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Route optimization vs. planning: What are the differences?

PTV Route Optimizer enables transport planners to keep customer satisfaction in mind while optimizing routes for an entire fleet

Image: Jim Allen (FreightWaves)

Delivering consumer packaged goods the final mile to customers’ doorsteps is one of the most challenging aspects of the delivery process.

In today’s world, customers expect to know when their purchases will arrive down to the minute. Providing customers with wide delivery windows can result in frustration and lack of trust, jeopardizing future business with that customer.

Estimating a delivery time can be challenging, especially when factoring in all the elements of urban environments and operational constraints that impact arrival times.

For companies with numerous trucks that handle multiple deliveries on a single route, a perpetual struggle has been leveraging available capacity in the best way to meet the timelines and specifications for each customer. But the planning process doesn’t need to be complicated.

(Image: PTV Group)

PTV Group recently launched an automated software solution, PTV Route Optimizer, that makes it simple for transport planners to optimize last-mile CPG delivery routes in urban environments.

PTV Route Optimizer is more than a planning system. It provides carriers and transportation companies with a way to maximize their efficiency and that of the driver and the customer all in one tool.

So what does route optimization mean, and how does it differ from route planning?

Route planning focuses on finding the most efficient path from a point of origin to a destination for a single vehicle. Some considerations a driver or carrier may take into account when route planning are drop-off locations, vehicle constraints and available work hours.

Route optimization takes in the constraints of when and where the customer needs the delivery and implements transport orders in the most efficient way among all the trucks in a fleet. Route optimization also accounts for specific requirements of each shipment, such as type of good and volume.

“When you plan something, the focus is on how do I, as a company, benefit from delivering something to somebody at a certain time. When you optimize it, the focus changes to the needs of the customer. When can I deliver it to him/her to better improve customer satisfaction?” Campbell Smith, account executive at PTV Group, said. 

PTV Route Optimizer takes in customer data points such as operating hours and delivery windows, in addition to the fleet’s routing information, traffic and construction considerations, and provides customers a transparent view of their delivery schedules so that they are never in the dark.

In addition to customer communication benefits, carriers also enjoy the benefits of route planning but on the scale of the entire fleet. Increased fleet efficiency results in heightened revenue overall due to benefits like boosting driver utilization and reducing empty miles.

Instead of hiring new drivers, current drivers will be able to handle more packages due to strategizing order of deliveries, routes, hours of service and truckload capacity. Drivers also use PTV’s free driver app to receive routing information directly to their devices.

Creating more cohesive efficiency for a fleet also grows sustainability without much effort. More strategic routes mean reducing unnecessary miles and thus decreasing fuel expenditures and carbon emissions.

PTV Route Optimizer takes in the considerations for each type of CPG item being delivered and plans the most feasible routes. CPG items encompass more than just food and beverages; verticals like fiber, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, parcels and more are all handled intelligently with PTV Route Optimizer.

“Details matter. So we really know what those verticals are all about, what the requirements are, in order to have proper optimization of routes,” Matthias Hormuth, president for product management logistics at PTV Group, said.

(Image: PTV Group)

For transport planners, the software itself is simple to use, leaving complexity behind the scenes. Users have the option of powerful on-premise software or cloud-based software.

By importing information about drivers, vehicles and customers into the tool, the system can configure the data to maximize the best routes for fleets of any size. Its API also integrates with some of the most common TMS platforms, making the transfer of information even simpler.

PTV Group is a Germany-based company with clients across the globe. It is focused on creating a cleaner and smarter future with its logistics and mobility software solutions.

Visit PTV Group’s website to learn more about PTV Route Optimizer.

Jenny Glasscock

Prior to joining FreightWaves, Jenny worked as a staff writer at a weekly newspaper and later as a safety assistant at a trucking company. She now enjoys a combination of both her interests as a FreightWaves sponsored content writer. She received her B.A. in English Publishing Studies from Illinois State University in 2018 and currently lives in Marengo, Illinois.