If you use vehicles to deliver your products or services, route planning is essential. Intelligent route planning has several key benefits. It keeps your customers happy, as you arrive on time. It keeps your drivers and vehicles safe. And it helps you keep fuel costs under control.
In recent TomTom Telematics research, however, 53% of decision makers at small and medium sized businesses that use cars and vans said they are not certain their drivers are using their vehicles safely. 66% agreed that their fuel costs are too high, while 61% said the inability of their field team to follow the assigned schedule is having a negative impact on their business.
Better route planning can help address all of these complaints. So how do you go about improving this crucial element of your operation?
The factors that slow you down
Several factors can either make it more difficult to plan efficient routes or disrupt those plans once your workers are on the road. One of the most obvious is traffic. While you might be able to estimate the traffic on a given route based on the time of day, adapting to the unexpected is more difficult. For example, road projects, accidents and diversions can all upset your schedule.
Weather is another potential disruptor. Heavy rain, snow, fog, ice – all of them can force your workers to either slow down or take alternate routes, meaning you might not make the ETA you gave your customer.
Then there are your workers themselves. If the main responsibility of your workers is not driving, it can be easy to lose sight of how important their behaviour on the road is to your business. Yet, as we saw already, many SMEs are frustrated with the inability of their team to follow the schedule that is set for them.
Manual route planning risks
It’s possible to tackle these factors when manually planning your team’s routes. For example, you can check with your local regional authorities to see what road projects are planned to avoid potential delays. You can regularly monitor changing weather conditions to try to maintain accurate ETAs. And you can give your team recommendations on better driving.
Yet there are problems with doing things this way. Manually tracking road information and weather is time consuming and can distract from core business. And, even if you do it accurately, it won’t help you if something unexpected happens. Similarly, improving driver behaviour is difficult if you don’t have visibility over how your team is behaving on the road.
Plus, there is the generally time-consuming nature of manually organising your daily work schedule, ensuring the right destinations are being visited in the right order and the right drivers are being dispatched to each job. All of this makes manual route planning a tricky proposition.
Digital route planning solutions
Increasingly, SMEs are turning to digital solutions to simplify the way they manage their vehicles and workers on the road. By managing your workflow through a fleet management solution like WEBFLEET, you can cut costs, improve efficiency and get more jobs done.
WEBFLEET uses a comprehensive network of live traffic data and advanced algorithms to keep your drivers on the fastest routes, saving costs and improving ETA accuracy. Meanwhile, the OptiDrive features gives you regular, clear reports on how your workers are performing behind the wheel. This visibility over driver performance gives you confidence that your drivers are following your assigned plans and staying on the safest routes.
The additional Order Optimisation feature makes creating a route and daily schedule simpler than ever. All you have to do is type in the details of each journey and click the mouse. It then optimises the sequence of visits for speed and efficiency, taking the stress out of route planning.
Want to find out more about why SMEs are digitising their workflow? Check out our full research paper here.