Going Beyond Route Optimization

In a previous post, we discussed the benefits of knowing where your vehicles are and what’s happening at the destinations to which they are headed.

Industry experts note high fuel prices as an opportunity for fleet managers to improve their route planning efficiency to control costs. This is understandably a topic of high interest. Technology for location-based devices and in-vehicle GPS devices continues to rapidly improve, while the cost of these devices continues to decrease.

Isn’t there something more we can do to improve overall operations and even more significantly control costs? Some key methods include:

  • Create more efficient routes
  • Track the vehicles
  • Provide dispatch with more information and data — enabling them to make more intelligent routing decisions

Vehicles that are part of a fleet management system most often make customer stops on regular schedules. More recently, the trend has been shifting toward the customers expecting the suppliers to know the exact time of drop-off, pick-up, or perform maintenance. This strategy is known as Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI). VMI solutions allow suppliers/vendors to avoid making unnecessary trips to manually check inventory levels—providing an overall improved customer experience.

Remote asset monitoring and control solutions are key in these VMI solutions. By equipping remote assets with sensors and drop-in networks vendors now possess the critical business data they need. Integrate these two systems into one central dashboard, and fleet managers are now able to plan their routes based on accurate, real-time status updates from every asset at their customers’ locations. The industry veterans may never be convinced that a technology can offer them better information than their intuitions, and may be reluctant to move away from a traditional schedule for customer visits. However, more agile companies are embracing this new technology and benefits the data offers.

Additional Benefits

An added bonus of having access to this real-time information is the ability to communicate dynamic instructions or updates to drivers while they are on a route. The need for fleet drivers to manually record their driving logs is significantly reduced or eliminated, , due to the tracking capabilities of these new systems.

Incorporating broader data capture such as what activity was performed on site, notes for the next visit, and customer feedback all within the same routing system can add tremendous business value. The collection of all this information in a single operating system simplifies the drivers’ day-to-day processes — enabling better, faster customer service. Back-office integration allows for work-flow documentation, improving not only the routing, but also the complete end to end process—increasing operational efficiencies.

New fleet and remote asset management systems promise to extend the goal of “route optimization” into a new process of optimizing your business as a whole.

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