Does Your Last Mile Routing and Scheduling Application Offer Only One Solution?

Ron Dombrowski November 12, 2019

Artificial intelligence is a very powerful thing. Using machine learning, an application that finds optimal solutions for last mile supply chain problems can produce a very cost effective set of routes in a very short time.

The problem with many applications is that only the one "best" solution is offered to the user.

Thinking Man

For any non-trivial problem, AI algorithms will find many "very good" solutions that all have just about the same overall cost even though the actual assignments may be quite different.

Consider a set of solutions that have costs that vary only a small percentage from solution with the "best" cost.

How accurate are the costs? Although distances between stops can be predicted quite closely, the actual time to get from one point to another can vary depending on traffic, weather, or just the luck of getting down the road without having to stop for too many red lights.

Also, no AI algorithm can guarantee that it can find the absolute lowest cost solution. Considering the total number of possible solutions, it is simply not possible to do so. AI algorithms work on seeking the "best" cost, but there are possible solutions that do not get evaluated.

So, solutions that are within a few percentage points of each other are probably equally good choices.

Then why choose one solution over another? There are many reasons for this as there are route planners.

Experienced route planners know where there is going to be traffic congestion and where bad weather will affect the travel times. It takes a lot of machine learning to be able to know how to handle these conditions as well as the experienced route planner can.

Having a choice of possible solutions can make the route planner’s job easier. If there are no changes to be made, then the "best" solution can be taken. If for any reason, the route planner needs to make changes, then there is the choice from the "very good" solutions.

Strategic Movements offers the route planner multiple solutions, usually quite different and not just minor variations of the "best" solution.

By starting with the route planner’s idea of the "best" solution, the work of making further assignments can be made into a much easier task.

Do you want cost effective routes built in a short amount of time, and have a choice of where to start the day's planning? Visit us at Strategic Movements and see what we can do for you.

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