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Here we try to answer some of the frequently asked questions we often receive about route optimisation, our software and our company, but if you don't see the question you are seeking an answer for, please contact us.
Even for small fleets, experienced route planners understand that scheduling multiple collections and deliveries will take considerable time. As the number of orders and vehicles increases, so does the number of possible schedules and routes. Restrictions such as warehouse opening hours and customer delivery windows only add to the planning complexity. Manual route planning and scheduling using freely available maps quickly reaches its limits.
This is where Descartes' route optimisation and delivery scheduling software will help by automatically scheduling vehicles based on optimal routes for multiple deliveries or pick-ups, type of vehicle, and even depots. As a result, it ensures that your fleet is fully utilised.
Route planning is the process of determining which orders are delivered on which routes and in what order. Route optimisation may or may not be included in the route plan. for example, the planning process, may involve manual assignment or sequencing of stops on a route where the goal is simply to get orders on routes. The process of evaluating the best possible combination of options and constraints to produce an effective route plan that makes the best use of fleet resources is known as route optimisation.
Route optimisation technology employs algorithms and other techniques such as artificial intelligence or machine learning. To achieve the best results route optimisation technology is now used in the route planning process, because of its ability to determine the most effective route plan more thoroughly and quickly.
The final movement of a customer’s order from a facility such as a distribution centre or retail store to the end customer is referred to as “last mile delivery”. Parcel carriers, couriers, LTL carriers, and private or dedicated fleets typically handle the last mile deliveries.
The problem with most route planning & scheduling software is that they are disconnected. Descartes’ integrated approach means that scheduling and routing are one process.
Missed and failed deliveries can be eliminated if your scheduling system has the ability to check ‘true’ route availability and consider all the relevant logistics variables such as drive time, service time, vehicle capacity, available driver hours etc. - all in real time. Combining scheduling and routing software together can help build route density, allowing available slots to be offered to customers as options for delivery.
Descartes’ Routing and Scheduling software combines both of these operations.
With scheduling being part of the routing and validation process, assessing true logistics capacity in real time, the logistics cost is known in real time and can be used to influence buyer behaviour when selecting delivery slots.
Combining Delivery Scheduling with Route Optimisation is ideal for Multi Drop Deliveries.
Batch optimisation of delivery routes is usually conducted at the end of the day (or ordertaking period) to prepare the routes for the following day. This results in a cut off time after which no more orders/deliveries can be added to the system while the next day’s delivery routes are being calculated. During the time before the optimisation process it will be unknow if all the deliveries can be made the next day and whether the capacity of vehicles has been reached. This process is not suitable for same day deliveries.
Continuous optimisation of delivery routes takes place every time an order is added to the system, routes are recalculated, capacity is known and real time data is available for the next order. This helps reduce over capacity and delivery dates from having to be altered. Same day deliveries can be considered.
Continuous background route optimisation provides a better end result than traditional batch optimisation techniques. More time can be spent processing the orders as they are created, available capacity and business constraints can be assessed to provide a better end result. Any changes such as new incoming orders can be easily accommodated, and deliveries scheduled to give a truly dynamic scheduling capability. Orders and routes are visualised on a map. The software then considers the street level network and parameters in order to build routes automatically.
Dispatchers still have full control to manage exceptions with easy drag and drop moves.
Companies that have moved from ‘manual route construction’ to ‘exception management’ with Descartes’ routing software find that route planning time can be reduced by hours.
Routing software will reduce operational costs in a variety of ways. Route optimisation software will reduce the miles driven per stop. This not only means lower fuel costs, but it may also results in reduced vehicle maintenance costs.
Another advantage is increased productivity, which will result in fewer vehicles, drivers, or reduced overtime pay. Because route building occurs without manual intervention and only requires limited review before use, automated route planning will reduce the number of planners required or free up their time for dealing with other matters.
Route planning software, as part of a dynamic delivery appointment scheduling solution, will direct customers to select delivery appointment times that require less distance, i.e. when there is a delivery vehicle in their area already and reduce the overall costs for the delivery.
Google maps is a good routing tool for a very low number of vehicles if you know the order you wish to make the deliveries in, but it can not suggest the best order in which to make those deliveries, it also has a limit on the number of stops in one journey that can be made.
If you have one vehicle then Google maps may be a suitable delivery planning tool for your business, but if more than a couple of vehicles then the time taken to enter all the delivery data can be very time consuming.
Optimised routes will typically be shorter and the number of deliveries on a route usually higher, resulting in fewer miles per delivery.
For a full calculation fo the savings taht can be made try our Fuel & CO2 saving calculator.
These are questions relating to our Delivery Scheduling and Route Optimisations Software specifically.
Descartes’ routing software is usually deployed as SaaS (Software as a service), where Descartes host and maintain the software within our own environment and make it available to you over the internet. It is available whenever and wherever you have an internet connection.
However, Descartes also supports software solutions that can be hosted by your own servers within your own network.
Descartes’ routing and scheduling software gives you the ability to optimise routes by time and distance as well as any vehicle metrics such as weight, number of items and volume. It is possible to configure and utilise capacity constraints, time windows as well as vehicle requirements, to ensure the correct customer order is placed onto the correct vehicle to complete the delivery successfully.
The software can also select the best vehicle for each delivery location, such as the vehicle with the lowest emissions for deliveries in Clean Air Zones (CAZ).
Yes, it is possible to alter deliveries on a route and to click and drag them between routes during the planning stage, why not contact us to discuss this further?
Descartes’ optimisation engines can optimise for fastest route, shortest route, greatest number of deliveries, or a combination of these.
Yes, Descartes’ route delivery software will display plan vs. actual data graphically via a map and in various performance reports.
Yes, Descartes’ routing software utilises full commercial routing including historical traffic patterns and hazardous material data.
All Descartes routing software integrate and interact with the Descartes wireless gateway. This supports various means for mobile device interaction. Descartes also have mobile applications that reside onto any mobile device type (Android, iOS).
Yes, a variety of vehicles from pedal cycles and electric cargo bikes through to vans, lorries and HGV’s can use our software and have specific routes created for that type of vehicle.
These questions are about Descartes Systems
Descartes’ routing and scheduling software works in all countries where map data is available for optimisation.
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