a problem arises.

Accurate ETAs ensure that a higher proportion of customers are available and appropriately staffed at the time of delivery so it can be completed as fast as possible. With constantly updated ETAs, customers can not only plan their day accordingly; they also come to trust that you’ll show up when you say you will – enhancing the overall customer experience.

Timely notifications also help your customer services team by reducing the number of inbound “where is my order”, or WISMO, queries, freeing up their time to resolve more complex complaints or queries.

Real-time fleet visibility gives you the power to proactively deal with problems

When you can accurately compare planned routes with actual performance against the plan on a day-to-day basis, you’re better able to get to the root causes of problems.

When deviations are identified and reported on, transportation managers can then discuss anomalies with drivers during the daily driver debrief, while they are still fresh in the driver’s mind. A one-off deviation from the planned route can easily be explained by a traffic accident. A daily detour may be explained by a preference for a specific meal-break location, but if that is adding 100 miles a week at $1.70 a mile – or whatever the latest cost per truck mile is – then that needs to be stopped.

It also allows you to remove recurring frustrations from the driver’s trip. Is a driver delayed at one particular receiving dock because of security protocols? Or perhaps another location is understaffed, resulting in the unloading process taking longer than average.

With integrated route optimization software and fleet tracking, a delay at a specific customer site is flagged on the day. If this becomes habitual, then it’s a trigger for the dispatch team to talk this through with the driver, and the customer services team or account team to discuss it with the customer. While a faster turnaround at the customer site is the best outcome for productivity, a more realistic duration time for that site in your route planning system will ensure your schedule remains accurate and achievable – and your driver is happier.

Armed with this knowledge, route planners can make improvements to future plans that create a greater chance of maximizing the number of on-time stops.

Furthermore, the ability to interface multiple tracking feeds simultaneously means operations that use more than one telematics system within their fleet can, for example, track both owned and third-party vehicles for a single view of how all deliveries are performing against plan.

More visibility leads to better future plans

Being able to compare historical actual vs planned data means you have a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t in the real world. It also might give you some ideas about how you could improve the efficiency across your whole fleet. Using the strategic functionality within your advanced route optimization software, you can model these ideas. What would be the impact on your operation if you shortened all delivery time windows or started shifts earlier or later? This approach allows you to continuously refine your transportation operation, sharpening your proposition and your edge over the competition.

All of this adds up to greater operational efficiency – and the continuous savings it brings.

Implementation is simple

Paragon’s Route Execution software is designed to automatically take data from in-cab telematics systems; information that can be relayed in sub minute intervals. As long as your routing optimization software already has an established interface with your vehicle tracking system, then implementation can be a straightforward process, and take only a few weeks. If it doesn’t, then talk to Paragon about whether you could use Route Execution to connect your existing systems.

Our development team here at Paragon has already built interfaces for more than 40 different vehicle tracking systems including Geotab and our own proof of delivery and job management system fleXipod. The interface between telematics and route optimization software can be customized to provide information that is specific to your operation, or to an individual user, to maximize ease of use and productivity.

Making use of all that Big Data

GPS data captured by your tracking software allows Paragon’s Route Execution software to calculate information such as actual drop times, actual locations and exact travel times between customer sites. This is compared with planned data and the aggregate data displayed with easy to understand symbols, or using standard Red-Amber-Green (RAG) status indicators. For example, if an arrival time exceeds a customer’s agreed window, then a delivery will be flagged. If an incident with the second delivery of the day will impact the rest of the driver’s stops, then all remaining stops that day will be flagged.

Once you have all of this great actionable data at your fingertips, it’s very likely you will want to share it with the rest of your team, or the wider organization. We’ve made that really easy with a set of analysis and reporting tools called Live Management. All your transport data is held in a SQL database which means it’s really easy to view your reports in multiple different formats. Here are a few examples:

  • KPI dashboards on a tablet, smartphone or desktop
  • Automated weekly report distributed via email
  • Web page displayed on a wall-mounted monitor in the customer services department

Our experienced team of consultants will help you configure this to suit your business needs but here is an example of what it could look like:

Altogether, real-time fleet visibility is about a lot more than being able to follow your drivers on a map. Paragon customers such as Blakemore Logistics and Nogales are already seeing the benefits of real-time fleet visibility. Get in touch with Paragon to find out how it could benefit your distribution operation.

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