These days, it’s considerably more expensive to run a trucking business, with the average cost per mile of trucks increasing by $1.81 in 2019. Unfortunately, freight prices either remain constant, or worse, drop outright. Naturally, the rising costs of running trucks coupled with stagnant or lowered freight prices are putting a ton of pressure on businesses to operate more efficiently.
But all is not lost for truckers. Proper adjustments and investments can make them more profitable—for instance, a truck route planner is one investment that can revolutionize the delivery process. Here's how truck routing software can maximize operational efficiency so your business can maintain profit margins.
The Basics of Route Planning for Trucks
Route optimization is the process of finding the optimal routes for every delivery truck driver on every delivery run. In short, it's a process that prioritizes both delivery speed and cost-effectiveness.
There's a misconception that route optimization always focuses on the shortest distance. This belief is misplaced; route optimization is more about cutting down the driving time per assignment for all drivers in the fleet. Consider that the fastest way of getting from point A to B isn't necessarily about taking the shortest route, as there are other road constraints that must be considered.
A route optimization planner takes into consideration all variables affecting travel. These could include temporary road closures, traffic and weather conditions, distances between stops, road accidents, customer constraints, and blockages, to name just a few.
Manual Route Planning Won't Cut It Anymore
Some businesses are still relying on manual route planning rather than investing in route optimization software. Sadly, it's a business decision that could be causing losses.
Fleet owners and operators must keep in mind that even the most seasoned route planners cannot compete with the computing abilities of technological solutions like smart route optimization software. Human planners are simply unable to grapple efficiently with all of the complexities that are inherent to the last mile.
How a Truck Route Planner Can Revolutionize Your Delivery Process
Route optimization software is a must-have for trucking businesses that want to improve their operational efficiency. By cutting out waste in daily shipping routes, it helps businesses save time and resources, bring down operational costs, and increase revenues.
But what can the right truck route planner actually do?
Help Drivers Concentrate on the Road
Manual route planning involves the distribution of route plans on paper, which drivers must consult for each delivery. Sadly, manually plotted routes are difficult to decipher. It also doesn't help that constantly peeking at a piece of paper is distracting for the driver.
On the other hand, truck routers eliminate printed, manually plotted routes, instead offering a digital map with turn-by-turn directions, making it easy for drivers to follow the planned routes. Plus, the automated route planning software can make adjustments in real time when there are unexpected road conditions that can delay delivery schedules. Having a planner provide better routes in real time reduces the need for the driver to figure out routes on his or her own. The solution is responsible for guiding drivers on which roads to take, which means drivers don't have to spend time talking on their phones getting guidance or instructions from their dispatchers.
Save Dispatchers and Drivers Time
A route planner also dispatches drivers automatically, eliminating the need for drivers to spend a substantial amount of time discussing assignments for the day with their managers or dispatchers.
Provide Data-Driven Insights
Truck routing tools don't just provide the most optimal routes or automate driver assignments. They also offer operators and managers a way of determining the problematic areas of their delivery operations, thanks to the software's built-in reporting capabilities.
Managers and operators can track various metrics using route planners. These metrics might include on-time rates, service times, successful deliveries, idle time, and drop-offs per pick-up—with the result being that it’s easier to get a handle on what’s actually going in delivery processes that might otherwise be fairly opaque.
Reduce Fuel Consumption
Fuel expense is likely the biggest overhead cost for truckers. The right route planner for trucks cuts down on this expense significantly. How? By finding the best routes so drivers won't be spending unnecessary time and mileage.
Automated route planning software increases the productivity of the entire delivery team. Route planners who manually plot routes can instead find the optimal routes in just a matter of minutes, saving them valuable person-hours. Likewise, the dispatch team no longer has to spend time printing assignments.
Route planner solutions also reduce fleet mileage, which means drivers can do more deliveries every day. Plus, they increase vehicle utilization, thereby allowing the business to ferry more cargo per vehicle.
Bolster Customer Satisfaction Scores
Last-mile deliveries, as the final leg of the entire logistics process, can greatly affect customer satisfaction. Delayed deliveries due to operational inefficiencies will likely cause low ratings from the customers—but because the last mile is so difficult to manage, late deliveries and low customer satisfaction often seems inevitable.
Thanks to a truck route planner, however, businesses can meet their delivery time windows. Plus, it even informs customers ahead of time if delivery windows are to be missed due to unpredictable circumstances. This is possible because some solutions offer real-time tracking features, providing both the customer and business an accurate ETA. This feature, in turn, helps in managing the customer's expectations.
Improve Driver Safety
The truck router software is also a huge boon for keeping drivers safe. Aside from reducing the time drivers spend on the road, it also helps drivers avoid right-turns, left-turns, and U-turns. Each kind of turn comes with certain risks especially for truck drivers since they are handling a big vehicle. But with automatic truck routing, drivers can reduce perilous maneuvering. By cutting down on phone time—and thus reducing driver distraction, like we noted above—you also make accidents less likely.
Boost Driver Morale
With an automatic route planner, you can minimize the unnecessary risks and delays endured by drivers, thus improving their driving conditions. Plus, the planner can also factor in breaks and lunchtimes, ensuring that drivers can take a minute to recharge. All these factors help improve the drivers' conditions, which in turn boosts their morale.
Truckers are facing more challenges than ever these days, particularly with increasing cost per mile and static freight prices. Fortunately, there are solutions—such as the right truck route planner—that can help them significantly increase productivity while lowering overhead costs.