So, what does "Fleet Optimization" really mean? Is there any easy way to understand and measure the performance of the entire service chain? The Viamente Route Planner is based upon the concept that an efficient quality Service fulfills Orders by meeting all the relevant expectations and by deploying the minimum level of Resources.
Here's a list of criteria we use to drive our Route Plan optimization process, in order of importance:
- The optimized Route Plan always complies with all the Constraints you set.
- We maximize the number of Orders that can be served with the Drivers you assigned.
- We minimize the number of Drivers really required to serve the Orders you import.
- We minimize your Fleet's overheads and costs tied to Working Time, while balancing workload among your Drivers.
For Working Time we mean the sum of three contributions:
- The Driving Time, i.e. the time Drivers spend driving on the road.
- The Service Time or Stop Time, i.e. the time Drivers spend at each location in order to provide the required service (or, in the Viamente Route Planner's jargon, "to serve an Order").
- The possible Idle Time, i.e. the time Drivers spend waiting for a Time Window associated to a certain Order to open.
As you define your Drivers' settings, you are asked to enter their Working availability (i.e. the earliest they can start work and the latest they can finish, like for instance 8 am - 4 pm). You are also asked to enter any fixed costs you will incur each time that Driver/vehicle is used and even any hourly costs that need to be considered.
The Viamente algorithms will then go ahead and optimize Schedules accordingly.
There are two options for managing your Driver's time: Fixed Start Time and Flexible Start Time.
By choosing Fixed Start Time, the optimization will force Drivers to start at the beginning of their Working availabilty, while serving the maximum number of Orders and following the best Routes to minimize costs. This option is particularly useful when you want Drivers to finish work as early as possible.
If the Flexible Start Time option is ticked, Drivers may be suggested to start their route later than their actual Start Work availability: this happens when starting earlier provides no actual advantages (it would simply imply the Driver waiting for a longer time on the road for an Order's Time Window to open).
If we suggest that one of your Drivers start later than available, it is because we have made all the necessary verifications to ensure that there is no other way to use that working time availability and improve efficiency any further.
We estimate Driving Times with reference to up-to-date geographic data, based upon a complex statistical method that assigns a different speed range for each class of road. Not all situations are identical, though, so we provide a speed tuner that is used to simulate faster or slower driving conditions for your own scenario. If you drive at night, when roads are free, you may want to increase your average speed and check the accuracy of the suggested Schedules. If you provide a service in a congested region, instead, you may want to move down the slider and reduce driving speed accordingly.
As we mentioned, the Service Time is the third contribution to the total Working Time of your Fleet: it is the time your Drivers will need to fulfill their scheduled Orders. While we can do little to help you reduce this time, we keep a close eye on your own estimations because we want to make sure our Schedules are accurate.
When it comes to the several Constraints of your Operations, your Customers' challenging Demands and your Cost Structure, not only does the Working Time of your Drivers and vehicles directly affect Opex: fuel, manpower, maintenance, risks; it also supports Capex decisions: are you sure you should buy a new vehicle? You can hopefully increase the productivity of your current Fleet, and this is exactly what we do, with a real optimization of the three fundamental aspects of your Operations in mind: Driving Time, Scheduling and Logistics.
The organization of your Working Time requires an adequate tool to be lean and efficient, allowing you to save money, time and resources.