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Most people probably don’t give much thought to the streets after they leave them at night. You might step out of your front door on any given working day and see the milkman driving up the road or the postal operative cycling toward your house, but do you ever wonder how that all happens? What happens, for example, when a city or a rural area needs to co-ordinate all their mobile workers so that they don’t cross over each other’s route when cleaning the streets or emptying the city bins? There is a skill to it, requiring patience, foresight, and specialist route planning & optimisation software that helps to make sure that everything operates at optimal levels of efficiency. Route optimisation & route planning software not only helps to plan the optimum route, but provides geographical analysis and planning options that maximise the network of vehicles and/or bicycles and/or operatives that walk.
Parcel and Post Delivery Companies
The parcel and post sector relies heavily on this type of software that allows for the delivery operation to work far more efficiently. The software can plan routes, either regionally or locally, as well internationally, right down to street level to create an optimised route for postman who walk and/or cycle as well as the fleet vehicles. It cuts out all the trouble spots too and enables the fleet and distribution managers to know exactly the route each vehicle will take. Moreover, for the postal sector, the software interfaces seamlessly with sortation machines saving time at the depot before the postie starts their round.
US utility companies benefit greatly from using route optimisation software to manage a series of activities – meter reading, meter inspections, implementations and servicing. In the US route planning is usually linked to the invoicing period ensuring that cash revenue are in line with expectations. In the UK the Smart Metering programme should be at the forefront of such technologies as it strives to deliver Britain’s transition to a low-carbon economy helping the country meet some of the long-term challenges faced in ensuring an affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply. Unfortunately the UK lags behind its US counterparts in the use of route optimization and route planning software.
Balance the Workload
Local authorities will also be highly reliant on this type of software as it gives them the ability to plan and follow large fleets as well as control a mixed fleet of vehicles. Local authorities typically will have a varied fleet that covers waste & recycling collection and removal, winter maintenance — such as road gritting—and street cleansing.
When a large fleet of vehicles needs directing for overlapping delivery routes they will frequently rely on route planning software installed at base with a near-live feed to their in-vehicle systems for maximum efficiency. This type of software can boost a logistics company’s profit margins because they shorten delivery time and therefore produce more opportunities for further deliveries in the same day. It also reduces fuel costs because the driver is using an optimised route and therefore it prevents unplanned stoppages and reduces the amount of miles driven in each vehicle.
There are hundreds of applications for this type of software, all designed for efficiency and improved operations. Environmental services companies use it—as mentioned above with waste & recycling collection. Highway authorities for gritting, ploughing, gutter cleaning and street light inspections use it, as do the mentioned parcel and postal companies, utility companies for meter reading, inspections, implementation and servicing, so the uses are many.