Anyone that works in an organization with service technicians or delivery workers that drive to customer locations knows that there is always some planning that needs to be done each day to get the work done.
In the simplest case, a load planner prints out work tickets from a business application and gives them to the worker who will be doing the driving.
In some of these cases, the route planner will sort the tickets into the desired stop order. In other cases, the driver will sequence the stops. But, in either case, the decision on which technician or driver will be assigned a stop is a manual process and the decision on the order that stops will be visited is a manual process, as well.
So what’s wrong with a completely manual process?
First, the assignment of the work to a specific worker requires some thought. To split up the work evenly each day, the route planner has to determine if there is an area where there is more or less work than normal, both in the number of stops and in the time to be spent at the stops. It is very easy to give one person a specific area to cover, but it takes some effort to ensure that no one is coming back early while someone else is being paid overtime.
Second, the stop order for each worker’s route is not always as efficient as it could be. In a business to business situation, the worker may know where the stops are located and how to get there, but in a business to consumer situation, that next stop may be in an unfamiliar area with only a limited number of ways to get there.
An automated route planning tool, like Strategic Movements, can make the manual process more efficient by displaying all the stops on a map and then allowing the route planner to drag and drop stops to each route. Stops that are near each other can be grouped, and it is easy to see if the amount of work and drive time for each worker is somewhat equalized. It is also very easy to move stops between routes and immediately see the effect, something that is much more difficult is when the assignment process is completely paper based.
But the value of an automated tool is best shown with dynamic routing. Here any stop can be assigned to any worker as long as customer requirements like time windows or special skills are met. And the artificial intelligence assignment process is designed to save money in both the time to prepare routes and in the time needed to execute them.
Dynamic routing saves planning time. To manually produce a set of efficient routes with a paper-based system, the route planner must divide the work into geographic groups, then move the paper tickets into a single group for each worker. Then the tickets need to be examined to determine if there are any special requirements or if the work to be done just takes longer than usual. By comparison, a dynamic routing process does this work with almost no effort from the route planner. By knowing where the work is to be done and approximately how long the worker needs to be at each stop, a complex manual process is eliminated.
Dynamic routing also saves driving time. By using the data from the actual road network, the time and distance between any pair of stops is accurately known, and highly efficient routes are produced.
If you are routing manually now, you may have questions.
Does it really work?
Yes. It does work. Dynamic routing has been installed in thousands of sites by many vendors over the past 30 years. Acceptance has been widespread because excellent results are produced in a very short time.
Will I really see savings?
Yes, you will. With over 30 years of experience with route planning products, we can state that you will see a savings of at least 10% over 90% of the time. We have also seen occasions where savings have been much greater than that. It depends on how well the routes were being prepared with the existing manual process. But even the best route planner can only picture a limited number of stops in his or her head and will always miss a better solution when faced with a really complex assignment problem.
Is it flexible enough for my situation?
Yes. From time to time there are reasons to make adjustment to the routes planned by an automated tool. Before the routes are given to the workers, Strategic Movements offer a dispatch board where the route planner may move stops between routes, as needed.
How can I try this out?
Strategic Movements is software as a service so there are no long term contracts, upfront costs or annual maintenance fees. You can send us a spreadsheet with your work for a day and we will process it and show you how long it takes to produce the routes and how long it would take to execute each one. If you are still not convinced, we offer a short term free trial. If Strategic Movements does not reduce your costs, you can stop using it with no further obligation on your part.
The bottom line is that Strategic Movements is business process automation. It makes a part of your daily workflow more reliable and more efficient.
Interested? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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