Fleet and Resource Management

For organizations with delivery fleets, Mobile Resource Management (MRM) is critical, yet poses some significant challenges. Whether performing deliveries and pickups, scheduling on-site inspections, or visiting clients to discuss merchandising or take inventory – the need to communicate in real-time and optimize resources in the field is essential to maintaining margins and profitability.

Many operators today function on a manual, decentralized and fragmented model, without the help of optimization or decision support technology. As a result, routing schedules tend to be static with little to no ability to manage dynamic jobs and/or route changes. This leads to added costs, fragmented fleet planning and underutilization of assets in the field.

Addressing the Challenge

There are many approaches to route planning functionality.  The most basic approach has been to work with spreadsheets and static calendars.  As this is not an automated process, it requires the daily development of a new plan and the ability to break down data elements into individual or regional route packages.  As a result, managers do not have insight into the entire route planning and dispatch process.

Some users have adopted a range of tracking technologies to pinpoint the location of vehicles and/or personnel.  Beyond knowing where field resources are at any given time, the information provides limited benefits.  Dispatch managers are still left with the inability to monitor and execute schedules against the plan in a way that optimizes delivery performance and customer service while controlling costs. 

Others do have some level of control through designated route planners.  However, the problem of unmanaged mobile assets remains unchanged.  Mobile sales personnel and merchandisers, for example, are not part of the core delivery fleet, so managers have very little day-to-day control over the plans they are working against.  As a result, there tends to be an extremely high degree of variability in efficiency.   Self-reporting of miles and work done is not reliable and prone to inaccuracies and in some cases, abuse of the system.  This becomes even more problematic from a compensation standpoint.  Reconciling the activities of field personnel with a less than accurate reporting system, in most cases, leads to overpayment for services. 

There are a few companies that have explored the option of using route planning packages that interface with separate dispatch packages and mobile provider solutions to enable interaction with trucks on a day to day basis.  Integrating and managing all three elements, however, is difficult.  Especially with multiple vendors, integration costs can be high and budgeting more unpredictable, leading to cost overruns and an impact on reliability.  In addition, almost all in-house approaches require companies to identify and install software behind the firewall, increasing capital costs and risk.

Comprehensive Descartes Solution for Mobile Resource Management

As a recognized innovator in delivery management, Descartes has offered market-proven routing and scheduling solutions for over 20 years.  Its comprehensive MRM solution meets the needs of manufacturers, retailers, distributors and their logistics services providers by managing the entire delivery process, and enabling them to optimize and gain real-time control over their logistics assets and mobile workforce. 

By integrating design, planning, execution, performance management, mobile solutions and telematics, Descartes maximizes private fleet and contract carrier productivity, improves customer service, provides visibility to global and regional supply chain performance, and captures the necessary data to drive world class logistics operations. 

Descartes’ comprehensive MRM solution plays an integral part in supporting and improving a number of key logistics functions and processes, including:

Strategic Delivery Planning – helps companies build new services, sales territories and replenishment strategies that maximize customer service and profit.  Solutions perform complex service scheduling for regularly occurring deliveries, and provide fleet management applications for vehicle routing and tracking.  It also evaluates geographic distribution and sales potential for each customer to help establish optimal territories and routes.

Daily Route & Load Planning – accelerates a company’s ability to continuously create reliable routes using fewer trucks, miles and drivers.  As each new order is placed solutions re-optimize in real-time, allocating resources to help maximize operating efficiencies; deliver priority service to the most profitable accounts and routes; and maintain overall customer service objectives.

Mobile & Wireless Fleet Management – integrates planning, dispatch, delivery status and wireless communications to improve customer responsiveness and minimize the impact of service interruptions and exceptions.  Descartes solutions provide delivery dispatch, monitoring and two-way wireless communications, enabling asset tracking and monitoring of people in the field.

Reservations – enables real-time reservation scheduling, easy delivery dispatch and real-time delivery management through route optimization software.  It also facilitates the online scheduling of deliveries or services.  

Automatic Vehicle Locating (AVL) – helps improve customer responsiveness through real-time status updates, forward predictability and enhanced exception alerting.  This can reduce the need to track every aspect of a schedule and emphasize the implications of service interruptions and exceptions. 

Dispatch – leverages integrated wireless devices to enhance real-time communication with drivers to improve customer service.  This offering coordinates drivers, dispatchers and call centers for operational improvements and customer responsiveness. It facilitates new order assignments and manages exceptions along with recommendations for taking action and communicating with drivers. 

Fleet and For Hire – provides an easy and affordable way to route plan, optimize, dispatch, track and monitor delivery fleets in real time.  This on demand fleet management solution optimizes both static and dynamic routes to maximize efficiency, by taking into account geographic zones, time windows and other constraints when planning delivery fleets.  It also provides a real-time global view of driver movement and delivery status to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve service. 

Telematics – enables real-time, highly configurable field data capture including in-cab, turn-by-turn navigation, new trailer and cab sensor integration and trailer action alerts (e.g. temperature, movement and other sensory inputs).

Reporting Services – a standard reporting tool that allows for easy drag and drop report generation so users can create and modify sophisticated reports in minutes.

The Descartes Advantage - Optimize Route Planning, Reduce Fuel Cost & Improve Asset Utilization

Descartes solutions are designed to meet the needs of organizations regardless of size or complexity, enabling optimal route planning, a reduction in fuel costs and significant improvements in asset utilization.  Through its software-as-aservice (SaaS) model for MRM, organizations can access advanced route planning capabilities on demand, avoid the need for a high capital cost investment, and reduce in-house IT staffing needs.  As an established service provider with a long and proven history in logistics solutions, Descartes offers an easy-to-deploy and use Web-based SaaS solution that provides end-to-end functionality for local logistics needs.  Descartes’ strategic delivery planning solution for dispatch supports operators throughout the process, from initial planning to execution and analysis.

With its on-demand, pay-as-you-go model, Descartes can address a full range of planning and execution needs for operations of any size – from 10 to 10,000 trucks.  Rather than adopting a standalone approach to problems, Descartes solutions are integrated and geared towards simplifying complicated and difficult problems throughout the end-to-end logistics process, enabling users to identify opportunities for improvement.  In addition, Descartes MRM solutions can easily be scaled up or down according to business needs without the need for infrastructure changes.

Features include:

  • Web-based access to a full suite of route planning and optimization tools;
  • Central hosting and provisioning;
  • End-to-end functionality for planning, dispatch and mobile connectivity;
  • Advanced reporting and analysis tools;
  • Support for passive tracking (e.g. GPS) and driver interaction (e.g. handheld computers) in real time;
  • Support for a full range of mobile devices (e.g. black boxes, Java phones, BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile devices, and touch screen PCs);
  • Telematics functionality for truck and driver behavior analysis available as add on services;
  • Engine diagnostics using fault codes;
  • Driver driving behavior;
  • Maintenance scheduling;
  • State mileage reporting;
  • Fuel efficiency reporting; and,
  • Hours of Service for DOT regulations compliance

Through the Descartes United by Design Alliance program, logistics-intensive organizations also benefit from seamless interoperability between Descartes’ logistics management solutions, and those provided by supply chain partners around the world, encompassing all markets, modes and logistics related processes.  This interoperability is based on open standard collaborative interfaces (SCIs).

Related: White Paper - Mobile Resource Management 2.0: How Mobility is Redefining the Logistics Market