Automated delivery routing is essential to any company that offers customer deliveries. It can save your company time and money – and make your life a lot easier.
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What is the Difference Between Routing and Scheduling?
Routing is different from but related to scheduling. Scheduling concerns who is receiving the delivery, what they’re receiving, and – most importantly – when they want to receive it. Routing concerns where the delivery is going and how.
In other words, scheduling involves setting a delivery time and location for a specific customer. Route planning determines where the delivery is to be made and the best route to get there.
Routing and scheduling work together when there are multiple deliveries to be made. Routing the delivery vehicle from one stop to the next in the most direct and efficient manner saves your company time and money – and results in satisfied customers when the deliveries are made on time, as promised.
How Do You Create a Delivery Route?
There are two ways you can create a delivery route. You can use an online mapping service, such as Google Maps or MapQuest, or you can use dedicated route planning software. As you might suspect, the software solution is often the best choice.
Creating a simple route with Google Maps is relatively easy. You enter your starting location and the final destination, and Google displays a map with several possible routes, with the most direct route highlighted. You can then insert additional stops onto the route, and the map adjusts accordingly.
The downside of using Google Maps for professional routing is that it’s really not designed for a business with multiple deliveries. You’re limited as to how many stops you can add, and there’s no way to optimize the route for your drivers. It’s best suited for generating basic directions for tips and such.
The better solution is to use a route planning app or software, such as Upper Route Planner. With a route planning app, you enter all your deliveries and any promised delivery times, and the app automatically calculates and displays the most efficient route. It’s a lot quicker and less work than using Google Maps to do it manually.
How Do You Optimize a Delivery Route?
Optimizing a route means planning the stops in the order that minimizes driving time. An optimized route lets a driver make more deliveries during the day, use less fuel, and reduce wear and tear on your vehicles.
It’s challenging to do route optimization with an online map service such as Google Maps. After you enter all your stops on the map, you must manually re-order the stops until you find the route with the lowest elapsed time. That’s a lot of work. You could end up spending additional time rearranging the stops then you might save by optimizing the route!
Again, this is where a delivery route optimization app can save you considerable time and effort. After you enter all the required stops, the app automatically rearranges the stops to minimize driving time. It’s all made possible by the delivery route optimization algorithm in the app.
How Does Automated Routing Save Time and Money?
Automated delivery routing is extremely beneficial to the delivery business. It automates the tedious routing and optimization processes while optimizing delivery routes, which alleviates costs and stress on drivers and vehicles.
Here are just some of the ways that automated delivery routing can save your business time and money.
Reduced Planning Time and Costs
Manual route planning takes time, and time costs money. Instead of having one or more employees devoting long hours using Google Maps or MapQuest to create delivery routes each day manually, you can have a single employee devote just a few minutes to input data into transportation routing software. The labor savings alone can add up to thousands of dollars a year with automated routing and delivery – and employees are freed up to work on other projects.
Fewer Hours Driven
When you let automated delivery routing software optimize your delivery routes, your drivers spend less time driving inefficient routes. You can substantially cut your drivers’ time on the road and perhaps even reduce the size of your driver pool. For a medium-sized business, cutting hours driven by just 10% can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Smaller Fleet Size
If automated delivery routing results in your fleet being used more efficiently, you’ll probably end up needing fewer vehicles. That’s fewer vehicles not just to buy but also to maintain. The cost savings can be considerable.
Lower Fuel and Maintenance Costs
By optimizing your delivery routes, your vehicles will spend less time on the road. This reduces wear and tear and the associated maintenance and repair costs. You’ll also be spending less on fuel because of fewer miles driven. In total, expect to save between 10% to 30% on your fleet operating costs when you employ automated delivery routing.
Less Driver Attrition
With automated delivery routing, your drivers waste less time driving back and forth inefficiently. Route optimization also gets your drivers closer to home at the end of the day, not stuck at some delivery site far from home base. Route planning and optimization software works without bias or prejudice, ensuring that routes are assigned fairly and efficiently. Many of these apps can also factor in driver’s personal needs, including where they want to end up at the end of their shifts. All of this results in happier drivers who are less likely to leave your company for a better offer.
Fewer Traffic Fines
When drivers are assigned inefficient routes, they may exceed the speed limit or break other traffic laws to waste time. When you optimize their routes, drivers don’t need to drive recklessly, resulting in fewer traffic stops and associated fines.
Reduced Number of Customer Service Calls
When a route puts too much time and distance between stops, it makes it challenging for drivers to make all their stops on time. Late deliveries result in customers calling or emailing your office wanting to know where the driver is. Automated routing software makes it easier for drivers to be on time, which results in fewer angry calls from frustrated customers. That means less time your staff has to spend answering phone calls and emails, saving you money.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
The higher your on-time delivery rate, the happier your customers will be. Automated delivery planning makes the entire delivery process run better, which means more on-time deliveries and fewer rushed drop-offs by drivers trying to make up for the lost time. The closer things track to plan; the more satisfied your customers will be with their experience.
Start by Investing in a Route Planning App
The more efficient your delivery routes, the more time and money your business will save. The first step in routing optimization is to invest in a delivery route planning app, such as Upper Route Planner. This app integrates easily into your existing systems and lets you directly import Excel spreadsheets to generate the most efficient delivery routes. If your business does multiple deliveries each day, it’s worth the investment.