What is route planning software?

29 Dec 2021
What is route planning software?

Route planning software, also known as route management software and multi-stop route planning software, is a technology that automatically creates multi-drop delivery routes and updates them in real-time. This improves productivity, time management and fuel efficiency, as well as customer service.

What does routing software mean?

Routing software is the technology that automatically creates multi-drop delivery routes.

This software processes the various requirements, such as destination locations, number and size of packages, and customer time windows, and delivers the routes to your drivers via their handheld devices.

Routing software often incorporates machine learning to improve future routing strategies based on previous route information.

Why do businesses need route planning software?

Organising a fleet of vehicles to drive a number of different routes, and to an optimum level, takes a lot of resources when done manually, and when delays or diversions inevitably occur, this work needs to be redone.

Not only is this a time-consuming and expensive process, but it also has detrimental knock-on effects for customer service, often in the form of delayed deliveries.

Route planning software automates this entire process, generating multi-drop routes in seconds, taking into account:

  • Customer time window preferences
  • Distance between drops
  • Order volumes
  • Traffic conditions
  • Driver availability
  • Vehicle capacity
  • Changes in conditions during deliveries, in real-time

What are the benefits of route planning?

Adopting route planning software into your business model brings many benefits, including:

  • Better meet customer requirements
  • Make the best use of your drivers and your vehicles
  • Reduce administration time
  • Speed up customer service processes
  • Automate the flow of information

Where route planning software negates costly workflows and improves business efficiency and customer service, it has become widely adopted and is now an industry standard among fleets.

Can any business benefit from route planning?

In short, yes. Any business that has a fleet of vehicles out on the road can benefit, regardless of size. The increases in efficiency, in terms of time on the road, time spent manually plotting and re-plotting routes, and fuel usage, are a boon to any business.

How does route planning software work?

Route planning is the process whereby multiple drops (delivery or collection) are planned into a single vehicle’s route, automatically finding the most efficient way. The vehicle leaves the depot, drives to multiple destinations and finishes, typically back at the starting point.

Multi-drop route planning software also often provides estimated arrival times for individual deliveries, accounting for road conditions and how many stops are ahead of a certain drop.

Route planning is a fairly simple process to manage, with fantastic results:

1. Upload your job information

Upload the requirements of your route into the planning software, including destinations, timeframes and delivery instructions.

2. Plan and optimise your routes

Depending on which software you use, you’ll be able to manually or automatically (or both – we recommend automatically where possible) plan your route.

Routing software often includes algorithms that recommend a route, incorporating customer expectations regarding timeframe, vehicle capacities and driving time.

3. Send your routes to your drivers

Your drivers need to know where they’re going. Once you’ve planned and confirmed your routes, send them to your drivers’ handheld devices at the touch of a button, with no need for paper tickets.

4. Track your progress in real-time

You can view the progress of your fleet while they are out on the road, giving you an overview of any potential delays or discrepancies. This allows you to take any actions you may need to, for instance notifying a customer of a delay to their delivery or sending a replacement vehicle in the case of a breakdown.

5. Report on performance

Routing software allows you to view and analyse your fleet’s performance, on metrics such as being on time, the number of successful stops and the number of miles driven.

Comparing planned routes with actual data

The planned routes provided by route management software may not be completely adhered to, with challenges such as roadworks, parking and access issues. Advanced systems can show differences between planned and actual routes, in real-time, when combined with telematics solutions.

This information can help fleet operators and managers improve future route planning.

Find out more

At Podfather, our Multi Drop Route Planning engine automatically generates routes that adhere to customer preferences with accurate ETA notifications and live tracking links for real-time status updates. Get in touch to find out more or book a meeting.