If you plan your routes with pen and paper, you already know that it is a very cumbersome task. And, still you can’t guarantee 100% accurate optimized routes and might get negative customer reviews for delayed deliveries.
This could be due to your drivers:
- Getting stuck in traffic when driving during rush hour, or
- Getting stuck in unanticipated bad weather conditions.
But, your customers won’t listen to such reasons. This may thus lead to them choosing your competitors over you the next time.
These are just a couple of issues you’ll face if you don’t have proper vehicle route planning process in place. But, the list doesn’t end here. Inaccurate routes can also lead to increased fuel expenses, legal hassles, and driver attrition.
And, no matter how hard you try, you can’t design a great optimized route manually.
The reason for this is that:
- You can’t see a map on the spreadsheet,
- You can’t identify the times that your drivers will need to make a left turn or U-turn,
- You or your drivers can’t know which roads are under construction,
- If you’re unfamiliar with an area, you can’t even know about one-way roads, and so on.
But, you need not worry about this when you opt for a routing optimization software. According to a report, such a software can cut down your planning time by 20%. Also, it can reduce your logistics costs by a whopping 50%!
Well… many logistics and delivery businesses have read or heard about several routing programs. But, they have a dilemma.
Can it really benefit their organization or is it just typical sales pitches?
Do they just want to sell you a product at a hefty price with no probability of transforming your business?
The question is obvious. If a product can’t revolutionize your organization radically, then you shouldn’t invest in it. Also, small transformations won’t help you either. And, this holds true for your route optimization software as well.
So, in this article, we give you in-depth information about:
- How a such software can help you design accurate optimized routes that your drivers will love, and
- How it will help you book more profits.
Read on to learn more.
#1 Plan a Route in 30 Seconds
No matter what strategy you use, it’ll take much longer than 30 seconds to plan routes with pen and paper. But, with route optimization software, you can easily do it in half a minute.
The software does all the required complex calculations within seconds. It then provides you with a 100% accurate optimized route. So, you save a lot of hours that you can rather invest in growing your business. That means you no longer waste time with route planning and administration.
Moreover, your drivers can cover more routes in the same time as before with the better routes.
Also, your drivers will be happy as they would get great routes with zero hassles. This will improve productivity which means timely delivery. This’ll ultimately make your customers do more business with you and refer more customers.
Read the following article to learn more about how you can plan a route within 30 seconds.
#2 Avoid Difficult Turns
When drivers cover many routes each day, they’ll obviously face several types of turns. These would include U-turns, left turns, and right turns. And, each turn comes with its own set of challenges.
For example, 60% of crashes happen due to left turn intersections. Also, these turns lead to time wastage as the driver must first wait for oncoming traffic to clear. This means that the fuel usage and expenses will increase.
U-turns can also increase fuel costs as it’s difficult to do in crowded areas downtown.
So, your drivers might need to take another route to reach the destination. This means that it’ll take longer to reach the destination. It’ll also mean additional fuel expenses.
The problem is that when you plan routes manually, you can’t consider such turns. But, you cannot leave them either.
This is where a fleet route planning software can prove immensely useful. Such software come with a feature to avoid left turns, U-turns, and right turns. You just need to select your preference. The software will then automatically plan a route without the turns that were specified.
Could you ever have imagined that avoiding specific types of turns could be that easy?
And, since your drivers won’t get stuck, they’ll make timely deliveries. So, it would also help you offer a greater customer experience.
#3 Keep Your Drivers Safe from Adverse Weather Conditions, Sunrise and Sunset
According to a report, 22% of all annual vehicle crashes are weather related. Also, auto accidents increase by 203% in the rain as per another survey.
This shows how risky it is to drive during adverse weather conditions. And, any mishaps will cause additional expenses due to medical, legal, and repair issues.
But, with a manual approach, it’s impossible to avoid such risks.
After all, how can you know which areas will experience bad weather in a couple of hours?
Yet, you can’t compromise on the delivery and you can’t risk your drivers’ lives.
Does this not look like a complete deadlock situation?
Well… it’s not when you go for a route scheduling software.
When you plan a new route, the software looks at the geographic region and route date. It then uses the anticipated weather conditions for that area and date. Depending on the severity, it’ll make you reduce the travel speed or adjust the service time.
The best part about this is that you don’t have to do anything. The feature is activated automatically.
Moreover, it’s not just about bad weather. Such software can also ensure driver safety during sunrise and sunset.
It offers a sunrise or sunset feature and you just need to key in the zip code of the area that needs to be covered. The software will automatically optimize the routes. It this ensures that your drivers don’t need to drive during a sunrise or sunset. It’s that easy!
Read the following article to learn more about vehicle route planning software ensuring driver safety.
