The rise in fast delivery models for everything from grocery and gardening supplies to high-end fashion means that fleet operators are under constant pressure to make more deliveries with fewer resources, with the current pandemic exacerbating the issue for some operators. A transport planning and optimisation solution can provide fleet managers with the capacity to dramatically reduce the time needed to plan, optimise and execute delivery routes. You can track the progress of your drivers, seeing exactly where they’ve been, where they are and where they’re heading to in real time.
The right technology can also deliver route mapping efficiency, and better connect and integrate every workflow step providing everything that’s needed to create routes, track and manage drivers, and improve customer service. Gone is the need to spend hours manually figuring out the best way to allocate your stops to drivers.
The Microlise Planning & Optimisation application offers a seamless interface with our other products and delivers top line benefits:
- Reduced planning time, manual intervention with last-minute orders accommodated later
- Flexible optimisation objectives can be set for different trading periods or individual days of the week
- Improved fleet efficiency, utilisation & customer service
- Minimised costs, mileage, empty running, fuel usage & environmental impact
It allows customers to plan routes more effectively and make informed planning decisions based on validated information that minimises the need for manual intervention. When complete, the plan can be fed into the Journey Management product with a single click for forward execution with updating capability right up to the point of delivery.
Planning & Optimisation’s flexible algorithm can also be adjusted to address common issues around delays, bottlenecks and last-minute orders and allows planners to visualise when a plan is fully optimised against a number of run-time KPIs.
The application has been designed with flexibility in mind. As it is faster than other optimisation tools currently available, thanks to its next generation technology and the intelligence of its algorithm, it allows planners to ‘spin’ a plan in minutes. A unique visualisation feature also allows planners to monitor the progress of the algorithm and stop it, when KPIs reach an acceptable level.
Automatic routing draws on accumulated knowledge so that optimised routes are, as far as possible, based on real-world operating conditions. A wide-range of critical variables minimise the need for manual input, allowing for the inclusion of last-minute consignments, at a much later point, allowing for a proactive response to demand and supporting a greatly improved customer experience.
The system timeline also makes it easier to assign jobs, tweak routes, identify gaps and manage violations. Planning & Optimisation arms planners with the information they need to make critical, real-time decisions – freezing certain parts of a plan if needed while re-optimising the balance. When adjustments have been made, planners can re-spin single routes, or share resources from selected routes, to optimise again.
In 2020, we’ve continued to make various improvements including offering zero-downtime live deployment as the system updates and is further improved. Some of these product improvements have included increasing the efficiency of optimised plans by introducing additional parameters to make plans closer to the real world.
The first phase of our new load builder has also been recently introduced. This produces a simple set of recommendations for how warehouse staff should best load orders onto pallets, and pallets onto vehicles, so that delivery staff have the fastest and most efficient unload possible. A pallet loading sequence is available based on the plan while accounting for the vehicle’s pallet footprint and the picking process within the warehouse.
The product also caters to helpers, or two-man deliveries. This is highly flexible and can be dependent on whether a customer site always needs a helper due to its physical attributes, or whether a helper is required due to the size of an order. Parameters can also be set to judge the requirement for a helper based on difficulty or the total physical stress level expected on the route being undertaken.
The application also allows for connected legs, including transportation into cross-docks and carriage onto final customer locations. This enhancement allows for a much advanced level of planning flexibility, as orders can be planned prioritising customer delivery legs first and then trunking (or ‘Heavy Load’/’trans-shipment’) legs or vice-versa, according to requirements with independent orders also incorporated in the mix.
Planning & Optimisation benefits include:
- Reduced planning time: our optimisation engine is faster than most, plus you can see how the plan is performing against KPIs thanks to our unique visualisation tool
- Receive last minute jobs later and include them within the plan – respinning at the last minute is always an option
- Reduced manual intervention & seamless plan execution: our engine delivers accurate routes and provides one click integration with Microlise Journey Management for plan execution
- Improved utilisation & less empty running: ensuring your assets are sweated and vehicles are fully loaded wherever possible
- Improved customer service levels: monitor execution through Journey Management and provide accurate ETAs to customers before they escalate and become service issues
- Use of a single platform to optimise the list of stops drivers need to complete in a given time period, while factoring in vehicle dimensions, load capacity, road restrictions, delivery windows and other issues that may affect a route
- Real-time updates & trip duration intelligence: track vehicle location, speed and mileage and measure actual against planned by assessing driver handling and stops completed
- For drivers, an optimised route not only provides turn by turn directions, offering them the same technology they’re accustomed to using off the job, but also eliminates the need for paper invoices and proof of delivery.
What does 2021 look like?
We have a series of innovative enhancements planned for the year.
Thanks to our considerable annual spend on R&D, Microlise constantly pushes boundaries – our future roadmap for planning & optimisation, along with the enhanced capabilities, promises ongoing improvements geared to making the application more scalable, robust and responsive to the needs of the market.