It’s safe to say that most of us have recently used some form of route planning software. Consumer apps such as Google Maps and Waze are commonplace among smartphone users. These platforms provide directional commands (aka routing) which constitute the essence of formal route planning software.
You might be asking: “Then, why do I need route planning software? Why not have all my drivers download Google Maps and use that to get around?”
This is certainly an understandably tempting proposition, but it may be dangerous thinking.
Route planning software as part of a fleet management tool performs critical tasks even before your drivers hit the road. Formal route planning software provides directional routing components just like the consumer apps, but also offers many additional, more advanced features for your company.
We’ve created this guide to help you understand the vast route planning software market and determine the best system for your needs.
Here's what we'll cover:
Formal route planning software for fleet-based businesses supports scheduling and routing decisions by generating the most efficient route for any number of vehicles. Most route planning systems also optimize the course drivers take to each location based on real-time traffic information.
When it comes to software offering route planning capabilities, there are multiple types to choose from. These include:
Regardless of which route you take, you should ensure these core features are included in any route planning software system you consider:
|Route planning||Obviously, your route planning software will offer this basic functionality, but what does that mean? Features can vary from system to system. For example, some offer the ability to specify between planning for a round-trip or a one-way, start-to-finish excursion. Many include fuel management features to optimize fuel efficiency. Be sure you know the capabilities of your route planning software.|
|Dispatching||Once routes are created and optimized, they need to be assigned to a driver. That’s where dispatching comes in. This disseminates routes to drivers and provides any updates or adjustments to your mobile assets on the road.|
|Voice command directions||You don’t want the eyes of your drivers focused on anything other than the road, regardless of whether it’s paper or a digital device. Built-in voice command capabilities can direct drivers while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes where they should be.|
|Driver performance analytics||Route planning software increases efficiency due to its ability to track and monitor driver behaviors and tendencies. You can create alerts and hold drivers accountable for safe driving practices, including average speeds, proper acceleration, idling and other driving metrics.|
|Driver note logs||For routine jobs, drivers can take notes about their route that would be good to know/remember down the road (i.e. “the delivery entrance is around back” or “multiple aggressive dogs here.”)|
Regardless of your type of business, route planning software should offer newfound efficiency and increased productivity for your mobile assets.
Our research shows that telematics capabilities have profoundly positive benefits on organizations. Telematics systems record information about vehicles, then send, receive, process and store that information via telecommunications channels (i.e., GPS and cellular).
These financial and operational benefits are the result of the newfound efficiencies provided by route planning software. Optimized routes and schedules help drivers stay on track and meet appointment times. Less time traveling from job to job means more work orders can be completed during the day. And, quite logically, all of these efficiencies translate to a reduction in fuel costs.
While any form of route planning software can increase the efficiency of your business, you need to research the various options and choose the one that’s the best fit. It helps to start by identifying what type of buyer you are, based on your fleet operations.
There are many different types of fleet-based businesses, including long-haul shippers, local delivery drivers, heavy construction and machinery movers, municipal organizations and even health care transportation services.
Each of these buyer types has unique needs based on the nature of their operations. Take a look at these common buyers, and see which one you and your organization most align with:
For-hire carriers. Trucking and shipping organizations that haul cargo for other businesses should consider a full fleet management suite. They’ll likely want to manage the full range of operations and business management capabilities for freight and logistics industries, including detailed route planning.
Private shipping fleets. Transportation wings of companies that aren’t solely focused on transportation might consider a comprehensive enterprise suite aimed at capabilities for the company’s core business process, including transportation and route planning needs.
Appointment-based businesses. Business reliant on mobile employees making repeated appointments throughout the day have the widest range of options. For example, field service businesses could get by with a software dedicated solely to route planning, as long as they have additional software in place to manage their overall operation.
Delivery services. Delivery fleets transporting food, industry equipment or other loads will likely want to go with a route optimization-specific option. Proper route planning and dispatching is the operational essence of their business, so a software specialized in such capabilities is best.
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