As a distributor, optimizing fleet performance is pivotal for financial success, differentiation in a competitive landscape, and delivering an exceptional customer experience. Recently, Adrian Gonzalez delved into these crucial aspects with Brad Bradley, senior sales executive at Descartes, on a recent episode of Talking Logistics.
Here are a few highlights that shed light on the value of implementing routing best practices to improve fleet performance:
Fleet Performance Dynamics
Even with the same route planning solution, distributors can experience significant disparities in fleet performance. Why does this happen? According to Brad, one critical factor is measurement. Questions like whether the driver arrived on time, completed all stops in the correct sequence, and if the planner is optimizing routes efficiently play a key role. Brad emphasizes the importance of measurement, stating, “What doesn’t get measured can’t be managed properly.”
Overlooking Best Practices
Identifying whether a distributor is neglecting best practices is essential. Brad suggests that if a planner is altering more than 10 percent of stops, there might be underlying issues such as data problems, optimizer misconfigurations, or insufficient software understanding. Brad advises, "Observing the planner will tell you if the planner is using the optimizer properly and if it is being effective."
Best Practices Unveiled
So, what are these best practices? Brad underscores the significance of observing and reporting on planner and optimizer performance. Additionally, examining data quality is crucial, and Brad suggests innovative solutions such as using mobile applications to collect real-time data from drivers.
Centralized or regionalized route planning is another best practice highlighted by Brad, emphasizing the need for full-time planners with a holistic view. Ongoing training is the third best practice, crucial for adapting to software upgrades and addressing planner turnover.
Benefits of Enhanced Performance
Adrian asked Brad about the benefits of improved performance for distributors. He stressed that cost savings are a key outcome, with automated systems offering 10-15 percent transportation savings compared to manual planning. Improved on-time percentages and accurate delivery information contribute to a positive customer service experience.
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Optimizing fleet performance is a strategic imperative for distributors aiming at financial resilience, competitive differentiation, and superior customer experiences. Brad’s insights underscore the pivotal role of effective measurement and adherence to best practices, providing a roadmap for overcoming disparities in route planning and execution.
The benefits of enhanced performance extend beyond operational efficiency, delivering substantial cost savings, improved on-time deliveries, and elevated customer service. As distributors embrace these insights and innovative solutions, they not only streamline logistics but also future-proof their operations for sustained success in the dynamic landscape of modern supply chains.