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As the term suggests multi-drop simply means that the driver is delivering to more than two locations. Apparently, the more vehicles engaged in the activity, the more attention must be paid to multi drop route planning. The vehicle routing system must be able to re-direct and reschedule without compromising safety, business and environmental obligations. Vehicle routing software is concerned with ensuring that all vehicle movements can be monitored, and delivery timetables met. It connects client orders to the actual route the vehicle takes, thus bringing them closer together. It allows drivers, operators and clients to communicate in real time no matter the size of the distribution company.
Considerations in multi-drop route planning software?
Route planning software in the UK as elsewhere is based on algorithms that are flexible in terms of their response to inputs concerning deliveries and collections. In addition, there are rules regarding how long drivers and other key staff members can work in their respective roles, in other words there are time constraints. Within this frame, the algorithms in the vehicle route planning software can calculate the time taken to cover a given distance under optimum conditions. In most conditions and especially under those that a multi-drop route planner or operator must deal with, optimum success very rarely occurs. As such the very real day to day operational constraints presented by fleet management become even acuter when multi-drop distribution is factored into business operations.
The role of multi drop planners
The individual or team that organises the multi-drop schedule must pay extra attention to scheduling and assign routes such that distances, travel time and therefore fuel costs are kept to a minimum. In addition, the multi-drop route planner must optimise each path by choosing the best vehicle and driver for the loads being delivered. It is likely that the driver will need to visit other distribution centres or warehouses and so all the variables concerning resource availability and driver safety must also be accommodated. All delivery timetables can accommodate delivery to residential customers that must be integrated with business destinations. By its nature, residential deliveries tend to be of lower volumes and can often necessitate a journey to a remote or central city destination. Either way these so called slot delivery times should not impinge on the overall delivery schedule.
Round trip deliveries
The software connected with transportation of goods is concerned with route optimisation that becomes even more important in multi-drop scenarios. A round delivery trip may need to accommodate both residential house to house deliveries which will almost certainly involve kerbside parking in precise locations. Such situations place further onus on precisely calculating routes and incorporating up to date variables into the route planning matrix. Getting route optimisation protocols right means that efficiency in the form of reduced travel time (and therefore fuel costs) translates into improved service levels. If routes and schedules are displayed in the control centre and comprehensive data management systems are in place then it is possible to make huge savings on fleet management costs.
In short, well-organised multi-drop route planning means that customer service levels are maintained, drivers and employees enjoy better working conditions, and resources are used more efficiently. Routes that can be easily updated ensure that long term planning is not compromised.