How to Create and Maintain Master Schedules

Many organizations plan their last mile deliveries using routes that do not change very much over time. The customer being visited this Monday is visited by the same person that was there last Monday and will be visited by the same person again next Monday.

The case for static routes is that some organizations have a relatively fixed customer base with few changes and that customer base is best served when the same person visits every time an order is delivered.

Static routing results

Strategic Movements has full support for maintaining a master schedule of static routes, with the ability to add and remove stops from the schedule, to find the best route for a new customer, to move stops from route to route as needed, and to reoptimize one or more routes to create a new master schedule.

But First

A bit of Strategic Movements terminology. A plan is all the work to be done in one day. It consists of trips (also known as routes) which are the work schedules for a worker or vehicle. A job is the work to be done at the customer location.

Identifying Workers and Vehicles

The first step is to identify the workers and vehicles that will be used. Each trip has a default worker and vehicle that may be changed either for a single date, or permanently in the master schedule.

Creating a Master Schedule

Once we know who will be doing the work, the next step is to create a master schedule consisting of one plan for each day of the schedule. A two-week Monday through Friday master schedule would, therefore, contain ten plans.

To each of these plans, the trips are added first. These identify the starting and ending locations of the trip, the work hours and the default vehicle and worker.

Then the jobs are added. These identify the customer location and estimated work time. They may be entered through a form or uploaded from an Excel spreadsheet (XLSX) file, a CSV file, an XML file, or a JSON file using the job uplad process. At this point, the jobs are not yet assigned to a trip.

The assignment of jobs to trips is done in the Dispatch Board screen. Here all the jobs are shown in both a text-based list and as pins on a map. The jobs are assigned to trips with a drag and drop action. As the trips are built the user will see the actual drive path on the map along with the time and distance between stops.

When all jobs have been assigned, the plan is saved and then marked as a template plan so it can be used to create an actual daily work plans according to the schedule.

Creating a Daily Work Plan

The plan for each date is created by copying a plan with its trips and jobs from the selected template plan in the master schedule. Once created it may be modified as needed.

Changing the Daily Work Plan

In the Dispatch Board screen, the user may add a new job, remove an existing job, or move a job from one trip to another. These changes affect only the plan for that date; that is, the changes are not reflected in the master schedule.

Changing the Master Schedule

The plan for any day within the master schedule may also be modified using the Dispatch Board. When additions, deletion, or changes are made, they are saved in the master schedule and will be used the next time a daily work plan is created.

When Changing Any Plan…

After a job is added or removed from a trip, the user may choose to reorder the jobs in such a way as to minimize the drive time and distance. One click of a button will place the jobs in this lowest cost order.

When the trip for a new job has not been predetermined, a click of a button on the unassigned job will display a list of possible trip assignments. The user can choose one from the list or make the assignment based on other business considerations.

Rebuilding the Master Schedule

After some time, the master schedule become less cost-effective due to the route changes caused by the addition and deletion of jobs. When that happened, the master schedule needs to be reorganized.

Strategic Movements provides tools to build a set of cost-efficient trips by selecting all, or some, of the trips and jobs. After the selection is made, a click of the button will use the artificial intelligence (AI) assignment process to make the assignments.

After the assignments are made, the user may then make any further changes, as needed.

Summary

Different organizations need different methods of organizing their last mile deliveries.

In some cases, a purely manual assignment process works well. In some other cases, a completely dynamic approach works best. And in some cases, a master schedule of static routes provides the best business solution.

Strategic Movements is a web application that provides the tools to assign work to workers or vehicles for each of these three methods. Work can be assigned through a simple drag and drop interface, or the daily work may be taken from a pre-existing work plan, or the work and the workers (or vehicles) can be matched in the most cost-effective way using an AI process.

Please visit our website at www.strategicmovements.com to see how we can improve the efficiency of your last mile delivery work assignment.

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