#4 Ensure Drop-Offs at the Right Locations
Dropping off a package to a small business office may be easy. But, doing the same to a large institution, such as hospitals, could be a daunting task.
For example, the hospital could have several entrances. So, it would be difficult to identify the one intended for deliveries. Also, Google Maps only shows one entrance and it’s not necessarily the right one for your drivers.
And, if your drivers don’t know where exactly to drop off a package, they’ll circle around. That means extra fuel expenses and time wastage.
However, you can nullify this problem with a fleet routing software.
You just need to mark the right entrance in the software when you visit a location the first time. The next time a route is planned for that location, the software will ensure time is not wasted again.
Moreover, with routing software, you can also save the locations or destinations visited. You can even set specific drop-off points. In this way, your customers don’t even need to wait for you and you can serve them better.
#5 Optimize Routes by Editing them Afterward
Even if you plan a route, you can’t always anticipate what will happen on the road.
For example, a vehicle may break down suddenly on the road far from a client’s location. It could also be stopped for truck inspections.
Both such instances could mess up your entire plan. So, your drivers could fall behind schedule and might miss the delivery turnaround time. The impact of this could be severe, depending on the type of services you offer.
For example, if you deliver food, a single minute of delay could cost your business.
Moreover, you’ll only learn about such events only when your customers complain.
And it’s not just the drivers that could mess up your planned routes. Your customers could also make an unanticipated demand. So, they could ask for a delivery to be made before the scheduled time due an emergency.
Luckily, vehicle route planning software can help you tackle such problems easily. It offers GPS tracking to help you identify drivers who are available and closest to the customer. You can then assign that driver and re-optimize the routes to deliver the package.
Such a tracking feature also comes with several other benefits. It thus:
- Helps to monitor what your drivers are doing on the road,
- Helps you inform your customers about the estimated time of delivery,
- Improves driver productivity,
- Enables you to keep a check on fuel expenses,
- Increases driver safety,
- Avoids legal hassles, and
- Saves you on insurance premiums.
Read the following article to learn more about how this could help your delivery process.
#6 Protect Your Business from Legal Hassles
Maps are an inevitable part of every manual route planning process. But, it could also damage your business.
The maps you have been using for the last five years may no longer be effective. This is because new roads are paved every year. Also, old roads are merged, renamed, extended or even closed annually.
So, if you follow the same routes, you can still optimize them, but you can’t guarantee accuracy. There’s thus a high probability that your drivers may get lost in the middle of the road. They could also end up driving down one-way or under-construction roads.
They could even drive down a road that is off limits. And, as a result, you’ll pay hefty fines for your drivers breaking road laws.
This is not something you would want, would you?
But, a vehicle route planning software comes with maps which gets updated automatically so you and your drivers will never face any issues.
#7 Add Constraints
Every customer is different and so too are their needs and priorities.
Some might need deliveries during the morning, while others might prefer the afternoon. And, managing and ensuring deliveries in the specified time is not easy. Manual planning takes a lot of time and effort and can be a messy with clients’ specific requirements.
And, it’s not just the customers who are different. All your vehicles might not be the same. They could have different volume capacities, road restrictions or maximum load weights. Also, your drivers may have different operator skills. Sometimes you may even need certain drivers to only visit certain customers.
It could get even worse if you had to plan a route to visit many locations, for example 400 or 500 per day.
Could you take all of the above into consideration when planning optimal routes in a few seconds?
Let’s face it, with manual route planning, this is not possible.
However, with a planning and routing software, it is a simple process.
It offers separate fields that you can specify, such as:
- The number of vehicles,
- The route duration,
- The maximum distance per vehicle or route,
- The maximum pieces per route,
- The maximum weight per route,
- The maximum volume per route, and
- The maximum stops per route.
All you need to do is fill in the data. The software will factor in these constraints and provide you with an optimized route.
Could you ever have imagined that planning routes with these constraints, could be this easy?
However, not every route optimization software offers these similar features. So, you need to ask them if they provide the same. You also need to weigh them on several other parameters to select the right fit for you.
Read the following article to learn about how to choose a vehicle route planning software.
#8 Other Benefits of Vehicle Route Planning Software
The benefits listed above are the primary ones of routing optimization software. However, there are several other advantages as well, such as:
- You can plan your day in advance.
- It requires zero micromanagement.
- You can track the drivers and vehicles in real time.
- You can plan routes from your smartphone.
- You can plan routes in real roads.
- Any changes made on your computer will be synced automatically with your drivers’ smartphones.
- You can visualize the customers on an interactive map.
- There is no manual loading in GPS or printed paper manifests.
- It offers a reporting and analytics feature to track driver performance, expenses, and profits.
- You get the ability to assign work with just one click.
So, have you explored any vehicle route planning software yet or are you planning to go for one? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.