How to Optimize Routes Across Large Fleets
Did you know there was an 18% increase in parcel delivery from 2019 to 2020, with over 24.8 billion packages delivered domestically in 2020 alone? And that was before the pandemic, when parcel delivery volume increased 40%. As those numbers continue to soar, last-mile delivery businesses must keep up with demand and keep tens of billions of customers happy with on-time, efficient deliveries. If you’re wondering how to juggle both while keeping your business afloat, it might be time to focus on fleet efficiency.
Fleet efficiency is easier said than done, especially when large fleets are concerned. It’s natural for challenges and constraints to multiply in lockstep with fleet growth, making route planning and optimization mathematically impossible for a single person to manage. In this article, we’ll explore
- The difference between route planning and fleet route optimization
- Which industries should use a route planner application
- How integrations can help expand route planning tools
What is the difference between route planning and fleet route optimization?
Route planning and route optimization are two separate processes often grouped under the ‘route planning’ umbrella. Route planning, or stop sequencing, builds routes for fleets, determining which packages are delivered on each route and stop sequence. Many teams handle this process manually until the size, complexity or efficiency become unmanageable. Fleet route optimization is the essential partner for route planning, integrating data about distance, traffic, weather, and, ideally, historical route data into the planning process. Route optimization includes applying constraints like those mentioned – plus driver availability, vehicle capacity, fuel usage and other variables – to maximize effectiveness and efficiency, and maximize fleet utilization
Both route planning and optimization quickly become too complex for a person to manage – especially for large fleets. Thankfully, modern optimization algorithms handle all of those variables at the same time, using historical data during route planning to automatically determine the fastest route, remain cost-effective, and ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Industries that benefit from automated routing
Parcel and courier fleets, retail distributors, commercial delivery drivers, and more can all benefit from route planning and optimization tools. Here are just a few ways a multi-stop route optimization system can drive efficiency for each industry.
Wholesale Beverage and Food Distributors
An automated, cloud-based route optimization planner allows you to effectively plan and execute your daily route plans, including last-minute changes, and communicate with customers and store staff to ensure they’re ready to receive their delivery. Additionally, the optimization algorithm takes weather into account, ensuring you can complete your food and beverage distribution despite the rain or snow.
Parcel and Courier Delivery Drivers
Dealing with hundreds of delivery stops and both full-time and contract drivers takes a lot of work for parcel and courier fleet managers to execute manually. However, a fully automated route planning software can do the math for you, ensuring you’re delivering the greatest number of packages in the shortest amount of time while adhering to delivery windows. And, for some fleets, they further accelerate their efficiency with a dynamic routing strategy. Plus, it can optimize routes for drivers based on their schedules, availability, and preferred geographic zones.
Commercial and Industrial Delivery
Commercial and industrial deliveries often include larger, heavier packages. Through features like capacity planning, automated route optimization software will take factors such as weight restrictions, vehicle type, and road regulations to accommodate larger deliveries more efficiently. And using vehicle tracking, you can monitor shipments to ensure they’ve arrived at their destination safely.
Software integrations for fleet efficiency
Data is an essential piece of the fleet planning puzzle – and the larger your fleet, the more data there is to collect, export and use for future improvements and optimization. Using a delivery automation platform that supports integrations, you can centralize your data and streamline your systems and workflows through your systems, including your:
- Order management system (OMS), which automatically shares order information needed to build route plans.
- Warehouse management system (WMS), which receives route information (once planned) in order to pick merchandise and pack vehicles for each stop on the route..
- Employee management system (EMS), which provides driver hours and availability and ensures routes aren’t automatically assigned to drivers who have the day off.
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which can send invoices to customers automatically as soon as the delivery is made, accelerating the order-to-cash process.
Manage Large Fleets with Wise Systems
For medium to large fleets, successful route planning and optimization is simply too much for a person, or even a team of people, to tackle without the right tools. Fortunately, Route Planner from Wise Systems can help those in multiple industries tap into the potential of their large fleets with more efficient last-mile delivery routes and integrations that streamline dataflows and processes. And, Dispatcher, the web-based delivery management application, provides unparalleled visibility, power and flexibility for managing day-of-delivery operations.
Schedule your free demo today.