The Route To Success
Mapping technology, GPS tracking systems and route optimization software all help to plan vehicle routes more efficiently, though non-tech solutions are just as effective.
Since efficient routing can mean big savings in fuel costs for a vehicle fleet, small fleet operators can learn a lot from reviewing various tips from veteran delivery and logistics company fleet managers.
Tip #1: Evaluate routing software
When does dropping good money on an “enterprise class” vehicle routing software make sense?
Routing can become complicated with as few as five routes, says Kevin Callen, president of C2Logix, a provider of route optimization software.
Callen says companies often upgrade from off-the-shelf software such as Microsoft’s MapPoint when a significant portion of the route changes daily or weekly and when factors relating to the stop location, type of material and vehicle characteristics must be considered.
Pinnacle Waste, a waste hauling service in Maryland, runs 11 waste pickup routes with more than 100 stops per route. The company uses C2Logix’s TourSolver route optimization software.
Before the business expanded, the company zoned its drivers geographically and had them work with the dispatchers to create their routes, says Avi Hoffer, president of Pinnacle Waste.
Hoffer equates manual route planning “to someone doing accounting by hand.”
“If you tell the guys to plan their Monday most efficiently they’ll be pretty good about it,” Hoffer says, “but trying to manually schedule thousands of stops that change daily is impossible.”
By inputting parameters for pickup location, type of vehicle and disposal facility, the program outputs multi-day routes with turn-by-turn directions, ideal length of stop and optimal stop sequence while taking into account road speeds and traffic patterns.
The C2Logix software starts at $4,200 for 10 vehicles with a 20-percent yearly maintenance fee. Premium services such as traffic pattern optimization are extra.
Hoffer calculated that shaving one hour a week from one Pinnacle driver would pay for the software in a year, though his ROI was much quicker.
“We estimate we’ve saved 50 to 60 hours a week,” Hoffer says. “We had guys that were driving 230 miles a day who are now doing 150 and picking up the same amount of material.”