For a business owner with more than one or two delivery vehicles, dispatch efficiency can be a real headache.
How Route Optimization Software Can Improve Dispatch Efficiency
With handling calls from customers and making sure drivers know where they need to go next, the list of tasks can sometimes be never-ending. Optimizing that process can save you time and money.
That said, in this article, you’ll learn how and why route optimization software can save you money by helping improve dispatch efficiency:
An Opportunity to Maximize Efficiency
Route optimization software can help you find opportunities to improve efficiency. This used to be something people did by hand, but doing the calculations needed to determine the most efficient route for your fleet can easily get away from you.
Even with as few as two vehicles making ten stops a day, choice after choice is necessary. Before you know it, millions of calculations could be needed. While plenty of people have tried to take on this task with a whiteboard and a phone, today there are better solutions available.
Any business that has to deal with dispatch management can benefit from the right software suite, preferably one that integrates route optimization.
Route optimization software takes some pretty complicated calculations and not only makes them manageable but can help you save money with them too.
There are all kinds of businesses that can benefit from route optimization software, whether your business handles plumbing, HVAC, health care, or logistics.
Plus, it often comes packaged with a range of industry-specific features. HVAC dispatching software, for example, could also help you handle work orders and track equipment.
Why Is Route Optimization so Hard?
First, it pays to understand why route optimization’s such a tricky problem in the first place.
Mathematicians have been working on versions of this problem—i.e., how to calculate the most efficient route for someone making multiple stops—for almost six decades.
The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP), as it’s known, has attracted attention because of its complexity and its practical applications. (1)
Even twenty years ago, authors writing about VRP argued that it could generate savings of between 5% and 20% in global transportation costs.
At the time, between 10% and 20% of the costs of goods could be attributed to transportation. That means that savings in transportation can make a big difference for business owners and consumers alike. (1)
Since the problem was articulated, those working to solve it have benefited from advances in computer science. New modeling techniques and algorithms used to run the numbers and have both helped make route optimization software a reality.
There are even some who’ve dedicated their efforts to using quantum computing to do better route optimization work. (1) (2)
Going further, the following are five ways software can help increase dispatch efficiency:
1. Speed up Your Route Planning
If you’re used to planning routes with pen and paper and making phone calls to drivers on the road, route planning software can make a huge difference.
For one thing, it’ll help you visualize your drivers’ routes. If a change needs to be made mid-route, the software can adjust the route in real-time.
The software will also be able to account for traffic, weather, and any other factors that throw a wrench into your laid-out routes.
You’ll save time with more efficient routes and from not having to tell your drivers where to go and when.
2. Reduce Maintenance Costs
Efficient use of the vehicles in your fleet will save you money in multiple ways. Along with faster deliveries and/or service visits, which lets you fit more of them into each workday, efficient route planning also reduces wear and tear on your vehicles.
Route planning software will help you reduce the need for maintenance in multiple ways. By avoiding bad weather, you can cut down on damage to your fleet’s vehicles.
You can also reduce the number of vehicles needed to run your operation, potentially saving you a lot of money in maintenance costs.
3. Know Your Drivers’ Activity
While you can do all the route planning you want, are you sure you know what routes your drivers are taking? Most route optimization software can also provide GPS tracking for the vehicles in your fleet.
This will let you see where your drivers are going in real-time. This can also save you money on your fuel expenses, for one.
4. Collect and Use Data
Data collection is one of the main ways in which route optimization software can help increase your dispatch efficiency. Good software can let you look at data from your customers, drivers, and vehicles all in one place.
That will let you track which drivers are performing at, below, or above your standards.
You’ll also be able to determine if there are particular routes that cause problems, regardless of who’s driving. If you see a trend of delays around a certain area at a certain time, for instance, you can account for that and plan routes around it.
5. Order and Vehicle Constraints
Depending on what you’re delivering, there may be constraints on the order in which your goods or equipment need to be delivered or hauled. For example, if you’re sending perishable items that need temperature control, you’d want to get those out first thing.
If you’re sending general goods too, you want to make sure you’re not mixing things inappropriately (paint and ice cream probably shouldn’t go in the same van) or any other cargo—any interaction between different substances and materials could turn out poorly for your deliveries.
If you run a business that makes deliveries or provides a service that requires onsite maintenance, you could likely benefit from route maintenance optimization. The right software suite will enable you to:
- improve visualization of delivery routes,
- cut down on delivery times,
- avoid bottlenecks through improved dispatching,
- offer customers a better experience (less waiting), and
- keep finding ways to improve performance.
Dispatch management’s a tricky part of any business, and you should use all the technological help you can get. It combines the challenge of managing equipment and a fleet of drivers with the need to meet customer expectations.
Whether your business is providing home health care, insurance, or maintenance, installation, and repair services—customers want high-quality service, and they don’t want to wait too long for it either.
1. “The Vehicle Routing Problem”, Source: https://epubs.siam.org/doi/abs/10.1137/1.9780898718515.ch1
2. “How Quantum Computers Could Cut Millions Of Miles From Supply Chains And Transform Logistics”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/02/05/how-quantum-computers-could-cut-millions-of-miles-from-supply-chains-and-transform-logistics/?sh=f5546ed25a92