Route planning can be one of the most time-consuming tasks when managing journeys. It is important to plan the route in order to save time and money. There are a few different ways to plan them including manual methods or plotting them in Google maps, but the best, most efficient way is to use a planning software or transport software with route design built-in. When creating journeys and advising drivers, everything revolves around the route they take. Take too long on the journey and the passenger is charged too much and might be late, take the wrong road and the passenger might never get to their appointment. Here we explore why route planners exist and the benefit is to use them.
What is Route Planning and Why Does it Matter to Transport Operators?
Routing, also known as route planning and route sequencing, is the process used to determine the most rational and effective path to take passengers or deliveries from one place to another.
Imagine you’re planning a long-distance trip and you’re not familiar with the area you’re travelling to. In this scenario, route planning, with its advanced algorithms, identifies and provides the best possible path for you. It can even factor in traffic conditions to support your trip at busier times of day too.
Route sequencing and planning routes are the essential processes to bring more convenience to all your drivers and enhance business productivity. This process is vital for any company with logistics needs, routes, or field services.
Benefits of Route Planning for Your Transport Services
Route planning and route optimisation are important because they assist you and your transport operations in becoming more efficient and provide the ability to operate a leaner, more cost-efficient service improving your overall fuel efficiency too. This is key to providing a high-level service whilst maintaining your costs to a minimum and reducing the loss of time driving. A vehicle travelling in the wrong direction only adds unnecessary time and fuel costs. A vehicle which is taking the most fuel-efficient or shortest trip factoring in other pickups in the local vicinity is getting more done, for less. The planning software automates and scales up the “thinking” of this procedure so that you can operate efficiently time and time again without wasting manual thinking time. This gives you more time to support your transport and delivery services in other ways.
Other benefits of using route planning include but are not limited to:
Reduced Transport Costs
If you run a transport service then your operating costs are one of your highest concerns. Managing high fuel costs and vehicle maintenance costs all add up to the costs of running your service. By using route planning software you can:
- Factor inefficient driver rest time to remain compliant.
- Prevent vehicles from becoming stuck in traffic, wasting fuel and loss of time driving.
- Ensure you get greater mileage and fuel efficiency from each vehicle before needing to refuel.
- Reduce vehicle wear by optimising the routes taken and keeping the vehicle inflow.
- Provide clear route instructions and notes to drivers so they don’t get lost and waste time and fuel.
- Reduce your carbon footprint.
- Increase Your Throughput and Planning Capability
By using route planning software or transport software such as Road XS, you are able to get more done each day. As your organisation grows, you need to be able to scale up your services yet still operate in the same calm manner each time. You can also handle any delay, or situation that arises and adapt to the moment quickly. This reduces stress but also ensures you have control over what is happening.
Not only this but if you receive for example a high order load, manually sit down and work out each permutation to get maximum cost relief and time will not be time well spent. By automating this process you can focus on providing better customer service or growing your services locally.
In being able to plan efficiently you can look at all the information, and what is happening and make better decisions, especially if you have a number of vehicles in your fleet.
Provide a Safer Transport Service
Imagine you sent a driver down the wrong road which lead to an accident, or you sent a driver to the wrong depot late at night leaving them alone and lost. Not only will this increase anxiety in your drivers but it could also impact your service satisfaction from passengers too. By route planning, you are planning ahead, making sure routes are safe, correct and accurate. After all, failure to plan is planning to fail. Safety is of the highest concern to all transport operators and route planning is a cornerstone part of this process.
If you work in a team, then implementing solid transport software into the organisation will keep everyone connected and in touch. This includes your drivers and passengers. You will be able to manage and maintain a consistent level and be able to let everyone know what is going on with ease. That’s because with software like Road XS you can plan for and see the future ahead. The smart design and attention to detail on all the little pieces of information you need make communicating easy and efficient.
With the built-in passenger and driver portal, you can keep all entities of your operation informed of any changes without needing to pick up the phone. This means you can focus your efforts on those who need it most and let technology automate and handle the complicated calculations for you.
It is also helpful when communicating anything with a driver if they are travelling down unfamiliar roads by providing simple route directions. The driver can see the journey in advance and plan mentally if anything else about what’s ahead.
Whilst some think that the design of the software has no importance other than to look nice, the end-user experience (also known as UX) actually does more than this. A clean interface reduces decision fatigue and enables the brain to think clearer, faster and more efficient than if it has to work harder to find the information it’s looking for. This reduces stress as everything is easy and removes complications.
Types of Route Planning
There are three main types of planning known as dynamic route planning, multi-stop route planning and closed and open path route planning.
Dynamic routing allows you to spot and reroute assets rapidly, making it easy for you to identify the location of a vehicle or delivery vehicle whenever needed and assisting with additional journeys and deliveries if another driver becomes unavailable, gets delayed, there’s a road diversion or worse was involved in a road traffic accident. With dynamic planning, you have the ability to quickly react and assign another vehicle or driver to the event to ensure your service is covered. You can also provide preferred time windows for pickups too.
Multi-stop routing allows you to generate and deliver routes instantly with multiple stops per route. This means that the best available route is found based on the variables which are entered. It will factor in multiple scenarios and optimise the route without the end-user having to think about it based on the algorithm and parameters of the event. For example, in Road XS we factor in passenger transit time, vehicle capacity, multiple stops per route, arrival times and more, all at the push of a button. The operator doesn’t have to think and the route is created and optimised instantly. This can then be used for car schemes, deliveries, dial a ride or demand responsive transport journeys immediately.
