Manual Route Planning: Is it an Ideal Choice for Business Growth?

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Manual route planning is time-consuming, inefficient, and prone to errors.
  • The limitations of manual route planning include increased costs, poor scalability, and a lack of optimization and real-time adaptability.
  • Automated route planning software offers a more efficient and effective alternative, optimizing routes, reducing costs, and enhancing the customer experience.

Are inefficient routes and rising delivery costs putting a strain on your business’s growth? 

Well, in this fast-paced world of business, efficient route planning plays a vital role in ensuring timely delivery, minimizing cost, and improving customer satisfaction. 

According to Statista, by 2028, the logistics industry scale is projected to exceed 14.08 trillion U.S. dollars. However, traditional manual route planning possess significant challenges that businesses need to address. 

In this blog, we will delve into what is manual route planning and explore why it is not an ideal choice for businesses’ growth and success.

What is Manual Route Planning? 

Manual route planning is the process of manually devising the order of stops and directions for a specific journey, without relying on automated algorithms or optimization tools.

It involves relying on the expertise of the dispatchers, or delivery managers who manually determine the optimal route for deliveries. Instead of using advanced algorithms, businesses rely on manual routing to analyze factors such as location, order priority, and road networks.

While manual route planning has been the conventional method for years, advancements in technology now offer alternatives that can significantly enhance efficiency and drive business growth.

Even now, around 52% of field service companies plan and optimize their delivery operations manually using pen and paper.

Staggering numbers, right?

More than 50% of businesses are still not aware of the benefits of route optimization. Let us discuss the basics of route planning and its importance. 

What is the Role of Route Planning in Your Business?

Imagine that you are running a delivery service business with multiple drivers across the city to deliver packages or services to customers. Each day you might face a challenge to ensure timely deliveries, or increased fuel costs due to inefficient route planning. 

However, efficient route planning plays a crucial role in the business, from logistics and transportation to service providers. It involves determining the most efficient routes for drivers to reach multiple destinations considering factors like distance, traffic conditions, and resource optimization. 

At its core, route planning is about minimizing costs, increase in productivity and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Now that we understand the crucial role of route planning in driving business, let’s delve into the process of manual route planning.

What is the Process of Manual Route Planning? – 8 Steps to Follow

What is the process of manual route planning

Manual route planning is a process that involves several steps, often carried out by logistics coordinators, dispatchers, or delivery managers. Here are the 8 simple steps to follow. 

Step 1: Gather relevant information

The first step in manual route planning is gathering all the necessary information. This includes the list of destinations or stops, any specific customer requirements or time windows, and any additional factors that may impact the routes, such as road closures or construction. This can be a time-consuming process if there are a large number of deliveries. 

Step 2: Prioritize deliveries 

Based on the desired sequence or priority of stops, manual route planners determine the order in which destinations should be visited. This decision is often influenced by factors such as delivery or service time windows, customer preferences, or efficient clustering of stops. 

Step 3: Study of maps

With the information at hand, manual route planners typically refer to maps, or printed materials to visualize the geography and road networks. They analyze the available routes, considering factors such as distance, and potential obstacles.

Step 4: Plan the route

With a good understanding of the area, the planner then manually plots the route. This can be a complex process, particularly if there are multiple delivery points. The goal is to find the most efficient route that minimizes travel time and distance.

Step 5: Allocate resources

The next step involves assigning drivers and vehicles to each route. This requires careful consideration of factors such as driver’s availability, vehicle capacity, and vehicle suitability for each route.

Step 6: Consider constraints

Manual route planning requires considering various constraints and variables. These include factors like traffic conditions, the hour of the day, vehicle capacity, and driver’s availability. Route planners must adjust to these variables to ensure efficient operations.

Step 7: Share the route plan 

Once the optimal route is ready, share it with the drivers. This includes providing them with a detailed route map and delivery schedule with any notes given by the customers. 

Step 8: Track progress and adjust

Once the deliveries are on the way, track progress and make necessary changes that include dealing with delays, rerouting due to road closures, or accommodating last-minute schedules. 

