Route Planning Software: A Guide for Dynamic Route Optimization

Achieving the most cost-efficient operations is no small feat when it comes to modern logistics. With the ever-growing number of vehicles on the road, driver shortages, and tight deadlines, delivery can quickly get hectic and start eating through a large portion of your company’s budget.

While many companies still choose to rely on manual solutions, it’s imperative to incorporate smart delivery route planning and prevent unnecessary expenses. Route planning software aims to optimize logistics via computation. It takes in the data about each order and driver and outputs the fastest possible route that combines all delivery points. As a result, companies report better productivity and customer satisfaction, along with reduced costs and road risks.

Knowing how smart technology can enhance your logistics is essential in 2021. Keep reading to learn more about what it is, which industries it helps prosper, and how to make a route planning app tailored to your company’s needs.

What is route planning software?

As a concept, route optimization and planning refers to the practice of using standard analytics and machine learning to automatically find the best path for a courier. Such applications aim to make logistics smarter and subsequently cheaper.

Vehicle route planning software utilizes real-time data about road conditions, drivers’ schedules, employee breaks, hours on the road, geographical locations of all delivery points, and other information to compose the fastest route for each driver. You can also use these applications for automatic and cost-efficient replanning in case of emergencies, traffic jams, or unexpected order cancellations.

Overall, this kind of software aims not only to reduce the operating costs for your business but improve customer experience, reduce risks on the road, minimize resource waste, and boost revenue per driver while enhancing retention.

In fact, a correctly implemented route planning tool can help your company increase profits by at least 16% and cut costs by about 3.6%. In addition to making your business more efficient, this software also boosts service quality instead of sacrificing it.

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Route optimization software benefits for businesses

All businesses that require or offer logistics services face several significant issues: fuel expenses don’t correspond to profits, drivers face frequent overtimes, and resource waste surges with each canceled order. Routing software can help take on these challenges.

Regardless of your industry, logistics applications enable you to achieve the following:

Reduce operating costs and increase revenue

Route planning apps don’t simply connect several drop-off points in the best possible way. This kind of software analyzes drivers’ regular mileage, wages, and other expenses, identifying imbalances and producing solutions. By using these applications, you can improve the functioning of your whole logistics system without expanding your fleet or increasing work hours for drivers.

Employ automatic planning

Another perk of logistics software is dynamic and automated planning. It releases you from the necessity to spend enormous amounts of time drafting and adjusting plans, schedules, and shifts.

A route planning app can

  • import lists of orders and objectives from your database;
  • automatically assign employees to tasks based on workers’ locations, availability, and qualifications;
  • take into consideration such factors as mandatory driver rest, lunch breaks, days off, deadlines, and periods when clients are able to receive the delivery;
  • help you organize activity weeks in advance and identify previously obscure opportunities to scale operations or get to the tasks that you have been putting off; and 
  • change plans swiftly in the event of vehicle problems, order cancellations, and so on.

Improve customer experience

Customers also greatly benefit from your logistics optimization. Primarily, a better experience comes out of faster, timelier deliveries. As the software conducts real-time route optimization, unexpected traffic jams or bad road conditions become less of an issue.

Furthermore, you can solidify your clients’ trust by enabling them to track their order when it is en route. A simple map indicator in a mobile app can boost customer satisfaction and reduce the number of calls to inquire how soon the order will be delivered, lifting some burden off your support department’s shoulders.

Increase employee satisfaction and retention

The American Trucking Association warns that driver shortages are on the way to being short 160,000 workers by 2028. Software that assists with planning a route can contribute not only to the satisfaction of your clients but improved employee retention as well.

Custom-made logistics applications can help cut extra hours or eliminate overtime entirely. They also optimize workloads, balancing not only the number of tasks but their variety when possible. Since offering better conditions doesn’t imply larger expenses, your company only benefits from the resulting drivers’ commitment and better attention to work.

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What industries can use routing tools?

Route optimization is useful in multiple ways, depending on the niche your business occupies. Let’s take a look at several areas where logistics apps are not only effective but nearly irreplaceable.

E-commerce and food delivery

The boom in e-commerce following the beginning of worldwide pandemic lockdowns is not about to start receding. For businesses seeking to make their operations more cost-effective and increase the quality of service, route planning software is an incredibly powerful solution.

Besides decreasing fuel expenses and delivery time, these applications enable same-day deliveries, provide dynamic estimated time of arrival (ETA) calculations to customers, and monitor the performance of drivers.

Long-haul transportation

Truck route planning software helps monitor drivers’ behavior on the road, compliance with regulations, and engine idling time, in addition to providing the standard optimization functionality.

Home services

Utilities and telecom maintenance, installation, and repair services can greatly benefit from optimization software. Such apps help the employees of the provider company arrive on time and align visits with their clients’ schedules.

Construction and manufacturing

In manufacturing and heavy equipment transportation, technology can improve logistics visibility and prevent theft or tampering by helping drivers avoid dangerous routes.

Healthcare

In healthcare, timely delivery of devices, tools, and medicines is vital. Whether you’re a third-party logistics company or a healthcare provider, route optimization and planning can assist in serving clinics and patients rapidly and efficiently.

Post and parcel

Planning a delivery route using analytics and machine learning algorithms helps prevent delayed and repeated parcel delivery attempts. In addition to increasing customer satisfaction, real-time optimization also enables the same fleet of couriers to perform more deliveries.