Open path routing is specifically designed for transport and logistics organisations that have a limited variety of stops to be made within the shortest amount of time in mind such as a single route. It optimised multiple delivery routes. For example, delivery drivers and taxi drivers who do not need to return to the depot after a trip or delivery is completed make use of this – they just move on to their next delivery using dynamic routes. The reason this is used is that this allows for faster deliveries and journey completion.
Closed path routing is a popular version of the “Traveling Salesman Problem”. Simply put, it produces a looping trip plan that should guide your drivers back to the start or endpoint of a run as efficiently as possible. A good example is a distribution centre, in which goods are stocked before shipment and returned to the beginning location at the end of the run.
Other types include what is known as reverse open path routing and depot to deport routing (or destination to destination). Reverse path routing simply starts from the furthest point and works backwards, and depot to depot routing plans the most optimised and quickest route between locations. Used mostly for vehicles that are picking up and transporting goods such as to supermarkets.
What is the Difference Between Route Planning and Route Optimisation?
Often, these two can get used interchangeably but they are quite different in their approach.
Route Planning: This process will help you find the shortest or most efficient route. This doesn’t mean factoring in traffic or anything else, just the shortest route to the destination. This will then be communicated to the driver to show them the shortest possible route available to them. This in turn will send the passenger to the destination in the shortest possible route or ensure they get their item delivered taking into account the shortest possible route. It is key to point out that route planning does not always provide the fastest route but the most direct.
Route Optimisation: This is the process that will help you become more efficient in delivering your transport or delivery services. This will factor in different scenarios and permutations of what is happening in your route. This will include things like passenger transit times, traffic, time windows, arrival times and so on. You likely recognise this when you pick a time slot for your parcel to be delivered for example. That’s route optimisation in action. You can often pick a number of route options too. This method will likely find the fastest route based on the additional calculations which are being applied.
Who Benefits from Route Planning?
If you have to transport goods, passengers or have somewhere you need to be, then you can benefit from using route planning and the route calculations that come with it. Anywhere where there is a destination and certainly multiple destinations, then you can benefit from using route planning software.
Further examples of where it can be useful include:
- Demand responsive transport services
- Group travel services
- Car share schemes
- Non-emergency patient transport services
- Delivery and courier services
- Small businesses with customer delivery requirements
- Food delivery businesses
- Flower delivery services
- Sales teams who are on the road a lot
- Online retailers who have to fulfil orders
- Medical deliveries for patients at home
- Event planners and organisers (such as photographers)
How Road XS Makes Planning Simple
With Road XS all transport operators get to see the most optimised journey plan with all pick-up points and waypoints along the way with accurate time frames. It also enables admin staff to plan the route and inform the passengers of each pickup time along the way with a speedy response time. The best part is nothing is left to estimate anymore. Your journeys are brought to life with route mapping and customer updates can be made with certainty improving the overall customer experience.
The software adapts instantly to any changes such as passengers cancelling, additional passengers being added to a journey and factors in passenger loading times too.
With Road XS route planning is really easy. Route planners like this software work out the best possible way to get your passenger to their destination by creating the optimal route. This includes finding the nearest available driver to take them there or the best transport service to choose if you are operating a dynamic dial a ride service.
If a passenger calls up and needs to change the route, that’s fine too, you can edit the route in real-time with the route planning tool without needing to cancel the journey or enter loads of new information. This will quickly show a route planning map too in the journey overview screen.
Another aspect which makes route planning easy is your favourite destinations can be accessed quickly and easily. Simply select them from your stored locations or do a quick search for the name and the address details are entered immediately.
Road XS intelligent mapping engine means all your routes and journeys are brought to life before your eyes with the path plotted you can even take a walk down the route or take a look around the destination and advise the driver accordingly.
Of course, with the fully integrated driver portal, the drivers can also log in and see the details of the journey and see up to date traffic information.
With Road XS you will:
- Save hours of planning time each day using the easy to use interface.
- Allow you to plan without additional effort.
- Watch routes comes to life and change based on the dynamics of the day by providing an alternative route at a moment’s notice if the original route changes.
- Suggest the arrival time and pickup windows based on your scenario.
- Have complicated scenarios factored in such as arrival times, passenger loading times and vehicle capacity all calculated in an instant.
- Optionally choose to include suggested traffic optimisation for any journey.
- Handle any crisis with ease by adapting your routes or journeys.
- Enhance your service’s fuel efficiency.
- Keep drivers fully updated in real-time to any changes with its route monitoring feature along with their driving time and travel time for a journey.
- Keep your transport team connected and informed at every turn with built-in journey directions.
- Provide real-time tracking with the built-in GPS tracking technology via the driver’s mobile web app.
- Direct around traffic jams with the optional traffic settings enabled for a calculated route factoring in road closures on the day and any traffic issues.
- Suggest the perfect route based on what’s happening around you.
Road XS is helping users create a brighter future, supporting them on their journey as the two worlds of technology and people come together to create a more connected, customer-focused and convenient life. If you would like to know more, simply reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have and show you our route planning software too.