Better Planning, Better Truck Routes, Better Business

When planning your truck routes, are you really considering all of the variables that can affect your delivery window?

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That fact may be true for geometry; however, it is anything but true for shippers and carriers. Between rush-hour traffic, highway construction, and crumbling infrastructure, the straight line may take you longer to reach your destination than any circuitous route.

That’s why so many fleet managers are turning to third party logistics (3PL) service providers to create long-range distribution and delivery planning. 3PLs do much more than simply gather information about accidents, road conditions, and weather forecasts to make assumptions. They examine all of the variables that can impact transportation goals; they use sophisticated analytics to review large amounts of data; all with the goal of coming up with long-range plans that can still adapt to sudden changes and ultimately, get your shipment to its destination on time and on budget.

Obstacles at every turn

Whether it’s HOS regulations, driver shortages, warehouse schedules, or so many other issues, it sometimes feels as though things are conspiring to interfere with making the delivery. So being able to best utilize resources isn’t just practical, it’s vital, especially as we start to enter the always-difficult holiday season. (Just recall the nightmare scenario faced by UPS and FedEx last holiday season…and these are among the most sophisticated and technology-savvy companies!)

With proper information, long-term routing can anticipate seasonality needs and adjust resources required without disruption. Making sure that information is reliable and accurate is key to making the routing plans work; however, many shippers and carriers may not have the sophisticated software and analytics necessary to secure this data, or the budget necessary to acquire them. Among the many variables that need to be considered are:

  • Personnel to assist in unloading at delivery site
  • Delivery windows and distribution center schedules
  • Road work and road closures
  • Vehicle height and weight restrictions
  • Optimal travel times to avoid congestion
  • Delivery timing to include HOS and meal breaks
  • Driver availability
  • And many more

This is where 3PLs can play an important role, using their technology to look at all of the variables simultaneously in order to provide optimized planning that includes not only routing recommendations but also resource allocation. It’s not enough to know which road to take; it’s also making sure you have the right truck for the right delivery on the right road. Long-term planning can assist fleet owners in transitioning from one asset configuration to another without compromising customer service.

How does this lead to better business?

Strategically, long-term planning can systematically help companies penetrate new markets in the most efficient manner. There’s nothing as impressive as success, so making deliveries on time and on budget is your best marketing tool. Plus, from an internal savings standpoint, companies utilizing sophisticated planning and routing technology can realize anywhere from 15 to 20% in transportation savings. And those savings can go straight to the bottom line.

If you’d like to know how logistics can help you control your fleet costs and make on-time deliveries, visit the NationaLease Dedicated Logistics page.

David Beaudry

About David Beaudry

David Beaudry is Director of Logistics Engineering and Consulting for NationaLease. He brings 25 years experience in surface transportation, logistics engineering, and consulting. His earlier career includes management posts with Ryder System Inc. and National Freight. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Connecticut State.

Leave a Reply