There's probably no product more perishable than fish. Routing and scheduling deliveries to restaurants and groceries presents obvious time-critical challenges, especially when you are delivering perishable items like fresh seafood.
When Morey's Seafood International implemented ESRI's ArcLogistics Route, it decreased its delivery fleet by 18 percent while increasing orders per route by 30 percent. It also decreased its fleet miles traveled by 11 percent.
The program was implemented and supported by Truck Dispatching Innovations. Other providers offer similar software programs providing efficiencies and savings at costs that continue to become more affordable.
With so many options on the market, what should companies ask themselves and their potential providers before making a decision? "What is most critical is making sure you have a routing engine that takes into consideration truck-specific route information because there are only three companies who have really figured out how to do truck routes that include things like weight and length restrictions, and HAZMAT restrictions," suggests Brian McLaughlin, vice president, marketing and product planning at PeopleNet, Chaska, MN.
Ask how data will be delivered across your supply chain and to your driver. "Also ask what types of existing and emerging content is being provided to enhance the routes," continues McLaughlin. "There are many new databases out there delivering weather, construction and traffic updates. All of these real-time variables are critical in determining if a truck should be re-routed."
Also ask how often and how routes are updated, McLaughlin suggests. "There are millions of roads throughout the U.S. and Canada, so ask if the updates are done manually or through a network of people who provide input."
Current technologies are continually be-ing upgraded in scheduling, routing and mapping. Most software providers report clients can expect a return on their investment in just a few months.
Get ready for sprouting technology trends to hit the limelight in 2007, says Ed Siciliano, vice president of sales and marketing for ALK Technologies in Princeton, NJ. "More mass adoption is happening than ever before."
One of these technologies is GPS navigation, which helps companies eliminate expensive out-of-route miles. Beyond financial consideration are the benefits technologies bring to truck operators.
"Today's technologies like turn-by-turn navigation really enhance the driver's experience and satisfaction, which can reduce driver turnover due to high-stress situations," continues Siciliano.
Some software providers specialize in scheduling and routing optimization, while others focus on providing maps with truck-specific information, such as real-time navigational issues like weather conditions, traffic volume and accidents, road and physical restrictions (like low bridges), and HAZMAT restrictions. These function-specific software programs interface with each other, creating the most dynamic and efficient solutions in scheduling and routing available for fleet managers today.
With all the options available on the market, how do companies even begin to understand what their requirements are? "The most critical element is to make sure the solution you choose really matches your needs, because different requirements often require different algorithms to achieve the most efficient solution," advises Terry Bills, transportation industry manager for ESRI in Redlands, CA.
Optimizing Routing, Mapping
ESRI incorporates real-time weather updates into its online, Web-based offerings ––as well as into several of its business partners' solutions. "Companies have the ability to re-route trucks when weather is bad in order to avoid those conditions," Bills says. Another feature the company offers is GIS (geographic information systems) technology, which tracks the location of each truck and the number of miles traveled within each state.