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Decoding the Challenges of Route Optimisation

By Rashi Tarika 3rd March 2017

UPS announced recently that they reduced their delivery travel distance by around 45.8 million miles over the last few years. That is a phenomenal achievement, which was made possible by using a route optimisation algorithm that completely eliminated left turns for their drivers. The benefits of this were enormous – from reduced delivery times, to massive savings in fuel costs. UPS managed to cut down over 1000 delivery trucks from their delivery fleet and reduce their fuel overheads by as high as 40% for each delivery. That indeed, is a brilliant result, owing to a smart move. Similar to UPS, most businesses concerned with goods delivery or driver mobility, understand the business benefits of optimising their delivery routes. However, problem definition and algorithmic solutions greatly vary depending on the business case. Finding the right optimisation solution to the problem is a challenge, as traditional optimisation tools grossly under-estimate the complexity of the problem.

In the current day scenario, there are primarily three delivery routing challenges that businesses face, the first two related to the intricacies using a single vehicle. The single vehicle multiple delivery point optimisation problem, also known as the travelling salesman problem (TSP), entails a single vehicle covering multiple delivery points before returning to the starting position. For example, a sales person visiting multiple customers might struggle to timely perform his/her tasks if the delivery points increase. The next challenge relates to the single vehicle pick-up and delivery optimisation, where each node is classified as a delivery or a pickup node. Now, a delivery node for a task can surely not be serviced before the respective pickup node. Also, there could be one-to-many or a many-to-one relationships between a pickup node and a delivery node. Understand the working of courier pick-up and delivery service and you would know it.  Tookan’s advanced route optimisation algorithm puts a clear end to such problems, as it lets you prioritise, combine different tasks based on business needs, and also simultaneously minimise route lengths and delivery times. While creating the task, you could simply choose between the pick-up and delivery options and manage the flow accordingly.

route optimisation challenge
The above two business cases assume that the carrying capacity of the vehicle is greater than the demand of all delivery areas combined together. But, what happens when the demand being served at any time exceeds the carrying capacity of the vehicle? The solution here is to use multiple delivery vehicles or perhaps, a full-fledged delivery fleet, whose optimisation might not be easy, due to problems related to scheduling and assignment between vehicles. That, clearly, is the third challenge. Restaurants and food delivery setups, for example, have multiple drivers as part of their fleet workforce, and the tasks are divided between them to minimise total delivery time, while also meeting location restrictions of each vehicle. The geo-fencing feature of Tookan appears as a smart way to tackle this as it helps you keep track of all agents in the field and ensures that any new pick-up or delivery task can be assigned to the nearest agent. Further, using the advanced geo-analytics tool of Tookan, users can derive intelligent insights for geo-spatial delivery on a beautiful map based UI. Based on the insights, delivery fleets can cut flab in un-optimised geographies or plan higher penetration for areas witnessing growth.

Due to the additive nature of the route challenge, the constraints keep increasing with increase in delivery nodes and fleet size. A variety of innovative solutions have surfaced in the recent past following novel optimisation techniques to help deal with the aspect effectively.  Looks like businesses are on an incessant hunt for some sort of a magic wand, which they could swing and move things in a perfect way. With its advanced route optimisation techniques, Tookan offers an answer to all the fleet management and delivery problems. Its multiple features, including the advantage to customise templates, could put the above three challenges aside. Sign up for a 14-days free trial and start experiencing substantial business savings and operational efficiency!

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