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Delivery Route Planning Software: Knowing Which Type of Software Is the Right Fit

Delivery Route Planning Software: Knowing Which Type of Software Is the Right Fit

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Delivery Route Planning Software: Knowing Which Type of Software Is the Right Fit

Nov 8, 2022

Shannon Sickmon
White delivery van full of packages for delivery

Whether your fleet transports your own products or delivers on behalf of your clients, chances are you need help trying to plan effective routes. Your route planning may be taking up too much time. You may have a solution that helps you plan routes, but it doesn’t sync with telematics, so you have no real-time visibility into where your drivers are.

Most dispatch managers or route planners must take driver preferences, customer requirements and delivery constraints into account, as well as the myriad other factors that come into play on any given day. If this sounds like your distribution business, you’ll need a more robust solution to manage your routing needs.

Whatever kind of fleet you have, you know that not all delivery route planning software is created equal. Where the systems differ is the capabilities that they offer and that makes a huge difference to the results your company can realize.

We’ll break it down for you in the article below.

Simple Delivery Route Planning Tools

Successful delivery route planning comes down to one factor: getting deliveries to a customer promptly. Plenty of free tools out there will help you if you have simple routes or a small number of stops. But simple tools only plan one route per vehicle with a limited number of stops along the way.

If you use one of these simple solutions, you’ll quickly realize most of these tools are not ideal for real-world use. Traffic is erratic. Inclement weather, accidents, construction and other factors can destroy the best-laid plans.

A word of caution – most of these tools are also restricted in the number of stops they will allow, so if your drivers deliver to more than ten stops per day, most basic tools won’t support that function without creating a new route plan. In addition, most of these tools don’t allow you to plan multiple routes; instead, you’ll have to input a route inquiry separately for every vehicle you have. If you have more than a few vehicles, that gets very confusing, very quickly.

The Bottom Line: You may have limited stops and a small fleet, but you still can’t afford to use a solution with limited functionality when unforeseen circumstances arise. Look at delivery route planning software that will grow with you, not just a tool to get by for now.

Standard Delivery Route Planning Software

Mid-level delivery route planning software is designed for slightly larger fleets or fleets with more than ten stops per day per vehicle. Many of these solutions call themselves "route optimization software," but they are not—they are higher-level route planning software.

The terms are not interchangeable. Route planning refers to using algorithms to create driving directions or routes for multiple destinations on a map. Then, the system puts them in order based on speed and practicality.

Route optimization uses more complex algorithms to plan the most efficient route for each vehicle based on the number of stops and all the outside variables – plus the constraints you define – that will impact each journey.

Mid-tier delivery route planning systems might have some route optimization features built in, like delivery windows. However, they don’t offer customizable, resource-level route optimization based on your specific needs. While a few mid-tier solutions take some limited variables into account, they don’t address the number of changing parameters many fleets must address.

Think about this scenario: traffic is building up ahead due to an accident. You must create a new route to ensure your deliveries still get to your customers on time. Or maybe one of your vehicles breaks down and you’re forced to reallocate loads. These are big problems even for small fleets; if you’re using the wrong delivery route planning software, you won’t have the tools to handle them.

The Bottom Line: Mid-tier routing software may seem like a cost-effective solution for your mid-size fleet; however, standard solutions aren’t flexible enough to accommodate real-world variables. You risk significant downtime using standard delivery route planning software.

Advanced Delivery Route Optimization Software

Advanced routing software systems use complex algorithms to calculate the best route combinations from millions of possible options. While some fleets are still trying to plan routes using manual processes, there are more effective and more intelligent ways to plan your deliveries, particularly for fleets with detailed requirements. Think about this: even if you have a smaller fleet of only ten vehicles and ten calls per vehicle, there are approximately one quintillion route permutations. No human brain or basic system is capable of that kind of calculation.

In addition, most basic and even mid-tier packages don't have any execution capability, so you have no way of knowing if your drivers are adhering to the plan. Advanced route optimization systems, like Aptean’s, include execution capabilities. This means the route planning software and in-cab telematics systems are connected. You monitor planned versus actual progress in real-time, which will help you refine future driver performance. The algorithms focus better on your plan's accuracy, so you hit the tight time windows that your customers expect.

Advanced delivery route planning software calculates factors such as rush hour driving speeds, construction zones and average unload time for specific customers and adds these factors into the daily plan. The software also calculates routes based on product mix.

Here’s a real-world example: if you deliver food with a mix of frozen, chilled and ambient products packaged in totes and pallets, an advanced system incorporates product dimensions to identify the right vehicle. It will also take the items’ perishability into account. The software will then time deliveries to the customer so that products with a limited lifespan come off the vehicle first.

Advanced route optimization software also has modeling functionality that allows you to test various strategic business changes. The software gives you the precise cost and service implications of, for instance, adding an important new customer or switching to smaller delivery vehicles.

The best part is that the software does all the heavy lifting. Your planning team can complete the day's routes in minutes, no matter your restrictions. You’ll maximize each shift’s efficiency and keep costs to a minimum. Users who have adopted Aptean’s advanced delivery route optimization software have shown savings of 10-30% off fleet operating costs within months of deployment.

The Bottom Line: Delivery route planning software with route optimization reduces the time and costs associated with planning and executing daily routes and schedules. And it easily scales with you as your business grows in complexity.

Keep Your Fleet in the Driver’s Seat

You have many customers to manage, and they all have different needs. Even if you have a small fleet and few limitations, you might run into problems on the road. Advanced delivery routing software will ensure you're maximizing your resources.

Achieving delivery excellence is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.

Aptean Routing & Scheduling Paragon Edition will help you customize delivery routes at the resource level based on the rules you set. You’ll reduce planning time to minutes, and your customers will get their deliveries when they want, based on their specific requirements. This means that you’ll improve your bottom line and enhance service levels too—in fact, one client that adopted delivery route planning software achieved close to 100% customer satisfaction.

Optimized routing means that your team gets more deliveries done more efficiently with the same or fewer resources than before. And ultimately, it leads to substantial cost and time savings for your business.

Every fleet is unique, but all fleets can benefit from optimizing routes. It’s time to invest in advanced delivery route planning software with route optimization.

Aptean Routing & Scheduling software helps any transportation company maximize efficiency and profitability in logistics operations. Our industry experts can help your enterprise improve the customer experience. Ask for a demo now.

Tell us about yourself and an Aptean specialist will be in touch.