There are a lot of different factors to consider when planning an effective delivery route. Thankfully, the more you know, the easier route planning becomes. Improving your route planning will benefit you, your drivers, and your customers.
This guide will go over how to plan the best delivery routes possible and what tools you'll need to do the job.
What Is Delivery Route Planning?
Delivery route planning is an integral part of the logistics process. It involves taking all your orders and distributing them among your drivers so that your routes are as efficient as possible. In the following section, we'll go over three important factors to remember when planning routes.
3 Keys for Efficient Delivery Route Planning
Optimizing driving distance and fuel consumption is key to lowering final mile delivery costs. Understanding what factors impact a route's efficiency, such as distance and fuel consumption, is essential to effective route optimization.
Typically, route efficiency is affected by the following:
- Number of stops scheduled for your driver
- Distance between each stop
- Cost per mile
Optimizing your routes effectively requires planning beyond simply calculating the shortest distance between two stops, which is why great route planners also take into account the following factors:
- Area of delivery
- Traffic conditions and road closures
- Collection and delivery locations
- Driver availability
- Vehicle availability and capacity
- Driver home locations
Planning a delivery route with multiple stops while strategically accounting for the above factors is known as route optimization. The right strategy helps reduce your drivers' total distance and time spent on the road. As a result of these savings, you can increase your company's overall delivery capacity.
Not every order is the same, and neither is every customer. Deliveries often have specific time frames due to factors such as signature requirements or hours of operation. Arriving too early or too late at a customer's location can result in expensive waiting times, driver idling, and sometimes additional trips, which is why time windows are necessary.
Once you have time windows for each delivery, you can consider other route optimization requirements. For example, if your client has paid for same-day delivery, include that detail in your route plan to avoid a late delivery or an additional trip the next day. It's also important to consider other elements, such as stop duration, as they can impact your ability to meet other delivery time windows.
Factoring in stop duration and delivery time windows into your route optimization strategy ensures that you arrive at locations right on time. Delivery route planning software allows you to account for all of the above during route optimization.
To make on-demand assignments, dispatchers must know which drivers are currently clocked in, where they are located, and what assignments they have queued up. Immediate access to all driver data empowers your dispatcher to make the best assignment decisions.
It's also important to factor in start and endpoints to your routes. For instance, if you have many pick-up locations, choosing a delivery driver closest to a route's starting point is essential. In addition, if you want to minimize driving after the final delivery, you can optimize routes to end near your home base. Better optimized start and endpoints save your drivers’ time and ultimately lower delivery costs.
With the right tools, you can plan delivery routes effectively. OnTime 360 gives you all the features you need, including route optimization with time windows, real-time updates, location management, and more. Contact our sales team directly or book a live demo to try the OnTime delivery software.