What is Route
Route optimization consists of finding the best solution to visit all the points while respecting a set of constraints. This is a strategic issue for a large number of companies whose activity involves travel.
It remains to define the concept of “best” solution … Is it the least expensive solution? The one that minimizes CO2 emissions? The one that maximizes the quality of service? Each organization has its own criteria based on its business objectives. A “good” tour is also a realistic tour which should not put humans at fault. As such, taking traffic into account is essential in urban logistics or last-mile logistics issues.
Each profession and each context also has its own constraints: parcel deliverers must, for example, respect delivery slots, home help companies favor stability in interventions (same speaker, recurring schedules), repair copanies, meanwhile, must take into account the skills of technicians when planning interventions.
This implies that before the rounds, there is a planning phase for these rounds which will define the tasks to be carried out by each person, and in what order they will be carried out.
For the same available resources and the same tasks, there are ways to plan that will be better than others. Building the best possible schedule is, in this context, what is called route optimization.
Route optimization, who is concerned?
Many activities require the movement of men and women in the field: transportation of goods, parcel delivery, transport of materials for construction, home delivery for e-commerce, waste collection, medical care and home visits, cleaning operations, equipment repair and maintenance, etc.
In the same day, the number of stages can vary: where a telecom technician will carry out 3 or 4 interventions per day, a delivery driver in an urban area will be able to deliver up to 150 parcels!
Route optimization, how does it work?
Optimizing routes consists of solving a mathematical problem taking into account optimization objectives, endogenous and exogenous data as well as constraints. When route optimization is carried out by a tool, it is an algorithm which resolves this problem.
Optimization objectives :
These are the indicators that the optimization will have to seek to minimize, such as for example: OPEX costs, the number of kilometers traveled, CO2 emissions, the total duration of tours, delivery delays, the number of vehicles used, the non-delivered, respect for the quality of service (respect for time slots for example), reduction in response times, etc. They are specific to the organization and business objectives of each client.
Data provided by the client :
This is most often information concerning the fleet (number of vehicles, characteristics and capacities of the vehicles, etc.), the team (skills, working hours, break times, etc.) as well as the data concerning the activity (characteristics of the packages to be delivered, addresses or geolocation of the points to visit, etc.).
Historical traffic and real-time traffic are very important parameters for good route optimization. Today on the market, very few solutions take into account the traffic upstream of route calculations: a correction is often applied downstream by the publishers, but the solutions obtained are less realistic once in the field. Taking into account real-time traffic is essential when we want to work on continuous optimization, which offers adjustments to the routes taking place.
These are business rules that need to be taken into account when planning. This may be preferred areas for certain drivers, the possibility for drivers to exchange packages at a relay point, the fact that certain deliveries require 2 people … the business constraints are endless and often very specific.
In the context of route optimization, the algorithm occupies a preponderant place since it is he who is responsible for solving the optimization problem which is submitted to him. Whether it is designed in-house, from a solver or from open-source algorithms, its characteristics and performance will have a major impact on the ROI of the project.
Optimization also means responding to more strategic objectives such as the adequacy of my fleet of vehicles for my missions, the location of my warehouses, the geographic segmentation of my territory…
On each of these issues, Kardinal can help you achieve your goals, contact our experts!