However, even if you follow the process, manual route planning carries a few drawbacks that can hinder operational efficiency and growth. Let’s explore them and uncover the need for more advanced solutions.

What are the Limitations of Manual Route Planning?

The word ‘manual’ itself means it is done with human intervention that consumes more time. Let us learn these drawbacks in detail that might affect business growth. 

1. Inefficient approach

The approach to manual delivery route planning is based on guesswork. It adds up to a lot of inefficiencies. Manual planning decreases productivity and causes delivery delays. By implementing a manual approach, the growth of your delivery business might slow down and miss the opportunity to scale. 

2. Time-consuming

Manual route planning is a time-consuming process that requires significant effort from route planners. They need to spend hours studying maps, analyzing routes, and making decisions. This can result in delays and inefficiencies, wasting valuable time for both planners and drivers. Additionally, the costs associated with manual route planning, including personnel allocation and resource usage, can be substantial.

3. Human errors

The involvement of humans in manual route planning introduces the potential for errors. Mistakes such as incorrect distance estimations, suboptimal route sequencing, or overlooking critical variables can lead to increased travel time and unnecessary fuel consumption.

4. Increase in cost

Manual route planning can incur additional costs for businesses. Allocating resources, to manual planning routes consumes valuable time and resources that could be directed toward other business priorities.

5. Limited scalability

As businesses grow and handle larger volumes of deliveries or service requests, delivery operations become increasingly challenging and inefficient. Scaling up manual processes to accommodate more complex logistics can lead to overwhelmed planners, delays, and reduced efficiency.

6. Poor customer experience

Inefficient route planning can cause late deliveries resulting in poor customer experience. Customers experiencing longer service time, missed time windows and not fulfilling the customer demands will lead to dissatisfaction. 

7. Lack of route optimization

Manual route planning may lack the ability to fully optimize routes. Advanced route optimization algorithms and techniques utilized in automated software can consider multiple variables, such as traffic conditions and delivery time windows, to find the most efficient routes.

8. Inability to perform multi-stop deliveries

Efficient routing can become a struggle for deliveries with multiple stops. Coordinating the order of stops, optimizing routes, and considering various constraints becomes increasingly complex without automated tools. You need to follow certain steps for efficient route planning. 

9. Lack of real-time adaptability

Planning routes manually is not as adaptable to real-time changes as route planning software. Factors such as traffic congestion, road closures, or dynamic customer demands require immediate adjustments that manual planners may find challenging to incorporate efficiently.

The above drawbacks emphasize the need for businesses to explore alternative solutions for more efficient and effective route planning. However, the best alternative solution for any delivery and logistics business is automated route planning. 

Let’s find out why automated routing is the ideal choice over manual routing. 

What is the Difference Between Manual Route Planning and Automated Route Planning? 

The modern way of route planning uses software solutions, often driven by AI route optimization and advanced algorithms. Let us find out some of the aspects that overcome the challenges faced by manual route planning.

