In India, distribution networks are complex webs with components like retail network, wholesale network and the logistic infrastructure. Logistics is the lifeline of the Indian economy and is transforming at a tremendous pace. However, due to its complexity, logistics networks are often plagued with uncertainties.
Leading logistics companies are successfully planning their transportation routes and schedules to accommodate the growing level of customer requirements using route optimization/ planning solutions and techniques. Route optimization software provides optimized route planning for various applications such as pickup planning, route identification, cargo arrival time estimation, scheduled deliveries, and others.
Importance of Route Planning
The value created by an organization in terms of price, quality and delivery is driving the growth of the organization. This has increased the competition among companies to reach a customer in the promised time with the best value generation of the product. This has generated the need to go closer to the customer and improving the last-mile delivery, whereas the optimization of the First mile has reached saturation.
According to Lalit Das, Founder & CEO of SS Supply Chain Solutions Pvt. Ltd., “To improve the last-mile delivery, there is a strong requirement of accurate route planning which improves the customer service level and helps organisations in evaluating their logistics spend to identify additional savings.”
Deepak Garg, Founder and CEO, Rivigo Pvt. Ltd. said, “Efficient Route planning is vital to ensure that running costs are minimized while ensuring on time deliveries. The high variability in e-commerce delivery locations further makes it imperative that companies plan routes which are agile to be able to meet this unpredictability.”
So, to sum it up, Route Planning proves to be a vital tool for companies to weed out inefficiencies and bring more transparency to their value chain.
Factors To Consider For An Optimised Route Plan
For an effective route plan, there are multiple components at play, starting from sorting the orders and categorizing based on order type, volume, zip codes, addresses to creating a perfect trip, assigning it to the right driver and making sure the deliveries are done on time and in a single trip.
Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO at Loginext shares, “If you are planning route using route optimization software, all of these factors are automatically considered reducing the time taken to create optimized routes.”
A typical route optimization software takes into consideration the order type, volumetric details, address clusters, dedicated zones, historic traffic conditions, road restrictions, driver’s hours of service, delivery time windows and ETAs, tracking of drivers, alerts and notifications and more, all this in real time and your routes are created within minutes.
Manual Route Planning Vs. Automated Route Planning
Traditionally the route plans were made manually based on weekly/ monthly load patterns and pickup/delivery timetables were created. There was also an additional challenge of communicating and ensuring that these revisions reach the vehicle drivers on time and are adhered to.
Lalit Das highlights the positive side of automated route planning by saying, “Main advantage of the automated route planning is increase in the efficiency and saves the cost. Planning with automated route optimizer improves the utilization of your resources such as drivers, vehicles and trailers. Trips are optimized in line with your specific requirements, including delivery time windows, vehicle capacity and access restrictions. Even with small fleets the software generally creates savings of between 7% and 15%.”
According to Saahil Goel, Co-founder and CEO, Shiprocket, “Automated route-planning is need of the hour. It gives you the ability to plan your resources efficiently and then track them in real-time. The automated route, unlike manual route planning, helps you to manage your route plans in one place. It gives you greater visibility and automatic updates which isn’t possible in manual route planning.”
The Way Forward
Customers increasingly want their behavioural patterns to be automatically considered without them having to communicate it every single time. The best analogy to such an experience is how Apple integrates its different products and creates a comprehensive and seamless experience across a phone, a tablet and a computer.
Fulfilment timetables are changing. Consumers want faster fulfilment, and shippers need to move more product at a faster pace. Shipments that previously required one hour to process are now being forced into three-minute intervals, if not faster times. Consequently, last-mile logistics is finally able to become part of this push toward faster fulfilment.