Effectively managing delivery routes involves two distinct phases. First, a plan must be built to efficiently deploy vehicles while satisfying customer demands. Then, it must be fine-tuned to reflect real-world changes. With the right tool, planning for such a fluid environment becomes a powerful way to serve customers and keep a sharp eye on the bottom line.

To offset escalating delivery costs and improve margins, delivery operators need new ways to create efficiencies. Delivery logistics processes are more challenging to manage, with changes in day-to-day delivery requirements adding to the overall complexity of the job. Whether a customer changes an order at the last minute or a breakdown occurs on the road, these types of issues significantly impact the day’s delivery schedule and associated costs.

When organizations have a recurring delivery customer base and their trucks are sent to all corners of the city, organizations need to look for a tactical solution to plan territories and delivery frequency to keep their vehicles utilized at a maximum. Companies stand to benefit from maximizing on route productivity factors such as the maximized productivity of delivery, sales, re-sales and merchandising personnel, balanced territory assignments, decreased drive time, route length and fuel consumption, improved number of daily deliveries and delivery volume, increased selling time for sales representatives and an objective analysis of sales territories to help prioritize service.  However, often these route productivity factors must also be balanced against labor and payroll issues when trying to keep work and pay equitable across delivery personnel.

When choosing a planning solution companies need to look for the following features:

  • Intuitive and ergonomic user interface. With an intuitive and ergonomic user interface, regardless of your knowledge of information technologies, it is likely that each user will adapt more easily to the system and produce the results needed in a short period of time.
  • Powerful optimization engine. The more powerful the optimization engine of the planning tool, the more likely the engine will allow for more efficient and less expensive distribution routes in a short time period.
  • Open and robust architecture. Integration with your existing IT set-up, and interoperability with all transportation management software (TMS) systems, warehouse management (WMS) systems) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, on-board computers (GPS) and track & tracing systems.
  • High resolution and intelligent cartography. The high resolution of a planning solution’s Web maps makes the job of the easier and more efficient. Maps should include information about traffic congestion and road speeds, guaranteeing accurate predictions of the driving times. Realistic routes can only be calculated if based on correct information. Your planning solution should also contain an intelligent and multilingual logic algorithm that corrects misspelled addresses and places them accurately on the map.
  • Flexible business model. A planning solution that adapts dynamically to all your business constraints through its inherent flexibility and supports multiple, and sometimes competing, balancing factors for territory and service allocation.

For more information email [email protected]

Written by Sergio Torres

Vice President, Product Management for Descartes' Routing, Mobile and Telematics