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5 Minute Read

When’s the Last Time You Did a Route Analysis? 

Many ops managers and routing specialists approach route analysis with the same gleeful anticipation as an upcoming root canal. Throw in a few “what ifs” and you have the perfect recipe for procrastination. Time goes by and routes steadily lose efficiency, profitability becomes problematic, and customer satisfaction slips away.

route analysis

It doesn’t have to be that way: Next-generation routing software makes analysis and rerouting simple. AI and ML algorithms tackle the mind-numbing miasma of variables—customer tiers and windows, cost to serve, fleet capacity and unit capabilities, miles driven, driver skill—so that you can focus on deciding which option is best. And it does it in minutes, not hours, days, or weeks. 

If your current routing routine can’t do that, if it forces you to manually push and pull customer stops to get to a workable solution and only then calculate viability and profitability, it may be time to reconsider your routing platform. 

Here’s what you should be looking for: 

Calculating Your KPIs

Identifying KPIs is the starting point. What are the results that matter most to your operation and how do those affect profitability? The obvious stats are at the forefront—cost to serve, total cost, and profitability—but maximizing fleet capacity, miles driven, and customer satisfaction are also critical. Customer satisfaction is heavily influenced by your ability to make deliveries when the customer wants them with accurate ETAs. Solving for all of these at once is what makes route analysis difficult, and that’s exactly where next-gen routing software shines. It’s also why you should be doing route analysis regularly. 

The Perils of Procrastination

Even the most highly optimized routes lose efficiency over time. From the predictable churn of customers to the unforeseeable—a bridge collapses, fuel prices spike—the environment conspires to change the factors that went into the original route plan. The band-aid approach of tweaking, dropping old customers off the route, adding new ones, and switching stop order introduces inefficiencies that cumulatively crush profits and customer satisfaction. Regular analysis and re-routing are crucial to keeping profits and satisfaction growing.

Next-Gen Routing Results

DispatchTrack makes route analysis and rerouting routine; it’s fast and accurate, considers all of the variables, and allows you to run as many what-ifs as needed. You find solutions in minutes that might not have occurred to you in hours, if at all. 

Customer stops are displayed on a map. You input your baseline route and indicate your parameters (or start from scratch and let the system optimize the whole route afresh), the software lays out routes that have been optimized for: 

  • Cost to serve per cube/case/pallet
  • Customer tiers and windows
  • Customer cycle times
  • Service time
  • Fleet capacity
  • Unit capacity and capabilities
  • Distance driven
  • Length of route and HOS compliance 

From there, you can make adjustments as needed and the system will adapt the routes to keep things efficient and optimized. . 

All of the stats for each route display in a table, and if any capacities are exceeded (weight, cubes, HOS), the software will flag those routes. Most importantly, DispatchTrack outputs both a weekly plan and daily executions that can be transmitted directly to drivers’ mobile devices, along with detailed manifests for each stop and turn-by-turn directions. Your planning is no longer removed from the realities of actually executing the routes on a daily basis. 

Fine Tuning 

If the routes are good, you don’t have to do anything else. But you can also adjust any of the parameters on the fly and even drag and drop stops between routes. Let’s say that the crew of service unit DAL02 doesn’t have a relationship with one of the customers on their newly optimized route. With your mouse you can click on that customer stop and simply drag it into the route with the customer’s preferred driver. Instantly, the stats update and you see both the revised routes on your map as well as revised stats in the summary table. If it increases the cost of the route that picked up the stop, you’ll see that. If it lowers the cost on the route that lost the stop, you’ll see that too. How do those two things balance against keeping the customer happy? What if you reassigned DAL02 to a completely different route? Try it and immediately see the impact on profitability. 

Trying Times

Customers that have to be delivered at 10 am every Monday, noon on Wednesdays and 8 am on Fridays used to be a nightmare for routers. But DispatchTrack ‘s route optimization makes it simple. Not only can you specify tiers (most important to least) and windows (even multiple windows per day), but the software also allows you to assign “pins” — priorities —  to each customer and each stop:

  • Red Pins: The customer stop has to be on the specified route, in the exact order presented. 
  • Green Pins: The customer stop has to be on the specified route, but the order of the stop can change.
  • Gray Pins: The customer stop is flexible and the route, route order and time window can change. 

By doing this, you create a hybrid between static and dynamic routing: The red pin stops are static; green pins are flexible; and the gray pins are dynamically routed around the red and green pins for optimum efficiency.

Prepping for St. Paddy’s

DispatchTrack makes creating plans easy, so you’ll do it more often. It also allows you to have multiple plans—such as for holidays—in a library. Depending on what you’re delivering and to whom, you might need special plans to cover increased volumes for Memorial Day, July 4th, Passover, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. You might want plans for special events (maybe the Super Bowl or Premier League Championship is coming) or weather events (ice storms, blizzards, hurricanes). These can be created in advance and activated as needed. 

Plan Early—and Often

Using the power of AI and ML, the next-gen routing platform in DispatchTrack means you’ll update your routes on the regular, keeping capacity, efficiency and customer satisfaction in balance while protecting profitability. 

The immediate benefit of applying AI to find the best solution for intricately intertwined imperatives is obvious, but users also appreciate the machine learning built into DispatchTrack. The results of each day’s route are fed back into the database, so that, over time, the platform learns which intersections are five minutes slower on Wednesdays at 2, which customers take longer to service on the first stop of the week, which crews are most efficient, and more. 

There’s tried and true—and maybe that’s the process that has served you well until now—but then there’s true but tired. If time and trouble are preventing you from keeping your routes efficient and profitable, it’s time to look to a new generation of routing. 

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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