What is multi-stop route planning? Optimize deliveries using multi-stop route planner

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By Komal Puri | October 13, 2022

What is multi-stop route planning?

Multi-stop route planning is essentially selecting the optimal route for making deliveries by factoring in variables like fleet and driver availability, delivery address, the volume of shipments, fuel efficiency, traffic, driver skills, special handling of the package, and scheduled returns. Multi-stop route planning also takes into consideration uncertainties like last-minute road closures and vehicle breakdowns to decide on the fastest route that the delivery agent must take to deliver the package to the consumer.

Why is multi-stop route planning important?

Every day enterprises need to deliver thousands of packages to consumers. Delivery agents assigned with consignments crisscross the length and breadth of cities and towns, taking multiple routes and stops to deliver shipments to consumers’ doorstep. The sheer volume of shipments combined with several variable factors like traffic congestion, weather, and roadblocks make manual scheduling of deliveries a difficult task.

Organizations know that any mistake in the last mile can severely impact their brand value and lead to consumers deserting them over other brands. Poorly planned driving routes result in:

  • Fewer deliveries and order fulfillments per day

  • Increased fuel consumption

  • Delayed deliveries and negative customer experience

  • Delivery vehicle breakdown

  • More manual efforts

Enterprises are rapidly changing their delivery models and embracing multi-stop route planning technology to make better and more efficient deliveries.

What is multi-stop route planner?

A multi-stop route planner is a tool that helps businesses to plan and optimize delivery or service routes with multiple stops. It uses algorithms to calculate the most efficient route based on a variety of factors such as the number of stops, distance between stops, and traffic conditions. 

Multi-stop route planners can help businesses to reduce transportation costs, improve delivery times, and increase productivity by optimizing routes and schedules for drivers or service technicians. They can also provide real-time updates on delivery status, which can help businesses to keep customers informed and improve overall customer satisfaction.

How a Multi-Stop Route Planner Works

A multi-stop route planner is a valuable tool for businesses that require deliveries or services to be made to multiple locations. The planner uses advanced algorithms to optimize routes and schedules, making it easier for businesses to reduce transportation costs, improve delivery times, and increase productivity. In this article, we will explore how a multi-stop route planner works, covering the data collection, algorithm, and map visualization components.

1. Data Collection: A multi-stop route planner collects data on the location of the stops, the number of stops, the distance between the stops, the delivery time windows, and any other relevant information. This data can be entered manually or imported from other systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

2. Algorithm: Once the data is collected, the multi-stop route planner uses an algorithm to calculate the most efficient route. The algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, such as the distance between stops, the expected delivery times, the available drivers or vehicles, and any delivery constraints such as time windows or weight limits. The algorithm then generates an optimized route that minimizes travel time and distance, reduces fuel consumption, and maximizes the use of available resources.

3. Map Visualization: The optimized route generated by the algorithm is then visualized on a map, which shows the order of stops, the distance between stops, and any other relevant information. The map can be customized to show different types of information, such as traffic congestion or road closures. The route can also be adjusted manually if necessary, for example, to accommodate last-minute changes or unexpected events.

What are the benefits of multi-stop route planner

  1. Increasing Productivity and Profitability: Multi-stop route planning helps maximize the number of drops and pickups, allowing delivery personnel to attempt more deliveries in much less time than pre-optimization. This, thereby enhances the delivery personnel's productivity, making each delivery trip more profitable than before.
  2. Real-time Visibility: Multi-stop route planning provides real-time, on-ground, end-to-end visibility of all resource movement, including the fleet vehicles and drivers, across a company’s distribution. This, in turn, enhances the potential for better profits owing to better control across logistics and operations processes.
  3. Reducing Delivery Turnaround Time: Multi-stop route planning is primarily about finding the most efficient route for delivery fulfillment, and it also helps reduce the turnaround time for customers by optimizing first mile operations.
  4. Enables Performance Measurement via Data Analytics: Multi-stop route planning software helps companies to focus and drive their operations on intelligent factors like GPS tracking and real-time traffic situations. This, in turn, allows managers to set goals to measure against performance and to analyze KPIs, thereby increasing productivity and keeping drivers accountable for the job.
  5. Shrinks Carbon Footprint: Carbon footprint is defined as the number of greenhouse gases (primarily C02) emitted in the atmosphere by particular human activity. Multi-stop route planning offers an efficient route with minimal idling of drivers and fleets on the streets. It not only saves fuel costs but also the fuel burn, thereby shrinking the carbon footprint, one delivery at a time!
  6. Boosts Customer Experience: It’s no secret that there is immense competition in the logistics industry. This also means that if one company fails to meet consumer expectations, the consumer will go to a different brand the next time they purchase an item. Multi-stop route planning helps retain brand loyalty and enables enterprises to improve customer service.

What features must a real-time route planner should have?

From automating route planning, scaling delivery operations to gaining real-time visibility, such software empowers enterprises across verticals to boost logistics operations. Some must-have features include:

1. Automated Route Planning

Traffic, no-entry windows, and tonnage are only a few of the factors that impact delivery speed. Consequently, the shortest route between your warehouse and the recipient’s place may not be the best, as it could be riddled with traffic or other conditions that impact the movement of your vehicles.

Multi-stop route planning software is powered by machine learning (ML) algorithms that sift through historical data to suggest the most efficient routes for delivery as opposed to the shortest ones – saving time, as well as fuel costs in most cases.

2. Real-time Tracking

Vehicle idling time not only results in massive costs but also slows down delivery schedules. Software powered by a route planning algorithm overcomes this hurdle by giving real-time updates regarding your vehicle’s position. Enterprises have the option to contact the driver directly and ensure they do not take any unnecessary breaks on the way.

