There is sometimes confusion about the use of route optimization software. What can such a system do and what not? For which companies is it useful? Will I still need human planners once a route optimization software is deployed? Below are answers to 10 pressing questions about this topic.
1. What is a route optimization software?
It’s a software with planning algorithms. These algorithms automatically distribute all assignments across your means of transport, so that optimal routes are created. The software automatically considers a large number of factors relevant to planning.
2. Why should I work with route optimization software?
Route optimization software is relevant if you have several vehicles with several stops per route. Manual planning can quickly become unmanageable, as various factors make your transport planning unclear and time-consuming. For example, restrictions such as time window and delivery times, environmental zones, or the different heights of the available vehicles.
Often, the added overview and the time saved are already sufficient benefits to justify an investment in route optimization software. With it, the planner saves time and can spend it on more tactical or strategic issues. The fact that you save costs at the same time thanks to more efficient transport is a bonus.
3.What do I need for a route optimization software?
First, you will need correct data from your transport management system (TMS), customer relationship management (CRM), or ERP system. That’s because route optimization software needs not only information about orders and delivery addresses, but also other data, such as the delivery times agreed with customers. By integrating TMS, CRM or ERP systems, it’s possible to exchange all relevant information automatically.
Also, you might want to consider a link to on-board computers in the vehicles, so that the planned routes can be automatically forwarded to drivers.
4. Which factors does route optimization software considers?
We refer to these factors as restrictions. The most common restrictions are time and delivery windows. This means, for example, that route optimization software automatically calculates that some shops cannot be delivered before 10:00am.
But there many other restrictions the software considers, such as:
- Legal driving and rest times Volumes, weights, and load meters
- Vehicle profiles: Truck with trailer, EV, van, etc.
- Qualifications of drivers: With or without ADR certificate, etc.
5. What’s the difference between scheduling in TMS and route optimization software?
“Route optimization software? We already have that in our TMS!” – we often get this response from representatives of companies, when asked if they have ever considered investing in route optimization software. They refer to the digital planning board, which their TMS is equipped with. But route optimization software clearly offers more possibilities, in comparison to the digital planning board. So, what exactly is the difference between the two?
Unlike a digital plan board, route optimization software can optimize all routes simultaneously. To this end, the system uses advanced algorithms to quickly calculate which combinations of orders lead to the shortest, fastest, and most efficient routes.
In addition, a route optimization software automatically considers all restrictions. Read our blog post on why a digital planning board is not a route optimization software.
6. Is my company too small for a route optimization system?
Is a route optimization system only relevant for companies with a fleet of dozens of trucks? The answer is no.
It is not the number of trucks, but the complexity of operations, that determines whether a route optimization system is needed. A planner, who sends several lorries onto the road with several stops per route every day, quickly loses overview on how to increase efficiency.
Moreover, the software grows with the organization. If the number of orders, vehicles or planners increases, a route optimization system helps growth in a controlled manner.
7. Will a route optimization system replace my planners?
No, planners remain absolutely necessary. A route optimization system contains advanced algorithms that allow companies to quickly calculate the optimal routes based on many variables. This saves a lot of time, so planners can focus on other activities. The best route planning is a combination of smart algorithms and experienced planners.
So, what exactly is the added value of a route optimization system? It’s the overview and insight that enables planners to make more informed decisions. Better decisions lead to better results, with the planner always in full control and accountable for the end result.
8.Will I be able to inform customers about expected delivery times?
After planning is complete, the route optimization system allows you to notify all customers about the estimated time of arrival (ETA). It’s possible to update about the delivery times via SMS or e-mail. You can set the time blocks yourself.
9. Can I save money with this software?
Optimizing route planning saves costs. With a route optimization system, you ensure the vehicles are optimally loaded; deliver more orders with the same number of trucks and planners; and ensure the vehicles drive on efficient and accessible routes.
You can schedule multiple stops per route, so you need fewer vehicles on the road. In addition, planning the routes takes less time, so planners have more time for other essential tasks.
How does a route optimization system save costs? By automatically distributing the orders across the fleet. Reduced kilometers and planning times contribute to efficiency, which indirectly contributes to cost savings.
The orders indicate at which locations a truck must stop, after which the system calculates the most optimal routes along those locations. In this way you are assured of the most efficient transport planning and you save valuable kilometers and hours.
In addition, the accurate planning of the software allows you to better serve your customers.
The software also contributes to a reduction of CO2 emissions. This is becoming increasingly important in transport, and with a route optimization system you can calculate and reduce emissions of your fleet.
10. How much does it cost?
This depends on various factors, such as the desired road network (map material), the number of planners, the number of vehicles to be planned, and how many additional modules are needed. In addition, the supplier calculates costs for implementation (done by consultants) and annual maintenance of the system. Also read our blog post about the costs of a route optimization software and the payback period.