In most parts of the world, the major means of movement is by vehicle. As of 2020, the United States had over 276 million vehicles registered and 228 million licensed drivers, with a considerable number being used for delivery. Furthermore, the United States Postal Service accounts for over 200,000 vehicles in the US, a minor insight into the large number of vehicles readily available for delivery.
Due to the large number of cars out there, traffic jams are often common, slowing down and causing delays to delivery businesses, drivers, or even regular motorists. The average driver spends an average of 54 hours yearly in traffic. Traffic jams can be completely avoided through efficient route planning.
Whether you own an eCommerce business, a delivery company, a third-party logistics agency, or are a delivery driver, knowing and implementing the right strategies for route optimization can make a huge difference in your experience by saving time, and fuel spent, reducing costs, and maximizing productivity.
In this blog, we’ll explain the benefits of planning your route effectively and the challenges you may face. We’ll also share with you essential strategies to implement when planning a route to avoid traffic jams.
What Is Route Planning?
As the name implies, route planning involves all activity undergone to determine the best possible route that can be taken to reach a delivery destination efficiently and without delay while considering several factors. Route planning is used in navigation apps, logistics, public transit, emergency services, and travel planning, among other applications. Algorithms are used to analyze variables like traffic, road types, and user preferences to determine optimal routes in mere seconds.
One of the major reasons for route optimization is to improve productivity while reducing operational costs, like minimizing the cost of fuel in delivering packages. Basically, it’s used to ascertain the most cost-effective route for delivering customers’ packages.
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Benefits of Proper Route Planning
There are key benefits of utilizing a proper route planning system for deliveries. An efficiently planned route will result in an overall increase in the business’s performance. Below are the benefits of route planning.
Time and cost reduction
In the delivery industry, timely delivery of packages is vital for success. Planning a route before embarking on deliveries can help save time since you’ll be identifying and using the shortest and quickest route possible, thereby reducing time spent on the road.
By using real-time metrics and data, you can streamline the delivery process by choosing a route with the least traffic jam. A shorter route also improves fuel efficiency as less fuel will be consumed due to traveling a shorter distance. A reduction in fuel consumption leads to saving fuel and vehicle maintenance-related costs.
Planning an efficient route for delivery can increase the level of productivity for both individual drivers and delivery businesses alike. By optimizing the process, drivers can be assigned to deliveries within a particular route, allowing them to go on multiple delivery trips and complete more deliveries, increasing their operational efficiency.
The result can be seen in increased revenue generation and effective utilization of human resources.
Enhanced customer service
Similarly to most other businesses, customer satisfaction, is a vital factor that keeps delivery businesses running. Simply put, there’s no business without good customer service. One of the easiest ways to enhance your customer service is by providing them with a satisfying experience.
You can unlock this advantage by utilizing smart route planning, which not only boosts reliability and delivery efficiency but also contributes to earning better customer reviews. With the added advantage of real-time updates from efficient route planning systems, along with accurate delivery ETA’s, your customers will be promptly informed about any potential changes or delays. This friendly communication leads to an even more delightful customer experience and an overall enhancement of your customer service.
Reduces accident risk
As a delivery business owner, when your drivers are unsure of their route, it can cause anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. Route planning is essential in driver management because a route that doesn’t account for possible traffic, road works, or other obstacles can cause mental and emotional strain for the driver.
When drivers are stressed, they are less focussed and more likely to be involved in an accident, putting customers’ packages at risk of destruction. Efficient route planning helps to avoid such scenarios. With a properly planned route, drivers can avoid areas with high traffic and bad roads that can lead to accidents.
Improves the environment
Reducing the time spent on the road through route planning can help reduce the amount of fuel consumed and carbon emitted, leading to green logistics and a sustainable environment.
Through route optimization, delivery businesses can reduce their carbon footprint, creating a carbon-neutral shipping system. To improve your business image, environmentally friendly operations can be prioritized with route planning.
