Whether your business includes making pickups or deliveries, optimizing your routes can improve your business in multiple ways. What for decades fleet managers had to do manually, computers allow you to do in minutes.
With route planning software, you only need to enter the addresses of the delivery destinations and the time they are due. The computer program does everything else for you including considering which route uses the least fuel and puts the least wear and tear on your fleet vehicles.
What is route planning software?
A route planning software optimizes your logistical route for efficiency, mileage reduction, and expense as well as client schedule. These geodatabases go beyond the ESRI products such as ArcMap and ArcView to include a scheduling component like the routing planning software Yalantis. These planning software programs use address geocoding with map coordinates to develop the optimizations. You can typically print satellite maps from the software.
These software programs also alert you and your headquarters of any past-due customer deliveries or rush deliveries. You will usually receive these alerts via email or SMS messaging also called text messaging.
Key Features of Route Planning Software
This type of spatial software does more than optimize travel routes, although that does top the list of features. Eight features round out the list of items to look for when choosing route planning software.
- It lets you upload customer destination data.
- You can add new stops while en route.
- It includes GPS tracking.
- Designate delivery or meeting times, both beginning and end times.
- Use a mobile option to edit routes, schedules, and destinations.
- Capitalize on efficiency when route planning.
- You can integrate the planned route with a popular navigation app.
- It lets you share with other team members.
Ultimately, your choice of route planning software enhances your productivity. An integrated app keeps your drivers safer because they have no need to switch between apps, an activity that takes their eyes off the road and their concentration off of driving, even if only for a few seconds.
Improvements Over Manual Route Optimization
Certainly, people can manually optimize a route, but that takes more time than using the software. Using a software program does more than save you planning time. It comes up with better routes.
When planning a route manually, you have limited access to information. You can plan using a map and choose the route that includes the shortest mileage, but that only improves the number of miles driven. You miss the data that software linked to the Internet can pull in for you. That includes ongoing construction, road closures, planned road closures, busy traffic times of day, etc. It also includes average drive time and the routes of other drivers in the fleet.
Computerized Route Plans with Contact
When you use manual means, you also typically rescind the ability to contact your drivers. How many times have you ordered something only to need to change the delivery at the last minute or to have the delivery company email you that an unexpected delay has caused the shipment’s delivery date to change by one or more days?
Using a route planning software that integrates with fleet GPS systems or driver cellphones lets you contact them on the go. This lets you re-route priority packages from a delayed driver to another vehicle, so the packages arrive on the appropriate day.
The indirect customer service benefits you reap from using route optimization software can improve your business. Customers appreciate it when you come through for them. Your improvements to efficiency translate to better service for them.
Here’s another benefit of using route planning software. You can share your route without customer names with other customers. This anonymized route lets customers address delays themselves by choosing to meet the driver on the route to obtain their package immediately, or they can have an employee drive to the location to pick it up. This saves them the delay of the transfer from one fleet vehicle to another and the delay of the second driver who would have added stops to make.
Added Benefits to Look for in a Software
Some route planning software can integrate with your CRM. These programs let drivers access added information on destinations to which they frequently deliver to add to their routes or share with other drivers. Look for software programs that:
- Let drivers make a route map that they can access on their smartphone.
- Let you add bulk route stops so the software orders them optimally.
Of course, these software programs also provide directions for the driver as well as the maps. Since the software integrates with GPS systems, the driver doubly benefits. This is because the GPS receives constant updates on traffic conditions and so does the route planning software. The two information sources combined provide up-to-the-minute traffic information that helps them keep ahead of the situation.
Better Advanced Planning
Your company needs more information than one day of route plans. The right route planning program lets you map chunks of time at once. You can plan routes and map your fleet’s deliveries or pickups for a week or a month at a time. This lets you access the data easily to provide firm answers for customers who need an added delivery or need to move a delivery up or delay it. This long-term planning of regularly scheduled deliveries provides you an advantage over other supply chain fleets and sales teams.
A multitude of software options exist for you to use, so your business can benefit from optimized routes. The ideal choice provides efficient routes that conserve fuel and reduce wear and tear on vehicles. They also get customer orders to them quickly and in great condition. The best software lets drivers and managers make changes en route and alerts drivers to changes via email or text messages. You can integrate many of these software programs with your CRM to improve customer service and satisfaction. Ultimately, the proper use of route planning programs results in increased sales, and that pays you back for the software purchase, and then some.