Read also: The Most Complete Guide to Building an On-Demand Parcel Delivery App

 

Public safety and government

Following optimized routes is critical for law enforcement and first responders, and it’s greatly beneficial for individuals learning to drive, road maintenance staff, and public transport drivers.

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The best route planning apps of 2021

Custom-made logistics route planning software will always correspond to the needs of your business better than most of the already existing solutions. Still, looking at the top players in the game is a good decision to recognize what this kind of software can offer.

Currently, the most powerful delivery route optimization software includes

Onfleet is among the most comprehensive applications the market has to offer for last mile delivery. Besides route planning, it presents driver profiles, schedules, overall delivery management, and progress tracking. Subscription plans range from $149 to $1,999 a month.

MyRouteOnline is an incredibly popular route planning app for truck drivers and delivery workers. It allows you to create routes, adding up to 350 stops per route, organize paths by distance or time required for the journey, and use GPS directions to easily navigate. With a starting price of $29.95, the app is suitable for small businesses.

LogiNext offers five solutions to big and small businesses in different industries. To supplement the standard route planning functionality, you can get separate apps for last mile delivery, field staff management, optimization of express deliveries, and automatic fleet monitoring. The company also presents a reverse logistics solution for enterprises that need to collect items from customers rather than deliver them.

LogiNext’s pricing starts and $15-25, depending on which service you choose.

Key features of logistics software

Now that you know the general impacts and applications of route optimization and planning, let’s take a closer look at the practical features this software encompasses.

Some of the mandatory route planning features include

  • GPS for route planning;
  • automated processing of traffic situations, destinations, and estimated fuel expenses for optimization;
  • real-time vehicle tracking and ETAs;
  • search for specific clients, drivers, and orders;
  • notifications and status updates; and 
  • integrated maps for route planning.

A more comprehensive logistics app can offer additional functionality, such as

  • autonomous task assignment and dispatch to reduce labor costs;
  • training and adaptation modules to facilitate the assimilation of new drivers and minimize the expenses associated with staff expansion;
  • monitoring performance in real-time via cameras and integrated time-tracking modules to improve driver compliance and accountability;
  • collect, scan, and store barcodes, photos, electronic signatures, and other proof of delivery documents in one place;
  • display customer information and order details to each driver.

Things to consider for logistics app development

Although the functionality for logistics optimization applications is somewhat standard, it’s still important to oversee the development process and make sure everything corresponds to your business needs.

In particular, pay attention to the following characteristics that your route planning app should have.

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Dynamic and fixed route optimization

If you perform daily or regular deliveries to different locations, your system must be able to calculate new routes effectively. It should also work with existing schedules, maps, capacities of vehicles on the fleet, dynamic traffic data, driver work hours, and other information to construct efficient transportation patterns in the long run.

To get the required traffic data for processing, you can design the appropriate functionality from scratch or integrate ready-to-use solutions. Mapping platforms like Google Maps, HERE, and Mapbox help monitor traffic and calculate routes easily. They also offer handy APIs to simplify the integration.

Spontaneous replanning

Besides planning in advance, the application also has to be useful in situations when there are traffic jams, bad weather conditions, sudden order cancellations, and other obstacles to delivery. The system should process past data of similar occurrences to be able to adapt the path on the fly and minimize expenses even in unfavorable conditions.

Vehicle tracking

A route planning map can be particularly useful if you enable vehicle tracking. This feature helps managers monitor whether all vehicles are following their designated routes. If there are deviations from the expected path or timing due to traffic conditions, vehicle tracking enables the company to notify customers of delays immediately.

Besides, vehicle tracking helps prevent theft and unscheduled idling.

Personalized delivery patterns

To further reduce operating costs, ensure the application will be able to gather customer profiles and generate the best delivery patterns for each client who orders regularly. This will help combine deliveries faster while maintaining an exceptional level of service and balancing drivers’ workloads.

Analytics and report generation

Logistics route planning software should also enable you to forecast the costs and demand for future operations. To achieve this, the system needs to have analytics modules to examine previous deliveries, delays, maps, and emergencies. It also should be able to highlight problematic areas and suggest preventive solutions.

It is also a plus if the application can generate standard reports and send them out automatically, decreasing the amount of time and labor spent on administrative tasks.

Security

Employing strong security mechanisms is paramount in logistics software development. If your application is capable of automatically sending drivers alerts, assigning tasks according to individual schedules, and adjusting routes dynamically, you should be cautious and ensure that potentially devastating cyberattacks will be deflected.

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How to get started?

Route planning is a rapidly growing niche in the logistics market. An increasing number of enterprises are recognizing the need to battle optimization issues, driver shortages, and increasing expenses with advanced technology.

You may consider delivery route optimization if you have a business in any of these industries:

  • food and goods delivery;
  • on-demand house services;
  • long-haul transportation and third-party logistics;
  • manufacturing, oil & gas mining, activity involving heavy machinery;
  • governmental and public services: law enforcement, fire department, public transport, etc.; and 
  • healthcare.

The next step after deciding to use technology to enhance your logistics is finding an experienced and reliable software development provider.

Having developed transportation solutions for companies like Gett and DPDgroup, Eastern Peak experts are fully prepared to meet your requirements and build a custom route optimization system for your business.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today and schedule a free consultation.

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