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6 Minute Read

How to Speed up Multi-Stop Route Planning

Multi-stop route planning is one of the keys to effective delivery. If your route planning process is fast, repeatable, and efficient, you can ensure that your drivers drive fewer miles and consume less fuel—all while ensuring that your customers get the right goods, at the right place, at the right time.

multi-stop route planningUnfortunately, multi-stop route planning isn’t always that easy. In order to reduce mileage and ensure on-time deliveries, you need to be able to factor in a host of complex parameters. This ranges from customer time window requests to driver and equipment capacity to delivery site restrictions (e.g. a lot that’s too small for a certain length truck), all of which can increase the complexity of your route plans exponentially. 

It’s important to get it right—if you can’t meet your parameters, you might not be able to meet your customers’ delivery needs. At the same time, it’s important to be able to do it quickly. Why? Because when your routing process is too slow, you can’t respond to last-minute requests and you can’t adjust your plans when conditions change. In other words, you lack the agility to be truly efficient. 

So how are you supposed to speed this process up? Here are a few techniques for doing just that: 

Utilize SaaS Technology

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that on-premise technology deployments can slow down the routing process. For starters, in periods of high volume (i.e. around the holidays), on-prem deployments don’t give you any way to scale up your computing power, which means that you run the risk that your route optimizer grinds to a halt when you add too many trucks to the equation. 

On top of that, there’s the fact that most on-prem deployments of routing software represent legacy technology that’s difficult to use and doesn’t necessarily play nicely with other processes and technologies. This can make it hard for route planners to get their jobs done efficiently in a way that empowers the rest of the last mile process. 

With SaaS route optimization software, you can turn those challenges on their heads. For starters, you can speed up the actual time it takes to run the routing algorithm. This isn’t just a matter of how much processing power you have, but of how scalable the architecture of your solution is. 

Beyond that, a cloud-based platform is likely to help out significantly with some of the other items we’re going to discuss on this list, such as streamlining your route optimization processes. The result is routing that’s both faster to perform and more effectively integrated into your larger workflows. 

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Codify Your Parameters

Like we mentioned above, effective route optimization is all about meeting your delivery parameters. To do this quickly, you need an easy way to codify those parameters within the route optimization process itself—otherwise, you wind up making tedious manual adjustments to routes and potentially losing out on the efficiency you gained with the initial optimization pass. 

That’s why there are a number of factors that you need to be able to codify within the platform before the optimization even starts. Here are a few that you might need to consider:

  • Customer time window requests: When do your customers want to receive their orders? Do they have secondary time windows you can meet if their first choices aren’t feasible? This is especially important if you’re delivering to the same customers on a recurring basis. 
  • Customer priority: You might have some customers who absolutely must receive their orders at exactly the time they requested, and some who can get deliveries whenever is convenient. You need a way of differentiating and prioritizing between those categories at the planning stage without getting too bogged down. 
  • Equipment requirements: Different jobs will require different types of equipment. You need to codify which jobs require which assets. 
  • Driver skill and speed: Some drivers drive more slowly than others; when you’re calculating ETAs, you need a way to reflect that fact so you don’t set expectations that your drivers can’t achieve. By the same token, some drivers or technicians might have skills that are necessary for particular jobs, and it’s helpful to ensure that those jobs are consistently allocated to them. 

There will always be contingencies that your route optimization software can’t account for, which will require you to adjust your routes manually. But the more effectively you can codify your routing needs within your system before the optimization takes place, the less time you’ll have to spend fussing with it. 

Streamline Your Processes

Codification of the sort that we described above is one of the keys to streamlining your multi-stop route planning process so that you can accomplish it more quickly. But there are other steps that you can take here to streamline further. 

A lot of this comes down to ease-of-use. If your routing software is easy to use—rather than requiring weeks of training and binders full of reference material—then you can flexibly build and adjust routes that meet your business needs. Nothing grinds the routing process to a halt like software that is unintuitive and difficult to use. 

By contrast, when you’re using a routing tool that’s streamlined and user-friendly, the entire process takes significantly less time. Rather than route planning being a source of dread or something that you can only afford to revisit infrequently, it becomes an area for agility and flexibility. 

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Find the Right Multi-Stop Route Planning Solution

The right multi-stop route planning solution can make all the difference when you’re trying to speed up your route planning. It’s not just that some software solutions run more quickly than others—though that’s certainly true. Rather, it’s that some platforms make it easier for you to get the right answer for your particular routes on any given day more quickly. 

How does the right solution help you do this? There are a few ways, many of which we alluded to above. But here are a few other items that can make an impact:

    • Centralized route data: Simply put, it should be easy for you and your teams to find the information you need, when you need it, to get routes built and dispatched
    • Integration with route execution: When you have planning, routing, and execution within a single pane of glass, you can speed up not just the route optimization portion of the process but the entire workflow from end to end. 
    • AI-powered functionality: AI has the power to improve your route performance all around—especially when it comes to predicting ETAs. This added precision can go a long way towards decreasing the kinds of disruptions that eat up time and resources down the line. 
  • Reload and multi-day route support: One of the ways that you can speed up your routing is by letting the software handle the sorts of routing configurations that you might otherwise have to do by hand. If your routing software can enable you to add reload points and rest breaks in your routes automatically, you can cut that extra time out of the process. 

When it comes to route optimization, the most important thing is to keep your customers happy in a way that’s sustainable from a cost perspective. But speed can actually be a huge factor in making that happen. If you can speed up your multi-stop route planning with the right technology, you can go a long way towards making that possible. 

DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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