Businesses running fleets, regardless of the industry they belong to, typically spend a huge chunk of their budget on fuel costs and driver wages. In fact, one study showed that these two expenses can account for almost 60% of the total operational cost per mile.
Given this level of spending, it’s no surprise that many businesses are trying to find ways to improve the cost-efficiency of their fleet operations. Unfortunately, many enterprises are still reliant on legacy route planning and dispatching processes, which are inefficient and time-consuming. Luckily, modern, AI-powered dispatch and routing software offers number of benefits to delivery operators at businesses across a host of different industries.
The Downsides of Legacy Route Optimization and Dispatching
Route optimization pertains to the process of improving route planning to achieve cost-effectiveness and greater efficiency. Effective route optimization involves factoring in various elements affecting delivery operations such as total capacity, driver schedules and availability, customer preferences, differing service and load types, and more.
Ensuring route optimization along with automated dispatching is crucial to maximizing drivers' hours and improving asset utilization—regardless of what industry you happen to be in. At the same time, this can be a complex process that’s difficult to pull off without the right tools.
That’s why legacy route planning and dispatching processes often result in unnecessarily high operating costs and high driver attrition, especially as an enterprise grows. Manually plotting routes negatively impacts efficiency, and businesses wind up using too many drivers and vehicles to meet the demand. With technology that doesn’t scale or that doesn't actually produce efficient routes, the same problems arise.
To make matters worse, route planners and dispatchers are also stuck spending hours planning routes and assigning drivers for each delivery run. This means even for those managing a small fleet, dispatchers and routers are spending too much time planning for each day.
Of course, no matter how many hours you spend on these problems, it’s impossible to take all of the relevant factors into account by hand. Thus, even the most experienced planner and dispatcher will face major difficulties planning and scheduling, especially when the fleet's schedule becomes more complex due to higher order volumes.
Making changes last minute can present even more issues for businesses relying on manual planning and scheduling. As operations scale, the planning team will need many hours to adjust routes and schedules to accommodate last-minute changes, and even then, there remains a high probability of missed deliveries, delays, and unhappy customers.
How Dispatch and Routing Software Benefits Different Industries
Dispatch and routing software helps various industries in different ways. Here are just a few examples:
Those offering inspections, installation, and maintenance services have to overcome a number of different challenges managing their appointments. The scheduling team has to deal with the different levels of expertise and qualifications of their staff, and the differing lengths of time that different kinds of services can take.
The right delivery routing and dispatch software helps businesses offering on-site services by adjusting time windows for different stops based on driver skill, service type, and historical data. It can also automate workload balance to help enterprises lessen the number of technicians on call.
With dynamic planning, businesses can also handle last-minute changes, cancellations, or urgent service orders. It also allows advanced planning to account for client time window preferences, driver and technician breaks, and more. The result is less chaos and confusion around service appointments.
Food distribution companies require automated dispatching and route optimization to reduce operational costs and to achieve higher customer satisfaction. In modern food distribution, order mixes are changing more rapidly than ever, and old-school routing processes (the kind that are so complex that they’re only run once or twice a year), and businesses need processes that can actually keep up with that change.
The right route planning and dispatching software help satisfy this need for adaptability by speeding up the routing process enough that it’s feasible to reroute on a regular basis. Even if you’re not trying to create new routes from scratch all the time, the right technology can still make it easier to adjust existing routes without requiring an outside expert. The result is that you can service your customers more effectively at a lower cost.
Timely delivery of goods is crucial for businesses engaged in retail and distribution of products. Failure to deliver on time for these enterprises often results in high customer churn. Simply put, retail is the area where the Amazon effect is most pronounced.
This results in unique challenges. For one thing, retail customers demand real-time alerts and updates that cut through the complexity and inspire confidence in the delivery process. Luckily, the right software helps by offering order tracking and customer notifications in real-time—all within the context of routes that are actually optimized to ensure on-time delivery. That way, instead of providing visibility into something messy and confused, you can actually inspire confidence and build trust with your customers.
Having drivers spend less time on the road so they can arrive on time is crucial to those offering healthcare products.
Healthcare products, after all, are often time-sensitive. These businesses may be grappling with different requirements for different patients, and on-time delivery is often paramount. As you can imagine, this industry's customers also expect real-time updates.
AI-powered route optimization software enables healthcare companies to provide their customers with accurate expected times of arrival (ETAs) as well as offering automated ETA notifications to customers either by text or email. Modern scheduling tools can also automatically match the jobs with the right personnel in cases where driver affinity at particular delivery sites is important to customers.
Field sales representatives often need to cover large areas. They tend to spend many hours on the road, which can result in higher operational costs for the business. Sales reps often have various account priorities within their territories, and it can be difficult to generate territories that are geographically efficient and also offer balanced revenue potential for different sellers.
And even once you’ve got efficient territories, it can be difficult to ensure that the routes within those territories are set up for efficiency. Luckily, with fast, powerful dynamic routing, you can actually generate hypothetical routes during territory creation. The result is that you never generate territories that don’t translate easily into daily operations. At the same time, the right technology enables you to leverage what-if scenarios to test out adjustments to these plans as needed—meaning that as conditions change, you can change with them and stay efficient.
The above-mentioned industries aren't the only ones that can reap real benefits from automated scheduling, dispatching, and route optimization. Suffice it to say that in any industry that involves regularly sending delivery or service personnel to job sites out in the field, flexible, AI-powered delivery route optimization software can provide a huge competitive advantage.