Routing and scheduling software works faster, smarter and more objectively than humans.
There is often a business case to be made, therefore, for introducing an R&S application into even the smallest fleets.
There are a variety of products and different approaches which can be used, so it is important to clarify an operation’s current and future needs and then look carefully at the options on offer.
“Most R&S software is Windows-based so on the surface it can all look very similar,” warns Will Salter, managing director of Paragon Software Systems.
“It is important to ensure you understand what’s going on under the surface and that the product will deliver the quoted savings.”
The software should be self-funding. It should pay back rapidly – and any decent provider should be able to prove this with replicable savings based on your data before the system is even purchased.
“Nowadays people will generally run tests before any decision,” says Salter.
“Systems can easily be tested running days’ worth of orders, or orders taken from peak periods, slack periods and even scenarios such as if the business grew by 150%.
"If it is set up properly, the system ought to pay back very quickly – 10-20% saving is a realistic direct benefit, even before you look at improved turnaround or customer service.”
Route Monkey also believes R&S software should be self-funding.
CEO Colin Ferguson says the company used to offer a benchmark and trial as optional but now it has a standard three-stage approach to selling and installing the software.
“It simply works better. We benchmark the operation, running a trial, first looking at how your company organised it and then how Route Monkey would do it.
"Then we pilot the software; and then once we go live, we tailor and adjust it to that operation,” he says.
Ferguson says the last phase of adjustment is crucial; optimisation is not just about freight and vehicles, but lots of small variables.
“If we find one driver has a heavier right foot, for instance, we set a parameter putting him on motorway journeys where that will be mitigated. That’s how you start to get every drop of benefit,” he says.
He also says products approach optimisation in different ways.
Overhauling fixed route systems
Fleets move to R&S software for different reasons. AAH Pharmaceuticals, which has 30% of the wholesale medicines market, and 600 vehicles running out of 19 depots, says it brought in new software to help it overhaul a fixed route system which had evolved over many years.