Truck route planning is a skilled task, requiring a great deal of local knowledge about roads, traffic and restrictions. It can also be a time-consuming task if done manually, often taking many hours to complete.
Typically the planner will start planning well in advance of the final orders coming in. Then if a flurry of orders suddenly comes into the transportation planning office, the nice set of truck routes the planner had previously planned gets completely messed up – creating a domino effect through the entire plan.
Complicating this manual planning process is how much the planner needs to know about each customer – open/close times, acceptable time windows, vehicle access restrictions, order size and available labor, etc. The planner has to estimate journey times and how long to allow per delivery while factoring in all of these variables. And all the while, they are under pressure to minimize transportation costs and ensure routes are realistic, fair to drivers and within legal hours of service.
In an ideal world, the transport manager would carry out a debrief once the driver finishes all of his/her deliveries. The driver will provide feedback on the planned route or explain the reason for a late delivery or detour to input into the next day’s truck route planning exercise. In reality it is rarely possible for a transport manager to debrief all the drivers immediately upon return and record all of the information formally. The feedback process becomes ad hoc and dependent upon the planner remembering what a driver has said to help improve future route plans.
Every transportation planner will tell you that manual planning is a slow process. In addition to taking up valuable time, the manual planner will struggle to create the most efficient routes because the variables that a planner has to include in the planning process today are just too complicated.
The truck route planning process can be made much more efficient by using an automated routing and scheduling system. Customer delivery requirements are stored in the system, which upon entry of daily orders, can plan routes and schedules on a daily or weekly basis – and can do so quickly, reliably and efficiently.
Automated planning saves a tremendous amount of time, freeing the planner to do more strategic transportation planning and modeling to further cut costs and improve efficiencies. For many of our customers the savings or business improvements extend beyond the delivery operation to other parts of the supply chain or the customer services team. For example, customer satisfaction improves with a more consistent delivery service and the reduced order lead time that is possible with faster planning. You can read more about our customers’ success stories here, or why not get in touch to talk to one of our team to find out more.
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