Did you know? Fleet managers work tirelessly to decide the best way their fleets can travel to complete tasks. But what if I told you that this route planning process could become simpler? A fleet management system is the best way to shift from traditional methods of fleet management to modern techniques of tracking and organizing your fleet. Almost 53% of businesses have reported positive growth after using route planning software. Fleet management software has several solutions to help you be in control and manage the fleet remotely. So now the question is, what exactly is route planning?
What is Route Planning Software?
Route planning is the process of devising a complete path for a vehicle to go from one point to the other. A fleet management system uses this solution to help drivers and increase business profits. Managers can select the path best suited for them, keeping in mind both, time and fuel efficiency.
The route made by the manager includes several halts. This is where the vehicle needs to stop to complete a task. Managers then add sequences for the checkpoints.
For example, a grocery distribution truck needs to deliver its material to several shops. In this case, managers will enter the location of all necessary stores as halts in the preferred sequence. And this is how managers create routes for their fleet.
Route Planning vs Route Optimisation
Most people make the mistake of using the terms ‘route planning’ and ‘route optimisation’ interchangeably. But it is important to understand the difference between them before we move forward.
As mentioned above, route planning systems allow managers to plan paths for vehicles/automobiles in their fleet considering all halts/stoppages. Interaction of the software in this process helps managers to make sure there is no margin for error remaining.
Managers being in charge also means they will decide on a route that is most efficient for the owner and driver, both. This is because more time wasted on the road means a loss of resources.
Route planning software also allows freedom to change the course while planning is in progress. The requirements and demands of receivers can be kept in mind during the planning stage itself. This flexibility comes in handy with fleet businesses as the most efficient path is not always what a delivery may need.
On the other hand, route optimization is the process of creating a path from one place to another that consumes the least amount of time. While efficient, it can be more useful when a vehicle needs to move between places without any halts.
Route Planning Software or Manual Planning?
You might feel hiring skilled managers would cover most of the route planning for you. There is no arguing that simply planning routes does not sound like a difficult task at all. Also, planning alone will not carry the day. So, the real question is, will manual planning bring in any profits for you?
To find an answer to this question, let us discuss at length where manual route planning lacks in comparison to route planning software:
Prone to Errors
When humans are responsible for planning routes, there is always a big chance of error. Simply looking at a map and deciding which path looks best for a vehicle, leaves a large gap between the hypothesis and reality.
For example, a path on paper might sound perfect and efficient. But what if the actual road is damaged? The average speed on the road is not above 20 km/hr as the area is congestion prone.
Manual route planning will require excessive labour hours to manage large fleets. Hours that could have been dedicated to other management tasks instead.
There is no way of knowing if a driver has deviated from the path that has been set for them. Route deviation can cause losses for the fleet owners. It is not only wasteful of time but also consumes unnecessary fuel.
Unnecessarily Time Consuming
A team of managers spend a significant part of the day manually planning routes during peak season. This is because each vehicle of a fleet needs to be assigned a unique route and there is only so much a small team can do.
This is extremely wasteful for a business that has several tasks to complete. In a time where time is money, most businesses cannot afford to continue such time-wasting practices.
Reduced Business Reputation
Receivers lose trust in a business if transportation of their consignments is late. Manual route planning makes it hard to give accurate predictions of travel and delivery time for consignments. This can lead to a lowered reputation of your fleet business in the market.
Some drivers use the business resources for their own leisure. This reduces the efficiency of the fleet and resultingly, they can lose important clients.
For example, a driver is given a route keeping in mind the priority of the three clients on the way. Their sequence is set in a way where clients 1 and 2 being the larger clients are the first ones being delivered their consignments.
But the driver finds it profitable for himself to visit client 3 first as he grabs lunch there. So he changes the route accordingly. In the end, for his personal gain, he risks the entire fleet’s reputation.
Features of Route Planning Software
A fleet management system has several features to help managers navigate and control their fleet. These features make route planning software more reliable and trustworthy for customers.
A geofence is a virtual boundary marked on a map. The system sends an alert to managers every time a vehicle enters or exits this marked region. Drivers can avoid forbidden and dangerous areas on the path this way and ensure safety.
This feature also ensures that the driver covers all POIs assigned to the driver.
GPS tracking software provides owners with the real-time location of all drivers on their system. Managers can also notify drivers of potential risks on road when their live location is accessible at all times.
For example, an ambulance needs to be dispatched to a location. With knowledge of the current location of all vehicles, the nearest vehicle can be chosen for jobs. Thus, a route will be formed from that location to the end destination.
One of the biggest advantages of route planning software is its tour creation feature. The system allows managers to create and also archive these tours. This saves time for repeatedly creating regular trips since they can be saved instead.
