Optimizing the Last Mile

Complexities and constantly changing demands impact last-mile delivery. Since the pandemic, consumer demand and e-commerce volumes have surged, as delivery windows have shrunk. Businesses can address the challenges of the last mile with technology, along with these directives.

1. Create planned routes that meet all operational constraints.Typical constraints for a last-mile route include delivery time windows, driver availability, historical pickup density, vehicle capacity, driver schedules, delivery location, and number of stops. Be aware of drivers’ skills for operating certain vehicle types and work the plan around their Hours-of-Service restrictions.

2. consider delivery constraints.The route plan should include constraints such as low bridges, type of roadway (gravel vs. paved), narrow passageways, time windows (dock only open a limited amount of time), and limited access at the delivery location, such as loading dock size and ramp availability for unloading packages. Knowing these types of constraints beforehand helps prepare the driver to make the best delivery possible.

3. Understand delivery requirements.While Amazon set the stage for consumer expectations, few deliveries need to arrive within hours. Finding out what customers really want versus what they need can save money, both for the customer and your delivery operations. If a part needs to keep a production line going, the order needs quick delivery; a t-shirt can wait.

4. Predict customer handling times.Looking at historical data to predict dwell and delivery handling times creates the best stop sequence in routes without missing an appointment. This data-driven approach saves precious time and you can rapidly assign single or multiple pickups to the best drivers considering all operating constraints.

5. re-sequence stops Continuously.Re-sequencing stops continuously on a route plan ensures on-time service. If you get a new pickup for your driver, you can add this leg of the trip to their route plan, but you must include time commitments and current traffic to ensure timely delivery.

6. Superimpose real-time weather data into your route plan.Route planners can glean valuable insights that help them adapt quickly to disruption. You can identify potentially impacted delivery points and create contingency plans around or away from the affected areas.

7. Utilize telematics, GPS, and ELDS.These technologies improve real-time location information so customers know exactly where the truck will bring their order and whether the truck will be on time or delayed due to traffic. These devices allow planners to see in real time the actual route against the planned route so they can ensure that their plan is being followed and savings realized.

8. Give dispatchers visibility. Dispatchers need to see the overall pick up and delivery operation. If a driver will be late for a pickup or delivery, they can proactively alert the customer about the delay, reducing the volume of calls to your customer service organization.

9. Use historical data from telematics.This improves the transport plan continuously. If delays regularly occur at a specific customer site, you can identify the root cause and then solve the problem so it doesn’t continue to happen.

10. Collect and measure KPIs.Key performance indicators (KPIs) include number of deliveries completed, percentage of missed deliveries, number of late deliveries, damage claims, delivery time, vehicle capacity utilization, number of complaints, and more to monitor operational efficiencies and improve service levels. You can also measure the number of hours a vehicle is in motion and divide it by the number of hours the vehicle is stopped to determine overall performance of shipment delivery.

SOURCE: Rambabu Yadlapalli, Product Manager, RouteMax by HaulSuite

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