Strategies for Efficient Route Planning to Avoid Traffic Jams
When planning for a route for your delivery trucks and fleets, here are 5 strategies that can help you avoid traffic jams.
Plan route ahead of delivery
The first strategy to avoid any potential traffic jam is to plan ahead. Before beginning your delivery journey, it’s an excellent idea to plan your route in advance, as doing so can help prevent your drivers from running into traffic.
It also helps to give them an idea of all possible routes they can take to arrive at their destination. So should they run into traffic due to uncontrollable events like weather or accident, they can easily reroute using the next best route.
Study traffic patterns for off-peak hours
Before sending out deliveries through your drivers, it’s essential to study the traffic patterns of your delivery route while planning. Having an understanding of the pattern and daily peak time is vital in avoiding any unnecessary delay and stress while driving on the road.
You can save time, utilize your resources better, and avoid traffic jams by adding this information to your route planning software. For starters, you need to become familiar with the regular pattern shift in your area. Pay attention to major roads, highways, and intersections at different times of the day to see which routes are often crowded.
Also, when planning your delivery route, you need to consider the peak hours in your delivery area. Peak hours are times of the day when traffic is usually at the highest due to rush or factors like events or school. Having this in mind can help reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic and missing deliveries.
Stay updated with traffic information
Knowing the peak traffic hours of the area you’re delivering to isn’t enough to avoid traffic jams. While this information can be used in route planning, there could be instances where the traffic is higher than usual due to unplanned situations.
For instance, a major accident on the route or stormy weather could cause vehicles to be stuck in traffic. As such, staying updated with the latest traffic report is essential and can help you take an alternative route, saving time and cutting down fuel costs.
Utilize route planning software
Using a delivery route planner or software is the most effective route planning strategy for optimizing your delivery business. With route planning software that obtains the traffic information of various locations, you can easily plan several optimal delivery routes in seconds.
This route planning software offers an array of benefits to your business. Reduce your delivery vehicles required by up to 20%, reduce driving time by up to 30% and reduce mileage by up to 25%. These are just some of the cost reductions you will see.
The algorithm picks up the shortest and fastest route possible. While this allows drivers to get to their destination quickly, it doesn’t totally eradicate the possibility of running into a traffic jam, as other circumstances like weather or unexpected accidents can cause traffic.
A route optimization software with a dynamic route planning feature is the best choice to prevent such instances. It allows you to plan a route that can be modified continuously in real time due to changes in routing conditions. The feature can adapt to any change in conditions or circumstances and provide a new best route at any moment, unlike traditional route planning software that only develops several fixed routes.
In the advent of an unexpected traffic jam ahead, your route planner will create an alternative and shorter route, allowing the driver to arrive at their delivery destination without delay.
If you are looking for an opportunity to scale your business or experience cost reduction, look no further: read about Detrack’s route optimization tool, ElasticRoute: https://www.detrack.com/elasticroute/
Have multiple routes
Sometimes, regardless of how well routes are planned, traffic is often unpredictable. So, it’s a great idea to always have several route options in case one of them is experiencing a high-traffic jam.
For instance, if you’re delivering packages to three locations within a four-hour period, and the first route is experiencing severe traffic jams, you can change the order of your delivery location by embarking on the route without traffic.
That way, when returning, there’s a high chance the traffic jam has cleared up, and you can avoid it.
Let Detrack Handle Your Route Planning
Effective route planning is vital for any company that relies on a delivery fleet. With effective route planning software, delivery businesses, and drivers can reduce the amount of fuel consumed as well as their operational costs.
More so, they can also increase the number of deliveries per day, improving customer satisfaction and overall profitability. It’s a win-win situation that every company should consider. At Detrack, we can help you plan your delivery route and optimize the entire process using ElasticRoute.
Adding ElasticRoute into your workflow helps reduce the vehicles needed, driving time, and mileage. Try Detrack Today to effectively plan hundreds of routes in seconds, stay ahead of disaster with predictive analysis, and increase your delivery ETA for better customer feedback.