An essential part of fleet and truck route planning is route optimization. Route optimization saves time and resources, increases client satisfaction when deliveries are made on time, and boosts revenue thanks to cost savings and increased loyalty from satisfied customers.
However, while it may sound simple at the surface level, route optimization is more complicated than just plugging in a destination or two on your go-to navigation app. A number of factors have to be considered, like traffic congestion, road conditions, fuel economy, and more.
What exactly is route optimization, why is it important, and what tools and strategies can allow you to optimize your own fleet routes? Read AtoB’s introductory guide below to learn more.
What Is Route Optimization?
Simply put, route optimization is the process of determining a path of travel that is as time-efficient and cost-effective as possible.
As convenient as it would be, however, route optimization is rarely as simple as planning a route with the smallest number of miles—Google Maps and other navigation apps can do that.
A number of other factors must be considered, including:
- Delivery/service deadlines
- Number of delivery/service stops
- Number of delivery driver breaks
- Speed limits
- Road conditions
- Traffic congestion trends
- Real-time traffic conditions to determine an efficient route
- Vehicle accidents
- Fuel economy
- Left-hand vs. right-hand turns
- Road and environmental factors affecting fuel economy (example: hilly terrain vs. level roads)
- Bridge clearances and weight limits
- Weather conditions
- Vehicle fleet maintenance
Route optimization could be done manually at a basic level, but frankly, it is not an efficient way to manage a fleet since so many variables come into play. In fact, the task is so troublesome that the “vehicle routing problem” (VRP) concept and the similar “traveling salesman problem” (TSP) —which explore the complications of exploring virtually infinite possibilities when route planning—have been around for ages. 1
Using route optimization software can determine the most efficient route based on factors like the ones listed above, which helps streamline your fleet management process so your drivers can get to where they’re going faster.
Why Is Fleet Route Optimization Important?
Whether your fleet makes long cross-country trips or serves an immediate local area, route optimization matters for several reasons. The algorithms used by route optimization software can evaluate the logistics of multiple routes and their infinitesimal variables in an instant.
When travel paths are planned with fuel efficiency in mind, you can dramatically reduce your fleet’s fuel costs and emissions.
Additionally, planning an optimized route to move around heavily congested roads or roads that won’t accommodate oversized vehicles helps reduce travel time as well as accident risks.
By using route-planning software to choose the path of least resistance, you can enjoy the following benefits of fleet management:
- Increased driver and customer satisfaction
- More job opportunities
- Lower fuel costs
- Minimized accident risk
- Reduced operational costs
- Fewer late or missed deliveries
- Improved fleet system efficiency
- Reduced travel time
Overall, route planning provides for improved operational efficiency all while helping you reduce operational costs. It’s a win-win.
Route Optimization Strategies
Fleet managers have several options at their disposal to optimize route planning. The following are three primary route optimization strategies that can be employed, depending on factors like the size of your fleet and the type of services you offer:
- Static routing
- Dynamic routing
- Real-time dynamic routing
Static routing is typically established annually or semi-annually. This strategy is often employed by fleet systems with recurring routes.
The challenge here is that not even the most predictable routes are truly static due to factors like the potential for road construction, traffic congestion, or vehicle accidents.
While static routing can be an excellent foundational strategy for fleets making routine deliveries, using additional route optimization tools can help keep things running on time.
Dynamic routing can include fixed or static routes, but it can also involve route planning on a daily or optimal route-by-route basis up until the departure time. Routes are determined based on traffic patterns and other factors like those listed above.
Real-Time Dynamic Routing
With the help of route planning software algorithms, real-time dynamic routing takes things a step further by allowing for the possibility of altering routes in real-time when the unexpected occurs.
Optimize Your Fleet Route with AtoB
Static, dynamic, and real-time dynamic routing can improve the efficiency of your travel and operations. You can further optimize your fleet management system with AtoB secured gas card.
While many traditional fuel cards are only accepted at certain fuel station networks, the AtoB universal fuel card is accepted nationwide, providing your drivers with more options on the road and reducing the odds they’ll have to drive off-route to refuel at an in-network truck stop.
The end-point? Fuel cost savings and deliveries that make it to point B (and C and D) right on time.
Plus, AtoB’s dashboard allows you to manage additional aspects like card spending limits, driver transactions, and even payroll processing. A smoother fleet management system will improve the lives of your drivers, resulting in higher driver retention.
It only takes about five minutes to start an application for fuel cards to make traveling from point A-to-B that much easier.
1 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Traveling Salesman Problem. http://seor.vse.gmu.edu/~khoffman/TSP_Hoffman_Padberg_Rinaldi.pdf
2 Verizon Connect. What is Route Optimization? https://www.verizonconnect.com/glossary/what-is-route-optimization/