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ABCs of Route Optimization

Route planning is not easy. Considering the problems experienced by companies when it comes to route planning for deliveries, we have developed a software that will distribute tasks to the field team in the most appropriate way and optimize routes. With this software, we have added features such as a notification system to increase customer satisfaction while reducing the planning time and costs of companies. What the software does is known around the world as route optimization. We’ve gone one step further than route optimization and developed Metrobi dynamic route optimization by adding artificial intelligence that constantly updates and optimizes routes by using real-time data.

Being in the logistics industry for many years, we wanted to share our knowledge about route optimization. With this article, we aim to clarify questions like what is route optimization, how do I use route optimization, and why do we need route optimization?

Let’s start with the first question:

What is Route Optimization?

Route optimization is the process of determining the most cost-effective route. But it is much more complicated than just finding the shortest path between two points. When optimizing the route, several factors should be taken into account, including the number and location of all the stops on the route and the number of stops to be visited. Examples of things that may affect results include:

  • Size of the order (weight, volume, or other criteria you can specify)
  • Visiting times (earliest start, latest finish)
  • Visiting points and distance between these points, speed and time
  • Vehicle and delivery restrictions (“X cannot use the bridge,” or details such as temperature control)
  • Customer restrictions (such as “orders for customer A and customer B should not be carried in the same vehicle”)
  • Vehicle capacities (weight, volume, pallet or other criteria)
  • Driver availability and expenses, drivers and vehicles, and restrictions / preferences between driver and order
  • The best or nearest driver to be sent to a point on the route
  • Traffic jam for current time of day
  • The best route-access to the stop on the route (taking into account accidents, road work, etc.)

Different options can also be added to this list.

How to use route optimization

We can give two answers to how to use route optimization. There are two ways to optimize a route so it will be completed as soon as possible, all vehicles will be distributed as equally as possible, and work efficiency will be at the highest level.

The first way is to manually plan the route using a traditional method, such as paper, pencil, map and calculator. Whether you prefer this method or not depends on you. As Metrobi, we can say that it is a method you should avoid to increase your work efficiency. We can understand the reason from the account below.

The second method is to use route planning software. In this method, you transfer the operations to complex algorithms powered by artificial intelligence.

Here is a simple calculation: with only one vehicle and 10 stops, the number of possibilities is 3,628,800 (10 factorial). If you have a fleet of five vehicles (your field team), this number goes up to a gigantic number like 37,267,043,023,296,000 (yes, 37 quadrillion). Route optimization is therefore often accomplished using advanced heuristic methods (like using a route optimization software) that quickly shrink computer algorithms and options.

Route optimization software can quickly test multiple what-if scenarios of the fleet (field team). Normally, the planning manager of your company is supposed to do this, but as you can imagine, this would be a very time-consuming process. Artificial intelligence can test the possibilities mentioned above in seconds, select the most appropriate ones in minutes and present them in the best possible way.

Why do we need route optimization?

The history of route optimization dates back 200 years. A seller who wanted to visit the cities in Europe to promote his products wanted to spend the shortest time on the trip and the longest time on the sales. To accomplish this, he asked for help from his mathematician friends in order to calculate the shortest path between about 2,000 cities. When one of his friends started calculating how many different travel routes were possible, he realized it was going to be very hard to find the perfect solution. The seller reached the best mathematicians of the time and this problem, which is known as travelling salesman problem, became very popular.

What are the Advantages of Route Optimization?

Route optimization (whether manually or using modern technology) helps you to review the different route options and resource costs. You can compare the costs of travel to the destination.

If the delivery route is optimized with an advanced artificial intelligence, you can do the same with fewer people. Having fewer vehicles or drivers increases the cost efficiency of your routes. So, the less you do with the same work and drive, the less money you spend. Your costs fall and your work efficiency increases.

What are the disadvantages of route optimization?

Route optimization is a very lucrative method, as we mentioned before. It is strongly recommended for companies that need deliveries or companies where customer visits are of the utmost importance. So, it is very difficult to think of the disadvantages of route optimization. However, according to our observations in the companies for whom we have been optimizing routes, we thought the issues mentioned below may need to be considered.

For companies with employees who have difficulty adapting to new technologies, the process of switching to a route optimization software may be difficult. One of the most common cases we encountered in companies that we conducted demo sessions was that drivers were not motivated enough to abandon their old habits and use this new technology. In this regard, we can say that the management of this adaptation process falls to team leaders and route-planning managers.

Another issue is that the employees may be concerned about their job security. This is because, as it is known, more work can be done with fewer drivers, thanks to the route optimization software. So, one of the most popular questions from the company employees is whether or not they will eventually be out of a job if they start using Metrobi Dynamic Route Optimization software.

In this article, we tried to answer these questions: what is route optimization, how to use route optimization, why do we need route optimization, what are the advantages and disadvantages of route optimization?

You can use the contact page to ask us any questions you have and to get extra information.

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