Time is money and time only marches on. Once a minute has passed, that minute is no longer available for any productive use.
In the world of route planning, there are way too many opportunities to have unproductive minutes. Doing manual repetitive tasks or planning less than the best routes can yield quite a bit of time that could be spent elsewhere.
What could these minutes be used for? For the planner, it could be the time to work on more pressing tasks. For the driver, it could be getting back earlier and having the time for whatever is more important in life.
There is no doubt that better routes with fewer miles will reduce transportation costs, but let’s just look at the time benefits of route planning tools.
Where Does It All Start?
There are three basic ways of planning routes for last mile pickup and delivery, and for service technician visits. In addition, there are combinations and variants, but almost all planning starts with one of these:
With no automated tools, the planner starts with some physical media, perhaps sales orders or delivery tickets. These are sorted by geography, combined into larger groups, divided into smaller groups and then, when the groups are about the size that can be assigned to a route or technician, are placed into a visit sequence.
The routes for any given day are preplanned, so there is little work to be done on a daily basis. But two time consuming tasks must be considered: how do the master schedules get created in the first place, and how much work must be done daily when new customers are added or old customers are lost. And how is the master schedule changed for these additions and removals?
Here most of the work is done using an application, but how well is it integrated into your business process? How many steps must be taken to get from a list of sales orders to a solution where all the routes are planned and ready for dispatch? How well integrated is the handheld terminal vendor or the GPS vendor? Does actual positioning, or arrival and departure times, get updated in the current route planning application?
What Can Be Done?
What can be done to save time in each of these cases?
Even if the assignment process requires considerable analysis by a human route planner, there are ways to save time in this process.
How much time could be saved by simply displaying a map with a marker that shows the location of each stop? And what if all the information from the printed ticket was available by just hovering over the stop on the electronic map? And how much time could be saved if the list of stops could be transferred with only a few mouse clicks?
So, even if the assignment is this complicated and the computer cannot be used to make the actual route assignments, there is still time to be saved with automated tools.
How are the daily routes saved today? A collection of spreadsheets, tabs on a single large spreadsheet, word processing documents, or a binder with sheets of paper?
Keeping the master schedule in an application allows the routes for the day to be extracted from the schedule with only a few mouse clicks.
The time needed for daily maintenance of the master schedule is also reduced. Need to find the best route for a new customer? An automated solution will find a few good choices and let the route planner make the final decision. Have you had so many changes that some or all routes for a day need to be completely revised? Again, an automated solution can save valuable time, as well.
Even if you have an application that does some automated routing, there still may be ways to save time.
How long does it take to use the current tool set? How efficient are the routes created? If you think the job could be done more efficiently, it may be time to examine alternative solutions.
If you had just a little more time each day, what would you do with it? Work on important tasks? Take time for family? Take time for yourself?
If any of these are interesting, then take a few minutes to see if Strategic Movements is right for you.
If you are spending too much time planning routes every day, we have something for you.
Although the greatest savings can come from fully automated routing, there are still time savings for those organizations that need to plan routes manually or have a business that requires master schedules.
Do you want to see how route optimization reduces your costs?
We offer a free consultation to help you determine if a route optimization process is the way to achieve significant savings in both planning and actual transportation costs.
Whether you are just curious, thinking about a solution, or are ready to implement a process that will reduce transportation costs every day, sign up for the Strategic Movements News on our website and see what we can do for do.
We also have a new guide, “Reduce Your Transportation Costs With Route Optimization” available.
Click here to request your copy today.