For supply chain and logistics directors in distribution businesses, one of the main priorities is balancing how to achieve route efficiency with meeting customer service targets. You need to deliver goods to your customers within promised timescales, but achieving that often means making the sacrifice of choosing a less cost-effective route.
Balancing these issues is paramount to making a profit, so how can companies solve their route optimisation, planning and fleet management issues?
Route optimisation software
Route optimisation software is the obvious answer. There are some great systems available that automatically plan optimised routes for you. You plug in your orders and they deliver routing schedules. But it takes a lot to get the system up and ready for this sort of output. You need to put in a lot of time and effort in inputting and cleaning significant amounts of data to maintain the system so that it is able to process the orders and produce the optimal routing schedules for you.
Many of our customers are not able to devote the time that’s needed and cannot maintain the amount of data required. So unfortunately, these systems only end up being used as expensive manual routing platforms, as the automated routing yields inadequate results. Very often, we find that these sophisticated solutions are simply not being used to their full potential and companies have wasted their money in buying them.
Gap in the market?
Many distribution businesses make deliveries to a different set of customers every day. And this is precisely where sophisticated routing software comes into its own, and we would recommend that staff dedicate sufficient time and effort into setting up maintaining their routing software so that it can be used effectively.
But for plenty of other distribution businesses, their customers are largely the same. We’ve analysed orders for many a client and discovered that they are going to the same places over and over. For example, it may be Manchester on a Monday, Tunbridge Wells on a Tuesday and the West Midlands on a Wednesday. The example over-simplifies things a little, but it does serve to demonstrate that routes are often repeated for some distributors.
These companies don’t need complex routing and scheduling software that plans dynamic routes. They know which orders are assigned to which trucks and they know that the goods will fit. What they do need though is routing that is designed for their various delivery locations. They have far less complicated delivery profiles, which may send drivers to different locations each day, or they may even require static routing.
To meet what we see as a gap in the market, therefore, later this year we are updating one of the applications within our Springboard suite of solutions. Springboard Delivery is straightforward route optimisation software that plans static and less complex routes. It bypasses labour-intensive and lengthy manual routing processes, and delivers optimised routes to fit regular delivery locations, but without the need to maintain large amounts of data within the software.
We are currently trialling the new version of the software with various clients and it will be released on general availability in September. If you’re interested in optimising your static or simple routes more effectively, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to let you have all the information when it’s launched.