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Leah Kaminsky-Levy
By
March 06, 2020

How to Plan the Most Efficient Routes for Your Drivers

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Delivery route optimization is crucial to any business that relies on drivers to get the job done. Time is money, and fleet fuel economy is too: the less efficient the routes, the more you’ll waste on gas and driver hours, and you’ll also risk customer satisfaction with delayed arrivals. This makes getting packages and passengers to their destinations in a timely, efficient manner key for the bottom line.

Why Solving Fleet Efficiency is Difficult

Finding an efficient route isn’t simply a matter of opening up Google Maps and entering a destination. Software like this often doesn’t have reliable, up-to-the-second traffic data. Plus, it won’t have the same robustness of a true multi stop route planner, which will take into account a variety of the complicating variables that go into route planning. It’s actually pretty complex math

For instance, you might think that the most efficient route is always as the crow flies: simply get your drivers from A to B by employing the shortest route possible, right? Not always. The big delivery companies like UPS have a strict policy of “no left turns wherever possible,” even though this sometimes leads to roundabout routes. Why? Turning left means drivers will have to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before they can execute the maneuver, which wastes fuel with idle time. It’s also significantly more dangerous than a right turn — and a truck that’s taken off the road due to an accident costs the company money not only in repairs, but also in the amount of time it’s taken off the road.

This is no small deal: UPS estimates that it uses 10 million gallons less fuel, emits 20,000 tons less carbon dioxide, and delivers 350,000 more packages every year due to this policy.

Efforts to reduce fuel spend are further complicated by the “last mile problem.” It’s easier to economize driving and delivery routes when getting passengers, packages, and other products to and from big hubs, such as from the airport to downtown, or from China to the United States. Costs skyrocket locally when it comes to the “last mile,” as vehicles must operate at lower speeds and across increasingly less direct or reliable local routes.

And we haven’t gotten to all of the quick shifts in routing that need to happen when a last minute order comes in or a driver encounters an urgent or emergency situation.

These kinds of problems are why more simplified user interfaces won’t quite do the trick when it comes to delivery route optimization or keeping customers and drivers happy.

Fleet Routing Software Can Help

There are lots of great delivery route planners out there that can help you create the most efficient routes for your drivers, all without having to break out the heavy duty calculator. Here are a few we recommend based on both direct experience and research.

Workwave Route Manager

Workwave Route Manager is pretty robust in terms of fleet routing software. It’s able to accommodate 1,000+ drivers but it also works well for smaller operations. When setting your route, it prompts you to enter a number of specifications and alter the routes you choose with a simple drag and drop. It offers GPS tracking for drivers. The app is most focused on routing, so you’ll need to integrate it with other apps to do things like billing in conjunction with a delivery.

OptimoRoute

As far as delivery route planners go, OptimoRoute is pretty similar to Workwave. You import orders, optimize routes based on parameters, and can pretty simply accommodate midday additions to the schedule as well as mid-route changes. You can also live track your drivers. It can accommodate 1,000 plus drivers, but also works great for smaller fleets.

Forward Thinking Systems

In addition to offering GPS tracking, ELD, and vehicle cameras, Forward Thinking Systems also offers a number of useful features within its delivery route optimization software. The system provides automatic optimization, which presents delivery routes in an easy to grasp visual display. Optimized routes are easily overridden when you want to account for various variables, such as unique truck loading or unloading requirements. The software provides some of the more accurate driver ETAs out there, as well as in-depth analytics once the route has been completed.

Routific

Routific is a little more geared towards smaller fleets, maxing out at around 49 drivers. You’ll import a list of drivers so that the algorithm can deliver the most efficient routes. It also integrates well into other apps through its API, so if you would like to deliver route optimization within any proprietary software, it’s easy to bring in.

Omnitracs

In addition to many of the features offered in the previous delivery route optimization apps, Omnitracs offers analytics for the routes you drive. It centralizes route history in one location, so that your team can more easily evaluate what the best routes are while creating new ones.

Live Dispatchers (With a Little Help) Are Still Key

Rather than being thought of as a replacement, a good delivery route planner should go hand-in-hand with a strong team of dispatchers. Human dispatchers are better able to look at many different kinds of data sources that more rigid software solutions may have trouble accommodating, and can also respond much more quickly to feedback from drivers on the ground. Live traffic data, for instance, becomes even more robust when it’s paired with multiple drivers on the ground, radioing back to dispatch. 

Human dispatchers are also far more agile when it comes to adjusting to emergency situations. This is especially true when situations call for someone to quickly make a call on a pressing situation, or when drivers encounter any number of difficult to predict issues. 

Additionally, while fleet routing software may offer a number of features within the realm of fleet efficiency, most don’t offer very robust solutions for coordinating customer information. Human dispatchers do.

What Live Dispatchers Need to Do the Job Well

It follows, then, that human dispatchers working in conjunction with a multi stop route planner can potentially be used to great effect when it comes to keeping drivers safe, deliveries efficient, and customers happy — with one caveat. As the central point of contact, they’ve got to be able to communicate effectively, both with each other and with the drivers they’re helping to manage. That means that they can’t be mired in noisy group chats, nor can they begin each shift overwhelmed with unanswered calls, or find themselves trying and failing to answer multiple calls at once with no way to refer calls to other more available dispatchers.

That’s where Zello Dispatch Hub comes in. Dispatch Hub makes dispatch communication easy by providing a centralized call queue for drivers to call into, rather than dialing individual dispatchers one-by-one. In this way, the call queue helps spread out the workload to available dispatchers, streamlining the process so that drivers can quickly get back to work. It also offers voice and text alerts that can be sent out to an entire channel in an emergency situation.

In these ways, communication efficiency quickly becomes fleet efficiency — a matter of driver safety, too.

Delivery route optimization is crucial for planning the most efficient routes for your drivers. Algorithms that identify the greatest fleet efficiencies combined with agile dispatchers empowered with streamlined communication software will keep your drivers moving nimbly across your delivery areas, and customers happy along the way.

Ready For Greater Efficiency?

Contact us today or sign up for a free trial to learn firsthand how Zello Dispatch Hub working in conjunction with a multi stop route planner can streamline communication and get your drivers where they need to go in the most streamlined way possible.