3. Intelligent Allocation and Dispatch

A modern route planning tool is capable of smart allocation, which saves precious time for the fleet. As the system is automated, there is no room for error. Shipments are allocated to agents logically to ensure maximum work in minimal time. Such planning also reduces the burden on last-mile delivery partners, leading to happier employees.

A modern route optimization solution improves fleet utilization and reduces miles per driver by drastically improving routing and execution through routing algorithms.

4. Pick-up and Return

Multi-stop route planning software empowers delivery executives with an intuitive and powerful mobile app through which logistics stakeholders can manage and control job allocation, routing, sequence, and also facilitate real-time communication with customers.

5. Real-time Visibility

By leveraging digital control towers, multi-stop route planning software empowers enterprises to get real-time visibility of fleet movement. This helps businesses to act upon things like pick-up and drop, route-wise performance, etc. for all orders on a single screen. It ensures timely fulfillment with actionable alerts and notifications.

6. Crowdsourcing Deliveries

During peak business hours and holiday seasons, some businesses might find it difficult to scale delivery operations. Modern planning and routing software can quickly outsource delivery tasks to third parties and scale operations according to demand.

7. Risk Mitigation

Powered by advanced technologies like ML, route planner software empowers businesses to quickly analyze historical data regarding route performance and in turn, helps reduce the chances of theft, pilferage, and delays.

8. Address Intelligence

Advanced multi-stop route planning software powered by ML algorithms ML can self-learn the ‘correct’ address just from delivery addresses, successes, and failures in the past. It converts lexical addresses into geographic coordinates (geocoding) as simple as latitudes and longitudes, which are used to mark positions on a map. Once delivery is done successfully on any address, next time, the system can fetch the address internally, so that the last mile connectivity will be faster and more accurate.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Multi-Stop Route Planner

1. Scalability: 

Scalability refers to the ability of a multi route planner to accommodate changes in the size and complexity of a business. As a business grows, its logistics management needs may change, and it is essential to choose a route planner that can scale to meet these changing needs. A scalable multi-stop route planner should be able to handle an increasing number of stops, drivers, and vehicles without sacrificing performance or efficiency.

2. Integration: 

Integration refers to the ability of a multi-drop route planner to work seamlessly with other software and systems used by the business. A route planner that can integrate with existing CRM, ERP, and transportation management systems can help to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Integration also ensures that data is consistent and up-to-date across all systems, reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies.

3. Customization: 

Customization refers to the ability of a multi-stop trip planner to be tailored to the specific needs of a business. A route planner that can be customized to account for unique delivery constraints, such as time windows, weight limits, and delivery zones, can help to optimize routes and reduce transportation costs. Customization also enables businesses to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences.

4. User-Friendliness: 

User-friendliness refers to the ease of use and navigation of a multi-point route planner. A route planner that is intuitive and easy to use can help to improve productivity and reduce errors. The user interface should be simple and straightforward, with clear instructions and guidance to help users navigate the system. A route planner that requires minimal training can save time and resources for the business.

5. Security: 

Security refers to the protection of data and information within a multi-stop route maker. A route planner that has robust security features can help to safeguard sensitive information such as customer data, delivery schedules, and driver details. The system should have secure login and authentication procedures, data encryption, and regular backups to ensure that data is protected from unauthorized access, theft, or loss.

Considering these factors when choosing a multi-stop route planner can help businesses to make informed decisions and select the right tool to meet their logistics management needs.

Advantages of Using a Delivery Route Planner for Multi-Stop Routes

Using a delivery route planner for multi-stop routes offers several benefits and advantages, including:

  1. Time and Cost Savings: A route planner optimizes the sequence of stops, minimizing travel distance and time. This reduces fuel consumption, vehicle wear and tear, and overall transportation costs.
  2. Increased Efficiency: By optimizing routes, a shortest route planner ensures that drivers take the most efficient paths to reach multiple destinations. This improves productivity, allowing for more stops within a given time frame and maximizing the utilization of resources.
  3. Improved Customer Service: With optimized routes, deliveries are completed faster and more reliably. Customers receive their orders on time, leading to increased satisfaction and repeat business.
  4. Real-Time Updates: Many real time route planners offer real-time traffic and weather updates. This enables drivers to adapt their routes to avoid congestion or roadblocks, ensuring timely deliveries despite unexpected events.
  5. Enhanced Accuracy: Delivery route planners help minimize errors by providing accurate address information and ensuring drivers follow the designated route. This reduces the chances of missed or incorrect deliveries.
  6. Better Driver Management: Logistics Route planners facilitate efficient driver management by assigning routes, tracking driver progress, and providing insights into driver performance. This helps optimize driver schedules, monitor productivity, and improve overall fleet management.
  7. Data Analysis and Reporting: Route planners often provide data analytics and reporting features. This allows businesses to analyze historical delivery data, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to enhance overall delivery operations.
  8. Scalability and Flexibility: Route planners can handle various scales of operations, from small local deliveries to large-scale logistics. They can accommodate changing requirements, such as adding or removing stops, and easily adapt to evolving business needs.

Why is multi-stop route planning so critical in last-mile delivery?

Multi-stop route planning is an integral part of the last-mile operations of any enterprise. It is critical to drive efficient deliveries and ensure that the consumers are happy and satisfied. With the rise in e-commerce and the ever-growing demand for swift delivery, companies need to invest in technologies that help them manage the complexities of delivering thousands of packages to consumers spread across various locations. Multi-stop route planning software’s consumer-first approach is what enterprises need to ensure better deliveries.

Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the AVP of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.

Komal Puri
Sr. Director of Marketing | FarEye

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