RoadNet Technologies offers a suite of route optimization software. A “what if” decision support tool, Territory Planner, uses a fleet’s existing route structure as the baseline for determining the cost of adding new business. Prospective business can be uploaded quickly into RoadNet and optimized with the existing routes, says Len Kennedy, president.
Telogis offers a suite of cloud-based fleet management software. Telogis Route, its platform for routing and scheduling vehicles, has cost-based planning tools. “It shows the impact of every decision in terms of the hard dollar amount,” says Newth Morris, president.
If a user were bidding on a new account, he could pull in a set of orders to model a number of different scenarios to service the account — use the existing fleet, add overtime or increase fleet size. “Each scenario returns the total cost in order to make operations decisions,” Morris says.
Territory route planning is done periodically. For daily scheduling, planning and route execution, vendors have systems that capture order information from dispatch and enterprise resource planning systems. If routing software is deployed as a cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service model, order data from an ERP system is integrated directly using XML Web services.
The technology has become highly visual for daily use by front-line managers. Digital map displays with drag-and-drop icons and menus enable users to understand and execute route plans with drivers quickly. As routes progress during the day, instant messages and alerts note any exceptions that occur.
“Route planning and execution has become more consumerized,” says Ken Wood, senior vice president of product strategy for Descartes Systems, which offers its Route Planner software in both premise and cloud-based versions. “It is not just for industrial engineers. It has been designed and detuned to work better in a dispatch and operational environment.”
To create optimal routes and schedules, routing software needs accurate distances, travel times, road restrictions, toll costs and other data attributes. Software companies use the latest versions of commercial map databases to obtain this information; they also update their own products continuously with geospatial data, logic and features to improve route performance.
Appian Logistics has incorporated historical and real-time traffic speed data into its Direct Route software. The company uses Google Maps with traffic data that comes primarily from Inrix, a company that contracts with major cellular providers to obtain real-time position and speed information from more than 30 million commuters.
Appian customers can use historical traffic patterns in Direct Route to forecast what each route will do. When routing orders for next-day delivery, historical traffic data might show that a delivery planned for 9 a.m. would be more efficient if it were switched with a later delivery to avoid rush-hour traffic along a segment of the route.
Appian also allows users to draw or “geofence” route segments that they wish to speed up or slow down by a certain percentage. These adjustments can be set by time of day and location to make the route plan more accurate and sensitive to customer service requirements.
Advancements in mapping and routing technology also impact the performance and compliance of drivers via in-cab navigation systems.
Mies Trucking, a 45-truck fleet in based in Colwich, Kan., is spec’ing all of its Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks with NavPlus, a driver’s-side 7-inch color screen console display. NavPlus offers truck-specific navigation and hands-free telephone conversations and audio controls, among other features.
Also of Interest »