S.No Aspects Manual Route Planning Automated Route Planning
1 Time efficiency Planning routes is time-consuming if there are hundreds of routes. Manages to plan routes for hundreds of stops within a few seconds.
2 Scalability Difficult to scale as the number of stops increases. Easily scalable and can manage a number of routes without a hitch.
3 Error ratio Manual planning involves humans leading to inefficient routes or missed deliveries. With advanced algorithms, experience fewer errors and more precision.
4 Adaptability Lacks real-time adaptability; unable to account for sudden changes in traffic conditions, etc. Highly adaptable in real-time, taking into account sudden changes or updates.
5 Cost-effective This may lead to higher costs due to inefficiencies in routes, increased fuel consumption, and vehicle maintenance. Automated routing can lead to cost savings by optimizing routes for fuel efficiency and reducing maintenance costs.
6 Decision-making Depends heavily on the individual experience. Relies on data-driven decision-making, providing optimal solutions based on various factors.
7 Report and analytics Limited or no capability for tracking and analyzing routes, performance metrics, etc. Often comes with robust reporting and analytics features, providing valuable insights for business improvements.
8 Customer satisfaction Delays or errors in delivery due to inefficient routing may impact customer satisfaction. Timely and efficient deliveries due to optimized routing can improve customer satisfaction. Push notifications and ETAs for customers to track the packages.
9 Sustainability Inefficient routing can lead to high carbon emissions. Route optimization leads to reduce fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions.
10 Risk management Difficult to anticipate and manage risks like vehicle breakdowns or driver’s availability. Many systems offer features to manage risks such as alternate routing and capacity planning.
11 Customizability The route can be customized manually, but it consumes a lot of time and might lead to errors. Many systems offer easy customization of routing parameters to best-fit business needs.
12 Integration Limited capacity for integration with other systems like inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), etc. Can often be integrated with your current business systems for seamless operations.
13 Improvements and updates Difficult to regularly update and improve the routing process based on feedback or changes in business needs. Many systems offer regular updates and improvements based on user feedback and changing needs.
14 Response time Responding to last-minute changes or emergencies can be slow and challenging. Can re-route the routes quickly based on last-minute changes or emergencies.
15 Resource allocation Resource allocation like vehicles and drivers can be unbalanced due to manual coordination. Efficient and balanced resource allocation thanks to algorithms that can consider all resources simultaneously.
16 Data management Difficulty managing and storing route data for future reference. Efficient data management, with the ability to store and retrieve route data for analysis and future use.

With all the above differences listed, you might have come to the conclusion that automated route planning is a better option for route optimization. However, to proceed further, are you aware of the best route planning software?

Let’s give you the best automated route planning software that fits your delivery operations. 

Upper – The Best Alternative to Manual Route Planning

Upper is one of the best route planners with a seamless and easy interface. With its powerful functionalities, you can create a route for different cities with just one click. 

This software used sophisticated algorithms to reduce errors and optimize delivery routes successfully. Here are the unique routing features offered by Upper. 

    • By using the Excel import feature, business owners don’t have to waste time entering addresses (business data) manually. They can easily import hundreds of addresses into the software.
    • With just a single click, you can divide multiple stops among the drivers.
    • Updates regarding the delivery will be sent to the customers through their notifications.
    • Since customers are able to see a precise delivery time, transparency about the processes also significantly improves.
    • Upper provides the business owner with the ability to quickly generate custom reports that assist them to analyze their operations.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Transform your business into an automated delivery system for efficient delivery and services.

Is Manual Route Planning a Hindrance to Your Business Growth?

Get on with automated route planning to simplify and optimize routes on a daily basis. You can experience low fuel costs, and save more time with the modern age route planning software.

FAQs

Some businesses might use manual route planning because they have a small operations where the complexity and cost of implementing automated systems may not be justified. Also, businesses might stick to manual planning due to resistance to change or a lack of awareness about the benefits of automated systems.

Yes, for very small operations with few delivery points and low complexity, manual route planning can be effective. However, as the business grows and routes become more complex, manual planning can quickly become time-consuming and less efficient.

Automated route planning is a process that uses software solutions to design the most efficient routes. These systems can account for numerous factors simultaneously, adapt to real-time changes, and provide valuable analytics.

No, while automated systems greatly streamline the process, human intervention is often still needed for oversight, decision-making, and managing exceptions or unusual scenarios that the system might not be configured to handle.

The transition can require a significant upfront effort, including training staff and integrating the new system into existing operations. However, many businesses find that the long-term benefits of improved efficiency and reduced costs outweigh the initial investment and adjustment period.

Conclusion

For businesses that offer delivery services throughout the city need a robust solution to enhance their route planning process. Upper is the ideal option that fits all your requirements from importing multiple stops to handling multiple drivers. 

It has all the necessary features and helps to scale your business. If you are looking for a cost-efficient way to plan and optimize deliveries, start with Upper’s . and see how it suits your requirements.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.