“One of our customers was able to grow their business without having to buy any new trucks because they discovered they already had too many on the road,” says Brandt. “Without using our software, based on their old calculations, they would’ve purchased 29 more vehicles, and when trucks each cost about $100,000, that’s $2.9 million they saved.”
Descartes Systems Group Inc., Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, is another leading provider of solutions that can easily integrate with existing order management or transportation planning systems.
Descartes’ software is especially useful for creating new routes in real-time, according to Chris Jones, EVP solutions and services, Descartes Systems Group. As each new order is placed, the program re-optimizes in real-time, allocating resources to help maximize operating efficiencies, deliver priority service to the most profitable accounts and routes and maintain overall customer satisfaction.
Eliminating paper from the process is a main advantage of using route optimization software. Having route information only on paper can cause confusion within an organization.
“Today there are many people who want access to the information about the routes,” says James Stevenson, vice president, Appian Corp., Reston, VA. “When using a paper system, if a company wants to know when their delivery is going to arrive, they call customer service or their sales representative. Then customer service or sales calls the dispatcher, the dispatcher calls or two-way radios the driver and the driver gives him an ETA, with no solid data to base his estimate upon.”
Appian’s solution to the problem is the DirectRoute, which gives any authorized personnel throughout the organization access to the route details. The program displays all the day’s stops and their sequence, how long the total route will take from beginning to end and how many minutes will be spent at each location based on the order size. This allows customer service to simply type in a customer number and view their exact ETA for the day.
The next essential component is tracking the vehicle to ensure it actually takes the route the authorized personnel view on their screen.
Appian’s DR-Track ties in with the truck’s onboard communication device to track the driver’s status. This tool is especially helpful when a driver is running behind. The dispatcher or customer service department can proactively see that a delivery will arrive 45 minutes late, and let the customer know ahead of time.
DR-Track is a versatile software system that integrates with nearly any onboard computerized device manufactured by companies such as XATA, Cadec or Qualcomm.
TMW Systems Inc., Beachwood, OH, provides another route optimizing software solution, IDSC TripAlert, with a variety of features and benefits. TripAlert tracks truck locations to see if drivers leave their routes, tracks the statuses of the loads and calculates hours of service for the driver.
“It also has a unique swap feature, so if a truck is behind schedule or breaks down and can’t make its delivery, the dispatcher can go into TripAlert and see what available trucks are nearby,” says Frank Mabry, director of professional services, TMW Systems Inc.
“The program will create the best route to take for the two trucks to intersect so one can pick up the other’s order and make good on the delivery.”
Having all the route details and tracking information available at the operations manager’s fingertips is a valuable resource, however, critical information needs to be communicated with the driver throughout the day so they can successfully complete their job.
Closing The Communication Gap
Today’s new onboard computers are increasing in their sophistication and capabilities.
Qualcomm Inc., San Diego, CA, has been specializing in onboard communication devices for the trucking industry since the 1980s. Its latest version, the MCP100, takes advantage of new technology for faster processing, improved graphics capability and touch-screen navigation.
The key benefit, according to Chris Silver, senior manager of product marketing, Qualcomm, is that it has both audio and visual communication components.