What is route optimization?
Route optimization is, as the term implies, the process of improving route planning for the driver, the customer, and the company. Drivers need to get to the next stop as soon as possible. Customers need deliveries to arrive at certain times in certain locations. Finally, the company needs to get as many deliveries to as many stops as possible.
Route optimization isn’t new. As customer expectations continue to rise, ensuring that routing is as efficient as possible is becoming more and more relevant to fleet management providers looking to grow their business while ensuring customer satisfaction.
With high volumes of customer orders to organize, rising fuel costs to keep in mind, evolving driver and fleet management needs, changing road and traffic conditions, and tight time windows, route optimization is more than finding the shortest distance between two stops.
Whether your fleet utilizes route planning software or not, route optimization occurs in three cyclical phases:
- Strategic planning
- Daily routing
- Analyzation and calibration
Let’s dive into each phase, look at some of the most common challenges in each, and discover how to face those challenges.
The most effective route optimization starts weeks or months before delivery is set to take place by taking into account recurring deliveries, custom service times, seasonal spikes, and territory overlaps.
Don’t let anyone tell you route optimization is easy. Even with upfront planning, routers have to ensure vehicles are ready to hit the road, trucks leave fully packed, and drivers get to the right loading and unloading zones daily.
Analyzation and Calibration
You’ve planned the routes, executed your deliveries, and haven’t received any customer complaints — it’s been a good day. Though many carriers can get by with strategic planning and routing, forward-thinking companies take the time to compare their execution to their plans. This third step is crucial if you intend to take on new customers effectively while balancing costs.
Successful route optimization is made up of several key components. It starts with developing an inclusive routing strategy weeks and months in advance for the territories you’ll be doing business in. This high-level route optimization stage should incorporate your customer and business needs, recurring delivery patterns, and anticipated time-consuming customer deliveries. Once the delivery date draws nearer, you can shift focus to daily route planning. Here, you can further optimize your routes by ensuring your teams and vehicles are fully stocked and prepared, utilizing geocoding capabilities, and reviewing all the task-list items that will help drivers have a successful trip. Finally, you can optimize the critical vehicle, driver, and performance data from your routes and learn from that data to improve your teams and customers' experience.
Learn more about route optimization solutions from Omnitracs, and find route planning software that fits your business.
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