In a real-life case scenario, this feature is helpful in waste management or the FMCG industry. All routes that are observed to be used repeatedly can be saved into the system.
The Fleet management system sends out an alert every time the vehicle moves away from its designated path. Route planning software makes it possible. It saves extra time and money that drivers waste by deviating from the assigned route.
When a vehicle is on road, there is no guarantee that it will reach the desired location on time. ETA (estimated time of arrival) feature of the route planning software solves this problem. It takes into consideration the activities on-road along with the speed of the vehicle. Automatic live ETAs are generated keeping all of these in mind.
ETAs also take into consideration the time used for any stops. Thus the status changes every time a vehicle makes changes or adds stops to the route and managers can monitor these changes at all times.
The POD or proof of delivery is a unique feature of the fleet management system. This feature allows drivers to submit proof of their completed tasks. The software has an automatic POD option too. Other methods of sending POD are a digital signature, OTP or QR code scanning.
Using this feature means that deliveries assigned to a driver will not be skipped. It is almost impossible to forge these digital methods of POD.
Benefits of Route Planning Solutions For Businesses
Using a fleet management system can be very beneficial to business owners as well as drivers. For fleet owners, these benefits can look something like this:
With route planning software, owners and managers can manage several vehicles at the same time. Traditionally, a manager tries to control and plan routes for a huge fleet manually. They will end up losing a lot of labour hours this way. But with automation, total efficiency can also improve.
This ability to manage several vehicles at once also means more monetary gains as it saves time. This time can be used for other business-related tasks.
Add Several Halts
There is no limit to the number of stops you add to a single route. Therefore, drivers can cover as many halts as possible within a single trip. This is not only time-saving but also conserves fuel as there is a fewer number of round trips made.
Features like real-time alerts also ensure that no halt is left unattended as managers receive instant notifications. It also reduces the rate of error. This will improve your business’ reputation as well.
Reduced Functional Time
Using the features mentioned above, a driver can cut down the time it takes to complete tasks. Covering more halts, travelling shorter roads, and avoiding congested areas can help with efficient time management.
Planning routes also include studying the insightful reports collected by the software and coming to educated conclusions with their help. For example, a vehicle travelling in the afternoon will complete tasks faster than morning or evening. Thus, more drivers should be allotted tasks in these productive hours for better outcomes.
Reduced Fuel Cost
Research has shown that route optimisation can reduce fuel costs by 20%. This is because route planning helps you eliminate longer roads for your journey. Driving on bad-conditioned roads leads to a strained engine that consumes more fuel than necessary.
Integrating route planning software with your business means there are fewer instances of travelling on bad roads. Thus, fuel consumption also goes down significantly. Shorter routes also mean less fuel usage for the completion of tasks.
We have already learned that using route planning software can help you reduce expenditures on your business. When these costs are cut down, the overall profitability of the business goes up.
Owners also make more profits because they can complete more tasks for the customers within the same time as before. This means fewer costs and more influx of money ultimately resulting in monetary gains.
Safety of Consignment
Route planning software ensures your consignment travels the safest way possible. It helps drivers avoid damaged and congested roads that might harm delicate goods.
You will never have to worry about your consignment getting stolen with the proof of delivery (POD) feature. The GPS tracking system allows managers to have an eye on your goods at all times.
Better Maintained Fleet
Automobiles being driven on well-made roads are way less likely to break down than those that face harsh conditions while driving. Thus, using good roads and shorter routes often increase the life of the vehicles. Through these practices, owners can ensure their fleets are well maintained for a longer period of time.
Fleet management system also has an option for scheduling vehicle servicing. They are reminded of all due check-ups for their vehicles a few days prior to when they are due. This once again helps fleet owners to cut losses by detecting issues before
Benefits of Route Planning For Drivers
There is no doubt that route planning software is helpful for fleet businesses. But drivers can benefit from using this system. Let us check out these ways:
- Reduced time-consuming tasks mean drivers will be able to take on more work in the same time frame. That leads to better monetary benefits for them.
- The software allows managers to observe and analyse all drivers. Drivers can take this opportunity to build a good reputation for a chance at better compensation.
- The software maintains a database of all drivers’ efficiency and their tendency to follow routes assigned. If they work hard, this data can vouch for them when they look for other better job opportunities.
A good route planning software can be a game changer for most businesses. Using a fleet management system also means better resource utilisation. This is not just a good practice for fleet owners but also benefits the environment.
Trackobit is the perfect fleet management software for your business. The route planning software included with this system has all the above-mentioned features. Combined, they will help your business grow and flourish. Each fleet is unique in its way. Contact us for customising options beneficial to your business.